Tag Archives: Obsessing

Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

a_monster_callsThe monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth. 

A Monster Calls is the story of thirteen-year-old Conor O’Malley, whose mother is undergoing treatment for cancer. His mother’s terminal illness provides a stark backdrop for Conor’s story, and the reason for the appearance of the ‘monster’ at his bedroom window.

This book is as beautiful as it is harrowing.

It is a story that centres around the pain of losing someone you love to terminal illness. Patrick Ness is credited as stating that A Monster Calls is a story “about loss, but also the fear of loss, and there’s not a person in the world – young or old – who hasn’t experienced that.” (Link)

This is a story about grief, about guilt, and about the importance of admitting the truth. It is about facing your monsters: the real ones at your window, and the ones of your nightmares.

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Book Review: Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

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The U.S. cover

For it has been many years since she left the place where her hands were crippled by a fire – years in which she has nurtured her special talent with animals.

Sevenwaters is also much changed. It is now enslaved by the fey prince Mac Dara, a force of malignant magic who is responsible for a party of travellers disappearing. When Maeve discovers the body of one of the missing men, she and her brother Finbar are lured to the Otherworld on a journey that may save Sevenwaters… or lead to catastrophe.

If Maeve is ever to dream of a future, she must confront the darkness of her past.

The first thing I have to say about this book is that I don’t love the blurb… This is truly a fantastic novel, and I just don’t think that the blurb does it justice. Personally, if I was unsure of Juliet Marillier, if I didn’t already know that I have loved every single one of her books, I might not have picked this up. As it was, I pre-ordered the American edition, just because I couldn’t didn’t want to wait the extra month for the Australian edition. And I’m glad that I didn’t wait.

Flame of Sevenwaters was everything I expected, and so much more.

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Of Fandoms and Fanaticism

There is something about finding a fandom. A fandom is like a home, for us nerdy folks. A fandom is somewhere you belong, a place that exists where you can share your love for something with others who love it too.

HP fanart by MARTA

For years now, I have ‘belonged’ within the Harry Potter fandom. Harry Potter is a very large part of the reason why my best friend and I ever became friends. It has been something to bond over, something to laugh and cry over. We have read and written fanfiction, ‘awwwww’d and drooled over fanart, and attended the midnight screenings of the last two films.

All of this has cemented our friendship. It has ensured that we always have that special something between us that makes us who we are, that makes us us. Naturally, there are other things now which keep us together. Other pleasures, loves, and hates. Other fandoms, other stories to laugh and cry over. But Harry Potter was the first thing. And we always have it to come back to.

My point has wandered somewhat, but it all comes back to the same thing. I have been contemplating the power of fandoms. The ability of a fandom to share a love of something, to make that thing grow beyond what it originally was. I am talking about fanfiction and fanart, but also about the sharing that exists within a fandom. This has been increasingly emphasised to me through tumblr, where fans blog and reblog the words and images that they love about a particular fandom.

The ability to do this keeps the fandom alive within their minds, and their hearts. The fact is that I never really loved Harry Potter until I was introduced to the Harry Potter fandom. I enjoyed the Harry Potter books. The Harry Potter fandom made me love them.

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Filed under Books, Films, Harry Potter, Ranting, Reading, TV Shows

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

In case you weren’t convinced by my previous ranting, the amazing Ebony at The Hundred Book Project has allowed me to reblog her wonderful review of Shadowfell and her Q&A with Juliet Marillier.

Ebony’s review expresses exactly what I love about Marillier’s writing and Shadowfell. Given my goal to make everyone read this book, I just couldn’t help but share it! 🙂

Click below to read Ebony’s fantastic review of this amazing novel! Many, many, many thanks to Ebony for allowing me to reblog this!

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I don’t normally reblog other people’s posts… but I really admire Christopher Ruz and it’s great to read about his writing process – and his plans for what might happen later! A great interview with a great writer. 🙂

The Metanautics Department

One of the fringe benefits of doing reviews is that if I come across a book that I really like, I may have the chance to speak to the author and do a little information gathering from a fan’s perspective. So, I’m going to kick off a series of “book-based” interviews with Christopher Ruz, author of the recently-reviewed Century of Sand. Christopher is in Australia and I’m on the East Coast of the USA, but thanks to the wonders of Skype we were able to talk in real time and inject a little spontaneity into the proceedings.

Warning: as the title states, this interview contains many spoilers for Century of Sand. So, you’d better hurry up and finish it before you read onward…

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30 Day Book Challenge: Day 1

Day 1: Your favourite book

So we’re finally here, at the end of this 30 day challenge – and it’s taken me more than 30 days!

This has actually been a very interesting challenge for to do, and I loved the experience of having to delve further into why I like this book and not another. What makes a favourite scene? A favourite title? I think that my answers say a lot about me, and sometime I’m going to have to look over them again, and find out just what that is! Until then though… here’s the answer to the last challenge.

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

Heart’s Blood was published at the end of 2009, and I’ve already read it at least three times. I am the first acknowledge that it wouldn’t be the best book out of every one that has been published. But ever since I first finished it, Heart’s Blood has been my favourite.

It is the book that feels in every way as if it was written just for me, with amazing characters and a storyline that kept me entertained the whole way through. Of course, it’s a Juliet Marillier novel, and I love her writing. The way she writes can leave me feeling as if I am in the story, walking alongside the main characters as they face trials, and learn about themselves, and each other.

This is such a hard book to describe. Though Marillier herself does pretty well on her website:

Heart’s Blood is a love story, a ghost story, a family saga, a story about people overcoming their difficulties, and a little slice of Irish history, as well as a homage to a favourite fairy tale.

And that’s just scraping the surface!

Heart’s Blood focuses on Caitrin, an orphaned young woman who is fleeing her own dark past when she comes upon the mysterious Whistling Tor. The locals talk of madness, a haunted forest, and a cursed castle. They tell Caitrin of Anluan, their deformed and incompetent leader, locked away in the castle on the hill, and they warn her to stay away. But when a job is offered, Caitrin makes her way up to Whistling Tor and finds herself immersed in secrets. Surrounded by the strange household and the temperamental Anluan, Caitrin embarks on a journey to discover the secret behind the curse on the castle, and the strange host hiding within the forest.

Caitrin is a fantastic character, vastly independent and yet insecure at the same time. Strong, but no so strong as to dominate the story and the other characters. Again, (and naturally!) Juliet Marillier describes Caitrin brilliantly as

“a character who starts her journey with a lot of uncertainty and learns not only to appreciate her own good qualities but also to show several other characters that despite their mistakes they are fine people, worthy of love.”

This is a fantastic story, from every viewpoint, and one that I will happily re-read again and again. I know it’s not the kind of story that everyone would enjoy, but would definitely recommend Heart’s Blood to anyone who likes fairy tales, mystery romance, historical fiction or fantasy! This is an adventure not to be missed!

 

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30 Day Book Challenge: Day 3

Day 3: Book that makes you laugh out loud

The easy answer to this challenge, is: most of my favourite YA novels. (At least the fantasy ones, the realistic YA I tend to read is generally pretty far from funny! :P)

Particularly, this applies to my Harry Potter books, and my Tortall novels. Both J.K. Rowling and Tamora Pierce know how to write a funny, fantasy-adventure story. And that is why I keep going back, reading them again and again.

And then I thought about it all a bit more… I never really like things to be all that easy. So, the roundabout (kinda cheating answer) is:

FAN-FICTION!

S.P.E.W. Does Not Approve by makani

I have read a lot of (almost exclusively Harry Potter) fan-fiction in my days… Ever since I was first introduced to it way back in 2004. Well, I say ‘read’. What I mean is that I’ve devoured it. In fact, I used to read so much fan-fiction that my dad actually firewalled fanfiction.net on our home network… What did I do? I downloaded stories while at school, copied them into Word documents, and read them on my laptop. I even got some stories professionally printed. I wrote fansfiction (we won’t go there!). Basically, for quite a few years, a lot of my reading was done online.

Why was I so insane about it? Basically, fan-fiction can be terrible, horrendous, bad on a level that is stomach-churning. But it can also be brilliantly written, thought-out and developed. I have read some fan-fiction stories that I could honestly say were just as good as the published works that inspired them. Some very, very talented authors have their beginnings in fan-fiction, I’m sure.

Also, though, fan-fiction can be damned funny! And this was the main reason I decided to go with fan-fiction to answer this question. Sure, Rowling and Pierce and many other published authors have made me laugh, some have even made me laugh out loud (I’m hard to please!), but the stories that have truly made me laugh out loud, made me guffaw and all the rest, have been fan-fiction.

To illustrate my point, follow on for some fanart!

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