Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

893172Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1
Genre: Young Adult, Greek Mythology
Release Date: June 1st 2005
Source: Bought
Overall Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Cover Rating: 2/5 Stars
Synopsis: Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

First Line: "Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood"

Okay, I know I'm probably a bit over the age that this book is aimed at but after very high praise from some of my friends I absolutely had to try it. I am a huge fan of Greek mythology but I have found, in a lot of books I've read on the subject, they just don't get it right. I don't mean the myths are wrong but there was always something off. Although this book isn't the best I've read, I found the use of myth very entertaining - I do find it strange that one of the only mythology books I've liked is aimed towards nine year olds though. The book follows recently discovered demi-god who must find and return Zeus' lightning bolt before war breaks out among the gods.

I did enjoy all of the characters but I didn't really find them remarkable. Percy was entertaining but slightly boring, Grover was loyal but again boring. I did really like Annabeth though because, as well as having an awesome name, she was fierce and lethal and I like that. The gods though were quite interesting as I enjoy seeing different interpretations of them. In this book they seemed intriguing but we didn't see nearly enough of them. I hope to see more of the gods in the next book so I can properly make up my mind about them.

Overall, the book was highly enjoyable and entertaining but it wasn't spectacular. I will definitely keep reading the series for the fun of it but if you're looking for a book that'll knock your socks off then perhaps this isn't the one for you. Unless you're nine years old like its meant for, in which case it may well b the best book you've ever read - I hadn't read anything like it when I was that age, that's for sure. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, light read or those who want to read an alternate interpretation of some Greek myths. This book is already a film and I can truly say the film isn't half as good as the book is.

My Favourite Quote: 
“If my life is going to mean anything, I have to live it myself.” 

Game Of Thrones By George R. R. Martin

Saturday, 3 August 2013

13496Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #1
Genre: Adult, Epic Fantasy
Release Date: 1996
Source: Bought
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars
Cover Rating: 1/5 Stars
Synopsis: Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

First Line: '"We should start back," Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them.'

I doubt there are many people in the world who haven't heard of A Game of Thrones left after the huge success of the television series but to tell you the truth, it just didn't sound like something that I would enjoy reading. I got the book ages ago but never read it until recently for no reason other than the fact that no one likes to be left behind in the hype. So needless to say, my expectations were not all that high on starting this book. Due to the sheer size of the book I presumed it would start slow but I was very wrong. From the first page the action begins and it keeps that pace through the entire book. The plot was smooth and a lot more together than I thought it would be, add to that the flawless character development and you have the perfect concoction for a five star book.

I wasn't kidding when I said the characters were flawless, I always say its a sign of an amazing author when they can make you like and sympathise with the villains and Martin sure has it. There are way to many characters to talk about them all but I will discuss a few. Firstly, one of my favourites, Tyrion Lannister. I found his sections the most entertaining and liked his character far better than the rest of the Lannister's no matter how intriguing that family is. Another favourite of mine was Daenerys Targaryen, the growth of her character throughout the book was astounding. I loved how she went from a weak little girl to an independent strong willed woman. As much as I want to go on about the characters, I'm afraid that because of the constant drama it would be almost impossible for me to do so without spoilers so you'll just have to find out for yourself.

The world building was one of the most convincing I've ever read - the book itself read like Martin was recounting real events instead of fiction - yes that's how good it was. I believe this book is not nearly as appreciated as it should be, with many opting just to watch the TV series. I for one suggest you read the books first in order to get the background because it seemed to me that the series would've been slightly confusing if hadn't. I'd recommend this book to fantasy lover and those, like me, who just want to test the hype.

My Favourite Quotes:

“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” 

“Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?'
'That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him.” 

“There is only one god and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: “Not today.” 

Why So Many People Don't Read Classics

Friday, 2 August 2013

I haven't written a discussion post in quite a while and I decided that I really should. Everyone has different opinions about classics and there are probably more people talking about them than actually reading them so I decided as an avid classic reader I would write a two part post about why people don't read classics (but they really should.

There is a quote by Mark Twain that defines a classic as "a book which people praise and don't read". At first I denied it to myself but after thinking about it I realised just how true that really is. There are hundreds of different reasons to explain.
  1. Size - The first and probably most common reason is the sheer size of the books. I mean of course you have the really short ones but many of the most highly acclaimed ones are huge! Les Miserables has a whopping 1463 pages and War and Peace is close behind standing at 1392 pages. People may argue that the page count is irrelevant because the Harry Potter books are huge and almost everyone has read them. To those people I say; Harry Potter is aimed at children therefore it is bound to be 100 times easier to read than say, Wuthering Heights.
  2. Cover - We've all heard the saying 'don't judge a book by its cover' but how many of us actually abide by it? I'd guess not many. So if you're in a book shop you're not all that likely to pick up a book without a cover, and perhaps not even a title on the front. Many publishers are now trying to overcome this problem by re-releasing books that have covers that one could only describe as Twilight esque. That move gets huge complaints from people who liked the books in the first place and don't want books laying around that look like they were aimed at teenage vampire wannabes.
  3. Relatability - Another reason classics are not as widely read as they were is that they are no longer relatable to today's generation. Whole books can revolve around a courtship or a witch hunt the concepts of which are now laughed at. In today's day and age we don't tend to read about dashing gentlemen attempting to win a ladies affections, instead we're used to weepy girls chasing brooding, evil guys and forcing them into relationships. Its a sad day when you realise that most of today's generation relate to Twilight more than The Catcher in the Rye.
  4. Language - Many believe that it's a sign of intelligence to read classics but in reality I believe it's just a sign of patience and imagination. For many people difficult language is a put off and if you read negative reviews of classics they're often criticized not for the plot but for the effort it takes to read them.
  5. Being Forced To - Everyone knows that if you have to read a book for school then there is a huge chance you will hate it. Not because it's a bad book but because you probably had to read it again, and again and then analyse every word. By the time you finish, if you don't hate it you have the patience of a saint! These memories tend to make a lot of people think of classics negatively and therefore avoid them (and other books for that matter) as much as they can. You'd be surprised about the amount of people who never read another book after finishing school.
  6. Repetition - When reading most classics you will probably get a sense of deja vu. Take 1984 for example - its a new world controlled by a benevolent dictator who takes away everyone's choices except from a pair of defiant lovers who try to beat the system. It sounds familiar right? Some of you would spot it right away as 1984 but others may say something different like The Hunger Games or Divergent. If you didn't know when 1984 was written then you'd probably write it off as yet another dystopian copy but as it was published in 1949 I wouldn't say that was likely. The thing with many classics is that they are the originals! Many, many authors take inspiration from classics which leads to a lot of people not reading the older books because they don't want to read the same kind of story for the hundredth time.
  7. Characters - Many of the characters in classical books are described as pretentious and women as weak but what many people don't think about is that back then 'pretentious' was probably just them being well spoken (which we really need more of). And for women it wasn't weak to rely on their husbands, it was normal. Then we have characters such as Jane Eyre, who made their way through the world using their intelligence and wit, who're described as dull and weepy. What we need to do is realise that when they were written, those women were considered strong.
  8. Meanings - You may be surprised at the amount of people who don't read old books because they don't want to search for the inner meanings behind everything and to that I can tell you their is nowhere near as many inner meanings as your English teacher would have you believe. I can almost guarantee that most authors did not make the room blue in order to show the desperation of the situation or the chair comfy to show how at ease they are. The story will be plain to see even if there is hidden meanings because the author must've known not everyone would look that in depth.   
  9. Seen The Movie - Finally a common reason why people don't read classics is because they have seen the movie so don't see the point. As much as I stress that it is worth it, frankly I'm just happy that the classics are gaining fans even if it's just through the movie versions.
Phew, my list turned out much longer than I anticipated. Look out for my next post on why you should read classics and please voice your thoughts in the comments.

Graceling By Kristen Cashore

5099602Series: Graceling Realm #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: January 22nd 2009
Source: Bought
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Cover Rating: 4/5 Stars
Synopsis: In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are both feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. 
Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the darkness of her Grace casts a heavy shadow over Katsa’s life. Yet she remains defiant: when the King of Lienid’s father is kidnapped she investigates, and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivalled her own? The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out – but little does she realise, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks behind the mystery. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king...

First Line: In these dungeons the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind.

I had heard about this book though a number of other book bloggers and after all the positive reviews I decided to check it out myself. I wasn't to sure about it in the beginning but once I got into the story it consumed me. I have found books that are set in variations of the dark ages tend to be very good, it reminded me greatly of The Study Series by Maria Snyder which is another favourite of mine. I found the concept of Gracelings wholly unique and hugely entertaining. The book is long but the pace of the plot makes you wish it were much longer and  for one am excited to get into the next in the series.

The characters in Graceling were all expertly crafted and not one was any less than fully developed, not even the hugely minor characters. Katsa quickly became one of my favourite heroines (trust me its hard to do). She was brave and strong but the author didn't fall prey to making her heartless and cold as many do when trying to make a badass female character. Another character I really liked was Po, despite the peculiar name he actually turned out very likeable and his good humour balanced out Katsa's seriousness at times. I really enjoyed the chemistry between the two of them. You get to meet an additional main character, Bitterblue, later into the book. I can't say much about her without spoiling it but I can tell you that she is a very interesting character. Of the minor characters I especially loved Raffin, he was smart, eccentric and nothing like you'd expect the kings son to be like - we didn't see much of him but he did leave a lasting impression.

One of my favourite things about this book is the flawless world building. With such rich description I felt like I was actually there more than a few times. I can definitely see why this had such huge hype and, being yet another fantasy book that I've enjoyed despite not liking the genre,  it's shown me that fantasy is not bad at all - the ones I had been reading just were. I would recommend this to lovers of fantasy and those who are not alike. If it can convert me, it can convert you!

My Favourite Quote:
“When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?” 
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