Forest Born by Shannon Hale

photo_7226_20090705I recently read the fourth book in Shannon Hale’s incredible Books of Bayern series. I first read Shannon’s books back when she had just published her second book, Princess Academy. I had dealings with Shannon for some time and was very impressed with her. Forest Born, the fourth book in the series was great. I have to admit it had been awhile since I read the previous books so I reread River Secrets before starting Forest Born. I had forgotten how much I liked the character Razo. Razo’s insecurities about his own worth and not understanding why he was asked to accompany the group on the ambassador trip really hit home for me.  How often do we doubt our own worth or feel insignificant when compared with everyone else?

Forest Born is about Razo’s younger sister, Rin. I like Rin’s character, she is very impressed with the strong women in her life and only sees how strong they are now, not how they were before this point, which is how life is. I love how Rin can see some of each character in herself, including the protaganist but it is Rin’s choosing to be a strong good person that makes her that way.  Spending time with Enna, Isi and Dasha again is great and I loved seeing the three of them interact together.

I disliked how Rin seems to focus on one major event in her life so much and she keeps living through that moment again and again. I ended up feeling like we had reviewed what had happened before and I didn’t want to continue to relive that moment when so much other events were going on.

I was very surprised by the main protagonist, definitely not what who I was expecting. I love it when an author is able to surprise me as much as Shannon did in this book.

I would suggest that anyone wanting to read this book start with the first book in the series, The Goose Girl. You don’t have to read the previous books to understand this book because you get enough of the back story to understand what is going on but, I think the story is more enjoyable if you have experienced where all the main characters have come from and seen how they have come to this moment in time.

This book gets One because there is some brief light kissing.

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

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Upon first hearing of this book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, I figured it would either be an absolute riot or the worst book ever written.  I was correct, this book is a riot!  I giggled through the whole thing.  I am a huge Pride and Prejudice fan. I have lost count of the number of times I have read the book and I own three different versions of the movie.  Starting the book, I was expecting an exact replica of the original story with zombies added but, was surprised with the first conversation that the author updated the language.  I have to admit this threw me for a minute and I had to stop and think about if I really wanted to finish the book.  (I know I shouldn’t start a book with preconceived notions but when it comes to this book, I didn’t even realize I had done it until I started the book.) I pressed on and immediately started giggling.  The author went far beyond just the potty-humor I was expecting.  The characters refer to the zombies as “unmentionables”, showing the author’s keen grasp of English Society during this time.

I will admit there was a moment where I felt like it was Pride and Prejudice meets Indiana Jones but, that scene aside,the warrior Elizabeth was fantastic, adding another layer of strength to this already complex character.

The author followed the themes and plot of the original story but he did diverge from the original in the consequences of the protagonists, such as Wickham and Liddia.  I admit, I loved the consequences.  I think it is the bloodthirsty streak in me but it seemed much more fitting than the original’s just sending them off to the North country.

I give this book a rating of three, based on the gore and nothing else.[amazon-product]1594743347[/amazon-product]

Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels

photo_6433_20090515 I thought I would post about a free ebook available right now.  Harlequin Publishing is celebrating it’s 60th Anniversary and, in honor of that, is giving away 16 books online.  There is no sign up required, no fees, they are just giving the books away.  If you have a Kindle, you can also find all the free ebooks in the Kindle store. The website to get the free ebooks is here. Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels is an interesting mystery.  I felt bad and sympathetic for both main characters, good character development and believable plot line. I liked how there were so many possible suspects and it was hard to guess who did it but there were some clues, looking back.  I have to admit I was disappointed that Jordan didn’t do it because he was just an obnoxious brother and I wanted him to be the bad guy (sorry for the spoiler but I couldn’t help myself).   Reference to sex and some graphic kissing but not full on sex scene, so I give it a four rating.

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Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Elantris
Elantris

Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson, is a stand alone fantasy novel. I have to admit, I am glad to be able to read just one book, don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of great epic fantasy literature (can we say David Eddings?!) but sometimes it is nice to be able to finish the story in one novel.  Elantris is the first of Brandon Sanderson novels that I have read and I really enjoyed it.  The world Sanderson created is believable in that he has carefully thoughtout rules that everyone has to follow, especially regarding magic and the laws of physics.

Sanderson also plays with concepts that I haven’t seen authors do recently.  Elantris is a city where individuals who were “gifted” with a special power went to live and then something went wrong and these gifted people, who were treated like gods by the general population, were suddenly almost walking corpses. Sanderson’s take on how the general poplulation reacts in such a situation is right on, in my opinion.  How the fallen react to this change in status, how they are now treated, and how do they deal with how they are treated makes this book a fabulous read.

I enjoy Sanderson’s style of following several main characters to get the full story of what is going on in the city.  His ability to make his protagonist sympathetic is wonderful and makes me, as a reader, much more understanding of how events unfolded based on this characters’ motivations and thoughts.

I highly recommend this novel, and his other books, to any fantasy reader.  Of course, his popularity has grown significantly with the announcement of Sanderson being chosen to finish the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series but, obviously, Robert Jordan’s widow would not have chosen Sanderson if his writings were up to Jordan’s standard.