Saturday, February 19, 2011

Book Review: Shadow of Hegemon by Orson Scott Card


Shadow of Hegemon by Orson Scott Card
Five-star rating

REVIEW:

God! I‘d been having an Orson Scott Card’s books marathon these last few weeks. So far, since there is nothing left of his books in my hand that I haven’t read yet, I’ll have to take a pause reading his books and resume till I find his other books then—especially the sequels of this book.

After checking the rating details of this book on Goodreads, I found out that I belong to those people who are twenty-two percent addicted at this. Unfortunately, since before reading a book, I always refer the rating detail before I read a book, this turned out a not-so-good logic to me. For this mean I shouldn't have rely my preference of picking a book at the rating detail nor should I be persuaded by the negative reviews of other readers.

After the successful battle of defeating the buggers, Ender’s Jeesh has been brought back to earth—to be with their respective families—except for Ender Wiggin who never has had the chance to be with his own family because his been exiled by Locke, who’s Peter Wiggin, his brother, behind the curtain. Contrary to what his brother has done to Ender, Peter Wiggin has a greater reason for him to do that, for he has foreseen what is coming to the lives of heroes who killed the buggers and sent down to Earth to join their family. Now, the beginning of what he saw is coming. The Ender’s Jeesh has been kidnapped, and
soon be doomed.

Bean has been in a trip with his family. After hearing the kidnapped of Petra Arkanian, he knows that the rest of Ender’s Jeesh will join her. For he knows and has foreseen it also what has to come, one reason could because on the current situation the most influential people are the heroes of the Earth. Because of Bean’s advance thinking, he has escaped from the people who want to kill him instead of kidnapping him. Now, the question that floats over the situation are: what nation is behind the kidnapping: Could it be the nation that offers to arbitrate and thinks they should rule the world, or those aggressive nations that think they have grievance, and also thinks they’re undervalued—belligerent and snappish?

For Bean, there is only one clue that serves right to conclude who’s the person behind it. Why would someone kill him instead of kidnapping him, like others? Unless, the person behind it is the person who hunts Bean since then—Achilles.

Again, Card impressed me with this book. I thought I could have thrown this away like his other book, Empire, but I was stunned at how my suspicion of inconsistency subsided. His latest characterization is fully equipped and tough. The development of the characters has obviously shown in this book, likewise the evolvement of the circumstances and emotion.

Card is at his best when Bean is at his peak. I deeply admire how Card created Bean and his personality—unruly, straightforward, brave, certain, genius, honest and sometimes innocent. I’m sure this is why I’ve fallen myself on this series. Bean becomes matured here and yet, he’s still the unbeatbale genius with the innocent looks I admire. His analogy of circumstances is quite exceptional. His weakness may be his physical features but his attitude and intellect make up for it. Add the innocence of his feelings and you can have the summation of a perfect hero.

I liked how Card expanded the personality of Petra Arkanian through giving her more exposure in this book. Her character as if hadn’t been valued well enough in Ender’s Shadow and Ender’s Game. But her existence here suggests how she’ll play the rest of the books of Shadow Series.

This book is majorly rotating on politics issue. But dare me, this book is different from other political books I’ve read and hated. I did find this book very much interesting in any form—politics, heroism and brain. The core of this book is how the kids managed to rule the world instead of grown-ups. The heroes have faced a harder problem here where they have to battle a war in a different field. It’s still admirable how the nations heed the plan to defeat another nation from the children who haven’t gotten their teenage years yet, except for Peter who’s thirteen.

In other way, I believe that those who hated this book are just being cynical for having Bean as the main character of this book instead of Ender. However, there are things I considered doing before I read and while reading this book. I had to lessen my interest due to some negative reviews. I had to be patient in order to catch up what they were talking about, and rereading the previous page is part of it. I had to search for political terms for me to understand the situation, otherwise I’d be lost. Lastly, I had to get into the characters and situation for me to never get bored. Overall, I did get into the story.

This may not be as page-turner as the Ender’s Shadow, but this is as interesting as its best. The complexity of the story aspect is not hindrance for a reader to like this book, unless since from the beginning he/she didn’t like this book. And yeah, that reason will really make sense even if you look at the rating details (again sorry, I shouldn’t have suggested that but it’s the only fact that I hold to convince you.) only one percent of readers dislike this book and some them are reasoned out the difference of Bean and Ender. The complexity of the aspects thus expands the learning of a reader on tactics and strategy—like playing chess. This book is also worth page-turning if you want to learn the histories of war. Another thing that makes this not-a-boring book I’ve read this year because of the witty shots of the characters.

This book is another reason for me to read the rest books of Card. And yes, rationally, it deserves my twinkling five stars. Watch out Card, for here I am to hunt down the rest of your best books.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Interview: Amanda Von Hoffmann

Born in San Bernardino, California.When she was eighteen, she brought her love for reading and writing to SUNY Potsdam where she majored in English. In 2004, she received my M.A. degree.Currently she work at a public library where she's happily surrounded by books and people that love books as much as she does. She's a mother, daydreamer, gamer geek and coffee addict.Behind Green Glass is her first published novel.


Rollie: Hello Amanda. I’m very thankful to have an opportunity to interview you. You’re working in a public library. Did your profession influence your writing?

Amanda: Yes. I work as a Patron Services Supervisor at a public library. I spend a lot of time listening to my patrons talk about books, giving and receiving recommendations. I love being part of a reading community. I certainly think of my patrons when I envision the audience that I am writing to. Also, my coworkers are very supportive of my writing. I have a wonderful job. 

Rollie: You said in your blog that you’re happily surrounded by books. What are the books that influenced your writing, especially during the time you were doing your first novel?

Amanda:I read a lot of YA fantasy. Writers such as Holly Black, Libba Bray and Shannon Hale have influenced me to write YA fantasy. I have also been influenced by authors from the past such as L. M. Montgomery, C.S. Lewis and J.D. Salinger. During the time that I wrote the first draft of Behind Green Glass, I believe I was reading a few Juliet Marillier novels. She is an amazing Australian author who writes historical fantasy.

Rollie:How did you came up with the story? Was it from a dream like other authors?

Amanda:I came up with the idea for Behind Green Glass while I was daydreaming. I imagined a girl discovering fey in the woods. The fairies she met were different from the fairies that she had read about. These fairies were humble, imperfect and mysterious. The idea grew from there.  

Rollie:How about the names? Were they taken from your relatives or friends?

 Amanda:The last name “Richards” is my mother-in-law’s maiden name. I have a niece nicknamed “Maddy” like Matt’s littlest sister. Some of the names, like Lyric and Meredith, just came to me. Isolde’s last name, Rackham, is a tribute to the illustrator Arthur Rackham who was known for his fairy art.

Rollie:Speaking of names, who among the characters of your book do you relate yourself to the most?

 Amanda:Isolde. Like Isolde I was homeschooled and grew up in a rural town. I’m also pretty shy. Instead of painting, however, I express myself through writing.

Rollie:A hypothetical question: if given a chance to time travel, do you have any plan on changing the story?

Amanda:I would make the ending a little longer. In retrospect, I believe I could have added more to the final chapters.

Rollie:There are people out there who are really fond of quotes from a certain book. Would you like to give us a quote from your book that we might never forget?

Amanda:He was the color of absinthe, but then again, so was the rest of the world.

Rollie:Do you plan to write a sequel to Behind the Green Glass?


Amanda:I have thought about writing a sequel, focusing on Laurelyn and Lyric. Some readers have suggested that I write a prequel about The Forgotten Ones before they were cast out of the fairy kingdom.

Rollie:How about planning on doing another YA book?

Amanda:I’m currently writing another YA novel. So far, this book is quite different from Behind Green Glass.

Rollie:Can you tell us something about your book and where can we buy it? Please also include where can we find you.

Amanda:In Behind Green Glass, sixteen-year-old Isolde believes she has the dullest life imaginable. She is homeschooled by her anti-social mother, she has just moved from the city to a house in the middle of nowhere, and she is too painfully shy to make any new friends in the rural town of Thornville. She escapes boredom through painting and daydreaming. Then, Isolde hears rumors that her house is haunted. She discovers a shard of green glass in an antique dresser, and through the glass she sees Lyric, the boy who is watching or haunting her. Lyric is one of The Forgotten Ones, a clan of ethereally beautiful creatures that live in the nearby woods. As the mystery of The Forgotten Ones unfolds, Isolde discovers adventure, love and her own inner strength.
Behind Green Glass is available at:



Find me at:


Book Review: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card


Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
five-star rating

REVIEW:


God, please give a brother like Ender Wiggin. I promise myself not to be Peter.

I’d been hearing a lot about this book since before I read Ender’s Shadow. And after reading the parallel book of this book, I knew then that it was wise plan to read this book. I wouldn’t have read this book if it wasn’t for my friend who gave me a copy of this book along with durian candies. Hands to Kwesi.

All because that he’s the third child, intelligent and young, the world seemed turned against Ender Wiggin. When he entered Battle School, he became a magnet of enviousness. He topped among the students of Battle School and had impressed his teachers. But behind his excellence, some of them are angry at him. Can he resist not hurting them if they are the ones offering already to be hurt?

Card has made an excellent work with this book. I’m truly impressed at how he made the character of Ender Wiggin. I’m even amazed at how he managed to smear this sci-fi book with politics. Ender Wiggin depicts the real stand of human hero. His intelligence is undeniably extraordinary, but the origin of it isn’t questionable since it was open that his siblings are genius as him. But the mere fact of his existence being a third child is one reason he is meant to be separated from his family and be a commander. And because of his mature knowledge, he indisputably fitted being a leader; knowledge in a way that even grown-ups would be outsmarted. Just imagine yourself as one who’d been outsmarted when you won’t still be impressed at the person who did it.

Beyond his physical appearance, a strong lion is alive. He was absolutely small but I suggest that it’s a bad idea to misjudge him just because of how or what he looks like. It’s still incredible to think that his body could kill bigger and older people who want to bring him down. But in spite of these killings, he himself meant not to hurt them. I liked how Card handles this: a hero who wants not to kill enemies but accidently killed them through a trick, if not, enemies are offering themselves to be killed. But then again, in that case, he killed them not because he meant to but because he had to defend himself from their dark motives.

I believe that Card made Ender a total or a complete package hero: genius, a fighter, an innocent and a light-hearted. Imagine, behind Ender’s performance, there’s only one thing he wants the most. Love of his brother. I was touched at how Ender craves for it. He insisted not to be a killer like his brother, but deep inside he was longing for Peter’s care.

However, since I started reading first the Ender’s shadow which, of course, a parallel book of this series and apparently a point of view of another character in this book—Bean. Once again I’d like to bring up my statement that says: I loved the story of Bean so much. Let us say, it would be unfair to choose Bean as the better character since Ender has made it first to impress other people. But let’s save the fact of publishing date and the sudden rise of Ender’s Shadow. Let us even say that you have read first the Ender’s Shadow than Ender’s game. The definite vote would arise to Bean as the more interesting character over Ender. Although I’ve enjoyed the Shadow, when I finished this book, I was bothered by how inconsistent the story of Shadow has become. There was rough connection between the two series that obviously led to inconsistency. From the idea here that Ender Wiggin topped among the other students suggests how wrong Bean is with what he believed being the top ranked student in Shadow. And it really implies how sudden Card decided to have a parallel book and basically, I guess, because Bean somehow made an impression in this book.

The conversation of officers about the students is even strong evidence that Card hadn’t think about making Bean’s book while making Ender’s Game. In Shadow, they were dismay about Bean’s knowledge while they were impressed at Ender’s intelligence. But in this book, I haven’t even read the officers mentioned Bean’s name. Look, if Bean is really as great as Ender (in fact, in Shadow he was even better.) he might have had mentioned by the officers. But come on, I was disappointed at how this book lacks the existence of Bean. Somehow, Card puts Bean in a spot light in this book for the reader to know that there is still a student who is secretly genius. And one thing I’ll confess, I noticed these things because I was anticipating for Bean to show or even mentioned in this book.

Fans are torn between two characters of to whom they would raise they hands for. I’ve decided, yet they are both likable, to embrace the character of Bean over Ender. I highly recommend this book to people who are dying of sci-fi and looking for a truer form a hero. Whether you read first this or the Shadow, I can assure you that the two books won’t disappoint you. Love me or hate me, whether you swallow my preference or not, Card is on my top ten list of best YA authors. Salaam.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Book Review: Behind Green Glass by Amanda Von Hoffmann

 Behind Green Glass by Amanda Von Hoffmann

REVIEW:

Yay! I’m very much grateful for giving me a chance to read this book.
Isolde, usually called Izzy by her friends, is the newly resident of a rumored hunted house. When she found a green glass, weird things started to happen. She supposed that standing of her hairs on the back of her neck was as normal as living in her newly house. But when she saw a man behind the green glass, she concluded it wasn’t part of the normal stuff she forced to believe anymore.

Lyric was an amnesia ghost. He didn’t remember what life he was in before he died even the day when he died. When a new girl resided in the new house where his first love used to live, his world started to be revealed again. But part of the revelation of his existence was the imminent truth to be unfolded. Would it cause him a relief out of joy or rage for committing mistakes due to his false belief?

I expected this book to be more in romance, for the synopsis almost implied how romantic the story is. After reading this book, now, I would say that this is not totally a love story. If you stick with the synopsis of this book, I’m telling you: you’re lost. The relationship of Izzy and Lyric isn’t relatively romantic. At first, I admit, I thought the book was meant for the two main characters but it declined at the last quarter when I realized that the relationship of the two characters to evolve can’t already make it till the last page.

Isolde is a conservative girl and I love to know that even in books there are still people living like her. I admire his personality and, of course, her intelligence is with it. I even like how she balances the fairness situation between the people involved in a certain issue. Overall, she’s an interesting character of a book. However, I found surreal reactions of this character at the first quarter of the book. She fathoms ideas absurdly—too impossible to be done in real situation. But it wasn’t a big issue to me, then. And it didn't give me a big impact to dislike the character nor the book.

The concept has a brush of spiderweck. Using a glass of seeing otherworld beings is still a trend concept. It hasn’t been used too much in literary world as much as the vampire stuff does. The tone of the book is light and this book is an easy-read one. I don’t usually read fair folks novels but this book has changed my taste. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Book Review: Empire by Orson Scott Card

Empire by Orson Scott Card
two-star rating

REVIEW:

I thought I could not finish reading this book. Not because I didn’t like it but because of my busy schedule. School work, feasibility study, exams and now we’re having a general cleaning. See, how can I sneak up just to read this? Fortunately, instead of resting, I read this book. Yay! Thanks to my reading buddy Juan este Kwesi Ian Jay who finished reading this book first. (his review in goodreads)

After reading Ender’s Shadow and loving it; after hearing a lot of praises about Ender’s Game; I thought it was a logical leap to assume that majority of books of Card is great, if not, at least good. Once I love a book of a certain author, it tends me to look for his/her other works but, unfortunately, I think it wasn’t a healthy assumption or a best idea since I realized that my notion is a perverse of how this book showed me.

The fall of Roman Empire is an image of what United States of America leading to after the 9/11 attack. Between republican and democratic, blue and red, who is behind of everything when in a Friday the 13th day, White House has been attacked? The worst of all, President and vice president are in it and get killed.

When Major Reuben Malich shared his plan, hypothetically being a terrorist, under the class of Averel Torrent, he became an interesting student of Torrent. Malich met Bartholomew Coleman as his buddy and at the same day, White House had been attacked. After defending the White House, they were proclaimed as heroes of United States of America. But would Malich consider himself as a hero if he knew deep inside that the plan used in attacking the White House was his own?

I’m not living in a political world and never had any interest in any political issues. And surely, it’s one of the reasons why I haven’t liked the book that much but nor would I say I disliked this book.

Card is one of the sci-fi gods in someone’s retrospect especially for those who have read his sci-fi books already. This Empire is partly sci-fi and post-apocalyptic book at the same time. And yes, to adhere what I said at the previous paragraph, this book is somewhat a combination of sci-fi and politics. In this book, he made knots of problems, unknowingly; the thread he used was tangled already. If it doesn’t make sense to you, I hope this one will: Card used a confusing instrument in making this book. In effect, I was just as if skimming reading this book even though I have even read every word of it. And it was annoying that Card brought up different edges of political issues whilst it got more confusing.

“The most painful betrayal is when the closest person of your life happened to do it”


Quite true, right? This is one of the most beautiful quotes I liked in this book. However, after reading it, it was an instant hint of what was really going on. From that quote, I knew then who is to be blamed and who are the person to set my eyes onto. This book has a semi-open mystery that gives the reader an idea of the main antagonist of the story. If you didn’t notice it, I guess you had just ignored it but it was given in the early chapter who’s the person planning a dirty trick and given wholly the name in the last chapter. Under this issue, I could have given this book a one-star rating but because of the good plot, I’ve added one--only one just to indicate as “just an okay book”. Not good but not bad either.

Speaking of characters, I didn’t like how the author developed the characters. They were weak enough to be likable. I didn’t even understand how Card gave the first few chapters to Rube when at the halfway through he’ll be gone. And yet the character who caught the spotlight of Rube already introduced in the second or third chapter and still gave him small part in the early chapters. How could he be likable in that case?

I believe that the author is best at his previous works and awesome in creating a hero. But unfortunately, the heroes of this book have a weak foundation unlike the heroes in Card’s other books. They were praised as heroes in this book but I doubt if readers would praise them the way they do when it’s pretty obvious that there’s almost nothing the characters did much good job in terms of heroism.

I wouldn’t dare recommend this to everybody but if you’ll ask me to whom I would recommend this, obviously, to political issues fanatics out there. Go grab it but never go if you’re just going to blame me.

A two-star rating or an okay impression is, I think, enough for my book shelf to find another author to fall onto, considering that somehow he has retained my admiration to his works. But I’m sure it’s not good to count his previous works, rather, his present works to look for.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January 2011 Summary Book Reviews

I've been busy in January that I've only five books read during that month. However, despite of it, I've reached half of the books I challenge this year. Yes. So silly of me that I challenged myself to read ten books for this year. But I'm sure I've reason out it on my post early this year. Surely, I'll pass over what I intended to finish and I'm planning on adding the number of books on my challenge. I'd been lazy of doing reviews too with the books I've read. So here are the five books I've read for the month of January with their small review.



Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Maragaret Stohl

I made a review of this and you can view it here.


Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

I didn't like this book. I didn't like the concept or the story of the book. It seems weird for me the comparison of eyes of human and wolf--it didn't bought me. The obsession of Grace is also an act of inhuman-ness that I can't really understand. The story was plotless. Over-all, I didn't really like the book.

The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks

I choose this book hoping this would be good, but it turned out to be not. The mystery was really annoying that as though it laid there and me--as a reader--was just waiting for the story to end. The suspect was too given to be true and I reckon it's not a good a sign of a good book.


Ender's Shadow by Orson Scot Card
I made a  review of this book and you can view it here.


Mystic River by Dennis Lehanes

If you'll ask what book to be recommended when it comes to mystery-drama? this is perfect. The book has given the clues, yet, I doubt you're going to guess the murderer. I like this book but not much as you think since it seems mystery-drama is not my cup of tea. However, this is a good book when exploring new genres.