Tag Archives: Fantasy

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

 

 

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The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
308 pages
Delacorte Press, 2009
Rating: 4/5

It has been awhile since I last read a YA book that sucked me in so much that I just HAD to finish reading it. Looking back, I can’t distinguish anything particular about this book that consumed me so much. Perhaps it was the world building and the creepy factor. The characters were alright, the plot was smooth with a few little bumps, and the pacing was a little weird but workable. Zombies freak me out and they were really well written in this story. I was afraid of what was beyond the fence, but knew that the characters would have to face it at some point. There were some plot holes that I glossed over, but nothing to be annoyed about.

I think it was a pretty decent book. I went into it blind which I think is probably the best idea. Apparently this book was hyped quite a bit so it unfortunately disappointed some people. I feel that it needs to be read with an open mind.

It toyed with the concept of faith and hope quite a bit. Duty vs emotional choice was another common theme. The main character was quite selfish, so that put a contrast towards the rest of the characters and made things a little more interesting. Some parts the pacing zoomed by, and other parts it dragged on. There were times when I wished more time was spent on a particular “scene in time” but if I had my way, the book would have easily been 500 pages long (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!).

So why 4 stars? I wanted to keep reading. It got to me emotionally. I thought about it before I slept and while I slept. It creeped me out.

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Anniversary Book Haul

I got some great books! In unrelated news: it is my 4 year anniversary with my boyfriend. Hurray!

 

Books mentioned:

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Breaking the Devil’s Heart by H.A. Goodman

Source: Goodreads.com

Breaking the Devil’s Heart by H.A. Goodman
352 Pages
2012, Outskirts Press
My Rating: 3/5
*this book was sent to me to review by the author

When Stewart and Layla recruit a demon to spy on the Devil, their decision takes them on whirlwind ride through the afterlife. Journey alongside this young couple in H. A. Goodman’s new novel, Breaking the Devil’s Heart, and join forces with a teenage Angel outcast to bankrupt Satan’s underground Company and save Heaven from civil war. H. A. Goodman’s Breaking the Devil’s Heart is a rollercoaster afterlife experience that tests a young couple’s love, their grasp on reality, and the essence of human nature. What happens when Stewart and Layla tour Hell’s Marketing Department and Stock Exchange? What happens when their relationship is tested by Satan? This book is unlike anything you’ve ever read, or ever thought the afterlife might be like. Breaking the Devil’s Heart is an enlightening look into an alternate world, a new afterlife, and a profound journey inside the human conscience. (Source: Goodreads.com)

This is a sequel to the Logic Of Demons, but the book can be read as a stand-alone. I did not read the first book before diving into this one.

The first thing to stick out to me was the writing. It felt a bit forced at first, as if H.A. Goodman sat with a thesaurus next to him the entire time. However, as the story progressed, I got used to his writing and so it didn’t bother me anymore. The writing was very thorough but did use some cliches and the segments describing romance seemed a bit cheesy. But overall, the writing was decent.

The idea behind the story is the strongest part of the novel. Our protagonists are Observers – potential Angels that have  decided to work closer to Satan in order to rid the world of evil instead of spending an eternity in Heaven. I liked how Goodman made the afterlife seem like a seamless pass from life to death, and just how similar the two dimensions are.  What is your idea of Hell? How about being an overworked, under-appreciated employee of a corporation? That is Goodman’s idea of Hell, and although the environment does get more intricate, the concept behind it all is very easy to relate to.  Some of it felt very tongue in cheek, but I liked it. Demons/Devils should be sly and quick with the tongue – which is exactly what I found.

The biggest theme of the novel is philosophical – what is human nature? Are humans inherently born good or bad? What is the power of persuasion? What is it like to be under the influence of someone or something else? Our protagonists, Stewart and Layla, go on an adventure layered with eggshells through the depths of Hell and the human conscience.  The imagination behind the more “Angelic” scenes of the book, in which a character enters another person’s memory or similar, were creative but still felt very philosophical. The methods of transmission are topics that readers could easily discuss.

There are some scenes that are suitable for mature readers because they deal with violence and crimes. Some of the topics are unsettling, but it is key to remember that we are dealing with a story with characters that are in Hell. The reason why a few of them ended up there is slipped out here and there, but some readers may find that uncomfortable. Personally, I found it to really heighten that theme of human nature.

Overall, I liked this book because I felt it did a great job at exploring some philosophical issues for those of us that aren’t too crazy about philosophy in general. The situations are easy to relate to and imagine. Sure, there is a bit of fantasy thrown in, but the book does get you to think. It also deals with the relationship between Stewart and Layla, showing that they are both just regular people caught up in this whirlwind of justice.

This book did not get a 5/5 rating because the writing wasn’t my style (some bits too wordy, some parts cheesy), some parts felt like it dragged, and the plot felt a bit slow in some parts.

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Random Magic by Sasha Soren

Rating: 2.5/5

 

This book was sent to me from the author. It sounded like it would be an amazing book because it is a vague re-telling of Alice in Wonderland, except our protagonists are on an adventure to try to find Alice and stick her back into her own story. So, I thought I’d give it a read and offer an honest opinion. 🙂

The title, “Random Magic,” pretty much sums up this book. It is INCREDIBLY random and there is magic on every page. It is one of the ultimate fantasy books in that it has everything – vampires, mermaids, unicorns, muses, pirates, and much more. Anything and everything is game.

When I read the book, I was hooked right away for about 1/3 to 1/2 way through. Then a part of me was hoping for more structure. Each adventure was amazingly detailed, but I wasn’t able to anticipate what was going to happen next. If there was foreshadowing, I missed it. Truly, this is a random read. Perhaps a little too random for me.

The characters were well written. The female protagonist, Winnie, was feisty, clever, and spunky. She was a strong female character and that is something I really look forward to. The other protagonist, Henry, felt a bit flat. This was surprising, considering even some side characters had more to them than Henry. I felt Henry was just along for the ride and followed in Winnie’s footsteps. He does grow a bit by the end of the book, but not enough for my personal preference.

The other characters, such as the side characters, were all vividly described and strong in their own rights. Sometimes it felt like a bit too much detail to just have for the 1-2 chapters they were in. Yes, it gives the overall impression of the person but the same can easily be done with a bit of dialogue (which was included anyways). I fell in love with some characters only to have them either not show up again, or come back in very little segments. 

As for the plot, the whole “looking for Alice” thing gets put on the back-burner and the focus is on the immediate adventure or problem for a large portion of the book. Professor Random helps at the beginning, but then he isn’t heard from again. The subplots are where this novel shines because there is a huge variety of them and they are all extremely detailed.

However, the writing felt at times to be more of a stream of consciousness rather than a traditional novel. I felt like Sasha Soren wrote down everything she was thinking, including the “Huh” and “Oh. Well then.” moments. Some of the descriptions could have been cut out without hindering the story, and a stronger focus on finding Alice would have been nice, such as introducing more clues or just bringing it up more often.

I found the scenes that revolved around water to be the most exciting. There is one scene near the end of the book that felt more like an action scene than the rest and it really stuck with me. Another scene near the beginning, showed a twist on family dynamics and even some subtle commentary about religion. I think many of these scenes could have been cut out and placed into a new book (sequel?) just so we could have the opportunity to explore them a bit more. I would have loved to read more about the vampires, for example. 

I think this book will be of the most benefit if you read it randomly. Take it off the shelf, read a couple of chapters and let your mind wander. Or even, read a chapter to a child at bedtime. For those with vivid imaginations, this book will fill you up. 

If you are a person that needs a strict, semi-predictable plot, and room to make your own inferences, then this is probably not the book for you. But if you truly want a random read, then I can’t think of a more magical or random book than this one.

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

418 pages
Published 2011, Little, Brown and Company

My rating: 4/5

I quite enjoyed this book!

At the beginning, I wasn’t so sure what to feel about the book because it caught me off guard. The writing is incredibly casual and it felt like it was being narrated by a teen. That isn’t a bad thing, of course, but it was such a stark difference from The Night Circus that it threw me for a loop. There’s a bit of slang and the book does start off a bit slow (a lot of setting up), but the plot is really good. There is a great combination of action, suspense, fantasy, and secrets.

As for the fantasy part, this book has chimaera and angels! The angels aren’t something I normally get excited about, but the world of the Devil is something I get pumped about. I loved the descriptions of the chimaera and felt like their personalities were really well done, especially for Brimstone.

The protagonist, Karou, has bright blue hair and runs errands for the chimaera Brimstone. I loved these two characters. Karou is a strong, female protagonist with a sense of caution and impulse at all the right momenst. Brimstone is a brilliant “father” figure and someone I was really intrigued into discovering.

Highly recommended! ^_^

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

387 pages
Published 2011, Doubleday Canada
Genre: Fantasy, Adult Fiction

My Rating: 5/5

Wow.

This book was amazing!!

The writing is the strongest aspect of this book. The writing was incredibly descriptive, beautiful, and flowed so easily. I took my time with this book and did not want it to end. The imagery of the circus was unbelievable and felt more like a dream than anything realistic. I have been to the circus myself, but I would kill to be able to experience a real-life version of this circus. She hit all the senses: sight, taste, smells, touch, and hearing. I cannot stress enough how amazing this book was to read! By the end of the book I felt like I really knew the characters and the world they lived in.  The perspectives of each chapter cycled through a cast of characters, and the reader is also included! The inclusion of the reader as a POV character really made the book more intimate and that much easier to indulge.

A word of caution: do not read the inside flap. I found it had major spoilers and the story would be better if you did not know that information!

 

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February TBR Pile

 

I have four books I am planning on reading this month. The most intimidating ones are these two, as they are the biggest!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
418 pages
Published 2011,  Hatchette Book Group

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
384 pages
Published 2011, Doubleday Canada

 

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
360 pages
Published 2010, Random House

Gone by Michael Grant
558 pages
Published 2008, Harper Teen

 

Why did I chose these books?

  •  Some qualified for the Big Book Challenge (400+ pages) and I think it’ll be a huge accomplishment if I read them all!
  • I’ve heard nothing but good things about Gone, The Scorch Trials, and the Night Circus
  • I know nothing about Daughter of Smoke and Bone but it was reccommended to me by the bookstore employee and it seems like it would be an interesting book! I love not knowing anything about a book because it makes the reading experience more enjoyable.
  • Dystopian challenges! Gone & The Scorch Trials

What are you reading in the month of February? 🙂

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