It’s time again for a collection of mini-reviews and reports with feedback on a few things that I’ve read recently (or started reading and chose not to finish)!
Mini-Review: Firstborn by Brandon Sanderson | DNF Report: Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
DNF Report: An Amber in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir | DNF Report: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: July 20, 2010 by Tor Books
Source: Read for free on Tor.com
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 29, 2015
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)
Of the son of a High Duke of the interstellar Empire, much glory is expected.
And still expected, despite endless proof that young Dennison Crestmar has no talent whatsoever for war. But the life Dennison is forced to live will have its surprising lessons to impart-
FIRSTBORN is a bit misleading for a title if you’re a fan of Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy (and companions). It actually has nothing to do with that series whatsoever so don’t be too surprised if you start this and feel totally lost! I actually did know that it was not related when I first started reading but I still felt lost in the beginning of FIRSTBORN. I’ve read all of the Mistborn books published to-date and a few Sanderson novellas plus his YA series, The Reckoners, and yet reading a new story from Sanderson, I never quite know what to expect.
Since this was an independent short, it was a bit hard to just jump into the story where it began. It’s quite a different world from anything I’ve ever read from him so it took me a while to adjust to the feel, the characters, and the general conflict. The story was interesting once I got a firm grasp on it but I think the world building and character development would have really benefitted from a full novella instead of just a quick short.
I wasn’t totally in love but there were some really nice twists packed into a very short story! That’s one thing that Sanderson always seems to accomplish. I wasn’t wholly satisfied with the way the story closed but overall, it was enjoyable. I think I had wished for more since it didn’t quite wow me but I’m glad I read it!
Title: Proof of Forever
by Lexa Hillyer
Publishing Info: June 2, 2015 by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Time Travel
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 27, 2015 | DNF at approx 25%
Before: It was the perfect summer of first kisses, skinny-dipping, and bonfires by the lake. Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe knew their final summer at Camp Okahatchee would come to an end, but they swore they’d stay friends.
After: Now, two years later, their bond has faded along with those memories.
Then: That is, until the fateful flash of a photo booth camera transports the four of them back in time, to the summer they were fifteen—the summer everything changed.
Now: The girls must recreate the past in order to return to the present. As they live through their second-chance summer, the mystery behind their lost friendship unravels, and a dark secret threatens to tear the girls apart all over again.
Always: Summers end. But this one will change them forever.
When I first heard about this book, I was REALLY excited for the concept. I always love time-travel novels so I was really anxious to pick this one. Looking back, I probably should have thought about this a bit more… It’s not so much time travel as traveling back into one’s past. The time travel elements I seem to enjoy the most are individuals who physically move through time (so for example, like Back to the Future when even if you travel back/forward in time, there is still a past-you who exists in that time period). PROOF OF FOREVER was much more like (in fact, almost identical to) the Hot Tub Time Machine concept — going back into one’s own past and actually reliving that chain of events as oneself instead of being able to view it as an outsider. Long story short, this concept just felt incredibly cheesy and kind of irritating to me as a reader.
I actually loved Hot Tub Time Machine but the concept worked for me, I think, because it was a comedy. It’s poking fun at itself (I mean, how goofy is that) so it all just sort of works. PROOF OF FOREVER has a contemporary feel but it’s much more on the serious side so without that humor, the concept really just fell flat for me and I couldn’t help but make comparisons to the movie the whole time I read. I really tried not to but there were too many parallels that really stood out for me.
The book also read very young for me. Each girl’s voice sounded a lot younger than… 17? 18? And I’m of course assuming each girl will learn some valuable life-lessons and to grow throughout the book, but they were really hard to relate to in the beginning and I didn’t feel the desire to witness that change. The four different POVs also felt very unnecessary. The different voices were all written in third person so it felt awkward to have that POV shift. It sort of felt like it was originally written in first person and then was changed to third? It works for some books but it just didn’t seem like the right choice for this one (or at least it just didn’t work for me).
I found myself not enjoying the writing really at all and I didn’t really care to see what happened to the characters. I was discussing with someone else who was reading at the same time and ended up getting the rest of the scoop from her to see if I even wanted to continue and I’m kind of glad I didn’t. This one just was not the right match for me.
Title: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1)
by Sabaa Tahir
Publishing Info: April 28, 2015 by Penguin
Source: ALAMW15, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 5, 2015 | DNF at approx. 25%
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
This was a tough decision for me. There’s been lots of hype about this book — even before its release — and I was so excited for Steve West and Fiona Hardingham to narrate that I pre-ordered the audio. I NEVER pre-order an audio. Ever. I was so excited to listen to them narrate, claiming I could listen to them read the phone book and I would still just love the sound of their voices… But then I went and ate my words because I just didn’t feel the desire to keep listening to this book even with two of my favorite narrators bringing it to life. (There’s also possibly the issue that I LOVED Steve and Fiona so much in The Scorpio Races that they will always be Sean and Puck to me so it was just too hard to adjust to them narrating something new.)
I think I could have fallen in love with the audio and adjusted to my favorites narrate something new but… really the story wasn’t grabbing me either, and if you don’t get along with the heart of the story, there’s really no hope for narrators saving it. I actually really loved the first couple of chapters. The beginning was exciting, lively, and suspenseful.. but from there my interest waned and somehow the sharpness of the book started to slowly dull.
I didn’t really like either of the main characters very much. Laia seemed very blah and one-dimensional and it seemed like her personality flip-flopped a lot. She went from being paralyzed with fear to being take-charge. She was terrified and then brave. I suppose that is how real life works and we force ourselves into situations when life makes us do so but the transition or decision to go from terrified to brave just didn’t feel natural. It seemed like a light switch was flipped instead of seeing that internal conflict and Laia pushing herself to work past her fear.
Elias was all right but again, seemed very blah to me. He was excellent, he was special, and of course all he wanted was to be normal. To NOT be where he was, to not be related to who he was… Of course things go deeper than that but it felt like Laia was exactly one side of the spectrum and Elias was Laia’s exact opposite. She felt weaker, he felt stronger. She was outcast, he was in the midst of the elite. They felt a bit too polarized and it just sort of irked me.
I also wasn’t a fan of a few of the plot points. Too many things felt familiar or tired, like I had read it all before. I made some direct parallels to other books and other things just seemed to convenient. (Oh look, a random prophecy that came out of nowhere! And of course it involves the boy who doesn’t want it! And it comes with very, very specific rules! How convenient!) I just felt like I had read it before and it was done better.
I really struggled to put this one down because so many people had loved it… But I shared my feelings on social media and found that there were a lot of people who really didn’t as well. The ones who felt similarly to the way I was feeling said it really didn’t get much better for them. Others said they chose to DNF as well. I was hoping I could get back into the story but I think I would continue to have the same issues. I just think this book wouldn’t get much better for me so I should devote my reading time to something I would enjoy more.
Title: The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1)
by Robert Jordan
Publishing Info: November 15, 1990 by Tor Books
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 5, 2015 | DNF at approx. 40%
The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.
I picked up THE EYE OF THE WORLD for a couple reasons — firstly that Alyssa was loving it and she’s been giving me great fantasy recs lately and secondly that Brandon Sanderson eventually picked up this series after Robert Jordan’s death. Where I went wrong though is that Alyssa actually didn’t recommend this one to me. She and Amy were reading it and I wanted to join in the fun too but I didn’t realize she had a very good reason for not recommending it to me too. It’s just not a Brittany book.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with the book but it’s just not my type of pacing, really. It felt slow and I even through the action scenes, I never really got into it. Part of it is that it’s the whole “journey” concept. It’s been compared to The Lord of the Rings (I guess) in that sense and that was one of the reasons I really couldn’t get into that series either (yes. It’s true). I’m not sure why that’s one of my issues but there’s something about it that prevents me from really getting into the book.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t liking the story but it always felt like it dragged. And for a 30-40 hour audiobook to drag. Ummm, that’s not good. I took the time to make it all the way to 40% and finally put it on hold after much debate. Then FINALLY four months later, I decided it’s time to DNF. I don’t have the heart to continue with the book and I shouldn’t have to PUSH to finish when I’m not enjoying it. This series is HUGE so what’s the point of pushing to finish a book if I’m not even going to continue the series? Just seems silly.
Again, not a bad book but I should have opened my ears before choosing it and not just picking it up because I didn’t want to be left out in my group of friends. SILLY. Also another case of a favorite narrator not being able to save a book. Don’t rely on that, friends. It doesn’t work.