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Review: The Way of Kings

BookNerd

“It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. Well, so can a thousand words. They are the keys by which we can unlock new and amazing worlds, some of which ascend beyond the imagination, and it all begins on the first page.” – BookNerd

Greetings Fellow Booknerds,

Every time I finish a Sanderson novel, I think to myself; “There’s no way that he’ll be able to write anything that can top this.” And every time, without fail he makes me eat my own words.

The scope of his imagination is simply astounding, as if it’s an actual living thing that grows with every story, feeding off of his creative energy until the words take on their own life. He takes you on an epic journey, one that literally knocks the wind out of you, because every time you think you’ve got things figured out, Sanderson punches you in the gut with the truth, leaving you breathless and stupefied.

 

**WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS**

 

51hpm256bgl__sx258_bo1204203200_Book Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

5-stars

The Way of Kings is just one might gut punch after another, and most of them you won’t see coming. This first installment of the Stormlight Archive is an introduction to another corner of Sanderson’s Cosmere, and when I heard that there could end up being at least ten more books in the series, I knew that I was in for a heart pounding, adrenaline pumping thrill ride. You see, when you read a Sanderson novel, there are no dull moments. There are only very brief quiets before the storm, which happen on almost every page.

Like most of his books, The Way of Kings follows the stories of several different characters, whose lives eventually become intertwined in a way you don’t see coming until it happens. A large portion of the story follows Kalladin, a former soldier turned slave who is sold off to work as a bridge man for the Alethi army, who are currently fighting a war against the Parshendi over a highly valued resource; gem hearts.

Another part of the story follows the journey of Shallan, an aspiring scholar with a secret agenda as she seeks to become a ward to Yasna, a genius in her field who is very selective when it comes to whom she is willing to teach. She’s possibly one of my favourite characters, because she starts off as a nervous, sheltered girl who has strayed far from home and into a world she doesn’t know how to navigate, and grows into a bold, witty badass.

And then you have Dalinar, high prince of Alethkar, also known as the Blackthorn on the battlefield. He does his best to aid and serve the new King of Alethkar following the assassination of his brother, Gavellar, an event which fueled the hate and need for revenge against the Parshendi.

There is just so much going on at all times in this book, that it’s next to impossible to go into much more detail without giving anything more away. So, I’ll finish by saying that this book was one of the longest books I’d ever read, and it was well worth every minute I put into finishing it. If you’ve read a Sanderson book before, then you already know more or less what to expect. If you haven’t, then be warned; once you’ve entered the Cosmere, there is no backing out.

Also, I would like to wish all of you who are participating in Nanowrimo this year the best of luck, and until next time, keep on reading!

Cheers,

BookNerd

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Book Review: World War Z

BookNerd

“It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. Well, so can a thousand words. They are the keys by which we can unlock new and amazing worlds, some of which ascend beyond the imagination, and it all begins on the first page.” – BookNerd

Greetings Fellow BookNerds,

I’m what you would call a more ‘traditional’ reader, in that I prefer the feeling of a genuine book in my hands as opposed to a hand held reading device. That’s just how I was raised, and it’s not easy to undo over 20 years of doing something a certain way.

I had convinced myself that I would never EVER enjoy a book that I couldn’t flip open on my lap, ruffling through its pages simply to enjoy that musty smell wafting up as a result of sitting on a bookshelf for many many years… well, that’s what I thought, anyways.

Facing a six hour drive, and in need of something to listen to that wouldn’t lull me to sleep within minutes, I decided to give an audiobook a try. Admittedly, I wasn’t initially convinced that an audiobook would be able to keep my attention long enough to fully appreciate the story. Boy, was I wrong.

The moment it started playing, the world around me disappeared. It was just as engaging, if not more so, than a physical book. After six hours, we managed to get halfway through it, and I could hardly wait until our next road trip so I could hear how it ends! I may be set in my ways, but sometimes, it can be more rewarding than you thought to give something new a try.

World_War_Z_book_coverReview: World War Z: An Oral History Of The Zombie War by Max Brooks

5-stars

First off, I just want you all to keep in mind that this book is NOTHING like that movie they supposedly based off of it. The book follows Brooks, an agent of the United Nations Postwar Commission, as he goes around interviewing individuals who either played crucial roles during the war, or were among those who survived it against all odds. Through the interviews, we gradually uncover how it all started, where the first to be infected were discovered, and how they were able to contain the threat and return things to more or less the way they were before the crisis.

The book goes into so much detail, that there were times while I was listening where I had to remind myself that we hadn’t actually lived through a global zombie epidemic. It can really put you on edge at times, making it seem like you’re the one waking up to find a reanimated corpse trying to break down your door in the middle of the night.

I must confess that I haven’t actually watched the movie adaptation, but based on what I’ve heard and read about it, there is little to no resemblance to the book. Supposedly, even the author Max Brooks wasn’t happy with this Hollywood rendition of his work, and I can see why. The movie is all flash, and absolutely no substance. The book delves into all aspects of the war, not just the blood, gore and violence. Brooks digs deep into the politics, the attitudes of both the masses and the individuals, the degradation of order and structure, the emotional and psychological state of those who struggled to lead amidst the chaos, and so much more.

It’s basically what I wish my grade school history textbooks would’ve read like. There was tons of information and facts, but they were presented in such a seamless and emotionally provocative manner that you felt like you were living through that moment in time. He has brought the horror fiction genre to a whole new level, which is why it’s such a shame that such a movie exists which makes it seem like this book is just another Walking Dead rip off.

The audiobook version I listened to featured a number of different celebrities, each one taking on the persona of the various individuals being interviewed throughout the story. It certainly does add something to a book when you can hear the characters speaking to you aloud, especially when it’s the voice of Alan Alda, Nathan Fillion, Mark Hammill and Simon Pegg, just to name a few. I’m sure there are many different versions out there, but I would highly recommend this one, which is also narrated by Wil Wheaton… okay, he was my least favourite part of Star Trek: Next Generation, but he’s gotten much better at his acting since then, and he really nails it in his reading of World War Z.

I would highly recommend picking up a copy and reading it as soon as possible, especially if all you’ve seen is the sorry excuse for a book-to-movie adaptation. World War Z is definitely worth your time, and I would love to hear your thoughts on it once you’re finished in the comments below. So go out and find this hidden gem, and until next time, keep on reading!

Cheers,

BookNerd 

 

Book Review: The Law of Nines

BookNerd

“It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. Well, so can a thousand words. They are the keys by which we can unlock new and amazing worlds, some of which ascend beyond the imagination, and it all begins on the first page.” – BookNerd

There are so many defining elements that one can use to determine whether a book qualifies as being good or bad. Does it have a relatable protagonist? Is the plot of the story unpredictable? Does it abide by rules that make sense? Is it something that no one has ever done before?

Those are all  important elements that can amount to an amazing story, but to me, it doesn’t mean anything if the book doesn’t somehow engage you on an intellectual level. I want a book that makes me think; a book that gets me to question everything I thought I knew about life. I’m basically saying that I want a book that goes out of its way to mess with my mind, forcing me to see the world from perspectives I’d never even considered before.

In The Law of Nines, Terry Goodkind creates a version of our reality in which we truly are not alone, but not in the way you might think. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that the world Goodkind created in the Sword of Truth series and our world have a lot more in common than you may have thought. In this book, we get the chance to see our world from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know how it works, and is fascinated by things as simple as making tea or using a hair dryer.

Now, how much do I like it and would I recommend it? Let’s take a look!

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Review: The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind

Three stars

Synopsis:

“Turning twenty-seven may be terrifying for some, but for Alex, a struggling artist living in the Midwest, it is cataclysmic. Something about this birthday, his name, and the beautiful woman whose life he has just saved has suddenly made him – and everyone he loves – a target. A target for extreme and uncompromising violence…”

I knew absolutely nothing about this book going into it, except that it was written by one of my favourite authors. From reading the synopsis, I was able to glean that it was a story of a conspiratorial nature, that focused on a guy named Alex. Then there’s the ‘beautiful woman coming into his life and changing everything’ cliché, a rather overused premise, but one that can still hold some intrigue if done right.

I had no idea, until the main character’s last name was revealed, that this book had any connection whatsoever to the Sword of Truth series. It didn’t give that impression at all, what with the lack of seekers, confessors, magic and Gar’s. Granted, it’s been a while since I read any of the Sword of Truth books, so it’s possible that there’s something in one of the –  I want to say fifteen, although when I started reading them there was only ten, which is how you can tell it’s been a while since I read them – books that hints at some kind of connection between these two different storylines. This made it a little confusing for me once the two storylines collided, but it did succeed in making it refreshing, yet still familiar.

Designing a good female character who is the perfect balance between strength, courage & tenacity, and empathy & femininity is challenging. If they’re too much of either, I find they become immediately unlikeable, like Sansa Stark during the first season of Game of Thrones, and Cersei Lannister during… well, the entire series, really. On the one hand, you had Sansa, who very much behaved like a proper lady, and dreamt of meeting a handsome man who would sweep her off her feet and make her feel like a queen, both figuratively and literally. Now, this isn’t the bad part of her personality. The bad part comes with how incredibly naïve she is about the ways of the world, especially her inability to see that Joffrey is a sadistic creep, and the worst possible choice for a husband. Her life just keeps getting worse and worse, but you can’t help but feel that it’s her fault because of those aspects of her personality.

Cersei’s character is an example of a female character from the other end of the spectrum, one who is very strong, manipulative and understands very well how the world and the minds of men work, which aren’t bad qualities in and of themselves, but she portrays them in a way that basically make her look like a… well, you know. Not a very pleasant person, let’s put it that way.

Both characters have admirable qualities, but they lack balance, resulting in characters that you love to hate. In The Law of Nines, the female protagonist Jax is what I would consider a decent balance between the two extremes. She’s strong, vicious even when she needs to be, extremely loyal, and despite how out of place she feels being in our world, she learns quickly so that she doesn’t get taken advantage of. Jax is certainly one of the main reasons I kept reading this book, but sometimes, one reason is just not enough.

My overall impression is that it’s not a great book, but it’s still worth the read. It’s certainly an interesting side story, and there are several moments where I could feel my heart pounding against my chest when our protagonists found themselves with their backs against the wall and their lives on the line, but it was a bit of a struggle to read it through to the end. The story felt rather repetitive at times, even a little simplistic in its plot, and from start to finish, it kind of felt like I was reading two completely different stories that only sort of meshed together.

There was one part of the book that I really liked though, and I feel like that alone made it worth reading. I actually mentioned it in a previous post, which you can check out here. In short, the protagonists Alex and Jax were having a deep discussion about the similarities between magic and technology, and what our world would be like if we suddenly didn’t have access to any of our modern day technology. I find myself often saying that I’d be able to live without my phone and my computer if I had to, but I never stopped to consider it on a global scale, where the majority of humanity relies upon having access to technology to survive.

I also enjoyed the conspiratorial tone at the beginning of the book, evoking plenty of paranoia and suspense, as neither you nor Alex had any idea what was going on. I even enjoyed how they introduced Jax, this mysterious woman who comes out of nowhere, and initially gives Alex the cold shoulder following his rescue attempt.

So, not a great book, but not altogether terrible. If you want a sneak peak into the Sword of Truth series before reading it, then The Law of Nines might not be a bad place to start. I would classify it as the kind of book you read a few pages of before going to sleep every night. I don’t normally like to give a book a bad review, but I just found it too difficult to lose myself in this one. However, even bad or moderately good books have their merits and deserve to be read. You never know what you might glean from them.

What do you look for in a good female protagonist? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or on my blogs Facebook page, and until next time, keep on reading!

Cheers,

BookNerd

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Dragongirl

BookNerd

“It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. Well, so can a thousand words. They are the keys by which we can unlock new and amazing worlds, some of which ascend beyond the imagination, and it all begins on the first page.” – BookNerd

 

I think what I love most about dragon myths is that regardless of whether these mythical beasts are portrayed as good or evil, they are still amazing to me. After all, what’s not amazing about a giant reptilian creature with wings that can breath fire? It’s something that could never exist in our reality, and yet they might as well be real given how much they appear in our literature, our movies and our imaginations.

I’m not sure where my own fondness for these ancient legends comes from, but it feels like something that has always been there. That’s why when I first got my hands on Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, I knew I would be hooked for good.

The first book in the original series was published all the way back in 1968, gradually giving birth to dozens of stories which took us to every intricate part of the universe McCaffrey had envisioned. The interesting thing is that I started reading the books after I played a video game that was based on the series. Admittedly, the game was nothing to write home about. It was made for the Dreamcast, and even though it had a lot of potential, the game just wasn’t as great as it could have been. That being said, I really loved it. Not for it’s graphics, or it’s dialogue, or even it’s gameplay. No, I loved it because it painted a beautiful image of the bond between humans and dragons that I’d always wished to see if dragon’s ever did turn out to be real… I guess not all childhood dreams come true, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop dreaming them.

When I discovered that the game was based on a series of books, I immediately purchased the first three and fell in love. My first surprise came when I learned that they aren’t actually classified as fantasy, but science fiction! I understood why as I began reading them. For those of you unfamiliar with the Pern universe, here is my simplified summary of it from one of my previous blog posts:

“Basically, it’s a story set in a future where most forms of advanced technology no longer exist, reminiscent of a more medieval time period where the people are governed by lords, the lands are divided into different Holds and Weyr’s, and of course there are dragonriders – hence the title – which is really all the allure you need to get into it.

Humans have colonized a planet called Pern, located in the Rukbat system, and which is under the constant threat of Thread, which is some kind of space spore given off by the another planet called the Red Star every fifty years or so. The only means they have of defending themselves during the Threadfalls, as they call it, are their dragons, an indigenous species on the planet along with fire lizards and other native and non-native organisms, who are able to produce a phosphine gas from the consumption of firestones, which is not only very flammable, but also very potent against Thread.”

 

Anne McCaffrey created a version of our future where dragons are not only a reality, but they are also the key to our very survival as a species. She had such an incredible vision, and even though she sadly passed away in 2011, I was surprised when I found out that Pern’s legacy had been passed on to her son, who has carried on the series to this day.

Dragongirl is the third book to be published with Todd McCaffrey as the sole author, and even though I didn’t read the sequels, it was written so well that it took me very little time to figure out what was going on, what had taken place prior, and the direction in which Todd is looking to take the stories. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey:

*Note: As is the case with most book reviews, there is the possibility of spoilers. I will try my best to keep it spoiler free though.*

51W+hRyELmL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Review: Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey

stars-4

If you can’t decide whether you’re in the mood for science fiction, fantasy, or romance, then you definitely want to read this book. With plenty of time travelling, epic battles between Dragon and Thread, complex love triangles and a group of memorable and loveable characters, Dragongirl is a beautiful addition to Anne McCaffrey’s legacy.

Dragongirl continues the story of Fiona, a young Weyrwoman who has travelled back to the present time after helping a group of dragons reach maturity in order to continue the long and arduous battle against the deadly Thread that continues to threaten their survival on Pern. She sought to bring hope to the hopeless, and even though most welcomed her with smiles and open arms, the hearts of some were not so easily won over.

It also didn’t help that many of the dragon’s were succumbing to a mysterious illness for which there didn’t appear to be any cure. Needless to say that things were not looking so good, and after the disaster that befall Telgar Weyr, it seemed that all hope was lost to the citizens of Pern.

A very interesting aspect of this book is the relationship that Todd McCaffrey created between Fiona, a seventeen year old Weyrwoman who is very much driven by her emotions, and Lorana, a much older and wiser former Weyrwoman and the protagonist from Dragonsblood, who suffered a great personal loss, and who has not only the ability to hear other people’s dragons, but somehow Fiona’s thoughts as well. This connection they share is both a blessing and a curse, and it makes for a very unique character dynamic between the two.

This book also explores the effects that travelling Between [aka travelling though both space and time] can have on both dragons and their riders. Time travelling, as a concept, is always a tricky thing to deal with in writing, because there are so many different variables and strains of logic that you have to take into account. For instance, if you travel to a certain point in the future and witness someone’s death, can you do something in the past that will prevent it from happening? It also addresses the issue of what kind of physical affects it can have, and how often you can travel to certain points in time.

Admittedly, it took a bit of getting used to for me. Despite his knowledge of the Pern universe and its history, and his ability to give a crucial role to every character in the story, Todd’s writing style is visibly different than his mother’s, and I feel like he has a bit more to learn about story development and pacing. Overall, though, I was very leased with his work, and I look forward to seeing what other stories he’s able to come up with in the future.

What do you look for in a good science fiction story? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on my blog’s Facebook page, and until next time, happy reading!

Cheers,

BookNerd

Book Review: Destiny of the Dead

BookNerd

It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. Well, so can a thousand words. They are the keys by which we can unlock new and amazing worlds, some of which ascend beyond the imagination, and it all begins on the first page.” – BookNerd

 

 

 

Greetings Fellow BookNerds,

You know a book was written well when you haven’t read the first two books in a series for a very long time, and yet the chain of events that brought the characters to where you are fall into place almost effortlessly in the time it takes you to finish the first chapter. It was back in high school that I first got my hands on a copy of The Fate of the Fallen, the first in Iran Irvine’s The Song of Tears trilogy, and I couldn’t put it down.

The story was oddly reminiscent of the original star wars story; man becomes obsessed with power and is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to get it, he ends up at odds with his son who is torn between wanting to save his father and defeat him, and an epic battle ensues between the rebels and… well, the bad guys basically. There’s even a love interest, and no, she doesn’t turn out to be the guys sister after sharing a kiss.

A fantasy tale of epic proportions with memorable characters, locations and plenty of twists and turns at every corner, it’s definitely a book that will keep you on your toes, and those who love epic battles between humans nightmarish beasts will find this installment of the trilogy especially appealing.

 

*** WARNING: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING REVIEW ***

1914401_130527140338_ggugjgjReview: Destiny of the Dead by Ian Irvine

stars-4

This book I a fitting end to the original trilogy which began with Nish, a physically and emotionally wounded man who was on the verge of death; Maelys, the obedient yet constantly looked down upon daughter of clan Nifferlin; and Xervish Flydd, ex-Scrutator and a rather perverted old man. They are the pillar of our merry band of misfits, each with their own agenda, yet with one common goal between them: to bring down the God Emperor.

Destiny of the Dead drops us in the midst of the battle at the Range of Ruin, where Nish and his dwindling army continue to face off against the God Emperors superior forces. There doesn’t seem to be any feasible way that they can win, but they aren’t about to toss in the towel. Nish must find a way to lead his army to victory… or submit to his father [the God Emperor] so that no one else must die.

Compared to the books that came before, this one is certainly faster paced. There are very few moments when our favourite characters aren’t thrown into a life or death situation, and not to name names, but not everyone makes it out unscathed. Floods of tears and rivers of blood are shed, and if facing off against a god-like human isn’t bad enough, the shape-shifting being Stilkeen has emerged from the void to unleash a fresh hell upon Santhenar in its search for chthonic fire and its own personal revenge.

If there is one criticism I could make about this book, it would be that there are certain moments where something shocking or emotionally jarring would occur, but there would be very little reaction to it from the other characters. This is only the case a few times, and I suppose it could be argued that in the midst of battle, there’s just not enough time to grieve or be taken aback, which I can accept. It also bothered me how oblivious Maelys was when it came to Nish’s feelings for her, right up until the very end. I realize she’s supposed to have a very self-doubting and uncertain personality, but he was being pretty obvious. I do like her increased assertiveness in this book, which more than makes up for her inability to notice the obvious.

Overall, it was a brilliant ending, it tied up pretty well all of the loose ends, and what Irvine did at the very end of the book really took me by surprise, which is something I love in a good story. Obvious endings are boring, and I can honestly say that there is very little that’s predictable about this book. I would even go as far as to say that its almost on par with Branden Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy, which is a huge compliment for those of you who are familiar with Sanderson’s work.

My only regret is not reading this book immediately after finishing the previous two, which I would have if it had been available in Chapters at the time I’d gone to purchase it. Still, there mere fact that I was able to come back to the series after so much time had passed and still feel the same love for it is the mark of a truly talented writer who knows how to create an unforgettable story.

What are your greatest character pet peeves from books that you’ve read? I would love to hear about them in the comments below or on my blogs Facebook page, and until next time, happy reading!

 

Cheers,

BookNerd