Wednesday, 29 July 2015

#Bookreview: Prophecy's Queen by Timothy Bond

Prophecy's Queen: An Epic Fantasy (Prequel to The Triadine Saga)Prophecy's Queen: An Epic Fantasy by Timothy Bond
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I picked this up for free on Amazon, attracted by the fact that 1) it was epic fantasy and 2) the author is currently residing in my hometown!

Prophecy's Queen is a quick read (1 hour based on my kindle) that sets the background for Timothy Bond's Triadine Saga. But that's not telling you anything that you can't already tell from the title of this book. Haha.

There are shades of Eddings in Prophecy's Queen - a prophecy of two paths, one good and one evil, and a promised child (or two, in this case) who is destined to guide the good path in the ultimate destruction of evil; a sorceress who gives up much to aid that path, and who must ultimately give more; the need to hide the children until the time is right; the necessary sacrifices of many to guide and direct the path in oblique ways, without upsetting the balance.
Then again, many of these in their various forms, are time-honoured traditions in epic fantasy classics.

This is going to be one of those rare reviews which will have a split star rating between Amazon and Goodreads. I like it enough to give it an okay, but not enough to really state "I like it". (Isn't Goodreads owned by Amazon now? Can't they just synchronise their rating system?) Also, in terms of my personal rating on my blog, it falls towards a 2 than a 3.

Why is that?
First of all, as I took all that time to say earlier - nothing much new in this one. I understand that it's a prequel, and a novella, so there isn't much time or place to really expand much. But everything that it's setting up for in the coming saga sounds like it's going to be very generic good vs evil, prophecy-fulfilment type fantasy, with elves vs humans vs dwarves or whatever other race until the wizards and sorcerers and whoever else is trying to guide the prophecy manage to get them to work together to defeat the evil sorcerer.

Secondly, this isn't quite Bond's "debut novel" (The Watcher's Keep was published in 2014 and The Dragon Rises earlier in 2015), but in some ways, it feels like it is. Prophecy's Queen starts very abruptly, dragging you into the middle of some unknown quarrel, and then tumbles you about in an overwhelming plethora of "telling" all the while refusing to actually explain anything. Until the very end of the novella, much is said about "the prophecy" and several interpretations of various parts of it are forwarded, but what the prophecy actually says itself is never revealed. [Okay I correct myself - a miniscule part of it was inserted.]

To be fair, I do have this to say - it appears Bond has put a lot of thought into his world building and the history of his world. It may not come across very well in Bond's writing - there is a clunkiness to the way he "disseminates" his information - but it is there in the background. Reading Prophecy's Queen doesn't raise questions of "Why did this happen? It doesn't make sense," but more of "why did I need to know this now?" For example, the chapter on Banderfin and the Dwarvish society as well as the tiella birds served no obvious purpose in this story that I could tell. It felt like a story thread that was forgotten halfway and doesn't resolve. Maybe it would make better sense if I had already read The Triadine Saga.

I guess the error Bond made with this prequel is to try to fit too much unnecessary information to get his readers up to speed instead of following a simple and linear storyline that would pull them in to wanting to know.

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Monday, 27 July 2015

#musicmonday: Fix You by Coldplay



If you had a theme song, I think this would be it. 
You look at the world, head cocked to one side, as if it were a problem to be fixed and it hurts you that you cannot fix it. 
And you look at people with piercing eyes, worrying that they are broken and you cannot do a thing about it. 
But the world is not yours to fix. 
People are not yours to fix.
That burden is not yours and will never be. 

But you try.
And that is enough. 


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

#bookreview: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Allegiant by Veronica Roth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ah. So now I've reached the end of the Divergent Trilogy, I have a bit more perspective on everything else. I would safely say that this trilogy probably isn't going to be on my re-read list.
Since I read all 3 books in almost one sitting, the divisions of the 3 separate books are somewhat of a blur (especially since there's little to no time jump between each novel). Hence, I suppose this final review of book 3 of the Divergent Trilogy may include some comments on the earlier two.

Where to start? Hmm....

The extra point of view was a little "ugh" for me, because I tend to skip title chapters and I would have to back track a little when I suddenly go "wait, who's narrating here again?" Probably all my fault. I suppose it was necessary or the ending wouldn't have worked. Hah. You should have thought about that earlier, Ms Roth!

So anyway, now you get a little more insight into Tobias/Four, and it feels very different from where he started off in the first book. I don't know if I should attribute that to character development (or maybe devolvement?), or the fact that very little was known of Four in the beginning which was only revealed gradually in Insurgent and Allegiant, or whether there really was a big disconnect as some other reviewers have been saying. I'm not sure if that whole thing about Tobias' struggle over being "damaged" is really plausible in the light of his fear landscape. There could have been some credibility to it, but it didn't seem to be explained very well.

I don't know who came up with this whole social experiment thing first, but when that revelation came up, the first thing that came to mind was "I watched that on Maze Runner." I don't think I will get round to reading that book because the movie was kind of meh for me, and my book-guzzling friend has written it off as a "Did Not Finish".

I don't think I'll talk much about the science - I don't really know if it's good science or not - but in some ways, it felt like Roth wanted to talk about discrimination and societal disorder, and she didn't want to make it obvious, like race, so she picked something arbitrary. There were some increasingly *almost* preachy moments, which were quickly diffused.

I guess... the ending is not bad as endings go. I bring this up because she got a lot of flak for the ending. I would say that what Tris does is in keeping with Tris' character (i.e. both selfless and stupid at the same time). What Tobias does is probably more in line with PTSD? Which is a valid point, seeing all the stuff he's gone through.
Um the denouement of the cities though - seems a little too simple, but hey, Johanna is Amity.

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Note: I'm not going to be posting up my reviews of Divergent and Insurgent on my blog, but you'll find them on Goodreads!

Monday, 20 July 2015

#musicmonday: Greater by Chris Tomlin

There are some days where a song just sticks in you brain, and then there are weeks where nothing sticks. This is one of those.
But! I figured something Chris Tomlin would be awesome because I grew up listening to and singing his songs! And also because this!


Um. But which song... hmm... Okay. Here's one at random from the latest album, which I do not yet own. :P

Friday, 17 July 2015

#fridayflash: Life

Do not long for a life you cannot live.

Jeanette traced the words with her finger.

Do not. There were so many things she should not do, could not do - this was another. Do not. Another rule. Another barrier. Another shackle.

Do not long. What was it she really yearned for? She didn't know; not truly. She wanted another life. Another way. To be something other than she was. Do not long. She wanted happiness. She wanted love. She wanted out.

Do not long for a life. No. She longed for death. She longed for oblivion, to not have to think, to not have to care, to not have to worry. Do not long for a life. But what else was there to long for? For something other than this.

Do not long for a life you cannot live. There were many lives she admired but she could not live. She was not strong enough, bold enough, enough enough. But those lives called to her, telling her that she could have been something more. Something else. Something other. Do not long for a life you cannot live.

Jeanette closed her eyes. Clenched her fists. Allowed the waves of emotion to wash over her one last time, wrecking her. Then she opened her palms and wiped her face. She took a large, shuddering breath - an attempt to hold back and release at the same time.

Then she opened her eyes and walked into the life she could live. Where love had made a way and opened barriers she never knew existed. Where she could finally be one. Where she didn't have to try to be something she was not.

---

Writing prompt: "Happy Endings" from The Writer's Tower (June), although it's already July.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

#bookreview: Dream of a City of Ruin by @selahjtaysong

Dream of a City of Ruin (Dreams of QaiMaj, #2)Dream of a City of Ruin by Selah J. Tay-Song
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thought that Dream of a Vast Blue Cavern was a really good read. Then, I got distracted by other books, as I usually am. So when I finally got round to picking up this book (the sequel), I went back and re-read my review of the first book to kind of brush up my memory. I probably didn't need to. Tay-Song is a master fisher(wo)man who reels you in so effortlessly, that like a fish on a hook you just go with the flow!

The Icer Queen Stasia of Iskalon finds herself stranded alone in a strange, endless cave, with her enemy, Fire King Dynat of Chraun, as her only companion. She doesn't trust Dynat, but she's not sure if she can trust the foreign Khell tribes who offer them grudging assistance due to their own ancient prophecies. There's so much about this land that she needs to learn in order to survive - and there's so much more that she needs to learn about the history of her own race and her own kingdom in order to be able to figure out how to ensure their continued survival.

Whilst firmly established in the mythical world of QaiMaj, revelling in the magic of T'Jas, this book (and the series so far) touches on several real-world issues as well: race, wealth and privilege, and culture. Tay-Song explores very thoroughly the race relations between Iskaloners, Chraunians and Humans, and how these relations are affected also by the individual cultures of each society. It also looks at privilege, and how sometimes the poor are supposedly given choices and opportunities to work their way up in society, but because they do not have the resources so readily available to those who are already have at least some form of privilege, these opportunities are really a Catch-22.

The interludes that messed me up a little in book 1 start to make sense now as the story starts to pull together so much more. Tay-Song still uses these slightly-disjointed interludes between major sections of the story, but it's not as awkward now as the many different threads in this book starts to get pulled together.

I'll just end this review by saying that I really loved the book and can't wait for book 3! Because, you know, I really want to know how this story ends. :)

* I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review
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I reviewed book 1 here!

Also, a guest post from Selah here!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

We have two winners!

I apologise. I was supposed to do this when the rafflecopter closed... but I was in the midst of a little um... storm. Which ended up in me finishing the Mallorean in 2 days. But that's another story.

SO ANYWAY, the two winners of the Cyberpunk: Malaysia giveaway are:

Anis Suhaila (Malaysia)

and 

Vijaya Sankar (UK)


(This is also where I admit that I made a weeeeeeee mistake and forgot to put in an entry for you to tell me where you're from, but fortunately, rafflecopter, besides being awesome with generating random winners, also has an option which tells me where you are via your IP address. I am assuming this is accurate. Oh well, live and learn.)

I've sent the winners an email, so check your inboxes and give me your addresses! :D