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.


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? :)

Reading Challenges

Books (c/o 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?