The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Su19161852mmary (from http://www.goodreads.com):

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS… FOR THE LAST TIME.
A season of endings has begun.
It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.
It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.
It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.
This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

Review:

This is my first time reading anything by N.K. Jemisin, and while I already owned the book, it was a recommendation from a friend (a true bibliophile) that I made me open the book and read it.

The premise of the story is what hooked me. It’s a brand new world where Orogenes are able to control the power of the earth (still volcanoes, cause earthquakes) and their power is harnessed and controlled by Guardians and the Fulcrum. It’s a world like nothing I have read before (and I’ve read a fair bit of fantasy).

Apart from the incredible world building by Jemisin, the characters are compelling, especially the female ones. They are strong in every sense of the word, but are also flawed and ambitious and caring and revolutionaries. The male characters are not too bad, either.

Overall, this is a wonderful addition to the fantasy canon and I can’t wait to start on the second book in the series, The Obelisk Gate!

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2014 Summer Reading Review – Part 1

So far, my 2014 Summer Reading has been eclectic. I’ve read everything from history to fantasy to young adult and to mystery. However, from what I have read so far, the novels that I enjoyed the most and would recommend to others are: Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, The Salinger Contract by Adam Langer, and The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. These novels were suspense-filled, wonderfully written,  and just absolutely magical. Happy reading!

A Gaiman Double Feature! Review of Unnatural Creatures by Neil Gaiman (editor) & Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Unnatural Creatures

Summary (from Goodreads):

Unnatural Creatures is a collection of short stories about the fantastical things that exist only in our minds—collected and introduced by beloved New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman.

The sixteen stories gathered by Gaiman, winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards, range from the whimsical to the terrifying. The magical creatures range from werewolves to sunbirds to beings never before classified. E. Nesbit, Diana Wynne Jones, Gahan Wilson, and other literary luminaries contribute to the anthology.

Sales of Unnatural Creatures benefit 826DC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students in their creative and expository writing, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.

Review:

Needless to say I am a huge Gaiman fan (writing a review for two of his novels is a dead give away!), so when I saw this collection of short stories edited by him, I had no option, but to buy the book … and it did not disappoint!

Each story in the collection is unexpected, spine-tingling, surprising, hair-raising, and utterly original. The blurbs before each story gives insight into the author as well as sets the stage (a little) for the story ahead.

If you enjoy anything unexpected or unusual or just stories that linger in the corners of your mind long after the last sentence is read, then I cannot recommend this one enough!

Good Omens

Summary (from Goodreads):

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes NutterWitch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

Review:

As much as I love Gaiman and Pratchett, this one took a little while to get into. I was a bit confused in the beginning, especially about the loss of the Antichrist, but about twenty-five pages in (it’s worth it to keep going), it all started to fall humorously into place.

Like both author’s previous work, this novel is unexpected and tackles a big idea – the idea of faith, good and evil, and humanity –  in a, sometimes confusing, but always humorous way.

Recommended.

Review: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

A Storm of SwordsSummary (Goodreads):

Here is the third volume in George R.R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Together, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces maneuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords.

Review:

This instalment of A Song of Fire and Ice took much longer to read than initially anticipated. For the most part it had nothing to with the novel itself – I was distracted by work and other novels –  and could not give this the time and concentration it deserved. However, I have finally completed it and … wow!

While the first few sections (about four of them) were a little slow going, the action picks up right afterwards. So much happens to all the characters in this instalment, it took a couple of days afterwards for me to come to terms with what I had just read. The action, needless to say, is intense, gruesome and bloody (as wars are), but the outcomes are astonishing! Characters I adored (and some that I despised) either died (should have learned my lesson from book 1!) or made decisions that took my breath away, while one character that I had long despised (I get way too emotionally involved) gave me pause, and made me reconsider his behaviour and my feelings towards them (I still don’t particularly care for them, but the feeling is not an intense loathing, either). And then there were those characters that got their just rewards – both good and bad (will not say more or will give too much away). Every character undergoes a change due to their own actions or because of the actions of others, which is one of the reasons I find this series so addictive. The setting, Westeros, and the cities beyond it are astonishing in scale and detail, while the plot (at some points meandering and tiresome), for the most part is exciting and full of suspense.

Much is revealed, but even more questions are raised about the conspiracies and political intrigues that lead to the battles, in all its forms, in Westeros.

I very much enjoyed this one and and am looking forward to season three of the HBO series, as well. Recommended. On to book four – A Feast for Crows!