Sunday, December 29, 2013

Eona by Alison Goodman

I read Eona by Alison Goodman in three days, including one night of reading until the near-dawn hours. Reading a 637-page book in three days is a rather impressive testament, either to my inability to stop reading or the absence of any social life whatsoever, I’m not really sure which J

            Eona has escaped the palace with Ryko and Dela, leaving Ido behind in the attack led by the late emperor’s brother, High Lord Sethon. The commander of all armies and ruthless to the bone, he murdered everyone associated to the emperor in his siege; except Ido. Luckily the Emperor’s son, Kygo, has escaped with his life and has taken refuge with the resistance armies. Eona and her gang go to find them as more and more natural disasters slam the earth due to the loss of the ten other Dragoneyes, which Ido had killed in the attack. What’s worse, every time Eona tries to enter the spirit world, the ten dragons attack her and destroy everything around her. Desperate to learn how to control her power, they free Ido and he begins to teach her, whispering treacherous promises in her ear the whole time, but nevertheless helping her develop her power. Eona’s ancestress, Kinra, the last Mirror Dragoneye, is coming through to her thoughts, telling Eona to steal the Impreial Pearl, and Eona has no idea why; all she knows is that Kinra was executed for treason over 500 years ago. And the worst thing? No one trusts her, not even her closest friends; she has never felt so alone. What will Eona do with her world crumbling around her? Will she follow the path of ultimate power or ultimate sacrifice? There can be no in between.

Ido was definitely my favorite character. Sure, he was ruthless, harsh, and a murderous traitor, but I couldn’t help but like him. Goodman was amazing at demonstrating his overwhelming charm because even I couldn’t help but fall in love with him, at least a little bit (well, after I found out he was only 24, not a creepy 50-year-old like I had previously thought…). Plus, I think I liked him because he was the only one whose actions made sense. Sure, his actions were mostly bad, but they fit in with his character and they were charmingly horrible. Frankly, the rest of the characters frustrated me. I’m not saying the book was bad by any means; I actually quite enjoyed it. But none of the characters trusted each other and all of them seemed to think Eona was this terrible person when she never really did anything to hurt anyone. Like when she healed Ryko: when she SAVED HIS LIFE a bond was formed where she could compel him to do things. She had no idea that would happen. Plus, everyone was begging her to heal him and all she thought would happen was that she would save his life. She only compelled him a total of three or four times times (mostly on the emperor and his own orders) and he was making it seem like she controlled him all the time. He just needed to calm down. The only person that was consistently nice to her (kind of) was Dela. And occasionally Kygo, but he doesn’t even count because half the time he treated her like garbage and the other half like a queen, but I’m not even going to go into that right now… But I did like Kygo when he was nice to her, which was eventually consistent for the last third of the book, but a part of me wanted her to end up with Ido, anyway.

Overall, Goodman’s writing was good because it drew me into the story; I literally could not stop reading! All of the events that occurred were so exciting and I actually stayed up until 4:15 AM reading because I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next! Sure, the characters frustrated and infuriated me, but at least they got me emotionally invested in the story and characters. However, I was surprisingly stoic when two of the kind-of-main characters died… I’m not really sure why… I really liked the ending, but I think that there should have been an afterward that explained how Eona fit into court after all of this happened. There are so many questions left unanswered and they’re not even the kind that I can imagine an answer to because there are so many different possibilities… Whatever, I guess I’ll just imagine the one want to happen and be satisfied with that J

One thing that bothered me A LOT was the repetition of a few key words. For example, “cinnamon,” “vanilla orange,” and “portent,” were used more times than I could count. But the worst example? “Bereft.” I kid you not, that word had to be in there at least 400 times. It was ridiculous. It’s not even like there aren’t any synonyms for that word, either! I can think of at east ten off of the top of my head. Though I did not mention it in my review of Eon, she did the same thing with the same words, as well as “brazier” and “kowtow,” but that’s not what we’re talking about right now…

All in all, a really good book! Though my rantings in this review may not make it seem like it, I actually really enjoyed reading it!!   

SO GOOD!! 4 Smileys!!   


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Eon by Alison Goodman

Eon by Alison Goodman has been on my to-read list for a long time. I got it three days ago as a pre-Christmas present and I read all 531 pages of that hefty book in only three days, even with all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. I think that is a testament to how un-put-down-able Eon was!

            Born and raised as a slave on a salt farm, Eona would do anything to escape that hell. When a previous Dragoneye, one of eleven (previously twelve) people that can control the celestial dragons, comes to her and offers her a new life, she is more than excited to accept. However, she has to completely erase Eona, the sixteen-year-old girl, and become Eon, a twelve-year-old boy, so that she can enter to be one of the twelve candidates fir Dragoneye for the year of the Rat dragon (girl’s aren’t allowed to participate). There’s something special about Eon: she can see all eleven of the dragons, when the average person cannot see any. Even a Dragoneye can see only his dragon. However, when she enters the arena, the Rat Dragon does not pick her; but the Mirror Dragon does. Known as the ruler of all dragons, the Mirror Dragon had disappeared five hundred years earlier and no one knows why. Now, why has the Mirror Dragon reappeared, and chosen Eon of all people? As Eon is thrown into court life with a dangerous rebellion beginning, she struggles to keep her most precious secret: the secret of her gender. What’s worse, she can’t call her dragon, and therefore can’t use her powers. Will they begin to suspect Eon of her true identity? And what will happen if she can’t use her powers to stop the darker forces at work from rising against the Emperor?

            My favorite characters were Eon, Lady Della, and Ryko. And, strangely, Lord Ido (the bad guy…). Eon was really brave in the way she threw herself in the middle of the court when she knew she would be killed if she were found out, and I think it’d be pretty hard to hide the fact that I’m a girl, but maybe that’s just me… She was a likable character, but there were times when I was mentally screaming at her for being dumb and not figuring out things that were obvious to me, but maybe it’s just because I was an observer rather than actually living it. Lady Della was physically a boy, but she had the spirit of a girl, so she served in the king’s harem as a concubine. She was seriously hilarious and I can picture her perfectly in my mind; she was Eon’s first ally in the court and she was so sweet. Ryko was Lady Della and Eon’s bodyguard and his interactions with Lady Della were adorable and really comical. They were the only ones that lightened the mood of the book, along with a few appearances of Prince Kygo. I’m not really sure why I liked Lord Ido. He was crazy and evil, but at the end of the book I couldn’t help but like him at least a little bit. And now that I’ve been finished the book for about an hour, I just get the feeling that I like him… I don’t really know why though…

            One of the things that I appreciated most about Eon was the message that it sent about women. In Eon’s world only men had any honor or respect. The highest-ranking position a woman could have was a royal concubine, which is basically a fancy prostitute for the king. However, they accepted Eon as a boy, saying that he was their only hope, that he was honorable and brave. (*mini spoiler alert*)Upon finding out that she is actually a girl, even her closest allies say that she has no honor or respect, and that she could not possibly be their hope. Just with a switch in gender, everyone’s opinion changed drastically. However, by the end of the book she proves them all wrong and they all see women with a new light. This book is a perfect example for the fact that gender and personality seem to have a lot in common when they actually don’t. Gender doesn’t determine personality, and personality doesn’t determine gender. It was nice to see a character prove that women can be just as brave and honorable, if not more so, than any man.

            The writing was also very intriguing. It was written in first point-of-view with Eona as the narrator and I love stories where girls pretend to be boys or vice versa (like “She’s the Man” J), so it was really interesting to read a story from the point-of-view of someone masquerading as a another gender. The style also engaged me in the story and I felt like I was actually there. However, there were some times when the story was a bit confusing and I had to read the same section a few times before I really understood it, but luckily these were few and far between. It also fell into a little bit of a lull in the middle, but it quickly picked up again, and as you can tell that small part didn’t stop me from reading! Lastly, this book was based off of Chinese and Japanese culture, both of which I find absolutely fascinating, so it was awesome reading about a world based off of those two cultures!

This book was awesome!! 4 Smileys!!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, the sequel to The Raven Boys, was every bit as magical as the first book in The Raven Cycle series. I LOVED The Raven Boys and I loved this one just as much! Admittedly, I read about 13% of it before taking a two-month hiatus. Stupid college, messing up my reading schedule!! But even though I was extremely confused when I first restarted (I couldn’t really remember what had happened in the first book or the beginning of the second), I was drawn in, nonetheless. It takes pretty awesome writing to keep me reading and interested even when I don’t know what is going on (Don’t worry though, I quickly remembered everything else) and I finished the rest of it in just two days!

This will be a short summary because I can’t really remember how it started and it’s hard to explain the latter part of the book without giving everything away, but I shall try my hardest!
            After Adam woke the ley lines surrounding Cabeswater, the town of Henrietta has been experiencing electrical surges and outages, Adam has been seeing strange visions, and Noah has been blinking in and out of consciousness/existence. Gansey and the gang continue searching for Glendower, but are immensely surprised when they discover that Cabeswater, their only lead on Glendower’s location, has vanished. What’s more, Ronan has been falling even deeper into his dreams, pulling out larger, more terrifying things. This book focuses a lot more on Ronan, his dreams, and the people that are after him because of what he can do. Ronan also discovers that there is someone else just like him, though perhaps not exactly like him…

            I love Blue and Gansey together. THEY ARE SO ADORABLE!! But alas, they are star-crossed lovers, doomed to a dark fate. Oh, woe is me! But anyway, they are definitely my favorites because Blue is so real, funny, and grounded, while Gansey is more whimsical, classy, and dreamy and they compliment each other really well (and may I just say that Gansey and I are literally the exact same person… like exactly… but not in family circumstance, just in personality…). In this book, I didn’t like Adam. Like at all. In the last book, I thought he was really adorable and all, but I just wasn’t feeling him in this book. I warmed up a lot to Ronan, though, and could actually tolerate and maybe even like him by the end of this second book. It must be a miracle! But Noah again didn’t play a very large role, but his interactions with Blue had to be the cutest thing I have ever read/seen. Ever. BLAH I GET HAPPY JUST THINKING ABOUT THEM TOGETHER IT’S SO CUTE I’M GONNA DIE!

            I was drawn into the story immediately (once I started rereading it) and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. All of the characters were, once again, written so realistically and there were times that I actually laughed out loud. There were also times when I couldn’t stop smiling and making little “aw” sounds during the cute moments. I love the big words that Stiefvater uses, especially when Gansey talks because, instead of making it sound forced and unnatural, it actually makes it more realistic. Gansey is a preppy, smart, politician-raised boy who I would imagine uses those exact words. Plus, I get to learn a little new vocabulary J Another amazing thing was the character transformations. Ronan in particular went through an enormous change throughout the book and it as amazing to see how much he changed by the end. I liked how he changed little by little; there wasn’t a moment where it was just like BAM he’s a changed man! It took time and he made plenty of mistakes along the way, but he got through it and ended up a better person, which is how I think it happens in real life.

I absolutely CANNOT WAIT for the next book!! I’m dying in anticipation!! The ending was really good (and am I sensing a little Adam-Ronan action possibly?) and I’m really excited about what this series will bring in the future!

I LOVE this series!! 5 Smileys!!!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Legend: The Collector's Edition by Marie Lu

As some of you may know, Legend by Marie Lu is an extremely special book to me. It was the first book that I ever reviewed; it is what made me start my blog and begin reviewing other books, as well. It is also my favorite book, so you could imagine my excitement when Gauntlet Press offered me the opportunity to review the Collector’s Edition of Legend!

The book is basically set up into seven sections: the introduction (written by Marie Lu), the actual novel, the Afterword (written by Ridley Pearson), the artwork, Day and June’s profiles, two “outtakes” from the original version of Legend, and two excerpts from a book that Marie Lu wrote in high school, The Glass Sonata. Every section was equally amazing!!

In the introduction, Lu describes how her earlier works morphed together and changed to become Legend. She also gives some inspirational advice and wisdom to aspiring writers (like moi J) that was really awesome.

The “novel” part of the book was, of course, WONDERFUL. I love this book and reading it for the third time this year, it was just as incredible as the very first time I read it more than a year ago! If you want a review of the actual story itself, you can find it here!

I swear that Ridley Pearson can read my mind. The afterword literally puts my pure, all-consuming love for this book and Lu’s writing into words. Lu is one of the most gifted writers that I have ever had the pleasure of reading, and Pearson’s praises of her are spot-on. She also offers some wisdom to those of us who want to be great writers like Lu.

It is in the next section where I start to get even more jealous of Marie Lu than I was of her writing alone. Not only is she an AMAZING writer, she can also draw. One person should not be graced with so many awesome talents! And I mean her drawings are SO GOOD! I can’t draw for my life; I may actually be the worst artist known to man, so I am exceptionally jealous of those who can draw. But I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the drawings that Lu has done of her characters, especially those of June and Day. They look exactly the same on a piece of paper as they did in my head and they are so beautiful, I love them so much! I’m tempted to hang the pictures on my bedroom wall so I can look at them every day, seriously!

The next part, the “profiles,” was actually really cool. It stated everything about Day and June that you could ever want to know, from their birthdays to their blood types, and their strengths and weaknesses. I really enjoyed reading this part of the book. One thing I must say, though, is that after reading these profiles, I will be even pickier about the appearance of the actors that are cast as June and Day in the movie. Because their appearances are so explicitly stated and detailed, those actors better look exactly how she describes them or I’m going to be really freaking angry! Just by reading the profiles, I fell in love with Day once again, for probably the thousandth time, and I noticed that June and I are really similar when all of her personal information was laid out so clearly. I mean, we’re both 5’ 4”, we’re pretty much the same weight, we both have brown hair and brown eyes, and we basically have the same exact personality, so if I were to be, oh, I don’t know, cast as June for the movie, I would be perfect for the role (*wink, wink, cough, cough*)! Anyway, enough about my freakishly close resemblance to June and my superior acting abilities…. J

After reading the two outtakes, it made me realize that an author cannot include everything that he/she wants into his/her book. I also realized that the ending of Legend as it was when it was published is INCREDIBLE. The alternate ending (which was one of the two “outtakes”) was definitely not as good as the ending that we know and love. If she had ended Legend with the alternate ending instead, the second book would have been completely different, which is crazy to think about since I love the second book so much! The second “outtake” was a scene that Lu had originally written into the story, but she ended up taking it out. It follows Day, Tess, and June as they steal some hotdogs from an unsuspecting vendor for their breakfast. It was a fun scene to read, but ultimately I agreed with Lu’s decision to cut it out of the final product; it wasn’t exactly necessary to the advancement of the plot, but it was amusing to read nonetheless!

The last section of the Collector’s Edition consists of two excerpts from a book that Lu wrote in high school called The Glass Sonata. This is where Day originally shows up, but his personality is more cruel and merciless than that of the Day we all know and love (a lot) from Legend. Even though she wrote it in high school, the story and writing are still amazing, at least in the two sections of it that I read. I really want to read the rest of it! The story was super interesting and it was a fantasy novel (and I love me some fantasy, let me tell ya) that followed a character similar to Day. In the book, society is divided into two groups: the Aristans and the Salans. The Salans are like slaves, while the Aristans are their masters. All of the main characters are Salans. We even see an early version of a Skiz fight, but it's more like if The Hungers Games and a Skiz fight had a baby, then it became even more intense than its parents. The narration of the story is told by Anden, the character who later develops into the Elector Primo’s son in Legend. There is also an early version of June in this book. Even though her name is not June and she comes from the lower, slave class rather than the high class (like in Legend), you can definitely feel June emanating from that character. I think that it takes amazing skill to be able to define a character so well that you can tell it is her, even when she is in a different body with a different name and completely different consequences. Even in high school, Lu was an incredibly gifted writer and I am even more jealous of her! But don’t worry; my jealousy only contributes more to my awe-inspiring respect of Marie Lu!

This book shows me that some people are just born gifted writers, and Marie Lu is definitely one of them. If you love Legend as much as I do, then you should definitely check out this book! It was completely awesome and wonderful and it offered so much new insight on the Legend series that makes reading it so much more enjoyable! I definitely recommend it!!

This was such an awesome addition to the Legend series! 5 Smileys!