Saturday, October 12, 2013

Brief Reviews: Summer 2013 Part 2

Fearless (Reckless, #2) (If you haven't read the first book in this series, read my review of Reckless) This book picks up where the last left off with Jacob dying from the fairy curse he received when saving his brother in the last book.  Naturally he won't just take this curse laying down, so he sets off to find the treasure that will be able to reverse it.  I enjoyed this book as much as the first if not more.  There's more of the vixen in this novel, and she is my favorite character.  I found the new characters introduced intriguing, especially the goyl rival.  More classic fairy tales are explored with a particularly terrifying version of Blue Beard.  I was surprised when discussing the novel with my friends that several of them hadn't even heard of this fairy tale before.  Admittedly it's not one I'd read a child before bed, but it's a classic Perrault story.  I continue to be impressed by Funke's storytelling and I eagerly await the next novel. Fearless by Cornelia Funke: buy it or check it out today!

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)  This novel grabbed me by the shoulders, threw me into its world, and held me there until I emerged shaken but thrilled at the end.  The world-building is some of the finest I have ever seen and I became lost in its history and politics.  The characters are a group of gentlemen thieves reminiscent of Robin Hood and his merry men, except that they settle for stealing from the rich without going on to give to the poor.  But in a world where the rich have a pact with criminals so that they normally only prey upon the lower classes, this act is in itself revolutionary.  The main attraction is Locke, a talented and intelligent thief who leads a small pack called The Gentlemen Bastards.  For their work in confidence tricks they have to be able to take on personas from all ends of the social spectrum and watching them as they make these transformations and following their intricate plans was fascinating.  Soon they became embroiled in so many different schemes that trying to follow all the plot threads was dizzying but exhilarating as I wondered how they could possibly get themselves out of the intricate web they were in.  Locke has a quick wit that never failed to amuse me.  While he can seem glib at times, he naturally has a heart of gold.   Each turn the tale takes leads Locke into darker and darker situations and soon what started as an amusing tale of confidence tricks turned into a heartbreaking and relentless thriller.  I couldn't put it down for long (I actually stole it from my friends in Scotland because I started it just before I left) and rushed out to buy the second as soon as I finished.  The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch: buy it or check it out today!

The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books,  #1)  I listened to this audiobook during my trip to Barcelona this summer.  It was a lot of fun to hear places mentioned that I had just visited and really helped me immerse myself in the city, even when I was taking a break back at the hotel waiting for the restaurants to open for dinner (which wasn't until around 8:30!)  The plot is wonderfully crafted and the writing is absolutely gorgeous.  For obvious reasons I found the idea of a cemetery of forgotten books particularly appealing and I loved to see how much a book touched the characters' lives.  I enjoyed learning about Barcelona's history and culture as well and it allowed me to linger there a bit longer in my mind as I finished listening to the story after my trip was over.  The narrator for the audiobook was fantastic, and his voice for Fermin made his character instantly recognizable.  It was a great book and I read it at just the right time.  The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: buy it or check it out today!

Stargazing DogThis is the most depressing comic I have ever read, and I recently reviewed one about the Lebanese Civil War.  At least that comic had some hope and humor in it.  This one is relentlessly depressing from the first page, which begins with police finding the corpse of a man and a dog in an abandoned car.  Don't be fooled by the adorable dog in a field of sunflowers on the cover.  When the back cover says that this man and his dog stay together until the end, what they mean is until they both die early and pointless deaths after being completely rejected by society.  The name of the dog that watches maggots eat his former master until he himself is beaten to death? Happy.  I kid you not.  After they die a social worker is assigned to their case to try and find their family for a proper burial.  He is inspired to go to great lengths because he's depressed from his dog dying (another sad story they don't miss the chance to describe.)  Still, he cannot find them and they are ultimately buried in an unmarked grave without their family knowing their fate.  The end! Seriously.  This was on a list of good comics for kids and received great reviews (the starred Publishers Weekly one on the back says that it is not "too sweet or sappy" in the understatement of the year.) But I would never recommend this to a child, or a teen, or adult for that matter.  It's apparently a best-seller in Japan and is being made into a film, but something has clearly been lost in translation.  The only people I'd recommend it to are those with an interest in modern Japanese culture who may find it interesting to try and discern why this story is described as 'inspiring.' Stargazing Dog by Takashi Murakami: buy it or check it out today!

The Far West (Frontier Magic, #3) (This is the conclusion of a trilogy.  If you haven't read the others, check out my review of book one and book two)  I'm sad that this series is over because I've enjoyed reading about the combination of frontier spirit and magic that it embodies.  All good things must end though, and this was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.  Eff was able to come into her own and mature. I'm confident that she has a great future ahead of her, even if I won't get to read about it.  This volume revealed more about the other types of magic and the connections among them, which I found interesting.  It's not particularly fast-paced but I cared so much about the characters that I kept quickly turning the pages anyway.  It was a great comfort to me when I was stuck sick in my room during my trip to Monterey.  I'm looking forward to seeing what Wrede will write next!  The Far West by Patricia C. Wrede: buy it or check it out today!

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