Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Rae Seddon, commonly known as Sunshine, quite happy to make cinnamon rolls and have all her life around the bakery, decides to go to the lake which proves to be trouble. In her words, "it was a dumb thing to do, but not that dumb".

Because there are dark things about, and the darkest of the Others are vampires, and of course, Sunshine is kidnapped by them. And no-one escapes vampires.

Wait, don't run. I know I said vampires, and with a character named Sunshine and this description you are thinking "oh no, not another vampire urban fantasy". I also groan at the thought of yet another vampire book (even though I've read very few of those). Yep, this is urban fantasy. Yep, there are vampires. But this is what urban fantasy should be like.

Sunshine is told in a kind of different way - and it takes some getting used to. It is told in the first person by Sunshine, but more like she is thinking. Do you know when you are remembering something, and rehearsing how you are going to tell it to someone, and the thoughts seem to ramble and deviate and then get back on track? (hmmm..maybe it's just me) That's how this book is. And I loved it. It resonates with my thoughts and makes you actually pay attention to reading because a missed paragraph can make you stare at the page thinking "how the hell did we get here!?". This, together with the plot, means that it is a complex book, but in no way is it complicated.

As a character, Sunshine is great. She is flawed, she gets angry, she can do great things and actually be astonished that she can do them. She is human, and so believable that is like she is there. This is her story, and as such we get to see so much of her.

And then there are the vampires. I would say to forget all the romantic notions of vampires, but that wouldn't be quite right. There is a kind of gothic feel to it, and wooden stakes are still your best friend (as well as day-time and sunshine). But they are different than most vampires seen in fiction, there's an otherliness to them that suits them.

Another thing that I loved was the fact that until the very ending I was still learning about this world, which is so alike and so different from our own. The information comes in bits and pieces as Sunshine mentions them, the mental picture forms slowly and a bit haphazardly, but there is a sense that there are still parts of the town unknown to me, and that they exist with a life of their own, not just as backdrop.

Sunshine is a different book for sure, and is hard to talk about it without people jumping to clichés. This is vampire urban fantasy by the mere fact that it is set in a city and there are vampires. Everything else is new and fresh.

All that is left for me is to say is to tell you to go read it and thank Ana Nunes and Jen7waters for recommending this one to me.

Rating: 4.5 out 5

Other Reviews: Bookworming in the 21st Century | Cuidado com o Dálmata | Dreams & Speculation | Floresta de Livros | Paperback Dolls | Starmetal Oak Book Blog 

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

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Happy International Day of the Book

I could make a bigger post out of it, but I'm tackling Mt. Doom To-Be-Read, in what I'm calling Operation Manga! Since I've come home for holidays I've taken care of the 6 volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist. Now I think I'll go read the 3 volumes of Nausicaa that I still have to read, followed by The Legend of Drizzt or Escaflowne.


Happy International Day of the Book

Do a lot of Reading!!

Also, happy Easter!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones

Cathedral of the Sea
Cathedral of the Sea follows the fortunes of the Estanyol family, from their peasant roots to a son, Arnau, who flees the land only to realize spectacular wealth and devastating problems. During Arnau’s lifetime Barcelona becomes a city of light and darkness, dominated by the construction of the city’s great pride—the cathedral of Santa Maria de la Mar — and by its shame, the deadly Inquisition. As a young man, Arnau joins the powerful guild of stone-workers and helps to build the church with his own hands, while his best friend and adopted brother Joan studies to become a priest. When Arnau, who secretly loves a forbidden Jewish woman named Mar, is betrayed and hauled before the Inquisitor, he finds himself face-to-face with his own brother. Will he lose his life just as his beloved Cathedral of the Sea is finally completed?

What a long read this one has been - 3 months with one book! Definitely not normal for me. I don't know if it was reading it in a new language, or the fact that it is indeed a big book or the story itself, but this one just kept going on and on.

I've read other books while reading this one, usually picking them up because I needed something lighter to read. But that doesn't mean I wasn't liking it. Because I did like it, but can't really say I loved it, either - it was an ok book, full of drama, and intrigue.

As a piece of historical fiction it is great, and it's greater still because I am in the city where it takes place - streets and villages are familiar to me, and I could get a sense of what and where it was happening.

But I think in the end it ended up being too much drama and too long for me to properly enjoy. I liked it while reading, but didn't have an overwhelming urge to know what was going to happen next. But I was able to pick this one up at random times and stop reading for a long time without really losing anything. It is kind of memorable, and but all so pretty much meh...

There must be have been a lot of research made into this (there is a long author's note at the end where I think he explains all the research and where ideas come from, but, surprise surprise, I didn't bother to read), and it shows. But when the fiction begins, and especially with the characters, it falls a bit flat. The characters had depth, and were well thought, but I just couldn't relate with them. Any of them. Which is really sad.

It's a long epic book, and it's quite good in its genre, but the truth is that it didn't pull me in like other books usually do.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

This Book on: LibraryThing | Goodreads | Bookdepository UK | Bookdepository US | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Gam.co

Sunday, 17 April 2011

March Ins and Outs

March's Ins and Outs

Here is a long overdue post, but in my defense I wrote it quite a while ago, and managed to lose it between computers and thumb drives. I'm pretty sure the file will turn up once I finish up writing this.

March was the month I pick up the reading rhythm (Hurray!), although on the buying/mooching side it is pretty much the same - I might need to accept that I'm addicted to getting books. But on my defence they are mostly graphic novels, and once started, are gone in a flash.

And so, without further ado:

Although there are a lot of book here they came on just 2 packages - meaning I definitely tried to cut back on mooching, but decided to do it in bulk.

Volumes 1 to 6 of Full Metal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
Ever since I watched the anime I wanted to read the manga, because hey, it's more of the same! Now I can start and see if I like it more than the anime.

The Riddle-master of Hed and Heir of Sea and Fire by Patricia A. McKillip
Books 1 and 2 of The Riddle-master trilogy. I want to figure out if I like Patricia A. McKillip or not. After reading Alphabet of Thorn I kind of liked the worldbuilding and the general idea but not the writing or the plot - it's kind of weird, really - so I'll give this author another try.

Bought (New)
Volume 2 of The Sandman - Doll's House by Neil Gaiman
I'm slowly making my way through this series - I've read Volume 1 and liked it. On other note, I found out that the Spanish edition of this is simply stunning (as with a lot of other graphic novels), that almost makes buy it (not reading, though).

Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Another author that I'm giving a second try - I read Deerskin and thought it was okay and kind of nice, and want to see if I can get more of a response from this one. Also, it has such a pretty cover (even if it's yellow). It has lots of spirals (I really like spirals) and it actually sparkles and glitters (and the irony that a book about vampires sparkles is not lost on me).

Read books!
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
I spent most of February reading this one - actually I finished it on the 1st of March, which makes it a bit silly to appear here. I enjoyed this one a lot. You can find the review here.

The King's Wrath by Fiona McIntosh
I got this one from David Gemmell Award (as seen on the February Ins and Outs), so I started it as soon as I finished Jane Eyre.

Sr. Bentley : O Enraba Passarinhos by Ágata Ramos Simões
This one was fast and amusing read. And also the first book I reviewed in Portuguese, as it world not really make much sense in English. Review in Portuguese here.

Valiant by Holly Black
I picked Valiant up, first because I wanted to read it, and second, because I thought a YA book might help me pick up rhythm. I wasn't wrong. I also loved this book which help a lot with speed - I was reading it anytime I had a chance - on the train, standing up and with very poor balance, while cooking, and...hmmm...while on the loo. Review in here.

The Princess & the Penis by R.J. Silver
This one was for free on GoodReads, so I downloaded it to my phone and read it at work when there was not much to do. Really amusing, and for a sort-of-parody, quite well written and with good messages. You can read it for free here.

TBR changes: +6 book - from 188 to 194 (it's frightening that I'm closing on 200 books to read)