Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Book Reviews

I have been meaning to do some quick book reviews on the last few books I have read, and noticed that it has gotten a little out of hand, so I better get crack-a-lackin’ so I don’t fall too too far behind. Almost all of the books on my read list (seen on the right-hand side of my blog) have come from the library, and a few were read before I started my new blog, but I wanted to get them in. So, my sorta-mini book reviews (from oldest read to most current)....

Naked Empire by Terry Goodkind
Naked Empire is Book 8 of the Sword of Truth series. Truth is, most of the books in this series are pretty much self contained, even though to know what’s going on in one, you need to have read the previous ones, but you can read the next one without really feeling that need to read the next one (not usually any cliff hangers here). If any of you watch Legend of the Seeker, it is based on these books. However, these books have a lot of the same, as far as plot, and sometimes the main character seems a little too preachy and a little too righteous. I really liked the first books of this series, but the later ones are just okay.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Being a religious and spiritual person myself I was very curious about these books. Were they really as bad as many churches claimed they were? (Granted, there were many protests on the Harry Potter books and I paid them no mind – it’s one of my favorite series!) Overall, I liked this one, though I could see where the main character was a little hard to like. A spoiled, bratty child all of a sudden thrust in the role as proposed savior seemed a little far-fetched. However, there is one point in the book where I got emotional (it’s when a little kid gets cut off from his daemon, and the way it was written really touched me). Overall I enjoyed it enough to make me want to read the next one (and want to see the movie as well).

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Elantris was a very pleasant surprise to me. The reason we picked it up is because Sanderson was hand-picked to finish the last book in The Wheel of Time series (since Robert Jordan passed away before finishing it), and I was a little concerned to see if he was up to the task. This was his first published novel, written when he was 24 or 25, though it took him several years to get it published. (I think I wrote my NaNoWriMo novel around the same time. Yeah, where is THAT?) I like this fantasy novel because it’s a one-shot, which is rare for fantasy books these days. His writing style’s nice and concise, his characters believable, and his take on a magical system interesting. Brian and I liked it so much that we even got one of our friends to read it and she couldn’t put it down – and she doesn’t really read fantasy!

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
This book is told from a different point of view than The Golden Compass. You can see a little more of the author’s agenda against the church in this one, but I didn’t find it as captivating and interesting as the first one. However, at this point I felt I was invested and decided to continue. I didn’t have to, but it wasn’t so horrible.

The Riddle-Master of Hed by Patricia McKillip
It took me a LONG time to get into this book, but I must say that toward the end, I was intrigued by what would happen next – just enough for a cliff hanger. McKillip’s writing style is a little hard to get into. Seems almost archaic, even though it isn’t. I’ve been trying to get a hold of the next one, but it’s a different library. Hopefully it will keep my interest.

The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman
The last book of this series, and frankly, kind of disappointing. That the main character was supposed to be a new Eve (yes, as in Adam and), and how she was supposed to be tempted by this great thing, well, it all turned out a little anticlimactic for me. And I feel Pullman was really pushing his hatred against the church in this last book. Brian couldn’t finish it, though I did, just so I could. Overall, this series was just okay, for me. Nothing to add to my personal collection, though.

Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead
Some time ago I read another Lawhead series (this is the Pendragon cycle) which incorporated a man from our known world who goes back in time to a world where the Celts rule and there are also seemingly magical abilities. I liked that series overall, except for the end, which bothered me for several reasons (don’t want to ruin anything for anyone) and put me off of Lawhead for awhile. But we were at the library needing to find something to read, and Brian likes Lawhead, so …. One thing that he does, which I find interesting, is that he likes to shake things up, as far as point of view. I don’t know if I like it, but he’s consistent about changing it. Heh. Interestingly, this book begins before Merlin and how he comes to be. It was interesting enough to pick up the next one to see what HE does with a re-telling of this well-known story.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
I picked this up at Wal-Mart to complete my Harry Potter collection (yes, I even have some student “books”) and actually liked some of the moral tales. A fresh take on stories that have morals to them that are new, yet interesting.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
A recommendation not only by my friend Christine, but also by Amazon.com based on my reads and searches. I don’t know how exactly one would describe this story: third-person, first-person narrative? Basically, it’s a person telling another person about his life. Yes, it’s fantasy, and yes, set in a sort of medieval/renaissance-type setting, and of course, there’s magic. The writing isn’t necessarily overly wowing, but for some reason, this story really drew me in. Maybe because it’s kind of like a memoir, or an auto-biography, someone wanting to tell you his life story, and I very much enjoyed it and was very disheartened to see it end (and know that it’s several months yet before the next one comes out).

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
I read Gaiman’s blog on a regular basis. I really like him from what I can tell based on his blog and the like. However, some of his stories I like, and others I don’t. Granted, I haven’t read a lot, but enough. I have not seen the movie based on this book. His writing on his shorter novels always seems a little more simpler, but yet he weaves a nice rich world, with interesting creatures and characters. This, I believe, is supposed to be almost like a fairy tale or moral tale, of sorts, and overall I liked it, though sometimes I found the Star a little too … erm, dunno, well, not likable. So far, out of what I have read, Neverwhere is my favorite Gaiman-only book (because Good Omens was pretty funny, but co-written).

All in all, I have to say that Name of the Wind and Elantris were my favorites out of the ones I’ve read so far, which is nice. It means there are newer authors on the scene that we can expect some great things from (and I know Sanderson has a series called Mistborn which I’ve read is even better than Elantris, except those are at another library).

Thank you for giving some recommendations, some of which I even got this last time at the library. If you have any others, pass them on. Oh, and while fantasy IS my genre of choice, I do like other things. Remember, Pride and Prejudice IS my favorite novel.


Charles Gramlich February 24, 2009 at 11:12 PM  

I have a couple of these books but haven't read them. I didn't much care for the movie Stardust. It seemed pretty cliche really.

Anonymous February 25, 2009 at 9:46 AM  

I'm glad you liked Name of the Wind. It wasn't what I had expected either when I first read it. Neverwhere is my favorite Gaiman book, too. ^_^ I'll have to give Elantris a read. I've seen the book at Half-Price Books. I also agree about Goodkind's books. I love the first ones in the series, but then it went downhill.

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