Anya's Books

I enjoy history, poetry, science fiction, mystery and urban fantasy.

Sophomore Slump?

Fire  - Kristin Cashore Graceling - Kristin Cashore

I'm only 30% into Fire so these are definitely preliminary comments.


I really enjoyed Graceling.  It had an inventive world, interesting characters and after the longish introduction a good adventure.  I was really looking forward to get back there with Fire.  But instead of the same world with different characters and adventure I've stumbled into what seems like an alternate reality - a different world with the same characters and adventure.  Other than the historical placement and the presence of "powers" this world is unrecognizable and as far as characters go, so far it just seems that the author took the personalities of the original characters, stuck them in a blender and blitzed them to create these "new" ones.  


So far this is barely 3 stars for me, more like 2.5.  I still love the writing style, even with almost nothing happening I keep turning pages with gusto!



Magical powers - Check; but their manifestation is inexplicably different.  

A girl with powers loaded with self-loathing - Check

A boy who loves girl but isn't right for her - Check

A boy who has intense feelings for girl right after meeting her - Check

Girl developing feelings for intense boy - Check

Long intro with barely anything happening - Check


(show spoiler)


The Greek Way - Edith Hamilton

... and since Truth is a jealous mistress and will reveal herself not a whit to any but a disinterested seeker....

French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew

French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew - Peter Mayle When someone writes about what they love that loves shines through and Peter Mayle LOVES France especially the food, the wine and the joie de vivre!

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened - Allie Brosh Hmmmm, I did enjoy this but it was uneven. Some pieces were poignant most were hilarious sadly though, a few fell flat. I think it's a worth-while read but not a 5 star one.

Marathon: The Battle That Changed Western Civilization

Marathon: The Battle That Changed Western Civilization - Richard A. Billows Actual Rating - 4 Stars

This is a very well written book but it has a misleading title. This is not a book about the battle of Marathon it is an introductory text about ancient Greece and Persia up to the point of the battle of Marathon. Of the six chapters in this book only one is dedicated to that battle, 4 to the histories of Greece and Persia to create context, and 1 to the aftereffects of the battle.

If you're looking to learn about the histories of ancient Greece and Persia culminating in an interesting battle this is for YOU but if you're looking for an intricate look at the actual battle then this is NOT for you.

I was familiar with a lot of the ancient Greek history covered in the beginning of this book so that's why I gave it a lower 3 stars.

P.S. You're Not Listening (Signet)

P.S. Your Not Listening - Eleanor Craig I read this when I was in high-school, I don't remember the book at all at this point except for the fact that I loved it. I'll try to reread it just to see if it's still as impact-full when I'm an adult.

Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies, #1)

Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies, #1) - Isaac Marion Actual Rating = 4 Stars

The disparity in ratings is because although I LOVED this book I know it isn't perfect.

On an eviscerated world, stumbling through a mind numbing existence at the airport is R, the zombie in the midst of an existential crisis. On the other side of town struggling through a soul crushing existence at the largest remaining human encampment is Julie, a girl with an uncompromisingly hopeful world view. When circumstances bring them together they seek to change their world.

So it's a zombie/human romance... riiiiiiiight. Sounds like a terrible idea but thankfully that stomach turning romance is handled so tenderly and so in "soft focus" that it's not stomach turning at all but sweet.

However the romance is not what makes this book - it's probably the least "important" part of the story. What makes this read delightful and enthralling and satisfying are R's musings. Those musings, even if taken superficially, are fun to read but if allowed to blossom into social commentary on the modern world, on teen angst, on extremism, on de-sensitivity to violence and sex well then those musings leave one lost in beautiful thought! And for that alone I absolutely LOVED this book.

The fact that the book has likable characters, fun and funny situations as well as great action and an imaginative world ... well that was just a bonus for me.

The Uncommon Reader: A Novella

The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett A sweet delight of a novella about the subversive power of the written word.

The Quantum Thief

The Quantum Thief - Hannu Rajaniemi Actual Rating = 3.5 stars

What to say about this mind bender? Reading this reminded me of the first time I read [b:Neuromancer|22328|Neuromancer (Sprawl, #1)|William Gibson||909457]. That sense of being on the periphery of understanding, reading paragraphs and just getting the jist, the impressionist version of meaning. With time, like stepping back from an impressionist painting, the story resolves into recognizable images.

For this book I needed a lot more time to get the recognizable image and I'm still not sure if I got it right. It was fascinating and expertly paced with complex characters. I'll probably keep reading the series but it was a hard read and probably harder than it needed to be (that's why .5 star drop).

Highly recommended for cyber-punk fans!


Graceling - Kristin Cashore This book was recommended to me by a couple of geeky friends and boy was this ever a great rec! I really enjoyed this story.

It had everything but the kitchen sink and yet somehow flowed very well. There was adventure, there were superpowers, there were evil monarchs and benevolent ones, there were damsels in distress as well as damsels to the rescue, there was self-doubt as well as confidence and of course a touch of romance. There was a satisfying ending yet also room for the story to continue - which does happen since there are at least 2 more books in the series.

There were lots of things to love about this book but it wasn't a perfect read. The fact that the story went in so many directions made it somewhat uneven and the characters jumped from one state of being to another too quickly. There was one section (the birth of the romance) that irritated me because one of the characters uttered a very "you make me want to be a better man" line i.e. a very modern attitude line that was powerfully inconsistent with the world building up to that point.

These negatives are very small and can be overlooked easily because, taken as a whole, this remains a very good and strong entry in the world of modern fantasy. Highly recommended!

The Talented Mr. Ripley

The Talented Mr. Ripley (Ripley #1) - Patricia Highsmith I did not like this book.

Strange to have given it 4 stars then isn't it? The reason is simple it is a good book, a very good book with excellent writing, amazing characters and heart stopping tension. The problem for me was that I really didn't like spending all that time with the characters, especially the sociopath. And for as much as I like heart stopping tension in movies, it simply doesn't work for me in books. This is definitely a "not for me" book even though it's a very good one and I DO recommend it to people who enjoy anti-heroes (seriously anti; like mentally disturbed anti) and very tense situations.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz Actual Rating : 3.5 stars

As a YA read this is 4 star book as marked but for an adult I think it's more of a 3 star.

This is a sweet and moving story about accepting love. Love of oneself, love of family, love of friends and the love of lovers. It's done well but for me I think the story could have been richer and deeper but the author chose to keep it light and not delve too deeply into those realms which would have provided the richness and depth. Too bad (for me) but it's still lovely and recommended but maybe for a younger (teen) audience.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Haroun and the Sea of Stories - Salman Rushdie Actual Rating - 4.5 Stars

This was an absolutely lovely childrens book! I loved it. It should be right up there with [a:Neil Gaiman|1221698|Neil Gaiman|]'s [b:The Graveyard Book|2213661|The Graveyard Book|Neil Gaiman||2219449] and [b:Coraline|17061|Coraline|Neil Gaiman||2834844]. No doubt very different in style and much less dark & twisted than those stories but in the end just as fanciful and affecting.

Highly recommended :)

I decided to read this after I read Salman Rushdie's [b:Joseph Anton: A Memoir|13532186|Joseph Anton A Memoir|Salman Rushdie||19093862] where he talks about his years living under the fatwa. He talks about writing this book for his son during those dark days. Knowing the circumstances under which this book was written adds adult nuances to the story so I highly recommend keeping that in mind for the adult reader.

The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece -- and Western Civilization

The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece -- and Western Civilization - Barry S. Strauss It takes a knowledgeable historian with a storytellers gifts to create a book so engrossing, informative and readable. This was just such an author. I had a hard time putting this book down and couldn't wait to pick it up again at the next opportunity. This has fired up my curiosity about ancient history :)

A Lesson in Secrets: A Maisie Dobbs Novel

A Lesson in Secrets - Jacqueline Winspear Reading this series always puts me in mind of sitting on the banks of a slowly moving river on a beautiful early summer day. I feel absolutely wonderful reading these books even if they are about murder and the effects of war. The only thing that bothers me is that I honestly can not give them 5 stars for as wonderful as they are there's always something that takes my rating down a notch. In this case, about 1/2 way through, the story takes a sharp detour before getting back on course. Reading it, it felt as if while riding on a smooth meandering road the driver slammed the brakes for no apparent reason - very jarring. Of course I still enjoyed the book and will continue the series!

Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid, Book 1)

Succubus Blues - Richelle Mead Surprisingly good. The title and the cover conspire to make this appear as a dismissable read and that's a shame. Strong writing, likable good AND bad guys on top of a nice little mystery make this a very satisfying read and opening into a series that I'm definitely going to keep reading.

Currently reading

The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives by Plutarch, Ian Scott-Kilvert
The Mistress Of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson by Lyndsay Faye
Alexander: The Ambiguity of Greatness by Guy Maclean Rogers
Six Days of the Condor by James Grady