Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Review: The Perilous Sea (Elemental Trilogy #2) by Sherry Thomas

It's been a while but I'm here with a book review! 

The Perilous Sea is the second book in the Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas. The first book was The Burning Sky and while I enjoyed it, it was a bit lackluster in the actual follow through. This was similar which is such a disappointment to me. 

This is another one of those books where you can never quite figure out what your feelings are about it. Think of it as a cross between Harry Potter, Aladdin, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and The Hunger Games. There are wands, flying carpets, bending, and all sorts of other craziness that goes on in this book.

We meet back up with Iolanthe and Titus when they go back to Eton to take on the Bane and then everything starts going a little crazy. Does anybody else remember that season of LOST where they added the flash forwards and you could tell that it was important to the story line but weren't quite sure how and you were just struggling to keep things straight in your mind? It was a bit like that to me.

This definitely had a bit of Second Book Syndrome going for it too, which was incredibly disappointing. Titus kind of turns into a royal jackass and he loses all faith in who he is and what he is supposed to be doing. I can understand having a bit of an existential crisis but to me, he basically threw his hands up and said "Fuck it, we're all gonna die anyways!" which felt weak to me.

Truly, the strongest character in this series is Iolanthe because she not only is an incredibly powerful sorceress but also puts up with Titus' waffling and nonsense. She kind of felt like the sidekick that went along behind the steamrolling main character and cleaned up their messes and got them set back onto the right path. Titus seemed to miss the logic sometimes and she was there to tell him to slow down and think things through.

BUT! Big But!
I did enjoy the book. Once the plot got rolling, it was a fun read despite Titus acting like an idiot for the majority of the book. I enjoyed the banter between him and Iolanthe and there was a healthy dose of romance and cuteness to go along with it.

There was also a bit more *actual* action to this book. The first one seemed like there was a lot of planning going on but the flash forwards allowed for there to be more magic and fighting instead of just training and preparing. They weren't just running scared and trying to figure out what was going on. Once they had a plan, they attempted to execute it.

And the world building was so much better in this book! I love a well constructed world that a series can exist in. The first book, while it was there, it didn't really have any details about the actual space that all of this happened in. There was no real sense of oppression, despite having an apparent evil overlord and the bad guy was far enough away that it didn't really impact anything. The addition of more action helped and it gave the characters more space to inhabit. However, there was still a massive lack of enough bad things going on to the regular people to justify needing a rebellion. As I understood it, only the wealthy and royalty ever felt oppressed in any way and that was because they were dealing with the drama loudly and up close. The normal people never really had anything to do with it. They are free to move about and live how they want for the most part.

The ending though...it is a cliffhanger and this doesn't need a spoiler tag since it is pretty obvious from the first book that there is going to be a battle.

The author spends all of this time and effort building up to a battle and then just stops the book. I hope the next book isn't just about three or four days of the battle and right after because I will throw something. This book covered about 7 weeks of time. It wouldn't have killed the author to just add the battle at the end and then have the next book be the aftermath. But no. Just had to be a cliff hanger. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

But yeah...it's a good book but not one of my favorites. I'll pick up the last one when it comes out so that I can have some resolution but it felt a bit like a filler book and I wanted to punch Titus in the face more than once. It's a quick read and entertaining if you like magic and stupid boys.

So three stars? Three and a half? It wasn't bad but it also wasn't fantastic, you know? I'd explain more but frankly, I have stitches in the tip of one of my fingers and this shit is starting to hurt.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Book Review: Phantom by Susan Kay


It's been a while. If we're going to be honest here, I've been crazy bogged down with school. It's online classes but holy shit there is a ton of reading and work and I haven't had time to read. Add that to an ever expanding obsession with KDramas and people that feed that obsession and I am just short on time for everything.

But I'm back! At least for now. And I have a book review!

Phantom by Susan Kay has been a favorite of mine for a really long time. I first got hooked on Phantom of the Opera stuff in high school. I watched the movie with Gerard Butler, I read the original novel by Gaston Leroux and I found this book. Then, in college among moving stuff from dorm to home and back again, I lost my copy of it! It's probably still floating around somewhere but I bought a new copy and I'm so thrilled that I was able to read it again.

Phantom really delves into the mind of the Phantom, Erik. He isn't just a mindless psychopath living in the basement, praying on young women. He has motivation. He has his arrogance. He is brilliant and so broken in this. Every aspect of his adolescence is so twisted, from his mother refusing to give him any warmth to his imprisonment in the gypsy camp to losing the one man who he could call a father figure. You begin to understand how he became the way that he did.

God, this book hit me so hard in the heart the first time I read it. It's so dark. It's so hopeless in many ways. You see someone suffering for how they look, despite their amazing mind and you wonder what would have happened if he had had love as a child instead of fear and scorn.
“I am not forsaken! I'm no longer alone in the darkness! Before my eyes I see a thousand little devils lighting black candles along the path which leads toward the edge...the blindingly beautiful edge.”
The secondary characters are remarkably well built as well. I hated his mother, Madeleine but you can understand her fear. In that time, Erik would have been seen as an abomination. There would be no place for him in society because of his image and you desperately hope that wouldn't be the case now. She was scared of this child that had so much intelligence but was hampered by her revulsion towards him. She was a young mother whose husband just died and she saw Erik as a curse. I can't imagine.

And then the Daroga. And the architect in Italy. Where he had once had hope and friendship, he managed to lose it all. I feel like throughout the book, up until he meets Christine, Erik strives to be a better person but his situation in life turns him into the sadistic person that he is.
“My mind has touched the farthest horizons of mortal imagination and reaches ever outward to embrace infinity. There is no knowledge beyond my comprehension, no art or skill upon this entire planet that lies beyond the mastery of my hand. And yet, like Faust, I look in vain, I learn in vain. . . . For as long as I live, no woman will ever look on me in love.”
My biggest fault with this book is the last ten to fifteen percent. The last little bit where he finally meets Christine and succumbs to the madness that he has been fighting for so long.
“She wanted an Angel of Music . . . an angel who would make her believe in herself at last. I'd been the Angel of Doom for the khanum. There was no reason in the world why I could not be the Angel of Music for Christine. I couldn't hope to be a man to her, I couldn't ever be a real, breathing, living man waking at her side and reaching out for her . . . But I could be her angel"

I hated Christine. She follows blindly and doesn't question anything. Lamb to the slaughter. And I'm not saying that she was supposed to be more worldly since she was only 20 and had hardly experienced any of the world but I wanted her to have more doubt than she did. Erik loved the idea of her more than anything else and she knew it. She couldn't make decisions on her own except on the occasions of threats against her or others. She ruined Erik's character for me since he had been so resolute and strong for most of the book but finally crumbles under an obsession.

But I guess that's the point of it all. He is supposed to lose it. Erik finally relinquishes control of his mind and basically damns himself. It's all so sad and terrible and that's why I love this book.

If you haven't read this book, you need to. It is such a beautiful supplement to the story that most are familiar with and it only enhances the musical and the original book. Seriously, go get it. Now. Do it. It's wonderful.

I promise I will get back to regular posting and reading other blogs. I've just been so busy it's ridiculous! Take pity on me and don't forget about me! I'm still around. I'm just lurking.