Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Snow-Walker's Son

by Catherine Fisher

Grade: Unfinished
Read: To page 44, Chapter 7.

Review: Catherine Fisher can often be hard to start, but once I get into it, I love it. This one never seemed to get to that point. I hate books like that. I always have the feeling that just around the corner, there's that magical point when I'll suddenly start loving it. Anyway, hopefully I'll try again someday and find that point.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Margrave

by Catherine Fisher

Grade: Good
Story: The Master, the Apprentice, the Spy, and the Cat-Person continue the adventures started in The Dark City, The Lost Heiress, and The Hidden Coronet.

I was immensely satisfied with this ending. For some reason, I thought it would go a similar way to Sapphique. In other words, I thought Raffi would stay stuck pretty much forever with an entity that was mostly evil, in a similar way to Jared and Incarceron at the end of Sapphique. Also for some reason I thought that there would be a sort of not-really-romantic pairing of Carys and Raffi, as with Finn and Claudia. I don't know why.
But nooo! Carys got pretty much the best ending I can think of, and so did Galen. Raffi was never my favourite character, but his ending is absolutely perfect too, in my mind. The only one I would have liked more for was the Sekoi. But he got his grand part in the climax, so I'm not too disappointed. I like the amount that was left undiscovered about the Sekoi race. And how much trouble there was going to be in the future, as they still had to get rid of the Watch and all that. In fact, it pretty much had that "And then they went off and had a lot more adventures just like the ones in the books you just read, only BETTER!" ending, which I LOVE. Pretty much my favourite type of ending. I can't think of many books or movies with that type of wonderful ending right now, except maybe the first Pirates of the Caribbean, but I know there are many.

I am mostly as immensely satisfied with the characters as I was for the first book.
--Carys is still awesome. I would have liked the uncertainty around her to last a little longer, though. I'm glad she went definitely on the side of the good--I do always want that for all the Liars I love--but I so much love that period of uncertainty where you really have no flippin' idea what she's going to do next, or which of her many lies are less untruthful than the others. Ben Linus managed that until pretty much the end of his series. I know I shouldn't compare all Liars to Ben, because it's slightly unfair for them, but I'm afraid I'm going to continue. Because I like Ben. And he's the Ultimate Liar. Anyway.
--Galen continued to be all dark and broody and tortured, and I loved him as much by the end of the last book as by the end of the first. In fact, probably better, especially with that lovely part where he's terribly nasty to Raffi and then feels terribly guilty. And his ending and part in the climax was perfect.
--Raffi wasn't made much more interesting to me through the course of three more books, but his ending was good enough that I'm left with pleasant, happy feelings for him.
--The Sekoi! Was awesome! I wish there was more of it! Or him! Or whatever!
--The Margrave (the character) reminded me of Incarceron (the character) too much. Except Incarceron was better.

Now for issues.
Mostly there aren't any. Because this is such a Middle Grade series, I wasn't bothered by the lack of Romance. In fact, I'm not really ever with Fisher. It's mostly just her attitude on her website FAQ towards Romance that bugs me.
Anyway, as I was saying, there aren't many. But, as with the Oracle Trilogy, the main problem is philosophical. It wasn't as bad here as the Oracle Trilogy, I think. But there seemed to be a lot of Gnosticism  going on. Plus...well, I guess this wasn't really an issue. Religion was treated very respectfully (and Galen, the religious fanatic, was one of the best characters), but just not as true. Which I guess it wouldn't be if this story really did take place, but...I dunno. I've stopped being coherent and logical now. So let's just say "I have a bad feeling about this" philosophical element of all of Fisher's books, and leave it at that. I could be dead wrong. I probably am.

Just as an interesting side note, it's funny that the second Romance found so far in all the CF I've read is AGAIN between one pretty totally evil person, and one extremely flawed and on the evil side, but not actually evil person. Ok, I'm not sure if that makes sense, but compare Quist and Scala in this book with whatever-their-names-are from the Oracle trilogy--you know, the principle evil character and the Speaker lady he loved. They're very similar. And THE ONLY proper Romances in the entire Oracle series, Incarceron series, and Relic Master series.

The Hidden Coronet

by Catherine Fisher

Grade: Good
Story: The Master, the Apprentice, the Spy, and the Cat-Man continue the adventures began in The Dark City and The Lost Heiress.

Review: Since I read the last three books in this series all in about 1 1/2 days, I'm going to review the whole lot in The Margrave.

The Lost Heiress

by Catherine Fisher

Grade: Good
Story: The Master, the Apprentice, the Spy, and the Cat-man continue the adventures began in The Dark City.

Review: So, of course, I read all of the next three books in about 1 1/2 days. So I'm not going to review them separately. You'll have to read all about it in the review of the last book, The Margrave.

Monday, September 19, 2011


by Michael Grant

Grade: Good
Story: Children die horribly. Children do unspeakably evil acts. But it's a good book anyway! Really! Just rather ... horrible.

See the previous books: Gone and Hunger and the next books: Plague, Fear, and Light.

Review: Aaaaaaaaah.... aaah. This series is almost too intense for me. But really, it's awesome.
And I don't really have much else to say. What could I say? These books fly by so fast, and it's just one intense event after another, you come out of it rather dazed and confused.

Ok, here's one thing I can think of. Edilio is officially now my favourite character. He's totally heroic and awesome, without being Heroic and Handsome like Sam, plus he's Catholic to boot.
Oh, and I like Sanjit too, but I don't know enough about him yet to add him to my favourite characters.
Oh, and Mary's Big Jump! WOW, that was ... I don't know. Her whole slide into insanity thing...I love slides into insanity. They totally freak me out.
Oh, and I hope Caine finds some humanity in the future, because I still rather like him. Mostly because Diana actually does love him, and I have rather a soft spot for Diana.
Oh, and what's up with Justin??

Anna and the French Kiss

by Stephanie Perkins

Grade: Unfinished
Read: To page 16.

Review: Summary of Rachel's reading for far too many books:
--Rachel has pleasant expectant feel. Book looks good, cover is nice, maybe she won't mind the romance this time! Maybe she'll even like it!
--Rachel begins reading. Good start so far! Book is funny, intriguing, etc.
--Book introduces main male character. Main male character is described as beautiful and/or sexy and/or terribly attractive.
--Rachel stops reading.
--Rachel berates herself for her stupidity in not being able to read awesome books simply because the main male character is beautiful. She should like it! It's supposed to make the book yet more awesome!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book

by Walker Percy

Grade: To Own
Story: It's Non-Fiction, so, you know, not much of a story-line here. Although through out the book there are "Thought Exercises" whereby you imagine yourself in a hypothetical situation. Which counts as Fiction, I suppose. Now I'm going to quote the first paragraph of the front inside cover, because it really best describes the "story-line":
"How you can survive in the Cosmos, about which you know more and more while knowing less and less about yourself, this despite 10,000 self-help books, 100,000 psychotherapists, and 100 million fundamentalist Christians."

Review: Fabulous. Slightly unintelligible to one of limited intellectual faculties, such as myself. But I loved it anyway. I don't really know what to say in this review, because I'm not sure I understood it well enough to speak clearly on it. Or maybe I HAVE understood it, I just haven't fully absorbed it yet, and thus am not able to regurgitate what I've learned and thought about because of it.
Anyway, I'm planning to buy it and then I can study it some more. I also need to read other people thoughts on it, but I don't know where to find them.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Demon's Surrender

by Sarah Rees Brennan

Grade: Good
Story: Demons! Magicians! Brothers! Unexpected Love! Dancing! Alan Ryves!
Previously: The Demon's Lexicon, The Demon's Covenant

Review: Alan, Alan, Alan. I'm such a huge Alan fan. Is there something about pathological liars that invariably attracts me? But of course, it's not only that. He manages to be simultaneously a pathological liar AND one of the sweetest fictional guys ever (below Rory Williams, the Last Centurion, though). In fact, that's pretty much why I read these books. That, and the relationship between the siblings. Mostly Alan and Nick, but also Mae and Jamie, and Sin and her two younger siblings.

Ok, but besides Alan, this book was perhaps my favourite. Perhaps. On the one hand, I wasn't as surprised and shocked by the ending as I had been for the previous two, especially TDC (I mean, what poor Alan had to do and go through there...), but I read the whole thing through and didn't skip parts this time. It seemed almost more... complete, this time round. I'm not sure quite how to explain it, but I think it's partly due to having Sin as a narrator. I think Sin is my favourite non-Alan character ("I like dancers. Dancers are cool."), and the relationship between her and Alan is pretty awesome.

See: Top Ten (Or So): Conmen.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Dark City

by Catherine Fisher

Grade: Good
Story: Raffi and his master Galen are on the run from evil members of the Watch, who hate sorcerers such as they. Along the way, they meet up and join with a member of this evil Watch, Carys, (obviously THEY don't know she's a member of the Watch), and also a non-human cat-like person who is never named because they couldn't pronounce its name anyway. They go on a quest of sorts to a) get back Galen's lost power, the loss of which is slowly driving him insane b) capture said non-human cat-like person who is never named, c) find the Crow, who is the messenger to God, and who might help to fix the rotten world they live in.

Review: This is why I love Catherine Fisher. I'm still trying to get through the Snowwalkers trilogy by her, and it's been tough going. But this one immediately has the elements about her writing that make her one of my favourite authors (below Megan Whalen Turner, Chesterton, Diana Wynne Jones, some others I've forgotten, about on par with Jonathan Stroud), namely:
--Very ambiguous and complex characters. Raffi is the only person in the whole book who seems pretty much straightforward. Carys is amazing, and I loved her, and Galen is the type of person I like immediately, always. He's all dark and tormented, poor fellow, without being all sexy with powerful thighs like the last book I read. (Sorry, Enthusiasm. You had lots of good points. I just CAN'T STAND lead male characters who are introduced by their good looks.)
I read a review about the characters which compare them too much with the Incarceron characters, but I disagree. True Raffi might be a bit like Finn, but I'm slightly biased in that regard because Raffi and Finn are not my type. But Galen is completely and totally different than Jared. I mean, they are both teachers, I guess, and they both have a physical sickness or problem of some sort, but otherwise... And Carys is very different from Claudia. Their names start with the same letter, and they're both clever and complex, but Carys is so much more changeable and manipulative.
Ack. Anyway.
--The world. It's complexity and originality. This one was AWESOME. It reminded me of some of DWJ's work, where things we know from everyday are so disguised by the fact that nobody in the book knows what they are, that they seem to be something else entirely, if that makes sense. And oh, I'm not very articulate right now, but it really is cool. Maybe not quite as cool as Incarceron, simply because Incarceron was ALIVE.
--I'm not going to comment on the lack of romance this time, because it's one book out of four that are all closely connected, as far as I can see. But I probably will for the last one, even though I seem to comment on it for every CF book. Just to warn you. And perhaps I really shouldn't for these books because they're Middle Grade, but I don't care because this is MY review and opinion. SO THERE nasty non-existent readers!

So in summary, even if the world weren't intriguing and completely original, I would love it for Carys and Galen. Carys reminds me vaguely of a female Ben Linus (who almost tops the charts of my favourite TV characters ever)--her lying seems to come out of her instinctively, and no one (except maybe Galen, but that's partly because of his religious fanatacism--see next sentence) can ever really tell whether she's telling the truth or not. And Galen is a religious fanatic who's one of the GOOD guys. That's quite refreshing. It doesn't mean his fanaticism is portrayed as a good thing, necessarily, but understandable. At least for me.

Sequels are: The Lost Heiress, The Hidden Coronet, and The Margrave.


by Polly Shulman

Grade: Unfinished
Read: To page 45, plus scattered pages around the end.

I'm sorry, it was the description of snugly fitting trousers, close-fitting white jacket (smooth across the chest!), and powerful thighs. So I read a bunch of the end, and decided it wasn't quite my type of book. Ah well.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins

by John Zmirak

Grade: To Own

Review: Awesome, awesome! I highly recommend this book to any Catholic, or non-Catholic interested in Catholicism. Except maybe those with high sensibilities, who might be offended at some of his humour. Because his humour is hilarious, but not necessarily reverent in the sense  someone who was somewhat puritan might think reverence means. It most definitely is reverent in a real sense (imho)--in other words, he always gives proper deference and respect to God and everything holy, and not very much respect at all to things that think they are holy but are not at all.

But humour is not actually the most important part of this book. I know I always hate it when reviews say this, but I think it's actually true in this case: he brings these ideas to a modern audience. Much in the way that I think C. S. Lewis does, except even more modern. Yet he does this while still quoting St. Thomas and Chesterton and Augustine and lots of C. S. Lewis, and all sorts of old Catholic greats. (Yes, I know Lewis isn't actually Catholic.) And now I must go through the whole book and write down all the books he recommends, because he seems to have marvellously good taste.