Being brutally honest about books

Monday, 22 December 2014

The Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing

The Jewel (The Lone City, #1) 
Date finished: 22 December 2014

I wouldn't say this book was bad, but I didn't enjoy it. I just got frustrated and couldn't see any good points. I only picked it up because my mum gave it to me and said it's meant to be good, but it was a waste of time for me.

Okay, the good: The cover. The Jewel has a beautiful cover. So much so that I didn't want to take it with me on holiday because I didn't want to ruin it. Looking at the gorgeous cover lures you into wanting to read it.

Now, the bad. First things first: I cannot stress enough how sick I am of dystopian. This story could be set in a fantasy or sci-fi world and still work, but no. It has to be dystopia. Because that's what all the popular books are these days. And I'm tired of it. Every author wants to write the next Hunger Games or the next Divergent, and if every one of them did that, there would be no original stories anymore.

The worldbuilding is problematic. Why do they have to be protected from the ocean? Why is the city in that particular shape? Who is the government/in charge? (If it's the Exetor and the Electress, that needs to be made clearer.) Why the hell do the Augeries exist? If the surrogate/Auction thing has been going on for so long and the surrogates are brought up knowing what they have to do, why do they question it? See, I love a good revolution, but there seems to be no reason for them to rebel against what they have known for years will happen to them, when they have already accepted it. And there aren't exactly revolutionaries (that we are aware of) spreading their propaganda. These questions could be answered in the next book in the series, but if there's going to be some big reveal, then there should be more emphasis on what we do know.

I honestly couldn't understand why Violet hated the Duchess so early on. She seemed to be a fair mistress, and Violet was lucky to be sold to someone who isn't as cruel as the other royal women. I think it would have made sense for Violet to like the Duchess at first - then when she found out what the Duchess expected her to do in regards to enhancing the baby, there could have been some big betrayal and their relationship could break down.

Oh yes, there is also the problem of insta love. Violet falls in love with Ash because... why, exactly? Because he's hot? Because he likes music too? Because she thinks he's like her - trapped? So is everyone else in the city! This infuriated me. I think he could have been a cool character, if they hadn't fallen for each other at first sight. It's a shame, because he had potential to be awesome.

Somehow, the writing annoyed me. It was too...polished. Too perfect. That probably doesn't make sense, because writers spend a lot of time making sure their novel is perfect. And yet, in The Jewel it just doesn't seem genuine. Maybe I simply didn't like the style it's written in? Maybe I didn't like the protagonist's voice, if she even had one? I can't explain it.

As a recently self-diagnosed tokophobic, I could at least empathise with Violet's desperation to not get pregnant and carry the Duchess's baby. The whole surrogacy thing made me uneasy, and all I wanted was for her to get out of there. I'm not sure if that was sympathy for Violet, though, or my own anxiety speaking. But I hated that she didn't get free yet. Also, the twist at the ending infuriated me! I like Garnet, and I want to know more about his involvement in Violet's escape, but I also don't want to read the next book.

Anyway, I had a lot of problems with this book. The ideas were good, they just weren't executed well. I didn't like it, but I didn't hate it either, thus the two star rating.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Panic (Panic #1) by Lauren Oliver


Date finished: 14 December 2014

When I first read the blurb of this book I was a little wary of the "new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them" line, but I was pleasantly surprised when the book turned out to be original and unclichéd, and found myself liking it more than I'd expected.

I loved how the book took me on a rollercoaster with its twists and turns, leaving me guessing as to what would happen next. I knew from the moment the tigers were introduced that they would have something to do with the climax of the novel, but I had no idea what. I also felt anxiety when Nat told Heather to drive Dodge's car for the final challenge at the end, knowing just how that would endanger Heather. I didn't expect the winner (I won't spoil it for you) to win, so that was a nice surprise. The feeling of suspense you get throughout the novel makes it hard to put down once you start reading, and that is the first sign that any book is a good one.

The whole concept of this game, "Panic", where these teenagers risk their lives in a series of challenges over the whole summer in order to win a huge amount of money is a creative one. It's not like The Hunger Games, where the tributes have no choice but to participate, and have to kill their opponents to win. In Panic, the players have all decided to play for their own reasons - usually the money - and they all know each other. It's just as ruthless, but there are legal issues and it's not publicised. So no, Panic is not just another Hunger Games, and I think it is actually better. The fact that this book only came out this year and the film rights have already been sold to Universal just goes to show how great it is. And it will make a fantastic movie - you'll feel for the characters, despise the antagonists, and be kept in suspense.

The writing itself is pretty good, too. It's nothing special, but it's clear and descriptive enough that you can picture what's going on, and it gets the message across. Lauren Oliver doesn't show off by using fancy language features when the story itself is interesting enough and doesn't need to be embellished.

The characters all had their distinct personalities and goals, which was a bonus. I sympathised with Heather, wishing she could leave Carp behind, and Dodge, wanting to get revenge for his sister, was also believable. Heather and Dodge had surprisingly similar problems with their families, and from the blurb I first thought that they would get together. Thankfully, that was not the case, and it was made clear early on that they wouldn't happen. They both get their happy ending, though - that's what matters.

Overall, Panic is a great new YA novel and I enjoyed it a lot. I would recommend it to anyone who likes YA fiction but is sick of the dystopian genre and the usual trope of the two leading characters ending up as a couple. Take it from me, and pick it up!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Innocent Darkness (The Aether Chronicles #1) by Suzanne Lazear

Innocent Darkness (The Aether Chronicles, #1)
Date finished: 10 August 2014

Steampunk and faeries - two things that interest me and the two things that made me read this book. These elements wouldn't normally go together, but in this novel they do. And they complement each other. The concept is a fantastic one, literally.

I liked Noli as the heroine, since she is the average "strong female character" that is found in most YA books, but she wasn't a walking cliché, like so many are. She's just a really cool girl, the type you want to hug and be friends with. And I appreciated that. From the cover, I was worried that the book might be a bit crap, with an intriguing concept and a boring protagonist, but that was not the case. As well as Noli, I also liked V and Charlotte (although her character was a little clichéd) and sympathised with Kevign. With characters I liked, I thought I was going to enjoy this novel very much.

The plot was also quite good. It was unpredictable and made me want to read more. However, it could have done with more hints and twists to make the book really stand out. I think that would have been an improvement. The book was a little long and not too much happened, as there was so much description and analysis of emotions of the characters. I think there should have been less of that and more foreshadowing and giving hints about who certain characters are, for example, Queen Tiana. It would have been much more exciting for the reader to put the pieces together and realise that she is V's mother, instead of being told.

The writing itself was pretty average, and there were a few editing mistakes or typos. I wasn't wowed by the author, which would have been okay, except that she did too much telling and not enough showing. I know that that is difficult to do, but it doesn't hurt to try. As I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of description, which is fair enough for a book with a fantasy setting, but I felt like there was too much. I'm more of a dialogue and action person, myself. And the inner monologues - I don't mind them in general, but I felt, especially towards the end of the book, that they got repetitive. We don't need to know everything about the characters. They are allowed to keep their secrets and remain mysterious even to the reader! Oh, and sometimes the language was too modern - I saw "guys" and "okay" used between more authentic terms, when the book is set in 1901, albeit an alternate 1901. I think the author was too worried about the plot and setting to put more effort into her style and accuracy, which is a shame, because this book could have been worth four stars, if the writing were better quality.

All in all, Innocent Darkness is a good book, but not a great book. It's interesting enough, but doesn't have the wow factor to get a higher rating from me. If you like steampunk and/or faeries, as I do, and want to read something that follows the girl-accidentally-wakes-up-in-another-world trope without being clichéd, you should read it. Just don't blame me if you don't love it.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf

The Watch That Ends the Night 
Date finished: 15 June 2014

This book took me a long time to read, but it was definitely worth it. I can't remember when my interest in the Titanic began, but it was more than a few years ago, and since then I've only read a few novels about it. I've seen Titanic twice, naturally, but I haven't come across that many YA books about it.

The Watch That Ends the Night is an incredible verse novel with fascinating characters. Obviously, since we all know what happens, and it happens it such a short period of time, the book is character-driven, with 25 different character perspectives (including the iceberg and the ship rat). Each character has his or her own unique voice, and although it is written in verse, it reads almost like a normal novel, which I love. I think my favourite characters to read about were the crew members, since usually you only get to read about/see the passengers.

The writing in this book blew me away. It flowed really well, and the ideas and thoughts at the end of one character's part segued into the start of the next character's. The imagery was amazing and I could see the lives of the characters clearly in my mind. On the inside cover it claims "Allan Wolf offers a breathtaking, intimate glimpse into the lives of two dozen passengers and crew, told with astounding emotional power". That's absolutely correct. It's very emotional (especially in the last two chapters) and intimate, as you see the private thoughts, hopes, and plans of the individuals.

Not only was this extremely well-written, but the author did a hell of a lot of research too. You can see in what I call the appendices (they're not really, I'm just gonna call them that) all the resources he used to get things historically accurate. Now that takes patience. He deserves a round of applause just for taking the time to do such thorough research. Whew.

In short, The Watch That Ends the Night is a wonderful book and if you like a) interesting characters, b) the Titanic, or c) a book that will make you question humanity, you must read it!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Sense & Sensibility (The Austen Project) by Joanna Trollope

Sense & Sensibility 
 Date finished: 21 May 2014

Sense & Sensibility is my favourite of the Jane Austen novels. (I've read all of her works and I'm only sixteen. Just putting it out there.) I just love the contrast between Elinor and Marianne, and the bitch that is Lucy Steele, and the awkwardness when Elinor thinks Edward has married Lucy. I read the original three years ago - 200 years after it was published! - and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also enjoyed Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (which is a hilarious adaption) and this modern version, which I read in two days.

What I love about this version is that the plot and the characters are more or less the same as the original, but it takes place in the modern world. Only it's a different world to the one I live in, as there are still aristocrats, and the rich have nothing better to do than marry, have children, and renovate huge houses. Even though this setting was foreign to me, I was still able to grasp how Elinor felt, as she is definitely the character the most like me (apart from Mags, of course).

Even though I already knew the plot, I still wanted to know how things would turn out, which is a very difficult thing for an author to do. I knew what was coming, most of the time, but where it mattered I was left guessing as to how that plot point would happen. I don't know if that makes sense, but even though I knew the story, this novel still had me hooked.

As for characters, Elinor and Margaret were the only ones I could relate to (although the others were fantastic too!). They're more sensible and realistic and down-to-earth. I absolutely adore them. It's funny that although my interests are more similar to Marianne's, personality-wise, I'm much more like Elinor. Marianne is a bit too theatrical, but I guess that's the point - she's sensibility, while Elinor is sense. Fanny and John Dashwood, Mrs Ferrars, the Steeles, and Mary Middleton were the characters you love to hate. They're meant to be selfish snobs, and you really feel for the Dashwood sisters when they have to deal with them. Sometimes I wish I were a character in a book, but I wouldn't want to have to have anything to do with those rich bitches.

The main thing that annoyed me about this book was the editing. There are lots of commas that are place after the quotation mark when they should go before it, which really pissed me off. Because it kept happening throughout the whole book. This is a published book - you'd think someone would check for correct punctuation! (Sorry, I'm a grammar nazi. Rant over.)
The writing was, for the most part, excellent. Although there were too many adverbs in places (hint: instead of writing "she held the guitar embracingly", try "she embraced the guitar"), and too many adverbs does annoy me and distract me from the story. If you can write the sentence without using an adverb, do so.

I would recommend this book to any Jane Austen fan, and anyone who likes a bit of drama. It's definitely worth the two days it took to read it.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Elites by Natasha Ngan

The Elites 
Date finished: 27 April 2014
Original review, ie. not posted on Goodreads
While I was reading this I thought that I'd only give it three stars, but then I finished it and decided that hey, it's original and unique, so why not give it four? Because, hello, it's a dystopian novel set outside America! And how many of those have you read? Okay, that little fact there might be the main reason that I liked it so much. Oops. But honestly, it is so refreshing to read something that isn't American, something that's written in proper English. 

I love the cover, which is usually what makes me pick up a book in the first place. Cover, title, author. (But not always in that order.) Anyway, yes, I like the background image and the girl dressed in awesome action-movie-type-clothes. And the font of the title. I'm a sucker for cool fonts. 

One of the best things about this book is that everything was resolved. There's no need for a sequel, because the author is good enough to get the conflict solved in one book. Most dystopian novels are in trilogies (Hunger Games, Delirium, Divergent, etc...) but the narrative in this one was fast enough to not need two more books afterwards.

One thing I didn't like so much was the lack of explanation of the setting. We don't find out much about what caused the other countries and cities to fall, and why Neo-Babel was the only one to survive. I would have liked to know, and I'm sure that one paragraph would have been enough to tell us.

I liked having a heroine who isn't white European. So many books have non-white supporting characters, but in how many is the actual protagonist a different ethnicity? So I enjoyed having the Chinese ("Red") Silver go through her struggles.

I thought the romance was sweet, although I kind of wish it had happened just a little bit later on. I guess I just love angst, and the thought of Silver and Butterfly shouting "I love you"s in the middle of an action sequence is me being a romantic.

I absolutely adored the ending. It was so powerful. Those three lines: Something bright. Something strong. Something precious. They're just perfect to end a book with. They highlight Silver's character and applaud her journey.

In conclusion, this book is definitely worth reading! I recommend it to all readers who love dystopian YA novels. It's fast-paced, thrilling, and there is rebellion and romance. Go ahead and read it.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy #1) by Anna Banks

Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy, #1) 
Date finished: 24 April 2014
This is one of those books that I read in 24 hours. I'm glad that it wasn't any longer than 320 pages, because I think that that would have made the book worse. The book wasn't terrible, but it wasn't brilliant either. From the blurb, I wasn't expecting much, which is a good thing as it turns out.

This book was like Ingo (by Helen Dunmore) for teenagers. I was going to say that it's a more mature Ingo, but if you consider how immature Emma (the protagonist) is, you can't say that it's a mature book at all. I always loved mermaids when I was little (at age six I apparently told my mum that when I grew up I was going to be a marine biologist and save the endangered mermaids) and are still vaguely interested in them today, at age sixteen.

The title is kind of misleading. With a name like Of Poseidon, you think of the Greek gods, not mermaids - sorry, Syrena. So that annoyed me a little. Especially since on the cover you can hardly see the Of bit.

Characters? Galen is intriguing. Toraf and Rayna are hilarious. Rachel is mysterious, and Emma is okay. But, ohmysweetgoodness!, for the protagonist I was hoping for someone more mature, someone who acts their age. Someone who doesn't act like a freaking twelve year old when she's eighteen. 
There are a lot of cliches in this book. The whole Half Breed thing, and one person in the couple not going to live as long as the other is so Lord of the Rings. The girl finds out she can hold her breath underwater for hours and talk to fish thing is so Ingo.  The girl dates other guy to get first guy jealous thing is so every American YA novel. The shark attack thing is so Soul Surfer. Sigh.
Recommendations: You know what? Ingo is better. For a good mermaid book, read that.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine

Prince of Shadows 
Date finished: 19 April 2014
Original review, ie. not posted on Goodreads

This is one of those books that isn't actually that good, but I enjoyed nonetheless. It had its flaws, but for some reason I liked it anyway. I absolutely loathe Romeo and Juliet (I studied it in Year 10 - we read the play and watched both the 1968 and 1996 films), but I've read another book about Benvolio and Rosaline, so I was intrigued to read this author's take on the background characters.

It was refreshing to read something in the point of view of a male character, because most YA books I read have the usual strong female character. So it was nice to have a hero instead of a heroine for a change. (And before you ask, yes, I am a feminist.) I don't know, I just feel like girl protagonists are taking over the YA genre, and boy protagonists shouldn't be neglected. I loved reading the notes and diary entries of the other characters though, and I worked out the curse before Benvolio did (not sure if I'm smart, or if that was the author's intention). It was nice to have a short break from him every fifty pages or so.

I didn't like the pace of the novel, though. It was very long (I read it nonstop for two days before I got to the end) and it took ages and ages to get to the Capulets' ball, which is where Romeo and Juliet really starts. And I felt like the end scene was a bit rushed, but that could just be me.

I loved that Mercutio had his secret lover, and that Romeo and Juliet had a curse on them. I've always found their romance ridiculous, so it was good to know that the author (and the protagonist) feel the same, and gave a new and exciting reason for their relationship. I remain of the opinion that what Romeo and Juliet had was not love.

Having a thief as the protagonist was an interesting choice, and I think it was a good decision. It added suspense to a not-so-suspenseful story, and made a lot of plot points possible. You don't generally read about thieves, and I quite liked that Benvolio didn't steal to keep other people's jewels, as he was a good character.

One thing that I will complain about, however, is Rosaline. Don't get me wrong, she's fascinating (to think that she actually managed to turn down Romeo! Smart girl.) but it got boring the way that she was referred to throughout the whole book, but didn't appear in all that many scenes. It annoyed me a little. The title may as well have been Rosaline Capulet.

But all in all, I did enjoy this book, and I would recommend it to teenage readers who like romance and historical novels.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings #2) by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2) 
Date finished: 16 April 2014

Got insomnia? Read The Lord of the Rings! Guaranteed cure!

Well, actually, The Two Towers was much better than Fellowship. I liked the second book a lot more than the first. To be honest, I should rate this 3 stars and the first book 2, as that would be more accurate as to how I felt about the two books. I really need to go back and downgrade my rating of the first book. Unlike FoTR, where it only gets interesting in the second part, TTT is only interesting in the first part. There is so much more action (though still not a lot) and the plot actually gets interesting. It's a shame that in the second part it gets boring enough. (Sorryyy, but I just don't care about Frodo, Sam, and Gollum.)

Much like Fellowship, Two Towers is, mostly, a few hundred pages of scenery. There is action, but if you look close at the text, you'll find that the majority of it is descriptions of scenery - Rohan, Fangorn, Ithilien, Mordor, etc. It's all scenery. And even though it's all scenery, I can't picture it in my head. This is why I love the movies - you can see the scenery in the background, without it being something you have to chug your way through, cursing Tolkien all the way. Do people actually like reading about scenery? Do they? Do they really? Because I sure don't. Give me action, cool dialogue, kickarse characters!

My sister told me that there were some funny parts in this book, and there was one: the Orcs in the last chapter were Spanish! They said Hola! Is that Tolkien's racism talking or what? Because I love Spanish and the Hispanic culture myself, I felt a bit offended. Why are the baddies Spanish? Why not French, or American? Jeez.

I, and probably everyone else, even those who love these books, had a problem with the different perspectives this book is written in. I liked reading about Aragorn, Legolas, Merry, and Pippin in the first part, but then I found it really hard to get through the second part, with just Frodo, Sam, Gollum, and Faramir. What Tolkien should have done is, like in the movies, mix up the chapters so that each chapter is about different characters. That way, the time frame isn't confusing, and you don't find the cure to your insomnia.

So I've been reading other people's reviews on Goodreads (the ones where they rated the book 2 stars), and I agree with most of their points. It's boring, slow, and the characters aren't likeable - or even realistic. And neither is the dialogue! I love good dialogue, in fact it's one thing that is essential in any story, and yet, the dialogue is these books is long and unrealistic. People don't talk like that now, and I don't think they talked like that even in Tolkien's time, or in medieval times. So why do the characters talk like that?

The characters are still pretty boring in this book. In the movie, I love the Three Hungers and Merry and Pippin. In the book, they're okay, but nowhere near as interesting (or entertaining). I have come to the conclusion that Tolkien really should have had an editor who knew about characterisation. And structure. And when too much is too much. There's also the relationships. These characters have really weird relationships with each other, and even though I've been told again and again that Tolkien didn't intend for there to be any homosexuality, I just cannot interpret Frodo and Sam's relationship as anything but gay. (May I point out that the first time I saw the movies, I shouted out "Just kiss!" at one stage?)

I know that most people don't like the songs in these books, but I found myself enjoying them. I think that they are very well-written (Tolkien should have stuck with songs and poems, I think) and offer a well-deserved break from the long passages of scenery. In fact, if the whole story were written as a song, I think it would be much easier to read.

I'm sure there are other things that I wanted to say about The Two Towers, but as I can't remember them right now, I'll finish this off with a warning: Don't read The Lord of the Rings unless you like falling asleep in the middle of a chapter and accidentally creasing the pages.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner
Date finished: 5 April 2014

I have to study this for English and let me tell you, I don't agree with "don't judge a book by its cover" one little bit. Just looking at the cover when my teacher handed me a copy, I knew that I was not going to enjoy this book. And I was right. To be fair, I hate any text I've studied in English, but this book didn't even interest me at all.

For a start, how am I, a sixteen year old white girl in New Zealand, supposed to relate to a young boy in 1970s Afghanistan? I couldn't sympathise with Amir, I didn't get his culture, I didn't really get him. I knew all this by the second chapter. Interesting setting and character are the two things I look for in a novel, and I was deprived of these. So I wasn't exactly hooked by the beginning.

For the whole first hundred or so pages, I was waiting and waiting for something to happen. The narrator's way of recounting every little detail about his childhood slowed down the novel to an unbearable pace. When I read a book, I need action, not a character's memories that will become totally irrelevant later on. The story in general was boring and I predicted that Amir would marry Soraya as soon as she was introduced, and I knew that he would adopt Sohrab as soon as it was mentioned that Hassan had a son. One of the other English teachers at school said that there are "so many plot twists" in The Kite Runner. So I read it anticipating those. There were literally two.

In short, I'm glad that I didn't expect anything great from this book. I would have been extremely let down if I had. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone - in fact, I would recommend that you don't read it. Why it has a 4.20 average rating on Goodreads I will never know.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Not a review

Hi there, I just wanted to share that I got these awesome star ratings images from this blog here. The blog has a page of features that you can download for your own blog, which is really nice of the blogger, as well as useful!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings #1) by J.R.R. Tolkien

Date finished: 2 March 2014

As a huge fan of the movies, I wanted to enjoy this more than I actually did. The movies are incredible. But the book is not. For someone who is in this fandom and enjoyed The Hobbit, it's hard for me to say this, but: Tolkien just wasn't that great an author. (I'm not saying he wasn't good at writing poems, but he just wasn't very good at writing this novel.) When I first started the book, I loved it. I was in awe of Tolkien's amazing world-building and his writing style. Somewhere along the way, all of that changed.

For a start, his style is so damn hard to read! For the readalong we only read a few chapters each week, but if I were reading it on my own, I couldn't manage much more than that. I read The Council of Elrond in three days, that's how long it took. I have read all of Jane Austen's works and I didn't struggle with them as much as I struggled with this. I don't know how people read the books over and over again - once was hard enough! I'm still going ahead and finishing the trilogy for the Tolkien Readalong, but I won't be reading it again.

Secondly, there are so many unnecessary characters and plot arcs. Don't get me wrong, I love all the members of the fellowship, but then there are the characters we only see once who don't add anything to the plot. Then, there are the unnecessary minor plot points. So many of these just slowed down the plot and made the introductory part too long. A good writer doesn't waste a single word. Tolkien wastes whole characters, chapters, and minor events. I love Middle-earth, but if I had edited Lord of the Rings it would have been so much shorter and more concise. Every word, scene, and character would matter.

Now, characters. There really aren't many relatable characters in Fellowship of the Ring at all. In fact, I can't think of any except a couple of the Hobbits. You get Galadriel and Aragorn talking about themselves in the third person, and no-one in real life does that. I don't care if they're not your average human - they still don't act like proper people. That's not very good, is it, Tolkien? Readers need to be able to relate to the characters and care about them, if they want to enjoy the book.

Then, there's the fact that although the setting is wonderful and intriguing and magical and all that, the story itself is quite boring. It's only when the Hobbits and Strider/Aragorn (I prefer the name Strider for some reason) start making their way towards Rivendell that things get exciting. And that's 250 pages into the book. It's not exactly a thriller.

As for a recommendation, I'm not sure who I would recommend this to. There are fantasy books out there that are a hundred times better than Fellowship of the Ring. I, for one, quite like Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle, Tamora Pierce's Tortall books, Isobelle Carmody's Obernewtyn Chronicles and LegendSong Series,  and Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series. Read those instead. Don't waste your time reading The Lord of the Rings when the movies are far superior.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Northern Lights (His Dark Materials, #1) by Philip Pullman

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman 
Date finished: 19 September 2012
Review originally posted on Goodreads

I read Northern Nights by Philip Pullman in September. I really enjoyed the book, and continued to read the rest of the series. The story starts when the main character, Lyra, and her daemon, Pantalaimon,  accidentally see an attempt to kill her uncle, Lord Asriel. They stay hidden and overhear what her uncle says to some of the men at the college about Dust and his expedition to the North. Later she meets the wonderful Mrs Coulter, and it is arranged that Lyra will go to live with her. Before she leaves she is given a mystical device called a alethieometer, and told to keep it a secret from Mrs Coulter. For a while Lyra lives in the city with Mrs Coulter, and everything is great, until she discovers that her wonderful guardian is really evil. Lyra runs away, and is caught up in an adventure involving armoured bears, witches, gyptians, Gobblers, and the North in an attempt to rescue her best friend, Roger.

Lyra is a strong character, and changes throughout not only this novel, but the whole series. She becomes braver, and more accepting of what happens to her. She is a very good liar, and while usually this would be a bad thing, she manages to save her  and her daemon's skin by doing so.

Later on in the series you are told that the Church is evil, and what they call God is not really the Creator, but a being who wants to manipulate the human race.  I found this very entertaining, and accepted it as an even more brilliant part of the story.

What I most enjoyed was the magic/fantasy part of the story. Lyra's alethiometer tells her stuff she wouldn't normally know, and reading about the witches was very enjoyable. Also in Northern Lights there are different worlds, but it isn't until the sequel, The Subtle Knife, that we read about them, and the story moves in three different worlds.

The language was good - the story was well-written, although there were a few too many adverbs (which I dislike with a passion), and I didn't like that  some of the words were written in American spelling, even though the author is English.

All in all, I recommend this book to anyone who likes a strong female heroine, and doesn't mind negative views on religion.

Saturday, 8 March 2014


I had the idea when I was reading a review by elfswood this morning. I decided that I should transform this blog into a real review blog. So I downloaded the Blogger app for my phone and went through all my old posts, cringing at what I said and read five, six years ago. I hadn't realised but when I started this blog I intended to talk about the books that I was reading. Somehow, something changed and I ended up blogging about completely different things. It was embarrassing, reading my posts from when I was 11, 12, 13, 14...

So I'm going to makeover this blog. It will be for the sole purpose of book reviews (or, more accurately, book reactions) and it will be run by the much more mature sixteen-year-old me. I hope you decide to stay!

I'm Alexandria, a 19-year-old reader/writer/blogger from New Zealand. I love language, history, and sci-fi. Hi! I'm always around if you want to talk, which you can do via comments, the contact form, or Facebook.

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