Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lichgates by SM Boyce


Lichgates by S. M. Boyce is a fantasy novel following a young woman Kara as she stumbles upon a lichgate that is disguised as a gazebo.  This gate takes her into another realm, where she becomes a person of great power known as the Vagabond.  The races of this world all seek to utilize her powers for their own desires, is there anyone she can trust?  Will she ever be able to complete the task that the first Vagabond set out to complete, but failed?

This is another book that I was not too sure about, but the cover and blurb really caught my interest.  The story started off slow, but then really picked up in about the middle portion.  There is a lot of storyline happening in the novel.  There is the story of Kara as she familiarizes herself around Ourea and comes to terms with her new role as the Vagabond.  Then there is the Vagabond's story of trying to convince Kara to complete his task and unite the nations, and other secret tasks he refuses to tell Kara. And there is also the story of Braeden who is trying to escape his heritage and become someone new.

The story is somewhat well written, but progresses slowly.  It isn't enough to take away from the storyline, but it does make the reader wonder when the "action" will begin.  Once it does begin then it is difficult to put the novel down.  The characters are likable enough.  Kara at first comes across as self centered and hypocritical as she tells others the need to talk about themselves so she can trust them, but refuses to talk about her own past.  There are things about her past that she needs to come to terms with before she can be the person that Ourea needs.  Braeden on the other hand is likable in the fact that he wants to be something other than what he was created to be.  He wants to be a better person and do good in the world rather than the evil his people creates.  The war within himself adds tension to the story just as much as the tension created with his feelings for Kara.

This novel was a good set up for future novels in the series, and I do plan on reading those as well.  Once you start a series how can you not finish it and find out what happens to the characters?  I look forward to seeing what else SM Boyce can come up with for readers.  My recommendation is for those who enjoy young adult fantasy novels to check this one out.  My rating would be a 3 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

After Alice By Gregory McGuire

Yep, another Alice in Wonderland spin off, I've told you I love Alice in Wonderland and anything related to it.  I actually received this one as a gift from my wonderful boyfriend.  After Alice is the story of Ada, a friend of Alice's who had fallen down the rabbit hole after Alice did.  She spends her time in Wonderland looking for Alice so they may return home together.

I have to  say I was a little disappointed in this novel.  There seemed to be more focus on the family in London rather than Ada in Wonderland.  I expected some reference back to London, but not the this extent which included Alice ' s sister fancying a gentleman who came to their home. There were slight mentions of her having a disability, but not further uses in the story.  

There were several other references to other works of literature or nursery rhymes that were completely out of place.  For example  Ada comes to a door with  the inscription "abandon hope all ye who enter here."  That is from Dante's  Inferno, so one wonders in the gates to Hell in Wonderland?

We don't see Ada interacting with many of the known characters for too long, it's all just a brief contact, as she passes through their part in Wonderland.  When she does catch up to Alice it is lacking in  climax.  I think Mr. McGuire  tried to put too much into the story that he lost track of his original idea.  I without say this novel is not for Alice fanatics like myself, but others may find it enjoyable.  I am struggling with a rating while I was completely  disappointed and disheartened by this book it is well written.  I would have to, unfortunately, give this novel a 2 out 5 which saddens me not only because I am an alice fan, but also a Gregory McGuire fan.  This novel seemed to lack a certain quality his other booms have.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/Through The Looking Glass

Lately I have gotten into reading a lot of modern fairy tales, more specifically different versions of Alice in Wonderland.  So I decided to go back to my roots and read Alice in Wonderland again.  It has been way too long since I have opened the pages of one of my favorite stories.  So much so that I forgot a lot of the timeline and sequence of things.  The version i have included Through The Looking Glass, so I was able to read both stories back to back as I am sure Carroll intended. 

I think sometimes media adaptations have tainted my viewpoint of the story, many movie versions of Alice in Wonderland distort the story, or have a plot that is not remotely close to what Carroll originally wrote.  I found in myself there were so many things that I have forgotten such as the fact that Hatter and Alice did not get along as well as we would like to imagine, also the Tweedles did not make an appearance into the story until Through the Looking Glass not Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as say Disney's animated version showed.

I have always enjoyed Alice in Wonderland, as I mentioned before, it is among my favorite stories, possibly my favorite fairy tale.  I used to want to fall down a rabbit hole and have Alice like adventures of my own.  The Cheshire cat always fascinated me and was one of my favorite characters.  I always wanted more of Cheshire in the story, he is such a fantastic character the seemed to be underused.  Of course I would highly recommend this classical tale to everyone, as I am slightly bias, but read this book.  Definitely read this book!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Sisters Red

Sister's Red by Jackson Pearce follows sisters Scarlet and Rose as the hunt wolves that are preying on the young women in the area.  They soon realize the wolves of various packs are gathering for something bigger, The Potential: a man who has the potential to become a wolf.  Now the sisters along with their friend Silas, go searching for the potential to try and bring the packs down.

Sisters Red is a modern spin on Little Red Riding Hood.  Her name is Scarlet and as a young girl she protected her younger sister from the wolf resulting in her own body being scared and the loss of her eye.  Now the girls are older, in their late teens and have become hunters as they hunt the beasts, alongside the woodsman's son.  They overhead a pack of wolves discussing a man called a potential.  The girls and Silas go in search of this potential while trying to diminish the wolf population.  What they discover along the way is startling and difficult to accept.  Will Scarlet and Rose be able to do what is needed when the time comes?  Will a man come between two sisters?  

I have gotten into a phase of  reading modern fairy tales.  This one drew me in because of the cover art, I found it appealing and beautiful.  The story on the other hand had a lot of potential, but seemed to fall short.  It almost became too predictable and easy to figure out the "surprising plot twist."  Though I can see why the novel would be appealing to others as it has all the elements of a fantastic story.  We see Little Red Riding Hood as if she grew up after surviving a wolf attack.  Jackson Pearce does have a talent for storytelling and developing a compelling story.  I wanted the reason behind the potential being so special to be something special, it felt like the idea has been done before.

Pearce tries to keep everything a mystery, but doesn't include other elements that would lead readers astray as far as the twist goes.   He has a great writing style of splitting the story into two parts, sections told by Scarlet and sections told by Rose.  I almost wanted a section or two from Silas' point of view towards the end as he becomes more of a focal point. 

I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys fairy tales with a modern twist, while it had moments of predictability and cliche's, it was still a fantastic book to read.  I would also recommend this book for young adults, maybe not so much adults in their 30's as we tend to expect more from our stories, maybe that is why I was able to figure out the secrets.  Overall I would give this novel a 3 out of 5 rating.  I do look forward to see what Jackson Pearce has in store for us next.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Heavens Wager by Ted Dekker

I have mentioned before that Ted Dekker is one of my favorite authors.  I have read just about every one of his books.  Heaven's Wager is one of Ted's first novels and I was excited when I found it at the book store.  It follows a man, Kent as battles through the grief and turmoil of not only losing his wife, but also losing a big promotion, and soon after his wife's death he losses his son.  He proceeds to find a way to get the money he deserved back, even if it meant stealing.  There is a war going on between good and evil, battling for his soul.  Which side will win in the end?

Unfortunately this is not a Ted Dekker book I became fond of.  It began very slow and it was hard to get past the first 100 pages or so.  It felt dry and lacking of that Ted Dekker quality.  I am glad I began with books Ted wrote later in his career, rather than this because it would have turned me off from his writing.  Not that I am saying it is a bad book, because it is, just slow paced.  Generally, Ted is good at descriptions and painting a vivid picture, but in Heaven's Wager he over does this, to the point that it takes away from the heart of the story.  He also uses a lot of the same tag lines over again throughout the novel.

While I enjoy Ted Dekker's writing, this book was not for me.  That being said, don't let that discourage yourself from picking up this book and giving it a try yourself.  What might not be my cup of tea, might be what gets you interested in this amazing author.  As a rating I would give it a 3 out of 5.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Tragedy has struck!!

Oh no, one of the worse possible things has happened.....my Nook has died!!  It was working normally, then I went to turn the page and nothing.  Tried to turn it off, and nothing.  SO sad that my beloved Hemingway has died, he has served me well through the years.  Now, I must decide if I want to keep with the Nook or switch to the Kindle.  I have both apps on my phone so not all is lost, just wondering what is the better choice now.