Fire

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Fire by Kristin Cashore
Graceling Realm # 2
Publisher: Gollancz

Number of pages:  352
My copy: UK edition paperback, bought from Fully Booked

Fire is more than attractive.
Fire is mesmerising.

Fire’s exceptional beauty gives her influence and power. People who are susceptible to it will do anything for her attention, and for her affection. If she wished, they would abuse their power, crush nations and even destory their own kingdoms to please her.

But beauty is only skin deep, and beneath it Fire has a human appreciation of right and wrong. Aware of her ability to influence others, and afraid of it, she lives in a corner of the world away from people – not only to protect them, but also to protect herself from their attention, their distrust and even their hatred.

Yet Fire is not the only danger to the Dells. If she wants to protect her home, if she wants a chance to undo the wrongs of her past, she must face her fears, her abilities and a royal court full of powerful people with reason to distrust her.

Beauty is a weapon — and Fire is going to use it.

* * *

I often rely on blog reviews whenever I’m getting a new book from an author that I don’t know. Okay, usually, I rely on covers (shallow, I know), but that only works whenever the book is  anything in the realistic genre.

So one day, I was browsing through one of the new favorite YA book blog sites I started reading lately, Persnickety Snark, and saw her review for Fire by Kristin Cashore. Back then, I was looking for fantasy books to read to start my fantasy reading resolution, and I added Fire and Graceling (the companion book) to my mental list. That same afternoon, my friends and I found the latter book, but my friend bought it, so I told myself I’d buy it when 2010 comes in.

A few days before Christmas, I was feeling a bit restless and felt the need to buy a new book, regardless of how many other books I still have lying unread at home (we have that day, right? :P). I wanted to get Graceling, too, but instead found Fire, and went home with it despite my complaining wallet. :)

To put it simply, Fire was one of those books that I’m glad I bought on an impulse. It was one of those books that I couldn’t put down but I don’t want to rush reading simply because I didn’t want to leave the Dells too soon. I started reading this after Christmas and finished up until after New Year, which is already long for a book that I really loved.

So what did I really love about this book? Let’s see:

  1. Characters. I’m a sucker for strong characters. I love it when the characters in a book all leave imprints in me, and that their voice are so distinct that I could tell who was speaking even without the identifiers in the text. Fire, as a protagonist, is a well-developed character, with her physical beauty that could make her own anything she wants and her compassion for the people around her that makes her not like a monster. Even her guard Musa was a real person to me, and she was just a minor character (who probably wears muck boots from time to time). Every character in this book is crafted so carefully and splendidly that I felt that I was inside the story, like I was one of the people who actually got to know Fire as a person and not a monster.
  2. Plot. Fire isn’t the type of book that will make you keep on turning the pages. True, the story is captivating, but the story flows steadily, no actual highs or lows or quick action/battle parts that other novels have. It’s not that there’s no climax in this book — not like some other book I know hmph — it had one, but it didn’t consist of pages and pages of descriptions about the climax. The story flowed steadily. Every part of the novel was significant, and after a while, you’ll see the connection with all the little things mentioned in the previous pages. I don’t know about others, but I liked that. Why put a part in the story if it doesn’t have any significance, right?
  3. Concept. I mean, human monsters who can make you do anything? Monsters that will eat monsters and if they don’t get that, they can make other creatures with brains go out and convince them to be eaten? How can people come up of these kinds of stories?!

So I’m glad I went on an impulse and bought Fire. It’s the companion book for Graceling, which means I kind of know some of the characters in Graceling already because of that, but it’s okay, I think. :D This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read in 2010.

Rating:

Doodle, doodle

Yes, I like posting in this new blog. :)

Greeting you fellow bookworms on a Tuesday morning with this doodle from my friend Tuesday’s (yes, her name is same as today!) Facebook:

So who’s not in love with their book collection? Tell me, who’s not? I know I am, and as I add more, I fall even more in love. Now if only I could get a bigger shelf. It would make reading and reviewing books (no gps reviews here, sorry!) so much better, don’t you think?

Have a great day everyone! :)

What to do when a book haunts you

I can’t remember how I found out about it exactly, but the other day I found out that Jasper Fforde’s new novel is out. After almost two years from his last novel, First Among Sequels, Jasper Fforde is finally back with a new novel, Shades of Grey.

Now, I’m pretty much of a blind follower whenever I say that I love this specific author, and even if the book isn’t that stellar, the book will still find its way to my bookshelf because, well, it’s my favorite author. Then again, how can you not be even the tiniest bit curious about this book after you’ve read this blurb?

Shades of Grey by Jasper FfordePart social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the low-level House of Red and can see his own color—but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.

Eddie’s world wasn’t always like this. There’s evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.

Eddie, who works for the Color Control Agency, might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey Nightseer from the dark, unlit side of the village. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good. Together, they engage in dangerous revolutionary talk.

Stunningly imaginative, very funny, tightly plotted, and with sly satirical digs at our own society, this novel is for those who loved Thursday Next but want to be transported somewhere equally wild, only darker; a world where the black and white of moral standpoints have been reduced to shades of grey.

And would you look at that pretty cover?

Earlier today, I went to Fully Booked in Eastwood to see if they have a copy. The thing with Jasper Fforde’s books (and other books for that matter) is they bring out the hardbound version first and release the paperback a year later. I’m not much of a fan of hardbound books (more to that on another post), so I was ready to wait for the paperback version for this even if it meant reading it a year later.

But, surprise surprise, Fully Booked Eastwood has the paperback copy of the UK edition (pictured above). It costs Php699.00.

Now there goes my dilemma. I have a dangerously low EQ on books, especially on books from my favorite author. Case in point, a few days before Christmas, I was bored, so I went to Fully Booked and found a copy of Fire by Kristin Cashore. It was the trade paperback edition, meaning it’s a bigger copy and it couldn’t fit the normal bag I bring around. But I wanted to get the book so I ended up buying it. I was planning to buy the copy of her other book, Graceling from the same publisher so it would look prettier on my shelf, but when I saw the last copy of the book in National Bookstore in Galleria, I swiped it and now I have that copy.

See? Terribly low EQ on books.

But I digress. My dilemma was this: I wanted the book, but payday isn’t until Friday. Plus, Eastwood is going to be on sale starting Friday so I’m betting there will be a 20% discount from the book, bringing the price down to Php 550+.

But I really, really want the book. :( And Friday is so far away. :(

I was thisclose to buying it earlier (and influenced my teammate to want the book too) because I was afraid that someone else would buy the book before we do. But my wallet was screaming at me for even thinking about buying a book now that money is short, and I can’t just ignore its screams you know?

But the book was really haunting me! :(

So my teammate and I decided to ask if we can reserve the book there and get it on Friday. We talked to the Fully Booked people and normally, they only reserve for three days, but since we’re sure to get the book on Friday, they decided to hold it for us until Friday.

OMG YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Book haunting has stopped! It’s almost as good as owning the book! And my wallet is happy! :)

And I totally, totally love Fully Booked (even more than the most effective diet pills) now. ♥

Now if only I can find a copy of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

This is a whole new reason to look forward to this Friday, yes?

2010 TBR Challenge

January is the best time to set goals and join challenges, so even if I already have a personal reading challenge for 2010, I thought of joining another one. I figure it’s got no harm to join a reading challenge on top of what I have because it just adds to the books on the first one.

So here is my list for the 2010 To Be Read (TBR) Challenge. Here are the instructions for this challenge, taken from the link above:

** Pick 12 books – one for each month of the year – that you’ve been wanting to read (that have been on your “To Be Read” list) for 6 months or longer, but haven’t gotten around to.

** OPTIONAL: Create a list of 12 “Alternates” (books you could substitute for your challenge books, given that a particular one doesn’t grab you at the time)

** Then, starting January 1, read one of these books from your list each month, ending December 31. )

(Click the link above for more details and an FAQ)

This should put some structure in my picking of books, kind of like how using a posguys barcode scanner has specific instructions. :) Here’s my list:

  1. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  2. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
  3. The Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
  4. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  5. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  6. Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light by Mother Teresa, edited by Brian Kolodjiechuk
  7. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  8. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  9. Peter Pan by JM Barrie
  10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  11. A Room With a View by EM Forster
  12. Where Angels Fear to Tread by EM Forster

If you’ll notice, most of them are classics — how else would I get myself to read classics if I don’t put them in a challenge like this, right? ;) I haven’t got an alternate list for this one yet, but I have a feeling I’ll do the same — put classics in, if only to force myself to read them. :P

Let’s see how this will go, shall we? I’ve just started on Persuasion — I should start reading a couple of pages a day to really get into the story. :P

A Fantasy Filled 2010

If I would look through my bookshelf right now, one can’t help but notice the abundance of pinks, purples and greens on them, with titles that are, more often than not, very girly.

Yes, this is the part where I admit: I am a fluffy reader.

I don’t know how it started, but I fell in love with chick literature as I was discovering books beyond my Sweet Valley and Animorphs collection. I was enamored with empowered women who get into various scrapes and situations and emerge triumphant in the end. It came to a point that whenever I go to the bookstore, I always look for these brightly colored books, and ignore everything else.

Because of this love for “fluffy” literature, I end up writing more fluff than the usual. My three works in progress for NaNoWriMo (2006, 2008 and 2009) are all of the chick lit genre, and my fellow writers know about my love for all things fluff. I even have chick lit writing manuals at home, to help me write.

However, sometime in 2009, I suddenly felt tired of writing my story. I read through some of the synopsis of my other friends who were writing fantasy and felt a certain kind of envy for those with stories that are, quite literally, out of this world.

But that was the thing: I don’t read fantasy novels as much as other people do. The Lord of the Rings? Just watched the movie, no interest in reading the books. The Chronicles of Narnia? I have the books but haven’t started reading it. I read Harry Potter, but it was easy reading despite its fantasy genre. Give me other fantasy stories and I’ll just give you a blank look. Sorry, I don’t read it.

So in 2010, I decided to change my writing habits and venture into a new genre, to spice up my writing life. I decided (and declared, so I’m accountable to it) that I will be writing a fantasy novel for NaNoWriMo 2010.

Now here comes the big but: I don’t know how to write one.

Sure, it’s pretty much imagination and anyone can write a fantasy story…but I don’t know how fantasy novels usually go. If I try to write my story now, I’d probably end up writing it like how I write my chick lit ones. So how to prepare?

Read fantasy novels.

So as a part of my 2010 reading goals, I decided to read at least 20 fantasy novels for the year. 20 should be a good number, nothing too overwhelming, and I’ll be able to get a few ideas on how these stories are written so I could write mine. I can read more, of course, but I don’t want to burden myself…plus I still need my fluffy book fix. ;)

I already finished two fantasy novels (review to follow soon!), and I’ve got…about three more in my list. I look forward to adding more to my to be read pile, and discover new worlds in pages that I have yet to crack.

Care to recommend a fantasy novel my way? :)