Fool’s Assassin – By Robin Hobb

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Wow.

For a little while I had fallen out of love with Robin Hobb’s writing. It was a shame, because I had always been such a huge fan of her work. Her last few books left me shrugging my shoulders with characters that I couldn’t ‘get into’ and a story that felt unnecessarily complicated. This book absolutely restored my faith in her writing.

We return to the story of Fitz and the Fool. A story that I fell in love with way back when (go read Assassin’s Apprentice). Fitz is living happily with Molly, in the comfort of his home in Withywoods. The book does start out slow, but it’s incredibly rich in detail about his every day life. Of course, all hell soon breaks loose. It starts out slow and then the reader is rampaging along and then before you know it – cliffhanger. Of course.

*Frustration*

In the best possible way, of course.

Some people may not be comfortable with the amount of ‘mundane’ activities that the story delves into, especially during the first half of the book, but I personally felt that they were necessary and set the ground for the story. They refreshed my memory of Fitz and his character, and refreshed my opinion of why I had fallen in love with the series to begin with. These were characters I could relate to, characters I have loved. I realize that my review is skipping over any sort of specific detail but the book is really quite full of surprises and I’ve never really been one to give away spoilers. Suffice to say that if you were a fan of the first Fitz books, I am confident that you will also enjoy this book, and if you haven’t read any of them yet, you may want to look into it.

5/5 star review

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Review: Fire and Ice (Warriors #2) by Erin Hunter

275000Book two in the Warriors series, I actually finished reading this back in October and then forgot to write a review, dang it. We find ourselves back with Fireheart and his clan, Fireheart being promoted to warrior status. His first task (along with Graystripe) is to bring back WindClan, who have gone missing. They find them under a highway interchange, and bring them home, finding out the story of what happened along the way.

Fireheart also earns himself his first apprentice, Cinderpaw. An accident happens, and she is hurt – but readers quickly find out that this was no accident at all. Tigerclaw is anxious to become leader, and he’ll stop at nothing to get his way. Throughout the story, Fireheart also meets up with his sister, Princess, a kittypet who lives in a home not too far away from the forest. She has a batch of kits and she gives her oldest to Fireheart, hoping that the kit can become a brave warrior like he is.

The entire book is about being proud of where you come from, and accomplishing your goals no matter who you are or your background. Fireheart isn’t the most liked of cats due to the fact that he was once a kittypet, and he constantly has to prove himself to others, over and over. When he brings in Princess’ kit, the cycle begins again. Even though this is a book aimed at children ages 8-12, I enjoyed the easy read, and the morals contained within are important for everyone, no matter your age. I liked this book better than the first one to the series, and made plans to continue on with book three.

4/5 star review

 

Review: Dark Witch by Nora Roberts

16158558Every so often, especially on days of high stress, I sit down and read a book that requires very little thought or involvement from me. That’s not a negative comment, either. I think books like these are almost required for my sanity, and of course I personally feel that it doesn’t matter what a person is reading, so long as they are.

Dark Witch was one of those books. The story was a predictable love story that we have come to expect from Nora Roberts. It revolves around Iona, and the discovery that she has some magical talents. She moves from the US to Ireland to seek out her family and learn about these talents from her cousins. Everything seems to fall into place perfectly, and she doesn’t meet up with any resistance at all when it comes to finding a new place to live, new friends, and a great job that happens to be exactly what she wants to do in life. Some days I wish life actually worked that way.

Of course Iona meets a dark and brooding man who doesn’t quite understand her and who she can’t quite understand. There’s a ‘bad guy’ who has set out to harm the cousins and those close to Iona (and her cousins), and they have to come together to defeat him. There’s magic and love and tension – but the characters lack any depth, and I found myself annoyed with Iona. She’s very flat and one dimensional and I couldn’t get interested in her at all. This book also very closely mimics the Three Sisters trilogy, which perhaps the author was trying to emulate. In my opinion it fell short. It mimics many other trilogy that Nora Roberts has written, including the Key Trilogy, the Gallaghers of Ardmore, Three Sisters Island, or the Sign of Seven. They all share the same basic plot. After a while, you just get tired of reading the same thing.

3/5 stars

 

The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey

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This is a book I had never even heard of before, so it wasn’t on my radar whatsoever in 2014. It was first published back in 2012, and I’m surprised that I had never read it. A friend made the suggestion to me that I would probably enjoy it, after they heard about it on a CBC radio show. The announcer wasn’t actually discussing the book per say on the show, but speaking to someone else who happened to mention they were reading it. This book was one I couldn’t put down, I kept wanting to see what would happen next. It is about a married couple, Jack and Mabel. They lose a child early in their marriage, and it sends each of them into their own pits of despair. They decide to move out to Alaska on their own and take up farming. Jack, in his need to provide, won’t let Mabel help with any of the work that needs to be done to prepare the fields (and there is a lot to be done). Mabel starts falling into a heavy stint of depression, and the opening scene of the book is one of heartbreak.

Together during the early winter they create a snowman, and mysteriously after they create this snowman, they start spotting a girl darting through the trees in the forest near their home (meanwhile the snowman they have created has been stripped of its clothing, and lays in a pile of broken snowballs). The young girl has a pet fox that trails after her through the forest, and  the real story begins from that point on as the focus shifts.

As always I don’t want to give too much away, except to say that this book was beautifully written, and the story was haunting. It was probably my 2nd favourite book of 2014, and I highly recommend it.

5/5 star review

The Garden of Evening Mists, by Twan Eng Tan

18907271I’m not exactly sure how this book was recommended to me. I believe it was on sale for a great price on Amazon, and then after taking a look at some reviews or reading a portion of the book I decided that I should read it. I’m incredibly glad that I did. It was probably the most beautiful book I read in 2014 and it left an impression on me that I won’t quickly forget.

The story is about Yun Ling Teoh and her life at different stages. There is her past, in which is as a prisoner in a Japanese wartime camp, then the part of her life where she is training under Aritomo as an apprentice to design gardens, and then her present, where she is slowly coming to grips with the fact that she has a disease that may take from her everything she holds dear.

Once I lose all ability to communicate with the world outside myself, nothing will be left but what I remember. My memories will be like a sandbar, cut off from the shore by the incoming tide. For what is a person without memories? A ghost, trapped between worlds, without an identity, with no future, no past.”

Readers learn each of the hardships she has had to face, and how she moved forward (or didn’t). The book is so incredibly beautiful that I think writing out everything that happens in it would be a disservice to the reader, so I’m going to leave this review pretty sparse for details, aside from what I have already mentioned. It was beautiful, haunting, and I highly recommend it.

5/5 stars

The Wild Truth, By Carine McCandless

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Like many others, I started reading this book expecting a more in-depth look at Chris (you may remember him, he became famous after the story behind his death was published by Jon Krakauer in the book “Into the Wild”. That book deeply touched and moved me, which is why I picked this one up.

I almost wish I hadn’t purchased it (except I really enjoy reading, so of course I did). The book offers very little new information at all about Chris, and is instead a very narcissistic read about his sister and her family troubles. It’s well written and of course a page turner (sort of like that accident that you can’t look away from) but no where in the entire book does she ever take the blame for anything that befalls her, in her entire life. Even the portions of the book that were supposed to focus on Chris instead put Carine front and center. She came across as the one who never made mistakes (even three marriages later), who was never at fault, who could never be blamed for anything. I’m not excusing an abusive childhood (or adulthood), but the book paints her as being incredibly materialistic, and constantly thinking of herself. She mentions numerous times that she waits for her parents to come around, for their views to change, for them to change – but never does she mention changing herself, growing up, or moving forward in a mature fashion. Instead she clings to the past and the pain she has suffered – and the book shows just how much she wants her family to be punished for her hurt.

 

2/5 Stars

I Know This Much Is True – By Wally Lamb

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This book  is one of my favourites from this year. It made me think, and then made me think some more. The story follows the life of Dominick Birdsey and his interactions with his family. His twin brother suffers from schizophrenia and at the onset of the book he chops off his hand – in a public library. Right from the start you’re pulled into the incredible turmoil of family life. Dominick loves and hates his brother at the same time. He has his own problems, his families problems, and his brother’s problems. Some how he has to deal with them all and not get pulled down by the weight of life.

There are side stories throughout that involve other family members and how their lives affected Dominick and helped to shape who he was. Some of my favourites include passages from his grandfather’s life though these stories are certainly not for the faint of heart and they are very emotional. They made me realize I have much to be thankful for and while this was a made up story and not “real life” a book that makes you think in relation to your own life is a great book. A book that can make you feel like this one did is a fantastic one.

Don’t be put off by the length, either. Yes, it’s a long book but as you read it the pages seem to fly by because you’re completely wrapped up in Dominick’s world.

5 / 5 stars