Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce

Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce
Series: Song of the Lioness, #4
First Published: 1988
Published: January 1, 2005
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 272

"I'm not sure I want to be a hero anymore." 

Having achieved her dream of becoming the first female knight errant, Alanna of Trebond is not sure what to do next. Perhaps being a knight errant is not all that Alanna needs....But Alanna must push her uncertainty aside when a new challenge arises. She must recover the Dominion Jewel, a legendary gem with enormous power for good -- but only in the right hands. And she must work quickly. Tortall is in great danger, and Alanna's archenemy, Duke Roger, is back -- and more powerful than ever. In this final book of the Song of the Lioness quartet, Alanna discovers that she indeed has a future worthy of her mythic past -- both as a warrior and as a woman.
 Because this book is the conclusion of a killer series, I want to give it 5 stars. At the same time, I enjoyed it's predecessors far more than I enjoyed this book. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Review: Treatise on Law: Summa Theologica, Questions 90-97 by Thomas Aquinas

Treatise on Law: Summa Theoligiae by Thomas Aquinas
First Published: 1274
Published: September 1, 1996
Publisher: Gateway Editions
Pages: 116

St. Thomas's Summa theologiae is often compared to a medieval cathedral because of its sublime construction both as a work of logic and literary architecture.

Here is a mere tip of one of the spires, summarizing the great Saint's views on the nature and structure of law.

Believing that law achieves its results by imposing moral obligations rather than outright force, St. Thomas defines the Christian view of liberty.
And he asks - and answers - the deep questions: What are the roots of law? What are the limits within which men may exercise their power? Aquinas addresses issues that perplex Americans - and their courts - to this day.
This is my third time reading Aquinas. The first time was my senior year of high school, and it was terribly difficult. The discussion that followed in which the teacher explained Aquinas' format, and what he said was amazing. But actually reading the material and trying to infer what Aquinas was saying was an experience. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Review: The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce
Series: Song of the Lioness, #3
First Published: March 1, 1986
Published: April 19, 2011
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pages: 272

Alanna fights on...

Newly knighted, Alanna of Trebond seeks adventure in the vast desert of Tortall. Captured by fierce desert dwellers, she is forced to prove herself in a duel to the death - either she will be killed or she will be inducted into the tribe. Although she triumphs, dire challenges lie ahead. As her mythic fate would have it, Alanna soon becomes the tribe's first female shaman - despite the desert dwellers' grave fear of the foreign woman warrior. Alanna must fight to change the ancient tribal customs of the desert tribes - for their sake and for the sake of all Tortall.
This might be my favorite book of the series. Or, at least, it's a hard toss up between this and it's predecessor.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
Series: None
Published: January 23, 2014
Publisher: Viking
Page: 384

Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909,where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.            
After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?
I think, in order to help you understand what this book is about (because I most certainly had the wrong idea), it would help for me to explain the origination of the title.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review: In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce

In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
Series: The Song of the Lioness, #2
First Published: September 1, 1984
Published: January 1, 2005
Publisher: Simon Pulse

"I don't want to fall in love. I just want to be a warrior maiden."

Still disguised as a boy, Alanna becomes a squire to none other than the prince of the realm. Prince Jonathan is not only Alanna's liege lord, he is also her best friend -- and one of the few who knows the secret of her true identity. But when a mysterious sorcerer threatens the prince's life, it will take all of Alanna's skill, strength, and magical power to protect him -- even at the risk of revealing who she really is...

Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna's second adventure continues the saga of a girl who dares to follow her dreams -- and the magical destiny that awaits her.
I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I was worried about many things going in - weak sequel syndrome, rumors of a predictable and annoying villain...But my worries were unfounded, and this book is a worthy successor to Alanna: The First Adventure

Monday, June 2, 2014

Review: Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
Series: Song of the Lioness, #1
First Published: September 1, 1983
Published: January 1, 2005
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 274

"From now on I'm Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I'll be a knight."

And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl, Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page.

But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies.

Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna's first adventure begins -- one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land.
 Calling all fantasy lovers. Though chances are, if you're a fantasy lover, you know exactly who Tamora Pierce is. She is quite amazing and well known. What she's done for fantasy female writers...well, she rocks. And this book here is the first of her epic series that takes place in Tortall.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Review: Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan
Series: The Lynburn Legacy, #2
Published: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 367

It's time to choose sides.... 

On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and power. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways.

But Rob and his followers aren’t the only sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be?

A darkly humorous take on Gothic romance, Sarah Rees Brennan's Lynburn Legacy weaves together the tale of a heroine desperate to protect those she loves, two boys hoping to be saved, and the magical forces that will shape their destiny.
So I should say a few things. Firstly, and least importantly, I really miss the old cover scheme. Second, I do not remember for the life of me why I gave this book 3 stars back in October when I rated it on Goodreads.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey

Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey
Series: Elemental Masters, #4
Published: October 4, 2004
Publisher: DAW Books
Pages: 480

In this dark and atmospheric rendition of the Cinderella fairy tale, an intelligent young Englishwoman is made into a virtual slave by her evil stepmother. Her only hope of rescue comes in the shape of a scarred World War I pilot of noble blood, whose own powers over the elements are about to be needed more than ever.

"A dark tale full of the pain and devastation of war...and a couple of wounded protagonists worth routing for." —Locus
I'm glad to say this is still my favorite of the Elemental Masters books. The first time I read it (must've been five years ago), I remember immediately reading it again because I loved it so much.

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns, #1
Published: September 1, 2011
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 423

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.Elisa is the chosen one. 

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will. 

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.
 I actually reviewed the second book in this series first. Mostly because I did not reread this first book for the second book (which I normally do), and this book came out well before I started this blog. So sorry for going out of order, but I did reread this book when the final book came out, so you do get a review!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey

The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey
Series: Elemental Masters, #3
Published: January 1, 2002
Publisher: DAW Books
Pages: 389
For seventeen years, Marina Roeswood had lived in an old, rambling farmhouse in rural Cornwall in the care of close friends of her wealthy, aristocratic parents. As the ward of bohemian artists in Victorian England, she had grown to be a free thinker in an environment of fertile creativity and cultural sophistication. But the real core of her education was far outside societal norms. For she and her foster parents were Elemental Master of magic, and learning to control her growing powers was Marina's primary focus.

But though Marina's life seemed idyllic, her existence was riddled with mysteries. Why, for example, had she never seen her parents, or been to Oakhurst, her family's ancestral manor? And why hadn't her real parents, also Elemental Masters, trained her themselves? That there was a secret about all this she had known from the time she had begun to question the world around her. Yet try as she might, she could get no clues out of her guardians.

But sudden death and upheaval will change Marina's life as she know it. Will she be able face the danger that's been following her since birth?
Confession time - that last paragraph of the synopsis is my own. The actual last paragraph on the back of my book is way too spoilery.

I first read this book in my middle school years - and I distinctly remember thinking it wasn't nearly as good as The Serpent's Shadow. Upon rereading it, I was inclined to change my opinion. Until I reached the end of the book.

Review: The Oresteia by Aeschylus

The Oresteia by Aeschylus
Translated by: Hugh Lloyd-Jones
Published: August 1, 1993
Publisher: Public Domain
Pages: 288

The most famous series of ancient Greek plays, and the only surviving trilogy, is the Oresteia of Aeschylus, consisting of AgamemnonChoephoroe, andEumenides. These three plays recount the murder of Agamemnon by his queen Clytemnestra on his return from Troy with the captive Trojan princess Cassandra; the murder in turn of Clytemnestra by their son Orestes; and Orestes' subsequent pursuit by the Avenging Furies (Eumenides) and eventual absolution.

Hugh Lloyd-Jones's informative notes elucidate the text, and introductions to each play set the trilogy against the background of Greek religion as a whole and Greek tragedy in particular, providing a balanced assessment of Aeschylus's dramatic art.
 Greek plays are far superior to Greek philosophy.

Okay, maybe that's not true, Greek philosophy is pretty dang cool (if barely relatable) once you understand it. But the issue is it takes a lot to understand Greek philosophy, whereas the plays are straight forward and easy to read in comparison.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Review: The Complete Poems of Sappho

The Complete Poems of Sappho by Sappho
Translator: Willis Barnstone
Series: None
Published: 2006
Publisher: Shambhala
Pages: 224

Sappho’s thrilling lyric verse has been unremittingly popular for more than 2,600 years—certainly a record for poetry of any kind—and love for her art only increases as time goes on. Though her extant work consists only of a collection of fragments and a handful of complete poems, her mystique endures to be discovered anew by each generation, and to inspire new efforts at bringing the spirit of her Greek words faithfully into English. 
Our of all the Ancient Greek texts I read for my class, this was my favorite. It's astonishing to think that Sappho lived during the seventh century B.C. because her writings are so prevalent to modern day life.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Review: Richard III by William Shakespeare

Richard III by William Shakespeare
Series: War of the Roses
Published: 1597
Publisher: Public Domain
Pages: 145

The dramatic concluding months of The Wars of the Roses provide the setting for Shakespeare’s incomparable saga of power and intrigue. 

This timeless tragedy follows the bloody path of the "rudely stamped" Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who uses his murderous guile to achieve the throne of England.
Unfortunately, this was literally the largest/shortest synopsis I could find. Most books that publish Shakespeare plays simply list the benefits of their commentary and introductions on the back now, instead of actually describing the play (probably because it's Shakespeare).

Richard III is actually the conclusion of the War of the Roses histories. It follows Richard, Duke of Gloucester, a cripple who ruthlessly fights his way to the throne. This is after Edward IV took it from Henry VI. Arguably, it is the only overthrow of power from within a house, since all other change in successions had been between Lancaster, York, and Richard II.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Review: Boundless by Cynthia Hand

Boundless by Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly, #3
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published:January 22, 2013
Pages: 434

The past few years held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner ever could have anticipated. Yet through the dizzying high of falling in love for the first time and the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, one thing that remained constant was the knowledge that she was never meant to have a normal life. Now, as the battle against the Black Wings and their minions looms on the horizon, Clara is finally ready to fulfill her destiny. But it won't come without sacrifices and betrayal.
I received an ARC from the author in a giveaway (because Cynthia Hand is awesome and puts books lying around to good use). This in no way affects the content of my review.

To all who doubted the ability of this book to end in a satisfying way - be gone naysayers!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly, #2
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: December 26, 2012
Pages: 403

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn't prepared for the choice she had to make that day. Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.
Cynthia Hand is a very special person. She's awesome, and she actually knows how to write. No guys, I mean she know how to write outside of YA and studies this stuff for years, so she's legit. And it shows in this book - the dreaded middle child that's actually as good as the first.

I'm Back!

School has been crazy, but I'm finally done! School allows for barely any free time I've discovered, so if I want to read, it's been at the sacrifice of writing reviews (because I actually do spend time on these guys), but I'm going to attempt to do the miraculous and write all the reviews of what I've read (about 54 books). We'll see how it goes. Between this and watching Hannibal and Supernatural, it should be a very good summer.
Talk to you all soon!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising Trilogy, #1
Publisher: Del Rey (Random House)
Expected Publication: January 28, 2013
Pages: 400

The war begins...

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.

Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable - and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.

But the command school is a battlefield. And Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda...
I received an arc in exchange for an honest review - thank you to Random House for sending me a copy of this book. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Review: Endless by Amanda Gray

Endless by Amanda Gray
Series: I assume...?? But I won't be reading it.
Publisher: Month9Books
Published: October 8, 2013
Pages: 384
Jenny Kramer knows she isn’t normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them. When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumbles on an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought.

Like a past life.

Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But they weren’t alone. Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her own dreams was there, too. When Nikolai appears next door, Jenny is forced to acknowledge that he has traveled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back. While Ben, Jenny and Nikolai race against the clock—and the Order—the trio discovers a link that joins them in life—and beyond death.

I received a kindle edition of NetGalley from Month9Books in exchange for an honest review.

This book was disappointing. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: The Odyssey by Homer

The Odyssey by Homer
Translator: Robert Fitzgerald
Published: 800 B.C.
Publisher:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 515

"Here there is no anxious straining after mighty effects, but rather a constant readiness for what the occasion demands, a kind of Odyssean adequacy to the task in hand." --SEAMUS HEANEY    

Robert Fitzgerald's is the best and best-loved modern translation of The Odyssey, and the only one admired in its own right as a great poem in English. Fitzgerald's supple verse is ideally suited to the story of Odysseus' long journey back to his wife and home after the Trojan War. Homer's tale of love, adventure, food and drink, sensual pleasure, and mortal danger reaches the English-language reader in all its glory.
I found The Odyssey much more enjoyable than the first - mostly because I think Odysseus introduces a new theme in a bland setting (that only included honor and glory in The Iliad): family. And yet, the failings here are very similar to that of The Iliad.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Review: The Iliad by Homer

The Iliad by Homer
Translator: Robert Fitzgerald
Series: None
Published: 800 B.C.
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 632

Anger be now your song, immortal one,Akhilleus' anger, doomed and ruinous, that caused the Akhaians loss on bitter lossand crowded brave souls into the undergloom, leaving so many dead men-carrionfor dogs and birds; and the will of Zeus was done. 

Since it was first published more than twenty-five years ago, Robert Fitzgerald's prizewinning translation of Homer's battle epic has become a classic in its own right: a standard against which all other versions of The Iliad are compared. Fitzgerald's work is accessible, ironic, faithful, written in a swift vernacular blank verse that "makes Homer live as never before" (Library Journal). 
Though I gave this a low rating, I am very glad to have read it. Not just because it's "one of those books," but because of the insight it gives into Greek culture. Plainly put, Homer is the only one who will give you the earliest and purest understanding of Greek life. He lays down the law of how people should live their lives. Writers after him choose to either agree or disagree (and disagreeing is the interesting part).  So while I can confidently say that I now understand early Greek thought, I can also say that I very much disagree with almost all of it.

Hello World!

What's up, everyone?!

Yeah, it's been awhile. Don't get me wrong, I've been reading - I just have a pile of books to review - but the actual sitting down to write a review hasn't happened. College life, I tell you. I'm just happy I was able to continue reading some of my books, alongside everything I do for classes. Even on break, I spend every waking moment soaking in family, tv, or books, and since I go back in a few days, I'm finally resolving to sit down and write out these reviews from, basically, the summer until winter. And since I did most of my reading this year then...well, at least anyone who still reads this blog is in for a treat! Like seriously, I bet everyone is gone now. Wanderlust Books? More like WonderWhen...

I do have a pile of books lying around that I don't need, so maybe when I come back for spring break, I'll finally get around to hosting a HUGE giveaway. If anyone out there still reads this...nag me to do this and it will happen. Otherwise I might just keep putting it off.

So I'm off to write! Happy New Years - maybe this year I'll actually have a steady flow of posts.