Meridian (Amber Kizer)

Meridian by Amber KizerHalf-human, half-angel, Meridian Sozu has a dark responsibility.

Sixteen-year-old Meridian has been surrounded by death ever since she can remember. As a child, insects, mice, and salamanders would burrow into her bedclothes and die. At her elementary school, she was blamed for a classmate’s tragic accident. And on her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her family home—and Meridian’s body explodes in pain.

Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she’s a danger to her family and hustled off to her great-aunt’s house in Revelation, Colorado. It’s there that she learns that she is a Fenestra—the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead. But Meridian and her sworn protector and love, Tens, face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos.

My teammates and I saw this book while browsing around Fully Booked and the concept of the book got me hooked immediately. After vampires comes angels and I think angels are more interesting than vamps, right? (Feel free to disagree haha)

So when I finally got a copy of this book, I was excited to read it. The first few pages were really interesting, as Meridian tried to explain the deaths around her and why she was always alone. It was a very captivating start for a novel, good enough to get me hooked and try to find out what was up with Meridian.

But that was it. It was a good start, but as the story went on, it wasn’t that good anymore. I felt like I wasn’t really into the story, like I was watching it from the sidelines. I liked the idea of the Fenestras and the Alternocti and the Sangre, but there wasn’t enough explanation on the background of things. I just know that the Fenestras are good and the Alternocti are bad and that was it. There were some references to religion and a possible background or mythology of why they were that way, but it still lacked.

I liked Meridian as a character, but I wished there was more depth shown to her. Tens as a protector is a good character too, but his background wasn’t explored either. He was called a prophet, but there wasn’t much of him being a prophet in the story except for his dreams. And the romance between Meridian and Tens? Sorry, didn’t work for me.

I still liked the concept of the story, though, and I hope it gets explored more if there is a companion novel coming out.

Rating:
→ Somewhat disappointing. Could have had a lot of good concepts to explore, but it failed to live up to expectations. I won’t stop you from picking this up, but I’m not recommending it, either.

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 2 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 2 out of 20 fantasy books in 2010

→ Get Meridian by Amber Kizer from Amazon.com
→ Amber Kizer’s website

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:

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

Reading Challenges

Books (c/o sxc.hu)When the year 2007 ended, I made a big realization: I hardly read books for that entire year. It sank in during National Novel Writing Month of 2007, where I had a hard time writing my story because I had a hard time finding the words, and the only thing different for that year was I hardly made a dent on any of my to-be-read pile.

I think the main reason why I didn’t read as much then was because of work…oh, and maybe laziness. So, I figured, as 2008 came, that I will set a reading goal to motivate myself.

I set out to read 50 books in 2008. I also added a reviewing resolution, to review half of the books I’ve read. I didn’t reach my goal to read 50 books, mainly because I got lazy again by the middle of the year. I managed to review a lot of them, though.

In 2009, I set out to reach the 50 book challenge again, and this time I was determined to meet my goal. And I did — I think I managed to reach the 50 goal by mid-2009, but I didn’t stop reading then. I read up to 70 books last year, the highest number of books I’ve read in a year.

In 2010, I thought of bringing it up a notch. So, my 2010 reading challenge is:

Read 100 books within the year.

I managed to reach 70 last year, why not add 30 more? :) I think it’s pretty doable, and I don’t think I’ll be having my nose buried inside a book for the entire year.

I also had to add a bit of specification on this challenge, to prepare myself for National Novel Writing Month 2010:

Read 20 fantasy books.

Believe me, I don’t read fantasy books as much as I should. I’m more of a chicklit book lover…but let’s put that in another post.

And another specification:

Read 10 classic books.

I hardly read classic books too, and again…that will be for another post. :P

So one more time, my reading goal for 2010:

Read 100 books, 20 of which should be fantasy, and 10 should be classics.

So what about you? What are your reading goals for 2010?