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The CompanionsTitle: The Companions
Author: R.A. Salvatore
Pages: 384 (Ebook)
Rating: 4.5/5

I recieved an ARC ebook copy from Netgalley, thank you!

The Companions is the first book, of a five-book series that unfolds the changes occurring across the Forgotten Realms and it revolves around the hero, dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden and his companions. It takes the reader back a few years from where The Last Threshold left off to recount the adventures of some long lost companions. All leading up to reuniting twenty-one years later if they can outlast their new enemies and trials to go to the aid of Drizzt. Old readers will be quick to guess who these companions are but new readers will be brought in with welcoming hands as new adventures unfold with promising new roads on every horizon.

This book tore me apart on so many levels. I was a sobbing mess at the beginning, a mess at the end, and just torn watching these characters. Its so hard to write a nonspoilerish review, especially about a series and characters that span over 25 years of works. If you’ve ever wanted to pick up R.A. Salvatore’s books, don’t do it with this one. Perhaps Salvatore means to bring in new fans but my advice, start at the beginning.

These characters, got a new chance to be reborn, to start a new life without forgetting their previous identities and for one dwarf in particular, it’s hard, too hard, to have to restart all the successes and be someone less than he was. The dwarf sums it up nicely, “beardless.” A certain halfling gets the chance to, this time around not just be a sidekick but make a difference. I absolutely loved him, though he reminded me very much of another of Salvatore’s character from another series. And then there’s her. Her. Come back as Ruqiah. If she was a bad-ass character before, then she’s just unbelievable now. I would like to see her back with her bow and arrows though^.^

The ending was perfect with a surprise thrown in for good measure and I get teary-eyed every time I reread it. My feelings are still conflicted over this book. I look back at the past books and the pain Drizzt went to and wonder if it was worth it. Granted he wouldn’t know the blessing that was being prepared for him but still. I have conflicts with reincarnation(the only reason why I don’t five star this book). It such a simple way to get characters back in the game but then again, I’m more than excited to see the Companions of the Hall gathered together. For one last major battle? What roads does Drizzt still have yet to walk?

Brilliant book, I rather felt like it was a bridge to greater things but I still had fun following the adventures and painful trials of these three companions of Drizzt Do’Urden. If you’re a high fantasy fan, you don’t want to miss this book. Or rather, I still suggest going back to the earlier books but that is of course, up to you.

Happy, Happy Reading!

~Tally

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the savage fortressTitle: The Savage Fortress
Author: Sarwat Chadda
Pages: 292
Rating: 4/5

I’ve decided to spend my summer reading as many middle grade books as I can, and boy, so far, I’m excited with all the talent and stories!

Varanasi: holy city of the Ganges.

In this land of ancient temples, incense and snake charmers…

Where the monsters and heroes of the past come to life…

One slightly geeky boy from our time…

IS GOING TO KICK SOME DEMON ASS.

Ash Mistry hates India. Which is a problem since his uncle has brought him and his annoying younger sister Lucky there to take up a dream job with the mysterious Lord Savage. But Ash immediately suspects something is very wrong with the eccentric millionaire. Soon, Ash finds himself in a desperate battle to stop Savage’s masterplan – the opening of the Iron Gates that have kept Ravana, the demon king, at bay for four millennia…

 I love going to other places in the world, especially when the author can make you almost taste the culture. I’ve always liked reading mythology and this book is full of good Hindu. I liked Ash and his sister Lucky right from the start. The book was packed with gut-wrenching moments and the best part, the villains were evil. You can totally fear and hate these guys without hesitation.

My favorite scene was at the beginning, when Ash first meets Parvati and Rishi without knowing how important they’re going to be. Not a spoiler I promise. Parvati is just epically cool, a bit distant but it’s part of her character and Chadda did a great job of showing her off in her best (or worst?). Lucky is a cute kid, the little sister, brave but still young. She has her moments that tear at you, and not in a an awww, cute kind of way. Ash, though he’s set up to look like he’s not much, grows in power (does he ever!) but I wasn’t sure he matured enough for my liking. There’s some moments when I wanted to yell at him for his immaturity at critical moments. Comic relief take a bit too far, perhaps.

The ending though! I loved it in all its scary implications! Next book please! You like superheroes with epic superpowers with all the responsibility and scary *spoiler* looking after you? This is your book. For the moment Ash and Lucky leave India but I’m sure problems are going to follow them, especially considering what Ash has become. *zips rambling mouth* Read this book. I really enjoyed it and I hope you will to!

~Tally


seraphinaTitle: Seraphina
Author: Rachel Hartman
Pages: 451
Rating: 3.5/5

I tend to pick up books that suit my mood. Seraphina certainly fit my mood in recent days and I enjoyed it!

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

 It tickled me that Seraphina, our protagonist, plays the flute and so wonderfully too. I read the first half in one sitting, engrossed in rediscovering dragons. It isn’t much of a twist, what secret Seraphina holds but the book still keeps your attention with its fascinating creations, such as her garden of grotesques. Phina, as she’s so called, is without giving you spoilers, a lovely person that is both logical and emotional and struggles to balance both.

And Kiggs! Sweet, nosey, with high standards, our Captain failed to capture my heart completely but he’s still one of the better love interests that I’ve come across. Yet another great instance of non-insta love. One of the characters that caught my interest early on was Orma. Can’t talk about him without giving away tidbits but, he’s awesome in his own way;)

The plot overall was easy to overlook while we followed Phina in a more personal conflict but it was still enjoyable to go on a hunt for the culprit intent on bringing back the old days. I give a nod to Hartman for creating a vivid world with an interesting, if sometimes detached(in a good way!), set of characters.

Not overly lyrical or heavy, this book is definitely one you should pick up when you’re feeling a need to learn something new about fantasy’s most beloved staple, the dragon. Also another must if you like music or whimsical characters. Plenty of fun for any reader!

~Tally


Rosey and I don’t hide that fact that we first met on a Hunger Games forum and subsequently had some adventures hopping around the internet until we established ourselves here at Bookmarks. Both Suzanne Collins fans, we know how exciting it can be to see a book come to life in a movie. So in case you haven’t already seen the teaser trailer for Catching Fire here it is(yes, I at least am a little more than excited):

I for one, have high hopes after seeing the trailer. It seems to capture Katniss’s world and dilemma to the fullest. Now we just wait and see what the movie has in store for us fans!

~Tally


STS
Click picture for full list.

There’s nothing like a growing shelf of to-be-read books to make you nervous. Or happy. Preferably both. A writing friend was kind enough to let me buy some of her old books, here’s a few of the several books I got! Oldies but goodies, or at least I hope!

Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot
It’s National Poetry Writing Month so why not celebrate with some lovely stanzas?
four quartets

The Eight by Katherine Neville
An international hunt for a chess set? I’m hooked and willing to jump into a genre I don’t normally read.
the eight

Guardian of the Balance (got the first three books in the Merlin’s Descendants series) by Irene Radford
I love Arthurian tales, especially about Merlin. And his descendants….
guardian of the balance

The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey
I’ve been wanting to read something by Ms. Lackey so I jumped at the chance to get to read one of her books.
the snow queen

Just a few of the books that I’ve acquired in recent days. What are you going to read this week?

~Tally


carnival of soulsTitle: Carnival of Souls
Author: Melissa Marr
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ages: 306 (Hardcover)
Rating: 2.5/5

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures–if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father–and every other witch there–fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it’s only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable.While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

 It isn’t often when I say that I enjoyed the middle far more than the beginning or the end, which turned out to be disappointingly anti-climatic. I’m one of those readers that loves writing that has sparkle and reading CARNIVAL OF SOULS started out slow, I just couldn’t stand the writing style but as the world of the daimons and witches unfolded, the stark writing grew on me though there were times when it was admittedly dull.

My like/dislike of the characters also changed dramatically. The one person that sounded strong and likable, became more and more of a puppet character and I lost respect for her. Another of the female characters that I didn’t like at first, I grew to respect if not like. No names for spoiler reasons. The only male character I liked was the one who didn’t get much scene time, go figure, hehe.

The competition scenes were by far the best thing in the book. This is where Marr’s talent showed, brutal and well-played I really enjoyed them. The end, as I mentioned wasn’t very exciting nor surprising. I feel like this was the set up to the next book which always disappoints me when it comes to series.

CARNIVAL OF SOULS didn’t quite hit the high bar I had set up for it but it was interesting to read. While I didn’t like most of the characters, there were some baddies that I found intruiging but I also had a bit of a problem with how females were treated in the daimon world. Let it be enough by me saying, it offended me slightly as a female.

To read or not to read, that is the question. Happy April the First!

~Tally


the alchemistTitle: The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho
Pages: 167
Rating: 3.5/5

This book has been on my to-read list for a long while now and I found it truly remarkable. Some books are international gems, breaking the barriers of language. Much is lost in translation I have found, so how much more impact could this book have if one read it in its original tongue?

 This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom points Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within.

This is one of the harder books to review. It won’t be for everyone but I found it fascinating to follow the boy on his personal journey to find his treasure and eventually, something more important than that. It reads like a folk tale, there are omens and people to help the boy on his way. And like a folk tale, there’s something that readers can come away with. There’s simplicity but raw power hidden in all the pages of this book.

In the beginning you learn of the boy’s name but it’s something that’s easily forgotten as it’s not something that’s used to refer to him. The boy, the Englishman, the camel driver, the alchemist. They all lend to the cleanliness of it. I particularly liked the introduction from the author, set me in the right mindset for this book and the prologue was one of the best parts.

If you want a book that makes you think then this is it. More than once I found myself rereading a line or a paragraph just to feel the power of the words again. Coelho thoroughly soaks this story with a sort of timeless quality that comes with folk stories. There is gold and sheep, there are warring tribes and beautiful women, but more than that, THE ALCHEMIST gives you a mirror to view yourself.

~Tally