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The Floating Islands – Review

The Floating Islands by Rachel NeumeierTitle: The Floating Islands
Author: Rachel Neumeier

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 388
Originally published: 2011

Genre: Fantasy
The dice landed on:
4
Did I finish?: Yes.
Do I like the cover?: Yes, a lot.

Short summary: Newly orphaned Trei arrives at The Floating Islands and moves in with his mother’s family just before a plague breaks out. His cousin Araenè discovers new powers and they both have an important part to play when the islands get attacked by Trei’s father’s homeland Tolounn. Trei flying his kajuhari wings and Araené using her newly discovered mage powers.

I must confess that the main reason that I picked up The Floating Island is the cover. I love it and want it on a poster!

I quite liked the book itself too. It has a fantasy story with quite a few surprising elements while still keeping to a fairly well known fantasy formula. I like that the book touches on many moral issues without making anyone an out and out villain.

The Floating Islands seems like a nice society, but keeps it’s women from any sort of public life. I woman’s job is to get married and produce children. Tolounn has more equality, but is hell-bent on conquering all of its neighbouring countries. None of them are perfect and none of them all good.

The story has two storylines, one for each of the cousins. This way the reader get closer to the action as the cousins quite often find themselves in separate places. You also learn more about them and their motivations. Loyalty is an issue for Trei, he is half tolounnese and half islander and has to decide where his loyalty truly lies. Araené doesn’t want a traditional island woman’s life. Ideally she’d like to be a chef, something that is impossible. However, magic and the mage school came her way, so she pretends to be a boy to be able to stay in school.

There are also some rather nifty dragons, some really cool mages and a nice sky-mad prince.

So, why only a 4?

Despite the great setting of the story and an interesting storyline with good characters I’m a bit disappointed. I find the writing ok, but not more than that, and I never feel that I get to know many of the other characters as well as I’d like. I wish the book was longer so the building up part could have lasted longer, it’s all a bit abrupt. The book also has many of the markings of being number one in a series, without there being any hint of a book number two being on the way. There are too many loose ends floating around. I might be happier with it if a book number two is published.

All in all I think it’s a good YA book, but not outstanding. It doesn’t soar like the islands, the kajuhari and the dragons it contains.

But I still love the cover, nothing’s going to change that.

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The Night Circus – Review

The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternTitle: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern

Publisher: Vintage digital
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 400
Originally published: 2011

Genre: Fantasy
The dice landed on: 6
Did I finish?: Yes, oh yes.
Do I like the cover?: Yes I do.

One-sentence summary: We follow the people in and around The Night Circus which is both the most marvellous circus in the world and the venue of an ongoing competition between two powerful magicians.

You know those books that you dread coming to the end of because you want to keep on reading? The books that makes you want to slow down to savour it better while you still want to race ahead to find out what happens? If you are a reader, you know those books. The Night Circus is one of those books.

I’m in love with the story, which is different from any fantasy story I’ve read before.
I’m in love with the different characters, most of them at least.
But most of all I’m in love with the language. It’s dreamy and hypnotical, just perfect in a story about a magic fueled circus (and the people in and around it) that only stays open at night.

My christmas gift book choice of the year.

Erin Morgenstern reads a little from The Night Circus.

Book beginnings on Friday – Snuff

Book Beginnings on Friday is a bookish meme sponsored by Katy at A Few More Pages.

Here’s what you do: share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments section . Include the title and author so we know what you’re reading. Then, if you are so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and if you liked or did not like that sentence. Link-up each week at Katy’s place.

Snuff by Terry PratchettA package arrived in the mail yesterday. It contained the latest novel by Terry Pratchett, Snuff.

The goblin experience of the world is the cult or perhaps religion of Unggue. In short, it is a remarkably complex resurrection-based religion founded on the sanctity of bodily secretions. Its central tenet runs as follows: everything that is expelled from a goblin’s body was clearly once part of them and should, therefore, be treated with reverence and stored properly so that it can be entombed with its owner in the fullness of time. In the meantime the material is stored in unggue pots, remarkable creations of which I shall speak later.

Trust Terry Pratchett to want to mess with your brain. I look forward to having my brain messed with, and so far this bok seems to be up to that challenge.

Book beginnings on Friday – The Floating Islands

Book Beginnings on Friday is a bookish meme sponsored by Katy at A Few More Pages.

Here’s what you do: share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments section . Include the title and author so we know what you’re reading. Then, if you are so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and if you liked or did not like that sentence. Link-up each week at Katy’s place.

The Floating Islands by Rachel NeumeierEarlier today I started reading The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier. Here it is:

Trei was fourteen the first time he saw the Floating Islands. He had made the whole long voyage south from Rounn in a haze of loss and misery, not really noticing the harbors in which the ship sometimes anchored or the sea between. But here, where both sea and sky lay pearl-gray in the dawn, the wonder of the Floating Islands broke at last into that haze.

It was the wonderful cover that first made me interested in reading this book, but now I’m wondering about Trei’s background. He has obviously suffered a tremendous loss, and I want to find out what happened. I also want to know what will happen to him on those floating islands.

Un Lun Dun – review

Un Lun Dun by China MiévilleTitle: Un Lun Dun
Author: China Miéville
Publisher: Pan Books
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 520 s.
First published: 2007
Genre: Fantasy, YA
The dice landed on: 5

When London got rid of the smog, where did it go?

Strange things are happening to Zanna. Unknown people come over and call her Shwazzy, and a fox greets her. She and her friend Deeba has no idea what’s going on. Then, they find themselves in a weird world, in UnLondon, where they meet a half ghost and Curdle, the milk carton and Brokkenbroll, the master of the broken umbrellas (called unbrellas) and a lot of other characters. Then they learn that UnLondon is at war with the smog, and Zanna has to lead the war against it. But is Zanna up to the task, like the prophecy says she will be?  And what about Deeba, what part will she play? The amusing sidekick?

This is a YA book, and I think kids will love it, but it also has all the ingredients that makes me as an adult love it. There are interesting characters, play on words, treason, despair, cussedness, courage, black windows and a lot of unbrellas.

I loved this book. I’d recommend it to anyone who might even think they would like a fantasy book, even though there’s not a single witch or wizard in sight. Oh, and it passed my Bechdel test with flying colors.

If you want more serious spoilers, you can read one of these reviews.

The Wise Man’s Fear – review

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick RothfussTitle: The Wise Man’s Fear
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Publisher: Penguin publishing
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 1008
Published: 2011
Genre: Fantasy
The dice landed on: 4½

When I read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss a few years ago I liked it quite a lot. Not enough to pick up number two in The Kingkiller Chronicle as soon as it came out, but enough to buy it for my Kindle and put it in the tbr-folder. When I started my new job a few weeks ago, Kvothe and company became my regular company on the bus back and forth to work.

In The Wise Man’s Fear Kvothe continues telling his story. The book is set on the second day of the story’s “present” and Kvothe tells more of his life as a young man at the university and of the adventures he has during his year away from his studies. During the breaks in the story, short as they are, we get to know that all is not well in the world. Maybe there will still be another story to add to the legend of Kvothe.

I think this is a really interesting way of telling the story of a “hero”. As a mature man Kvothe has a unique view of himself and his heroics. He also gives us glimpses of the stories that are being told about him, so we sometimes get the contrast between the “real” story and the legends. Still, it is Kvoth telling. He keeps things from us and we have no way of knowing how reliable a historian of his own life he really is.

This is a really good book, mostly because Rothfuss manages to write well enough to keep me interested during even the duller parts of the story. And he manages to keep me interested during part two of a trilogy, a part with a story that could have been told in rather fewer pages. This is the main reason for the 4½ instead of a 5, it is too long. If this had been one of the series with no end in sight, I would probably have given up by now. But, as it is a trilogy, I’m still here.

I’m looking forward to book number 3, The Doors of Stone, then I can find out what’s really going on.

There’s a lot of online reviews of this book. SFFnews has mad a blog post linking to a lot of them.

Book beginnings on Friday – Un Lun Dun

Book Beginnings on Friday is a bookish meme sponsored by Katy at A Few More Pages.

Here’s what you do: share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments section . Include the title and author so we know what you’re reading. Then, if you are so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and if you liked or did not like that sentence. Link-up each week at Katy’s place.

My beginning this week is from Un Lun Dun av China Míeville Un Lun Dun by China Míeville.

In an unremarkable room, in a nondescript building, a man sat working on very non-nondescript theories.
The man was surrounded by bright chemicals in bottles and flasks, charts and gauges, and piles of books like battlements around him. He propped them open on each other. He cross-referred them, seeming to read several at the same time; he pondered, made notes, crossed the notes out, went hunting for facts of history, chemistry and geography.

I think it’s a good beginning. I do want to know what the man is working on, and why. Also, I dearly love the cover.

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