Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Witch Child

Witch Child
Witch Child by Celia Rees

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really appreciated this from a historical viewpoint, since the story behind this novel was what drew me in. It was taken from a quilt that was found, with pages, folded up, inside each square of this quilt. It was an amazing find, and no known record of the author of this journal, Mary Newberry, can be found. She came from England, where her grandmother was hanged for witchcraft, to the New World, to start a new life. A life that would be free from persecution. Well, that would have been the nice way it could have happened.

She instead found herself aboard ship with a very puritanical group that was following their leader and the first settlers that had come to this New World. Overtly strict, absolutely unforgiving, and yet, she needed to attempt to fit in with them so she could make her way somehow, in this new place.

I really did end up liking this story. It was a bit slow at first, but I realized it was the story of a girl of 14 that was actually just going through this life. Daily. I have always loved reading old journals, diaries, from people. They are getting harder and harder to come by also, so any novel of actual regular old life is quite wonderful. It gets much more interesting as she comes to the New World and settles in Beulah.

This story is so easy to relate to, and so typical in what we know of these religious zealots that found the devil in every spot they wanted to find it, persecuting and killing anyone that didn't fit their impossible and mad rules. What a frightening world. Not much of refuge for those that sought freedom, but it is the history of America's founding. Her story, speaks out and tells us of one girls simple journey. From England to Beulah, New England. A very easy and enjoyable read. I would rate it as one for middle-school aged kids, but can be appreciated by all that are interested.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh.... where do I begin? I'm trying to write down my thoughts before starting on the next book, because honestly, I've been reading them consecutively and it's far too easy to lose track of where one ends and one begins. Especially with also watching Game of Thrones on TV which is nearly like a parallel universe to Song of Fire & Ice in many ways. That said, I'm going to write down my thoughts now, after finishing Storm of Swords before I get any further into Feast for Crows.

I love these stories, I will say that. There is some odd and magical quality that Martin has with writing, that makes them so enticing, yet so normal and honestly simple as well. His characters come to life in my head and I WANT to read to see what happens next. I didn't want to put this book down. Book 1 was a little dull at first when I read it, for reasons of how he writes, he just jumps right into it with one character and then promptly closes that chapter and moves to another character, on and on until the end. This made book 1 hard to get into, but about halfway down, I was. Into it. Book 2 I loved. Love it, it was beautifully written, and I could wait for book 3. Here is where we are right now then.

I feel a difference in the manner in which book 3 moves, from the first two. I feel it's transitional from the years of time between them. Authors grow, concepts adapt, and yet it flows completely still. Damn magic. Largest difference right off hand is the utter lack of the words "cock" and "fuck". You could hardly go a chapter without the characters saying them a dozen times. Seems silly maybe, but the language of the characters even evolved, which shows the authors evolution as changing as well. This story gets even deeper and more involved than they have before. Some chapters were very dark, and much of a downer in contrast to the euphoria of triumph other chapters inspired. So, so, much happens in this book, in relation to the movement of these characters lives. It's all very unexpected and that is what makes it great.

There are parts to this story that made me nearly whoop out loud, like a chapter with Daenerys in which I was enthralled with her. This was an important part of coming to appreciate her as before, I wasn't too into her in book 2. Martin does not spare any character death. They could seem as though the main character, sure to live on, and always come through, and before you know it, they get killed off in the most unceremonious manner. This might piss off a few people, but I'm learning to roll with it. What makes Martin's writing lovable is that he is not predictable. You never know what's going to happen. When you have read scores of the fantasy genre and generally know there will be strife, there will be battle, then the hero/heroine will surely come through and live to get it all in the end, even through the struggle.... well, you won't really find it here. Not exactly like that. What you will find is a masterful story, well-written characters (even when he barely sketches them out you absolutely can be shocked they die, they seemed so full yet..) and a plot that is so windy and full of intrigue that even the jaded reader should find something of interest here.

I find myself not being very happy with how some characters roles play out, because as a reader, I suppose I have to admit I've been trained by fiction writers to EXPECT certain outcomes in the story. I haven't found them here, the bad guys win, the good guys die, the bad guys lose, the good guys win. It's all a guess to me as a reader. THAT'S what makes me pick the book up again. Just like life, I realize that it's not always what I expected, and it may seem blunt or unexpected at first, but then, that's what makes it such a good ride. Not knowing and learning a new story, with new plots, new twists, and entrancing writing to keep me picking it up. In the end, I'm more pleased with the outcome as it were than if it was how I might have thought it might happen. And because it's a Song of Fire & Ice, you do never know which character might be decidedly mortal, and which might be completely immortal for no known reason (as of yet exactly) to be sure. Never have I read an author who mixes the slightly magical with the down-to-earth story so that I never have to suspend my disbelief at all, it's just there. I already do believe. Besides that, his prose is wonderful to read, and he written an epic saga worth enjoying. Highly recommended for fantasy fans.

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