Review: A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since I’m late to this game, I’m not sure what I can add to the discussion on this novel.

In some ways, it’s very Tolkien-esque, in that Martin definitely digs deep into the fantasy world building, and it’s clear there are many layers of information hidden beneath the story that I will never even see or read. In fact, by the end of a novel by either author, I think I have probably forgotten more than I have learned, because it can be so difficult to file away all that information on a first read.

In other ways, it’s nothing like Tolkien, in that Martin writes edgier, darker, bloodier, sexier, and more horrifying scenes and moments than Tolkien ever did. And I both like and hate that, at any given moment.

After I finished reading this, I watched the first season of Game of Thrones, and that worked great. The TV show stuck reasonably close to the book, and it helped me to see all the characters come to life on the screen before moving on to book 2.

Also, it should be noted that I listened to a lot of this on audiobook, and it’s a particularly good recording. I think I almost prefer listening to it over reading it, though I did both, depending on what was convenient in the moment.

Last thought: I recommend this to anyone who digs deep fantasy. You have to be someone who can weather the storm of heavy descriptions, in-depth histories, an extraordinary number of characters, lengthy battles, and multiple, complex story lines. If you can tackle that, I think you’ll find there’s a lot here to love.

Pages: 835

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Review: All the Best People

All the Best People
All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I drug my feet while reading this multigenerational adult novel, because it’s so gorgeous and intense. Yoerg has a style that’s beautiful, simple, and subtle. She says powerful things that really sit with me.

Actually, she rarely tells me what to think. Instead, she shows the story in a way that makes me think knew things, different things, or forgotten things, which is what I love best about her stories. She has a real talent for storytelling, and nothing ever feels forced or false. It’s always truthful, raw, and introspective.

I confess, I was almost afraid of where this was headed–not that it might be bad–just that it might hurt to get there. But it doesn’t hurt, not any more than it should. There were moments when this story could have gone in 10 different directions, and I remain fascinated by the direction it chose. It took me time to wrap my head around the characters and the way their stories wove together across time, but it was so well done, with each generation and voice contributing another layer.

Also, I love the subtle interchanges between magic and reality, luck and choice, good and bad. There are so many fascinating contrasts in this story, and the historical elements were a nice touch, as well. It’s clear Yoerg did her research, and she approached the history of mental illness in a way that is honest, accurate, and sometimes disturbing.

Now, I’ve said plenty, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the lake-dwelling people of Vermont, who were endlessly fascinating to me. I’d read a whole story about these “pirates” if one existed.

Pages 368

PS: The release date for this book is tomorrow, May 2, 2017!

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Review: Caraval

Caraval
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The writing is pretty, and the story is imaginative. The problem for me is that the characters are just a bit too flat and underdeveloped to be truly interesting. It’s not that I’m not interested at all. It’s just that I wanted so much more from everyone. They needed to be a little less “caricature” –like, the good girl, the bad boy, the pretty flirt, the abusive father, etc. I also really wanted the relationships between characters to be deeper and more faceted.

It does remind me a bit of Night Circus, which definitely isn’t a mark in its favor, as I had similar complaints with that story. I could have done with less fancy sentences and just a bit more depth in characters and relationships. I needed more than just the surface level stuff and the major plot points.

Also, despite the overabundance of description in this story, I felt like it was light on actual world building. I had a lot of description but not enough about the actual world and how everything within it worked and why.

Again, I still gave it 4 stars, so I found many other things interesting and charming about this story. It just didn’t live up to its full potential, at least, not for me. I’m not sure if I will continue on and read book 2 or not. I guess I have a year to figure that out.

Pages: 407

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