Poison Study: Maria v. Snyder. (Spoiler Free)

This book. Is amazing!It was spectacularly written and the story line was beautifully developed; it was an intricate work of art that I loved reading. I cannot even being to describe how happy I am with this book, but I am certainly going to give it my best shot. 

This book. Is amazing, I put it down not three minutes ago and I am currently buzzing with the thrill of finishing a good book and starting a fantastic series. It was spectacularly written and the story line was beautifully developed; it was an intricate work of art that I loved reading. I cannot even being to describe how happy I am with this book, but I am certainly going to give it my best shot.

To start off with I unfortunately have to point out two minimal negative. Firstly, I wish that the romantic sub-plotline was a little more developed, while the build-up was beautiful subtly and not at all like a cheesy romance where you just have to roll your eyes, I feel like if it weren’t for the blurb revealing how it would go I wouldn’t have seen he romance coming and therefore, it would’ve been an out of nowhere occurrence, it also seemed like the development to the point of romantic action was a little rushed to build further up the sequence of events leading to the end. I feel like we weren’t given enough time to properly enjoy the pairing before chaos ensued. Another negative which is barely even a problem was a slight nuance of predictability. I kind of saw the plot-line evolving the way it did before it actually started developing. Now, I’m not sure if it’s because I’m such a seasoned reader that I can spot familiar tropes a kilometre away or if it was just the writing; so I’m only going to mention it instead of talking about it more, just in case it is just me.

Now that the gross negatives are out of the way, on the the gushing and frankly overwhelming compliments and good opinions on this book. HOLY CRAP it was fantastic!

So, right away we’re thrown unceremoniously into the story; and not in the ‘what the heck is going on?’ kind of way, but being thrown smack bang into the story and introduced to Yelena who is a prisoner, whose sentence of hanging is about to be carried out when she is given an unexpected reprieve. Continue on with her fate, to meet the noose or to become the Commander’s food taster, to risk her life everyday in order to ensure the leader of her country’s food to test for poison. She chooses to take the position and beings training under the eye of Valek, the commander’s advisor. The story is set in a fantasy setting; a country called Ixia where they are under martial law with a man called the Commander heading the country. The country is then further split into 8 section with each section under the rule of a General under the Commander’s rule.  It’s an intricately written story and Snyder does beautifully to set it up without the reader feeling overwhelmed by information. It’s done in a way that’s gradual and uses language we can understand and told through flashbacks and other characters stories to reveal how the world is shaped, formed and run. For me, fantasy has always been a challenge; but this series is brilliant and brings a whole new amount of faith into my exploration into the genre. It is truly hard to write a fantastic fantasy novel with a balance of information and plot working together; but Snyder has done it ten-fold. I cannot wait to read the next instalment in her series, and hopefully any others she has written after that.

This book is beautiful written and published, It is a wonderful beginning to what i hope will be a wonderful and fantastic series. I would recommend it to anyone who ants to read a good fantasy novel to open them up to the series.

Til Next Time,

L.K.

Ready Player One: Ernest Cline

The Ultimate Gaming story for any and all kinds of nerds.

Where to even being? I went into this book expecting it to be a good read, what i didn’t expect was for it to fulfil my every Geeky dream. While it was a slow burn, it was the kind of slow burn that made you glad you waited every second you did, because the ending is immensely satisfying. This story follows the journey of Wade Owen Watts, a kid with the coolest initials ever living in the futuristic equivalent of a trailer park (trailer vans stacked onto of each other high enough to tower over skyscrapers) who is attempting to be the winner of the ultimate treasure hunt. But first some context.

The world that Ernest writes about has basically gone to hell, there’s pollution, poverty, starvation, drug abuse and the eradication of society as we know it. Not exactly “Disney Land” material. Everyone’s way of escaping their crappy reality is to login to this gaming system called OASIS. This system works as an online digital world which people use as both a gaming platform, and education platform and a business platform. Its basically a world embedded in 1’s and 0’s. The man responsible for the success of this game is named James Halliday who is a billionaire in a world of poverty. Upon his death, instead of a will leaving the company, OASIS and his wealth to someone he knew, he left a trail of three keys leading to three gates that all lead to the final prize. To find a key, gives the clue to the corresponding gate and completing the challenge within the gate reveals the next clue to find the next key. This sparked a culture amongst those who live in the OASIS. The people who spend their lives trying to find the first key and being their journey to finding the final gate are called “Gunters”. These Gunters live by a shared code of respect for each other, Halliday’s creation and a love of 80’s pop culture. They also share a hatred for a group of people also on the quest to the finish line who are called “Sixers”. These “Sixers” work for a company called “IOI” and whose bosses wish to turn this free platform into a way of making money and making sure that only the rich could use OASIS.

The general flow of the book is a slow burn leading up to a satisfying ending was admittedly a little hard to read. As someone who has not yet picked up a gaming console the vocabulary was a little difficult to grasp at first; but once I got into the flow of the story it was relatively easy to understand the lingo and get into the character’s from of mind.  Wade Watts is a beautifully written character who is both relatable and sweet. He is a very dedicated and wholesome nerd who lives and breathes OASIS, being only in his teenage years he has seen a lot of what the world has to offer and is quite happy with living in a virtual reality, and has given up on any ideas of trying to save the world, in fact, he reveals that if he were to inherit Halliday’s fortune he would build a rocket-ship to try and find a new world to populate. So, essentially in the beginning he is an overweight, nerdy character with only one friend to calls his own and a low level character. Throughout the book he evolves as a character enormously, he is still loveable nerd, but his friendship circle has expanded, he started caring more about his health and safety and he found a home to call his own; he also power-ups his character enormously. his evolution is one that makes your heart warm, but is subtle enough to be believable and to have a strong emotive response as it feels as if you as a person and the reader are growing along with Wade.

Even though it feels at some point within the novel that the ending is pretty obvious, the book does not cease to surprise by adding plot twists and turns throughout the story that really turn all of your assumptions about the characters and story on your head. Each new character that Wade befriends or interacts with has a compelling outline that really evokes emotions within the reader and makes you want to get to know the world and the gamers within it even more. It is definitely a book I would recommend and consider re-reading.

 

Til next time,

L.K.

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

An interesting start to what I hope to be a great Trilogy.

NON-SPOILER SECTION:

The story if an excellent start to a series, with an ending that makes a reader want to continue the story as soon as possible. However, there are some elements to the story that (to me) were predicable. The mythology and world-building involved was elegantly written with just enough mystery to promote continued reading. I love the development of the characters and the way they were subtly described across the book. Laini Taylor really creates a beautiful and mysterious story  that I can’t wait to continue to explore, the only negative I would say would be the  slight predictability to some events.

The story line was given just enough history to make sense with the attitudes of surrounding background characters such as other Chimera and Seraph. I liked especially how Kaoru had a unique childhood and she had a unique perspective on the world around her. Prague was also a beautiful setting for this book which added another element to the story with the descriptive language that brought the story that resides in the paranormal into everyday life; making it all that more emotive. Aviva as a character was an interesting construct, as he remained almost threatening and elusive until almost the end of the story. He himself grows as a character, going from a cold, unfeeling soldier to someone who dares to hope again and feel once more. His past like Kaoru’s remains mysterious progressively being revealed along the plot line, which is shown to be interwoven.

The structure of the paranormal worlds is also curious and well-written. The societies explored are those of the Seraph and Chimera, along with a few other locations. Each is written to have it’s own structure, religion, ceremonies and lifestyle. Its an incredible feat attempted with grace and intelligence. Its revealed through the perspectives of the main characters, but in a way that allowed their reliability to create an understanding in the author. Seeing these instances through both of the character’s eyes also allows for the unique situation of seeing how the perspective of the opposing societies were formed and how each are trying to reach an understanding within themselves of how their world and others work. Its almost like feeling as if you’re the intruder in your own home.

Mystery within this book is a dominant theme. The four most explored mysteries in this book are: Kaoru’s past, Brimstone’s work, the Hamsas and Akiva’s past. Koran’s past is the element that I believed to be obvious. There were hints that I picked up throughout the book which maybe only to me seemed to be a gigantic red arrow pointing directly to the answer, still there were moments when I had my doubts and considered other options, but when it was confirmed I was really satisfied by being able to guess the outcome. Brimstone’s work and the other three were elements that had me guessing until their reveal. Brimstone as a hulking yet soft hearted Chimera is someone who raised Kaoru from birth along with the other Chimera in his dwelling which acts as the portal between the human world and the Chimera domain. He deals with teeth, collecting them and making them into necklaces all the while using his hands and senses to understand their value. Why he does this remains unknown until Kaoru’s history is also revealed. Which brings the Hamsas unknown element into the light and stringing along to the finish line is Akiva’s past. Though some gaps remain in the story where they are headed is sure to fill them, I also look forward to how the story is going to progress now that there is little reason to continue dealing into the past.

All in all this story, a story of love, war and hope is something I look forward to continuing to read; especially to find out how the story evolves.

 

 

Sword Art Online – Aincrad: Reki Kawahara (Spoilers Ahead)

Book to Anime? That’s different…

To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I first cracked this book open. Manga? The exact same as the anime? It was the anime all over again, but in a good way; there’s a lot of things that happen in the anime that isn’t in the book, but is approached in another version. It was a new experience to reading, one I’m not 100% sure about at this current time, but it would be a genre I’m willing to pursue. Here is the general gist of the book/anime. Its the year 2020 and a new  online game has been released called ‘Sword Art Online’ and it is accompanied by technology that allows the user to completely  delve into the game, having complete mental control over their virtual bodies, like they are living in the world itself.

We follow the story/ perspective of a gamer named Kirito, who is part of the first group of gamers to enter into the world of Sword Art Online as well as the group of beta testers who first tested the gaming experience. He is introduced to us as a shy, conservative, die-hard gamer who isn’t very good with people. nonetheless he makes friends with one of the gamers an helps him to get used to the platforming. It is truly a unique gaming experience for the users that is until they discover that there is no log out button. As it turns out the developer Ahkihiba Kyaba has designed the game so that it simulates real life, if you die in the game, you die in real life the user cannot log out, they cannot be forced out and disconnecting or trying to be forced out from the outside will ill them. In order to escape, they have to beat the game and shut it down from the inside. This is where the book and the anime differentiate… where the anime follows them in their first few days of their journey through the game the book straight away skips to two years later, in which gamers have conquered the first 70 odd floors and groups have formed of fighters called ‘Guilds’ who spend their lives in the game on the front lines, working their way through the levels and defeating the ‘Boss’ monsters who defend the gates the the next level. Kirito is one of those gamers, however, he is not apart of a Guild choosing to go it alone, rather than being with people he could risk loosing. The first day we follow his journey her comes across a type of rabbit that’s extremely rare and apparently tastes delicious. He captures it, but he doesn’t have the experience points to cook the meat properly so he has to enlist the help of a fellow gamer… this is where we meet his love interest Asuna.

Asuna is apart of the Knights of Blood guild, and has the nickname ‘The Flash’ because she is wicked fast with her sword and is one of the highest ranked players within the game, as well as one of the prettiest. Since it is in a game, Kawahara wrote the gender statistics to be stereotypically more male populated than female. So Asuna, with her looks and ranking as well as being in one of the most famous guilds is quite famous herself, and garners a lot of attention. Sauna, is fierce, loyal and strong, who has no problem giving Kirito hell..

From here we follow these two gamers as their virtual lives intertwine over and over again and as the slowly fall in love and venture to defeat the game, no longer for themselves but for each other, so that they can meet in the outside world and fall in love all over again. We are with these two as the battle demons, both inner and physical and get married, move to a quiet level by a lake and bring something to fulfilling to each others lives. All the while we explore more and more of the virtual world and all it involves. We are with them through every part of their lives until they finally beat the game.

This novel is… hard to really define in terms of genre; fantasy, adventure, sci-fi, romance, comedy, action. It falls under many categories and as such is a really good read for a wide range of people. It explores multiple ascots of the human condition with the backdrop of an amazing sub-plotiline that makes you want to keep reading even past the end. If i had to say one negative thing, it would be that i wished the writing style were less choppy, and maybe that the time was taken to really go into depth with the story of both the defeat of the game and the romance between Kirito and Asuna. As it is, i feel like she popped out of nowhere and all of a sudden their in love and are getting married. This rush is understandable as the author was writing for a contest and was only allotted a certain number of pages -which he went over- but it certainly wasn’t enough to explore this story with all the love it deserves. Maybe his other books that continue the series, will fill in the blanks. Nonetheless, i would recommend this book any day, or at least the anime which is an addictive watch.

 

Til next time,

L.K.

Throne of Glass: Sarah J. Maas (Spoilers Ahead)

A surprising story that has opened my world to a love of fantasy fiction and a brilliant read! Read more to find out what else i had to say…

NON-SPOILER SECTION:

This book was a surprise to say the least. I usually have trouble reading fantasy novels, mainly because i’m not quite used to reading them yet… but this book was really good, i was addicted to the characters and their developments as well as the mystery embedded into the story, it was a journey from the beginning to the end, with an ending making me crave for more of the story so i will definitely be picking up the sequel, this book was in itself a beautiful read and a gorgeous story that made me feel so enraptured by the world Sarah J created.

So, I finished this book last night while treating myself to a bath… so forgive me if i’m not as rambling as usual because i didn’t finish it five seconds ago. The story itself is set in a beautiful fantasy land that we’re introduced to from the perspective from Celaena Sardothien (forgive me if i misspell) a girl who is only 18 and is the land’s most well-known assassin who has spent the last year in one of the most hellish places known to her world, a salt mine where people are known to not last the month and yet she manages an entire year which is unknown to have ever occurred so we’re shown straight away that Celaena is a fighter! my favourite kind of protagonist (badasses make me happy). One day she is taken from the mines by the Captain of the Guard – Choal Westfall and taken to Prince Dorian Havilliard who proposes a deal to Celaena: Fight as his champion in an upcoming competition and become the King’s (his father) Champion and in a few years she will leave the castle a free woman pardoned of all of her crimes. Naturally, she agrees not knowing that she has just thrown herself into a world of mystery and magic in which she will be in a constant state of fighting for her life and her freedom whilst struggling not to give away her heart. This book was beautiful. The plot line was gorgeous and thrilling and the IMAGERY! WOW!! definitely a re-read and possibly the source of my new book addiction.

SPOILER SECTION:

Ah the business end of my reviews! where to begin? Each and every single character that i came to love in this story had their own character development that made them even more precious in my mind. It was truly beautiful and actually went really well with the way the story developed which is kind of rare, usually when we go into the perspective of another character it can seem kind of repetitive or even necessary to the growing plot line of the book; but in this instance when the perspective changed i felt like i needed that quick insight into the character’s mind to understand what the hell they were doing or even what was going on in the story at the time, it was beautifully balanced and not all repetitive.

Let’s start with the protagonist Celaena Sardothien. Celaena is a beautiful character to read and to look through the eyes of. She has a witty sense of humour and a way with the boys that is insanely inspiring. She is introduced to us when she is originally serving her sentence in Endovier, and even though she’s half-dead, starving and frail her spirit is not weakened; she is as strong in her mind as she always was and even when facing the possibility of execution she has an air of confidence about her that screams “try me.” It’s really fascinating following her character through her journey’s especially as she evolves as a person. She starts off as someone who refuses to get close to, or trust anyone and only ever thinks of her freedom, even if working as the King’s champion makes her feel a little sick to her stomach she’s willing to do anything to gain back her freedom. we’re also shown that she is brave and will not take lightly to any wrongdoings she witnesses when she is discovered to have killed three rapist/murderers who did horrible things to an ally of her’s in Endovier. Over the course of the book she develops friendships, loyalties and even what is hinted to as a budding romance (or two). it is really captivating to witness her subtle evolution not to mention the mystery that her past holds.  For instance… who is Sam? Who betrayed her? How did sam die? Who are her parents? What happened to her when she was 8? Who was she in Terrasen? SO MUCH MYSTERY! While some of these things were briefly touched upon in the book, and some i have budding theories for; i’m hoping that all the answers will lie in the next book of the series (though i doubt it with there being four other books and all) also a question that plagues me to this moment is this: What’s the mark on her forehead and what does it mean? i can’t help but feel it’s important to the story, but i’m so impatient for answers i’m lost tempted to Google. ALMOST. i will be picking up the next book in the series soon though, so look forward to that.

Next comes the boys; Dorian Havilliard and Choal Westfall. These two play a large roll in Celaena’s life in the castle, not to mention the sourcing behind some of her character evolution; but they’re not some side character love interests… oh no! they have lives and stories of their own not to mention they each evolve in their own right, thanks large in part to Celaena. Dorian Havilliard is the Crown Prince of Adarlan whose father is a raging warmonger who has basically conquered the entire realm; so you’d expect him to be nothing short of pompous and entitled but he isn’t. Rather he is a young man who is struggling between who he is expected to be and who he is. He tries in every way open to him to disobey his father and show that he isn’t the same kind of man, however, his choices are limited as he lives in fear of the King’s wrath; which he has no qualms about releasing on his family and close advisors. Dorian tries with every fibre of his strength to prove to himself that he can be someone different from his father all the while struggling with his duties as Crown Prince. He is expected by his mother to take a wife, expected to become king and rule just like his father, and expected to behave. In reality however, he wishes only to marry for love, wants to rule with kindness, compassion and without war and most off all he wants to break free of the expectations beheld of him and just to be free to be himself and love whom he wants (which is admittedly shown in his playboy beginnings). He evolves through the influence of Celaena to become all the things that he wants to be. He falls for her, hard and in this transformation there is a moment when he dances with her at a ball that he feels like a man, and a man who is king; she gave him feeling of wholeness and and with it came a capability to ignore what others think of him and to hell with the expectations of others. It’s a truly beautiful transformation.

Chaol (don’t ask me how to pronounce it) Westfall also undergoes and extraordinary transformation. Beautiful, Loyal, Brave Chaol, i could sing his praises all day; try me. He is Captain of the Guard at 22 which is portrayed to be quite the achievement and struggles with no inner demons content with the way he sees the world in black-and-white. This all changes when Celaena comes into his life, naturally he treats he with mistrust, Adarlan’s Assassin alone? Around the Prince? to Chaol, that’s a hell-no situation. So he guards the world from his perception of her by staying by her side at all times when she is outside of her rooms and leaves at least three guards by her chambers when she’s not. In all this time together his world view changes, he cannot at first understand who someone with so many scars from being whipped and has stayed in one of the worst places on earth for such a long time can laugh freely, smile and makes jokes (even if it’s at someone’s expense). Sometimes he wants to strangle her for the way she acts around others (meaning himself and the Prince) and other times he gets a knight in shining armour complex around her. What’s more is that he comes to respect her during the corse of the book; he sees how she changes from someone pale, weak and frail with only humour to defend herself to someone who is strong, challenging and a force to be reckoned with. He trains her and trains with her from day one recognising her talent over and over again, all the while letting her crawl closer and closer to his heart without either of them realising. it’s almost frustrating really. Along the way the most extraordinary change is that he starts to trust her, and even when she seems on the brink of dying is close to breaking everything he ever knows to help her; then comes the moment where his reality shatters; he kills a man to save her life. no longer is he the perfect Captain of the Guard in his own eyes but someone who is stained and he does not regret the action that led him to saving her life even if he feels dirtied by it. Its was amazing to read his ever changing perspective on life.

If i had anything at all negative to say it would be this: I wish some more exploration into the society (meaning holidays and religion etc) had been done but i’m sure that’s rectified in the following books. i would’ve also liked for more information about the land and the mythology behind the Wyrdmarks and maybe something that really gives a feel to how the series will develop. But again all this can be done through following books since this is a  series and not a stand-alone. I look forward to reading more from Sarah J Maas!!!

Til next time,

L.K.