Wednesday, January 27, 2010
For the past two weeks I've been reading this book nightly. The Rubicon is a hard book to categorise - although it is historical non fiction (has footnotes and all), Tom Holland tells the History of the Roman Republic in a compelling storytelling manner. The Rubicon (the first of Tom Hollands Historical books) can be summed up as 'Truth is stranger than fiction' or should i say 'Truth is more entertaining than fiction'.
In the first year of my undergrad degree, i did a year of 'Ancient civilisations' which focused on Rome and Greece. In all the books I've read on the subject of Rome, I think The Rubicon does an excellent job of telling the story of Rome - like a panoramic picture of its beginnings to the end - without too much (or overwhelming) detail to bog down the reader. This, i think, is the key to the success of this book - you don't have to be a scholar to comprehend and read this, and it isn't too clustered with details or differing academic opinions to leave you confused. Tom holland makes assumptions based on facts (lets you know he has) and gets back to the juicy details of the story.
Definitely this book though isn't a hero worship of Caesar or Augustus but gives a warts and all view of the political horizon of Rome, and of course (as he says in his preface) focuses beyond the typical 'main players' and shows the reasoning behind it all. My only fault is that there isn't a huge focus on the most epic moments (which almost feel anti-climatic) like Caesars murder or Antony and Cleopatra's suicides. He mentions them and moves on. However it should be noted that Tom Holland makes the point in the preface that this is a book about 'Rome and its people' and i think deliberately underplays the 'most known' parts so as not to swamp the message.
So to sum up, buy this book and read it! Even if history is not your cuppa, this is a reviting read! Can't wait to pick up his other two: Persian Fire and Millenium.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Before i start my review, there are some interesting things to know about 'The Poison Throne' and Moorhawke Trilogy, - these books will be released in the UK/US via Orbit in the coming year (the first being released in April).
So how am i able to review this book then?
Well its not because I've stolen an ARC or vandalised Celine Kiernan's house, but because this book (The Poison Throne) has been released (under O'Brien Press - an Irish publisher) in Ireland in 2008 and in Spain, Germany and Australia in 2009.
'The Poison Throne' tells the story of Wynter Moorhawke, daughter of Lord Protector of the King and best friend to both the Crown Prince (Alberon) and the illegitimate son (Razi). After returning with her father from the North after five years, the Kingdom and court of her homeland is completely changed and is being torn apart from the inside. Friends have become enemies, stable things have changed (i mean, cats don't even talk anymore!) and the court grows more and more dangerous day by day.
I read this book in a night, as i couldn't put it down. Celine Kiernan is an excellent storyteller and certainly keeps the readers interest throughout the book. Although there are good overall elements to this book, I feel that Kiernan's strength really lies in the development and relationships of her characters. The Poison Throne's plot involves and focuses on court intrigue etc. but in my opinion it is a book about relationships - fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, friendship and loyalty. Therefore why i think this book works so well is due to Kiernans handling of the characters and their relationships. The book pulls you in through the characters experiences, emotions and thoughts - which Kiernan portrays very well - and leaves you wanting to know more. By the end of this book, I became quite attached to the characters (especially to Christopher!) and seriously didn't want it to end . So, I'm dying to read 'The Crowded Shadows' (2nd book, which is currently in Ireland only, lucky me) to follow these characters stories and to find out more about 'the bloody machine'.
My favourite sections of the book, of course involved Christopher, who fast became my favourite character. I don't want to spoil the story but I absolutely loved the small moments between Wynter and himself, which happened in a very natural way and seemed very in touch with the characters. Can't wait (hopefully) to see how their relationship develops. I would also love to learn more though about the 'hinted at' feelings which Razi seems or used to have for Wynter, but i guess i'll have to wait and see.
Overall a very good start to the trilogy, which i would recommend US/UK readers to watch out for in the coming months :)
P.S. The cover in the above pic is the old irish cover. Check out Celine Kiernan's Blog for UK/US Orbit covers and News.
Friday, January 15, 2010
I recently had the pleasure of finishing Becca Fitzpatrick's first book, 'Hush, Hush'. Along with hitting one of my major weak spots (fallen angels) my favorite part of the book was Fitzpatrick's use of language. When authors get caught up in proper
syntax, correct grammar or current slang they often neglecting what the characters are actuallysaying. But never once while reading 'Hush, Hush'did I think to myself, "People don't talk like that," such is the case with so many other young adult books. Fitzpatrick knows how to write and it shows in her debut young adult novel.
My apparent obsession about her use of words aside, the story is pretty good too. While it mirrors the "I want to kill/eat/otherwise maim you" romance of some other young adult novels out there, it at least uses the refreshing twist of angels instead of vampires/werewolves/ghosts. The story never seems trite, overdone or predictable. Even though it starts off with a new biology partner, the heroine's life is constantly in danger and the romance never seems to get off the ground, 'Hush, Hush' still feels like a completely original novel. I think its Fitzpatrick's talent for language that keeps it from falling into the black hole of YA Fantasy Look-A-Likes.
When I finished reading 'Hush, Hush' I wondered if it would become a series and in keeping with the new young adult trend, it is. I'm not sure how I feel about this, because it seems like most of the Book 1's I've read could have stood alone, but a lot of authors decide to drag the world out into a diluted Xerox of itself until we eventually get bored and stop reading.Its hard to tell if an author is going to keep on churning out best sellers like Melissa Marr or if they're going to eventually spiral into self disillusion and then disappear, like Stephenie Meyer. However, I have high hopes for Becca Fitzpatrick, her ability to produce such an interesting and realistic world along with her talent for words are good indicators that she'll join the ranks of other great long time selling authors.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
So I had the luxury of being able to take lots of baths this past week and so I was able to finish this book!
"There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything. "
This book turned out to be pretty good. It was a bit slow in some areas, but otherwise picked up shortly after those slow spots. The main character Ethan meets Lena, who is new to a very small southern town. But from the moment they meet there is something between them that draws the two together and forms bonds beyond just the average friendship or teen romance. Only Lena's uncle turns out to be the town outcast that's rarely seen and lives in the rumored Haunted Mansion and everyone dislikes him and Lena, including Amma, Ethan's servant who is more like a family member who tells him he as to stay away. But as well all know, that just pushes the two of them together.
While some of the characters were pretty stereotypical, including Amma and a few of the town members, it all fit very well into the book and brought it alive in a way. Lena's uncle turns out to be a very very interesting character that leaves you wanting to know more about him and the entire family. It especially leaves you still wanting to know what happened to Ethans mom because that is never fully answered.
In general I would say this book deserves 9 stars! I can't wait for the sequel and hear there is supposed to be a movie, but I'm not sure I want to see it.
I believe my son is getting ready for a nap, so please excuse such a short and rushed review. It's a good book though!