Sunday, March 31, 2013

Book #26- Deadhouse Gates

Title: Deadhouse Gates
Author: Steven Erikson
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: The Malazan Book of the Fallen
Pages: 864
Pages to Date:7,893

The Good:
After I read the first installment of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, Deadhouse Gates had some very high expectations to meet, and it delivered in full. The interwoven story lines are beautifully executed and the characters are breathtaking, even in tragedy. Heboric, Felisin, Kalam, and Baudin stood out as a few of my favorites, along with Icarium, Mappo, and Iskaral Pust. I wish I could say more, but the very reasons I love these characters are major spoilers.

The Bad:
Like it's predecessor, Deadhouse Gates, starts off pretty slow. It is very much a traveling book; many of the stories take place really far from each other. However, once I began putting the pieces of the puzzle together this became a non-issue. I just wanted to continue on until certain parties collided.
Additionally, Duiker's sections for the first half of the book are pretty dry, littered with military talk. This may not hinder some readers, but for me it was a bit rough. In the end, though, I came to love Duiker as a character and his sections vastly improved.

The Verdict:
Deadhouse Gates is amazing. It lives up to it's predecessor's reputation and, though a bit slow at first, is a must read.

Book #25- Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search Part 1

Title- Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search Part 1
Author- Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru (Art)
Genre- Fantasy
Pages to date-7,029

The Good:
This is what every Avatar fan has been waiting for. Finally, we get to find out what happened to Zuko's mom. Unlike The Promise, which showed much regression in Zuko's character, this installment shows him at his best, which is what readers want to see.

The Bad:
Zuko makes some questionable (that's putting it lightly, more like idiotic) decisions without much evidence to support those decisions. As a fan of the character, I hope this issue is resolved in parts 2 and 3.
Also, I wish they would publish all three parts at once. Waiting until late July for part 2 and even later for part 3 will not be pleasant.

The Verdict:
A must for any Avatar fan, but it's probably a good idea just to wait until all three parts are out. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Book #3-The Colonel's Daughter

Title: The Colonel's Daughter
Author: Merline Lovelace
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 377
Pages to Date: 1,005

The Good:
Lovelace does a nice job of creating a strong willed woman, Suzanne, as one of the main characters.  She can fend for herself and isn't afraid to get a little dust on her shoes.  In the book she does not get everything that she wanted out of her journey, which I found rather refreshing.  In most romance books, the main character receives everything she is after by the last page, but in this piece Suzanne faces some mild disappointment.

The Bad:
Most romance novels are unrealistic I must admit, but there are certain scenarios that one can guarantee would never happen in real life.  For instance, Suzanne bluntly tells her mother and stepfather that she had sex with a man.  This would never happen!  At least not in such a careless fashion considering it's set in 1879.  In addition, the end scene of the marriage was so unrealistic and insensitive that I was really let down.

The Verdict:
I've read a lot of romance novels in my time, and a reader could definitely do a lot worse.  However, I'd say steer clear of this piece if you're looking for a book with realistic expectations.  The ending is just too abrupt and disappointing.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book #2- Choke

Title- Choke
Author- Chuck Palahniuk
Genre- Black Comedy
Pages to Date- 628

The Good: 

Choke follows the life of Victor Mancini, a sex addict struggling to pay for his mother’s care at a retirement home.  The main character is clearly an intelligent man but an underachiever at life. Throughout the story the reader feels the need to encourage Victor to pull his life together and become the man he has the potential to be. 

The Bad:

The main women in this novel are all cast in a very negative light.  They all are either deranged or partake in unseemly careers such as stripping.  Also, there did not appear to be a defined point to the book or moral to be learned. 

The Verdict:

Ultimately, I did not fully enjoy the book.  The lack of meaning mixed with the vulgarity wasn’t really my taste.  There were times when certain scenes did not really seem to advance the story either, which made the reading drag on.   

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Book #24- A Walk in the Night

Title- A Walk in the Night
Author- Alex La Guma
Genre- Realistic Fiction
Pages to date- 6,953

The Good:
A Walk in the Night introduces readers to the tragic impossibility of reaching manhood in South Africa during a time of political turmoil. I couldn't help but invest in the characters despite their major flaws. Even Constable Raalt, a rather jaded and villainous figure, earned a bit of my sympathy. Willieboy and stand out as the most loveable characters if only because of their hardships. Without these two, the story would be very lacking in emotion.

The Bad:
Surprisingly, I found this piece a little too short for my taste. I'm all for brevity if it serves the right purpose, but A Walk in the Night deserves to be a full-fledged novel. The characters could do well with a lot more page time.

The Verdict:
A Walk in the Night was pretty good, and that's coming from someone who almost exclusively reads fantasy. It's worth a look.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book #1- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Title- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Author- Junot Díaz
Genre- Historical Fiction
Pages- 335
Pages to Date- 335

The Good:  In this book Díaz tells the story of a Dominican Republic family cursed by bad luck.  Their tragic lives manage to captivate the reader and hold attention throughout the story.  The characters also constantly refer back to Dominican history.  This would make the book difficult to follow but Díaz conveniently includes footnotes commenting on the historical references, providing insight into their meaning.    

The Bad:  The narrator of the stories is constantly referencing science fiction books, TV shows, movies, and comic books.  If you’re not well versed in science fiction literature some phrases are confusing.  Similar to this problem is the use of Spanish words and phrases.  Being Dominican, the characters will sometimes speak in Spanish, and unless you know Spanish, good luck understanding.  There are online annotated notes to assist with all of the references, but it gets old reading a page then reading all of the explanations online.

Verdict:  Overall, this book is a fascinating look into a culture’s superstitions and history.  It is difficult to understand some of the phrases and references, but the family’s story captures the reader and will entertain till the very end.  I’d definitely recommend checking this book out, regardless of its hitches.     

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book #23- The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia

Title- The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia
Author-Various Writers and Translators
Genre- Video Games, Fantasy
Pages to date- 6,862

The Good:
Hyrule Historia is a great choice for any Zelda fan. The book has a detailed account of every game and awesome concept art. The history of Hyrule, viewed through a timeline that was previously a topic of much debate, grant new perspective to fans of the series.

The Bad:
The dense mythology of Hyrule is only lightly covered in this book, but the shortcoming is forgivable, considering that the gaps will most likely be filled by other games.

The Verdict:
Hyrule Historia is a must for any Zelda fan. It is a rather unconventional book, so it's hard to do it justice in a review. If you're interested, check it out.