Monday, November 14, 2011

The Dragon Reborn

**Links: Prequel * Book 1 * Book 2**

Continuing on with my readings of the Wheel of Time series, I have just finished book 3, The Dragon Reborn. Of the books I've read thus far, this is my favorite.

We spend very little time following Rand in this book, until the very end. Throughout this book, Rand's point of view is limited to a few short passages. I actually enjoyed being able to follow the other characters more extensively.

The character that is followed most through this book is Perrin. He is my favorite character (he reminds me of my husband). He is still grappling with his connection to wolves and it is made even more difficult by the dreams he has. He goes into dreams and sees a wolf he knows is dead. This wolf acts as a guide through the dreams.

A new character is introduced, one who will be very pivotal to Perrin's character development. Zarine Bashere, or Faile as she chooses to be called, is a strong-willed girl and stubborn to the core. She is very interested in Perrin, and you can feel their relationship grow through the book. Although Perrin will not admit to liking her, he eventually comes around.

Egwene, Elayne, and Nynaeve get into trouble doing work for the Amyrlin, tracking the Black Ajah. Egwene in particular learns much about her strength in the One Power and finds a way to help them get out of the trouble they get in.

Mat and Thom (who all had previously believed to be dead) went on a rescue mission to save the girls. Mat is finding, after being healed in Tar Valon, that he is missing much of his memory. But at the same time, it is being replaced with memories that are not entirely his. He learns that he is extremely lucky...when it comes to random chance. Any pattern doesn't always go his way, but random acts always go his way.

Loial, the Ogier, continues taking notes on the three ta'varen (Mat, Perrin, and Rand) so that he can write his book. He considers returning to the stedding (where the Ogier live), but decides he can't pass up on the stories that he gets traveling with the group.

Rand, in his short blurbs, is really struggling. He is a confused man at this point and has no real control over the One Power. He finds himself in dreams, unsure of who to trust in them.

I'm looking forward to continuing on in The Shadow Rising. (I'm sure it'll take at least another month to finish this one too.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Great Hunt

**Links: Prequel * Book 1**

In continuing to read through Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, I just completed book two The Great Hunt.

While I do not rate this book as high as The Eye of the World, it still has a great story.

In the second installment of this epic fantasy, you really start to see Rand struggle with accepting that he is, in fact, the Dragon Reborn. He struggles with the understanding that he can channel and that this channeling will eventually drive him mad.

All of the major players begin to go through some huge changes in this book. Nynaeve and Egwene go to the White Tower to begin their training to be Aes Sedai. Perrin is accepting his ability to communicate with the wolves, and is beginning to be less ashamed of that fact. Mat's health deteriorates with the loss of the tainted dagger that holds the cure for his illness.

You also begin to question some of the characters you meet. In the first book, you were able to take characters at face value, for the way they were written. In this book, you begin to discover that there is more to each character than immediately meets the eye. The Black Ajah is introduced, and it will immediately have you questioning if this Aes Sedai or that Aes Sedai is of the Black. Only one Black sister is revealed in this book, although you begin questioning the loyalty of one more.

Moiraine and Lan are not prominent in this book. I felt that Robert Jordan was choosing to focus more on the three boys' struggles through this. They are all growing and each of them are realizing that it may be a long time, if ever, until they see their home of Emond's Field again.

By the end of the book, you will learn some important things that I believe are crucial to later books.

I highly recommend this entire series if you love fantasy.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Eye Of The World

*Please forgive my long absence. We moved and this was a relatively long book to get through. When I don't have much time to read, it often takes me longer than I wish to finish reading something.*

**Link: Prequel**

The Eye of the World is the first (truly the first book) in the Wheel of Time series. This is my husband's all time favorite book series and he introduced me to them when we met. I originally wasn't sure that I would like them, considering the length of each book and how many books there are (14, when the last is published).

But I was pleasantly surprised. These are a very obvious example of the fantasy genre (which is my favorite).

I really enjoyed reading this book. It sets up a lot of the series in this opener. We meet the main characters, even though more pseudo-main characters get introduced in later books, and we learn why all of them are together (at least somewhat).

I will tell you now, though, this is not the series for you if you can't follow multiple story lines. Even in this book, the characters get separated and for a couple chapters you follow one group, then another, then the third.

I think this is a great book for people who enjoy action/adventure stories, but there's definitely a subtle love story that begins to blossom.

Rand al'Thor is our MAIN character, in that the book is mostly told from his perspective, but you can tell right away that Matrim Cauthon and Perrin Aybara will be very prominent. Egwene al'Vere and Nynaeve al'Meara are somewhat lesser characters, but still play a pivotal role in the way this book unfolds. Moiraine and Lan (an Aes Sedai and Warder) are the pair that bring the group together and lead them through the struggles and fighting that are encountered throughout this book.

I can't wait to continue reading this series and sharing how I like them.

**To Be Continued with Book Two - The Great Hunt**

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Spring

This is the start of an interesting stretch of reading. This is considered a prequel to the Wheel of Time series. Robert Jordan was an amazing writer. I'm sad that he passed away before he could finish the series, but I'm glad that Brandon Sanderson has taken over the last few books.

On to my review.

This book was amazing. I love Robert Jordan's story-telling. This book covers how Moiraine (the Aes Sedai that is big in the beginning of the series) meets Lan (her Warder). It also talks about the beginning of the search for the Dragon Reborn.

There's magic, fighting, and a little hint of sex. I love how completely wrapped up in the story I can get.

Fantasy story-telling like this is something I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Lost Valentine

I got this book after watching the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie based on it. The movie itself made me cry, so I went into this book with much the same expectation. I wasn't disappointed.

As with most books that are made into movies (or TV shows), I liked the book more than the movie. This was such a sweet story. A love story without the usual sex involved in most romance novels these days.

The story of Caroline and Neil Thomas was something that I hope I can have. Without the tragedy hopefully. They have a love that spanned 50 years, even though they only spent 1 year together. Set in WWII, it really shows what true love is. Neil, a Navy pilot, goes missing in the Phillippines and Caroline never gives up the belief that he will come home to her.

I won't ruin the ending of this story. If you like sappy love stories, I highly recommend this book - with a box of tissues.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mirror Mirror

Gregory Maguire once again delivered a book I thoroughly enjoyed.

Mirror Mirror is Snow White. That's pretty easy to figure out. But the way that Gregory Maguire re-writes these fairy tales is so fascinating. Snow White is actually Bianca de Nevada. Lucrezia Borgia is the evil queen. The way that Maguire used bits from the Borgia history into this fictionalized story was amazing. Their relationship with the de Nevada family was totally fiction, but he used historical fact in some parts. It was amazing.

He even went with the original Grimm Brothers version of Snow White by using the same methods of murder from that fairy tale: hunter in the forest, poisoned comb, corset tied too tight, and then the apple.

I highly recommend this. Gregory Maguire books are like fairy tales for grown ups.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

I love this book. It's a twist on the normal story of Cinderella. Instead of being told making Cinderella into the main character and this completely pure character, Gregory Maguire has made her character, Clara, so much more human. Margarethe, the stepmother, isn't wicked in the sense that she is in the fairy tale. Instead, she is more misguided in her attempts to better her life and the lives of her daughters. The stepsisters, Iris and Ruth, are never wicked. They're just trapped in the wake of their mother's scheming. Clara is a cruel, confused girl at the beginning of the book and she grows to be this brave woman who wants to just be left alone.

Iris is really seen as the main character of the story, because she is the one that seems to be telling it. The whole book is a memory of this time in the Fisher sisters' lives. It's written in present tense so it really felt like I was part of the story. I could almost see all of the story happening.

I highly recommend this if you like retellings of fairy tales. Even if you think you won't like it, try it out. You just might be surprised.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Daisy Miller

I finally found a Henry James story (required reading naturally) that I sort of enjoyed.

Daisy Miller is a rather unusual story about an American girl and her family visiting Europe. But the tale of Daisy is told by a man who meets her in Switzerland, Mr. Winterbourne. He's very attracted to her and thinks about her constantly, even meeting her again in Rome months later. But Daisy is a flirtatious girl, and (in the time this story was written), it was often seen as very inappropriate for young, unmarried women to be seen alone with men.

I really enjoyed it because it didn't have a vague underlying tone like The Turn of the Screw or The Beast in the Jungle had. This was a very open story. You immediately see the kind of person that Daisy is, and as much as you try to warn the main character against her, you know he's going to love her.

I didn't particularly like Daisy as a character, but I loved Mr. Winterbourne. He was always very respectful to her, even when she didn't deserve that respect and after most of the society in Rome had rejected her.

I'd probably recommend this story to some people. But I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. I think that it's a story that only some people would find enjoyable and others would find dull.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Beast In The Jungle

Well, my opinion of Henry James hasn't changed much. Still very dull.

This novella, thankfully, was considerably shorter than Turn of the Screw was. It seemed to be a love story. Sort of.

The main characters had a secret between them. It was never completely revealed as to what this was, but it was alluded through the entire story as being some perversely sexual. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's what I got out of it.

I find myself struggling through these Henry James novellas. I'm used to authors telling you what's going on instead of alluding and hinting at it. I spent the entirely of this story feeling like I had intruded on a private conversation halfway through, and I'd missed the important parts to know what was going on.

So far, I'm not recommending Henry James stories.

The Turn Of The Screw

This novella took forever to read. I found it so dull and hard to get into.

The basic premise is a ghost story. Let's face it, those have been around for, well, forever. A pair of children are haunted by a pair of ghosts who are bent on killing them. I never figured out why, I never really understood most of this story. I tried. Lord knows I did.

I think I just felt a little lost. The ghosts, while they had names, were often just referred to as he and she. The main character was the governess to the children who was constantly seeing these apparitions. She's convinced she's going crazy. Maybe she is.

All I know is that I didn't enjoy this story at all.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Scarlet Letter

This book is difficult to get through, to be quite honest. It was written in the 1800s, but written about the 1600s. The language of the Puritans is a lot different than the language of modern society. But, that being said, if you look past the difficult language, you see a story that easily stands the test of time. It is very easy to see a modern woman in the role of Hester Prynne, a modern man in the role of Arthur Dimmesdale, and a modern child in the role of Pearl.

If I could say anything about this book, it reads very much as a story about overcoming difficulty. Hester is not a woman who caves under the weight of her punishment. She instead thrives in it. She learns to move on, and she raises her daughter to the best of her ability. She is a single mother who does what she can to make her daughter's life as comfortable as it can be. But she is also a very proud woman. Instead of telling the people of the town that Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale was the father of her daughter and deserved to share in the punishment, she stayed silent.

I believe that her silence was a way of not betraying him, but also saying that if he wished to share in the punishment publicly, he would have to be the one to reveal his sin. He waits seven long years, and reveals that sin on the day he dies. Personally, I think this was a major cop out. He never got to publicly feel his sin the way that Hester did. He was too afraid to lose his position and so he punished himself for what he did in the privacy of his own home. Hester was punished by the town wherever she went. It seems awfully unfair that he didn't share that public shame.

I really enjoy Hester as a character. She is very strong and admirable as a woman. I've spent the last year being a single mom, so I feel I can relate to her somewhat. I admit that I don't share the sin that she did, but I share some of the outcome. My daughter was born, my husband deployed, and I spent a year caring for her alone while he was away. It seems unfair, but at the same time, I know that he isn't enjoying this. So I feel like, while Dimmesdale never dealt with the public shame, his personal punishment was much worse than what the public would have dealt him.

Whatever your own position on this book might be, I highly recommend it (if you haven't already read it). I do suggest getting the Oxford World's Classic version since it contains a very helpful guide at the back to some of the more obscure references to our time.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Bookworm

I'm a serious bookworm. I love to read. Right now, I'm in school going for an English degree. That means, a lot of reading. And I figure, if I'm going to be reading all these books and I have to write critical response papers on them anyway, I should start a blog with what I really think about the books I read. Some I'll love and want to read over and over. Some I'll hate and be glad that I'm done reading them.

When I finish my current class, I'll be taking a break from school while my husband and I move and take some time with family. Then, I'll read books for me, personal pleasure books. Some series, some not. During the few months off while we're doing this moving process, I'll post my reviews on books that I'll generally enjoy.

I'll be bluntly honest about the books I read and it will be exactly what I think. I'm not doing this for any other reason than I love books and I love to talk about books.