Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shadows, Fear and a Lust For Freedom

  First Paragraph:

"I can tell you nothing about my mother's death. Not because I didn't see it, but because I did. I sometimes say, when people ask, that she died of the sickness. But that is a lie and I don't want to lie to you. What I will tell you is that just before she died she told me to be brave and in my childish way I decided that she meant I shouldn't cry. I didn't. Not then, nor in all the years that have passed since her death. Not once have I cried. I no longer know how."

"I am Anya and I am nothing."

Girl in the Glass is a story about two girls, Anya and her Shadow Eva. In this world, Shadows are people who aren't human, but look mostly like us. As far as I can interpret, they look human, but give of an air that makes it obvious they aren't. They are a little reminiscent of the demons from Philip Pullman's Northern Lights series. However, not everyone in this world has a Shadow and a lot of prejudice follows them around. The main similarity is that Shadows are like a  conscience, always doing the right thing and ever practical, but with no emotions to cloud their judgements. This makes for very interesting reading, watching the differences between how the two girls react and change depending on the situations they're presented. Eva is always steadfast, but Anya (in a very human way) is corrupted and can sometimes even be unlikable and cruel.

Set in the desert town of Darkan, the story starts with a 12 year old Anya and spans a few years. It's broken into three parts and in each one of these the two girls have a new identity. In the first part, Anya is dealing with the deaths of her parents from the plague and now lives with a very abusive family, with her aunt at the head. We follow her through her journey of not only growing up, but also watching her try to find her freedom and happiness.

One of the main praises I have is the writing style, specifically the descriptive writing. The scenes are laid out so well, the imagery is fantastic and the emotions weaved in are amazing. This is one of the few books I have read where I could feel the tension throughout. Whether it be from fear of a person, fear of discovery or even something as simple, but terrifying as poverty. As well as this tension, there is also a constant feel of defiance throughout, against the people who hurt her, against harsh environments and against life itself. The unwillingness to give up or give in that makes Anya such a great character to follow.

Overall, I really enjoyed this read. It is the first in a trilogy and the second (Love of Shadows) came out this month. You can bet I will be following the progress of this series to its conclusion.

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Lies, Damned Lies and Prophecy"

Today I'm reviewing Marie Brennan's "Lies and Prophecy".

     First Paragraph:

"Arguing with my advisor over my class schedule was a familiar ritual. We'd done it six times before, like clockwork, once for every quarter of my freshman and sophomore years, and without it, my junior fall at Welton would not have been ready to start."

Set in Minnesota, in a world containing magic of many varieties- from sorcerers and wiccans to diviners and wilders. Wilders being one of the main themes of the story. I won't say much about the plot because that would be spoiling, so here are a few basic details.

We read the story from the point of view of Kim, a student studying at Welton Academy. At the start, I was reminded of the basic premise of Harry Potter. Some people are normal and some have magic.  As in Harry Potter, it can appear suddenly, only in this series it can be lethal too, with a chance of developing psi-sickness.

The writing style is fast-paced and captivating and the characters are believable and individual. Towards the second half of the book we begin to get brief flashes of events from Julian's point of view. Never for very long and used sparingly. At first, they felt a little shoehorned in perhaps, with no real point to them. Until I began to realise the cleverness of them. Julian as a person is naturally reserved by nature and due to his existence as a wilder. Showing us his side of the story is letting us into his mind and allowing us to briefly see his thoughts and emotions that he rarely ever shows otherwise. Not only does this make him more relatable, but also more human.

The story and writing style remind me of a mix of the Harry Potter series and the Morganville Vampire series, both of which I enjoyed. While similar to both, this story has it's own essence and makes a great read. The ending was fantastic and left me craving more.

I look forward to the next instalment in the Wilders series and would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of magic, fantasy or adventure.

Disclaimer: I received this book through LibrayThing (www.librarything.com). I am not being sponsored. All my opinions are my own. LibraryThing is a free website and anyone can sign up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Set a fox to catch a Fox"- German Proverb (Kitsune-Tsuki)

      First Paragraph:

      "Tsurugu no Kiyomori bowed low over the polished floor. "I am at your service, tono."

Kitsune-Tsuki is a short, interesting read by Laura V. Baugh. The main plot revolves around protecting the emperor from the kitsune (or fox spirit).
The characters are well written and we follow them through a very Japanese folklore spun tale.

I enjoyed reading this short story and was left wishing there was more. I think a collection of short stories by Laura Baugh would make a fantastic book.

The only criticism I have is with the use of Japanese words within the writing. A glossary at the back would easily fix this however, but I can see people becoming frustrated with not understanding certain words. I myself am very fond of the Japanese language, legends and culture, so I was able to figure out a few alone, and a couple words are translated in text, but it would be wise to do so to the rest. According to the author, the newer editions will be published with a glossary to make this easier. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in folklore, Japan or just has an hour to kill.

Disclaimer: This was sent to me by the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.