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Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Song of Ice and Fire, aka Game of Thrones.

    I've finally done it.  After debating for months and months whether it was worth reading 5000+ pages when I watch the TV show anyways (and tv adaptations are always sooo true to form right?), I decided to take the plunge and begin the series A Song of Ice and Fire......or as you probably know it, Game of Thrones.
    I wanted to let anyone who may be following the blog know this, because it means I won't be putting up any summaries anytime soon.  I read fast, but not that fast.  This series is definitely going to take a while to get through, and I don't see the point in writing summaries of each of these books when there's a whole freaking "Game of Thrones" wiki that tells you everything you could possibly want to know about these books. I don't feel I could add anything in that aspect as I tend to go into way too much detail in my summaries.
     For example, Blood Red Road was around 300-350 pages (I think), and if you noticed, I wrote a mini novel as the summary.
     I will however post reviews after I finish each book on what my thoughts are after the end, and feel free to put in your two cents on what you thought in the comments as well.  I'd love to know if someone interpreted a scene differently than I did!
    I've already read the first novel, and although the TV show definitely did the book justice, there are so many little things that you just don't get from the small screen.  For one thing, I never really understood what started the war (the war that ended the "Mad King"s reign and also the war being fought currently in the show), and the book explained all that extremely well.
     Personally, I was a bit shocked at the lack of sexuality in the books, as the show is known for it.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, I prefer my books to have more depth than that and it's refreshing to see it; I was just surprised. The books truly are about the characters and story rather than the embellishments that HBO gives it on the screen.
     Is there incest and war in the books? Yes, but take for example the scene from the tower in the show when Bran is paralyzed. You see everything, and I do mean everything, going on between Cersei and Jaime, but in the books it's just mentioned that Bran hears laughing and hears Jaime say "come here" to Cersei and when he sees them, he sees two naked people and realizes who it is.  That's it.  It's inferred that an incestuous relationship is happening, but it doesn't go into graphic detail the way the show does.
     Now, later on in the series this may all change, I have no idea, but I'll be very happy if it stays this way.  See you all in a month (or two) after I've finished these and gone back to other series! Remember, Winter is coming!

P.S. How do you know if someone's read the Game of Thrones books?  They'll bloody well tell you!

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green review


   It kills me to say this, as I normally gush about every John Green book I read, but this was quite a disappointment.  Was there still the funny best friend? Absolutely.  The loveable main character? Yup. A really cool love interest that you wish was real so you could be best friends with them? Of course!  Yet for some reason, I was bored.  I mean, really, really, bored.  Like, I read 3 other books in the time it took me to finish this one book bored.
     Here's how the plot seemed to me:   Whiny boy loses first "real" girlfriend, goes on a road trip with his bestie to try to forget her.  Mopes about the whole time until, lo and behold, he meets a pretty girl who is also cool and funny (guess who becomes the love interest in this story).  Said whiny boy gets a job in small town, Tennessee <-------------(I do freakin LOVE the fact it takes place in my home state!) and forgets about former girlfriend by falling in love with someone who doesn't have the name Katherine. The End. (Hey, I told you there would be spoilers in this review).
     It seemed like the only thing that really caught my interest in the whole book was finding out that Katherine 1 was in fact the same person as Katherine 19.  I thought that part was quite cute and sad at the same time.
     If you've never read a John Green book, please don't start with this one.  Read The Fault in our Stars or Paper Towns and you'll be as much of a John Green junkie as me.
     Don't get me wrong, I'm sure plenty of people will still really enjoy this book, but I'm just not one of them.

3 out of 5 stars (only because Mr. Green's witty sarcasm is hilarious does this earn a 3, otherwise I'd be at a 2)

Rebel Heart (Dust Lands 2) by Moira Young plot summary

   The 2nd novel in the Dust Lands trilogy, this book begins in the perspective of Jack.  He is heading to a tavern called The Lost Cause to inform Molly of Ike's death.
     Along the way, he stops at a family's house who offer him food and water, and as he's leaving he sees Tonton along with a young couple branded with a circle divided into four quarters on their heads.  The Tonton pull the family from their house and kill all of them, and Jack knows this is so the new young couple can live in the established homestead.
     Jack sees that these Tonton are more polished than he's ever seen before, and realizes DeMalo has taken over the Tonton command since Vicar Pinch was killed.
     When he reaches The Lost Cause, Molly tells him the leader of the Tonton is called the Pathfinder. Molly sees in Jack's eyes that he is finally in love and tells him they need to celebrate but Jack tells her about Ike once he works up the nerve and she goes into a back room and locks herself in.
    Two Tonton come through the door looking for one of Molly's girls named Lilith.  Jack tells them all the girls have gone but they hear Molly crying and tell him to call her.
   Lugh, Emmi, Tommo and Saba have been traveling through a land called the Wastes for weeks now trying to get out west to the new land they were told about that "flows with milk and honey" called the Big Water. They are supposed to meet up with Jack there.
    In the process, Saba has begun to sleepwalk and hallucinate.  One day while hunting she sees a large deer in a valley below running from a tornado so she sends Nero to chase it towards her where she can shoot it and they'll finally have food.  He does, but when she starts to shoot she freezes because she still sees Epona when she shoots, and says that she hasn't been able to shoot anything at all since then and the "red hot" is gone.
     She sees that a pack of wolfdogs is chasing the deer and they catch her scent and start for her.  A wolfdog with blue eyes jumps out and kills them and she realizes it's Tracker, Mercy's dog.  She falls and hits her head on a rock and blacks out.  When she wakes up Tracker is sitting next to her, but Lugh shoots at him, not realizing it's a good wolfdog, and Tracker takes off.
     Saba tries to tell Lugh about what happened but he tells her she had to have been sleepwalking and imagined it.  He gets cross with her and she begs him to tell her about what happened to him while he was at Freedom Fields, but he just tells her nothing happened and walks off.
    Saba's hallucinations are getting worse and she begins to see and hear Epona, along with Tracker and the girls she fought in the cage fight matches.  She also sees bloodstains on her hands from killing them and tries to scrub them off.  The others see her hands, and there are no bloodstains but she had scrubbed her hands and arms to the bone.
     The next day, she sees Tracker again and her turns her in a different direction and keeps at Hermes heels so he'll go that one.  Saba realizes it's not a hallucination when Lugh and Emmi see Tracker too. Tracker leads them to a small town in a valley.
     The townspeople are not friendly however, and know Saba due to her status in Hopetown as the Angel of Death.  They capture them and take her to a girl of about 16 they call the Sky Speaker.  The girl summons Saba to her and tells her she sees dead all around her and following in her footsteps.  Saba begs the girl to help her but she passes out.
     The townsmen release Saba's friends and they go into the Sky Speaker's tent, who tells them her name is Auriel Tai. She tells them her grandfather's name was Namid, and he was the one who taught their father to read the stars.  She also tells Saba she can help her with the visions and of what's been happening with "the Pathfinder" and how all the land has been taken to the east and they're calling it New Eden now.  Saba thinks it may be DeMalo but isn't sure.
    Lugh is skeptical until Auriel falls into a type of trance and repeats the exact song their mother had made up for Lugh when they were little.  He tells Auriel he will give her 2 days to try to help Saba and then they're leaving.
    Auriel does an enchantment on Saba to try to help her, but while Saba is still deep in the midst of it Lugh comes into the tent and yells for Saba to come outside.  Saba comes back to herself and runs outside to see it's Maev riding in.
     Maev tells Saba the Tonton came in the middle of the night to Darktrees and killed all the Freehawks but she was able to get away because one of them helped her.  She then hands a heartstone necklace to Saba and tells her Jack is a Tonton now.  She says he let her escape, but another Tonton came close to them so Jack acted like he was about to kill her and said "You've lost and your the cause of it. So full of pride. You should have seen us coming by the moon and had more than three on watch."
     Saba realizes it's a message for her: "Meet me at The Lost Cause, the next full moon, the rule of three".
Saba saddles Hermes and gets ready to leave, but Auriel stops her and tells her since they never finished the enchantment she is still dangerously open.  She gives Saba her grandfather's bow and tells her it's unbreakable and he was a great warrior. She also tells her not to stop on the Wraithway.
    After Saba heads out she makes it to the Wraithway and although she remembers Auriels warning she sees a stream and knows herself and the animals need to drink, but there's thousands of snakes in the river and it spooks Hermes and he takes off.
    Saba gives chase with Nero and Tracker and they find him at a large Wrecker temple.  Saba sees Hermes walk inside and she goes in after him.  He's eating some grass near the front in a bin next to the pulpit, and Saba sees skeletons lined up in the pews and skulls hanging on the wall.  A fire is going and she sees a human head in the pot boiling.  A man comes in just then and tries to kill her but she shoots true with her new bow and takes off on Hermes as she hears drums coming back in the distance.
     She makes it to a large rope bridge and manages to get Hermes and Tracker across but hears hoofbeats and knows the cannibals (she calls them Headhunters) are coming after her.  She cuts the rope of the bridge so they can't get across the canyon, only to see that it's Lugh, Maev, Tommo, and Emmi.  Just then she hears drumbeats and knows the cannibals are actually coming this time.
     Her and Maev shoot ropes across the gap with their bows and they get away by using their belts to zipline across. Later, they hear someone coming up the road and decide to steal their wagon since their horses are gone (except Hermes) to make better time.  It turns out to not be a horse at all, but a medicine man with a camel pulling his wagon.  They try to steal it but the camel won't go for them, so they let the medicine man come along with them.  He says he's making a delivery to The Lost Cause and Saba tells him going there will do "for a start" as she doesn't want the man to know that's actually where they were headed.
     The merchant tells them to get in the back since Tonton patrols are in the area and they all do, except Saba, who stays up front with him so he won't try to turn them in.
     They come across a dead man tied to a tree and it turns out the merchant knows him.  Further up the road they come to a homestead established by the Tonton ( I assume it's the same one Jack first saw) and the girl hails them over and asks the merchant for a potion to take since she hasn't been able to get pregnant yet and is afraid the Pathfinder will kill her if he finds out she can't reproduce.
     The boy, Eli, comes up to them and tells them he's taking Hermes in the name of the Pathfinder. Saba attacks and they kill Eli and the girl, RavenLee, and bury them.  Saba finds guns in the wagon's secret hold and realizes the merchant and the man tied to the tree are part of a resistance against the Pathfinder and Tonton.
     They make it to The Lost Cause but see 6 Tonton burning it.  The Tonton try to catch them but Slim (the merchant) tells Saba to throw the grenades they have and they get away.  Molly is still there at The Lost Cause when they arrive and the Tonton branded a W into her forehead before burning the place down.  This is the symbol they brand their whores with.  Molly tells Saba the last she heard from Jack he was coming to meet Saba.
    They decide to go to Molly and Slim's friends place, Cassie and Bram, since it's not safe for them to stay at The Lost Cause because the Tonton are going to be looking for them now.  Saba makes a sign on the ground for Jack so he will know she's been there in case he does come on the full moon.
    When they arrive they are dumbfounded to see Ash and Creed (part of another raider band similar to the Freehawks) there.
     During a barn dance Cassia and Bram are throwing for all the neighbors (they have established themselves as no more than homesteaders, who are called Stewards since they have been established by the Tonton), Saba and her friends are all in disguise and she sees Jack come into the barn with 5 other Tonton to collect the Steward girls which are soon to give birth.
     The pregnant girls are taken to a "baby house" to give birth, Bram explains to Saba, and then those children are raised by the people at the baby house and paired off when they get older to be sent back out into the world as new Steward couples.
     Bram tells Saba not to talk to Jack for fear they might all be revealed and she agrees, but decides she will follow Jack once he leaves to try to talk to him when she sees him away from the other Tonton, since she still believes him being with the Tonton has to be for a reason and not because he's a traitor.
     When Jack comes into the storage area of the barn he looks into the loft (where Emmi is hiding), and even though he's alone he still blows a whistle to bring the other Tonton in and take Emmi. Saba realizes at this point that he truly is a traitor as Emmi was well hidden and he didn't have to reveal her if he didn't want to.
     Heartbroken, she takes a horse and takes off into the woods to be alone and comes to a huge cliff. She sees Nero flying above her and a hawk swoop down and attack him. She dives off the cliff and into the water to save him, but while she's under and looking for Nero she sees how peaceful she feels in that moment and decides it would be much easier for everyone if she just drowns and kills herself.
     Before she is able to fully digest the idea she is pulled from the water and sees someone going in after Nero too. It turns out to be DeMalo.
     He takes her to his tent and patches up Nero. He tells her his real name is Seth. He then tells her he has something he wants to show her, and since Saba doesn't feel threatened by him she goes with him.
     He takes her to a large underground room (a Wrecker bunker, like our bomb shelters would be) where other Stewards are waiting also and DeMalo takes out a clear, glassy rock and the room begins to glow.
     Pictures begin appearing on the walls of the room of landscapes and planes and animals long extinct,  and after its over DeMalo tells them it's the way the world used to look before it was destroyed by the Wreckers, and this is what they're working towards by building a New Eden.
     Saba goes with him back to his tent. She accuses him of pushing the original homesteaders out of their homes for these young couples and he asks her if she believes they can build a world with the sick and old considering how limited resources are now, or if it would be better to save the young and strong to prosper. She tells him she doesn't know but is enticed by him and ends up sleeping with him.
    Awakening the next day she freaks out and tells him what they are doing isn't right and she has to go. He lets her, but not before telling her they are a fever in each others blood now and he knows she will come back of her own free will.
     When she gets back to the others although they're mad she went off like that, they tell her they've got a plan to get Emmi back. They all dress as Tonton to go to Resurrection,  the main Tonton headquarters (which is described as looking like a dam from our age) because they know that's where Emmi's been taken.
     When Molly helps Saba into the dress she's supposed to wear as her disguise (she and the other girls are to be brought in by the boys as prisoners to be interrogated), she sees the mark on the back of Saba's neck and knows she has slept with someone but assures Saba she won't reveal anything. Saba doesn't tell her or anybody else who she was with.
     Slim gives Saba a vial of drops called eccinel secretly before they leave, which he tells her will put someone to sleep.
     And so Maev,  Ash, Saba, Molly, Lugh, Tommo, and Creed head to Resurrection.
     Lugh and Maev are avoiding each other, but it's obvious to everyone else by now that they are in love.
     When they reach the gate at resurrection, the guard is there with a commander and he tells the guard to check their brands. Bram tells the girls to be on alert as this is unusual.
     They see Saba's birthmark but Tommo and Creed shoot them before they can alert any other guards. Lugh accidentally shoots Bram while trying to shoot a guard, and although there's another bolt in Brams head from a guard that just as well may have killed him Lugh still blames himself.
     They decide to continue on with the plan since they've come this far anyways.
     Since Bram was the only one who knew the passwords to get in the gates, Saba says she will go as a prisoner and they won't need a password since everyone will be so excited that the Angel of Death has been brought in (we've been hearing all the way through the book how DeMalo put a bounty out for her, but even though it's kind of moot now since she's already met up with DeMalo, none of the other guards know that).
     The plan works and they get in. Saba and Tommo take down the commander who was leading them to the prison cell area and throw the rope over the ledge where the boats are waiting for when the others find Emmi.
     Saba's heartstone begins to burn and she knows Jack is near so she decides to try to find him and kill him for his betrayel.  When she arrives at the door to a room where the heartstone burns the most, she finds DeMalo.
     She acts like she's seducing him and puts 2 drops of the poison in his drink (not enough to kill him though) and then as she's leaving she really does see Jack go into another room. She attacks him but Maev comes and stops her.
     It turns out Jack was helping Emmi the whole time. Saba looks down over the side of the wall and theres Emmi, hanging by the rope and climbing down to the boats. Emmi had gotten so excited when she saw Jack at the barn she jumped out of the loft to see him, and since Jack was afraid she might say something about Saba that the other Tonton would hear he told her to act like he hit her and kidnapped her.
     He's been getting in good with the Tonton and sent Saba the message through Maev so she could be his contact on the outside and they could work to bring New Eden down before it reached all the way to Blue Water.
     He tells her he can't come with her, that he has to try to stop DeMalo and the other Tonton, and then kisses her and tells her to go to Blue Water with her family.
     While he is helping her and Maev escape Maev is shot. She tells Saba to swap clothes with her, since the only recognition the other guards have is a girl in a red dress (DeMalo had given Saba a red dress to wear once she was in his room). Saba get to the boats with the others and she sees an explosion at the top of the wall and knows Maev has set off grenades.
     They then see another explosion even larger where the weapon storehouses were and Saba realizes Jack blew it up.
     They make it back to their small camp and Lugh tells Saba he blames her and Jack for all of this, that no one would be dead if it wasn't for them only thinking about themselves and each other. Saba says in the book that by the look in his eyes she knows she's lost her brother.
     She goes away from the group for some quiet to think and sees a boat coming across the lake. It's Jack.  He tells her their goodbye was too rushed and he needed to see her again. She asks if he betrayed the Freehawks by leading the Tonton to their camp and he says no, that the Tonton already knew about it and he had just enough time to warn Maev, Ash and Creed when the Tonton decided to attack. 
     Saba asks Jack to stay with her until the dawn and he does (I'm sure you can all guess what happens here).
     At the end there's a small passage saying:
"he came to tell her again how much she'd hurt and betrayed him. The drink he took earlier keeps him warm. But then he, Jack, arrived in his boat. He can't hear what they say, but he watches them. They talk. They dance. He watches until he can watch no more. Then he creeps away unseen, unheard. Back to the cave where the others are sleeping. He lies there awake and stares into the dark. Hurt betrayed deceived."
     I assume this is supposed to be from Lugh's point of view and an ominous sign for the future.
End of book 2
As a side note guys, these are really just point to point summaries and of course some of Saba's decisions don't make sense in this context.
     I strongly recommend you at least reskim over Saba's thoughts before beginning the finale coming out tomorrow so you really remember why she does what she does.
     I of course left out a lot of the romance that are a big part of these books as well. Jack and Saba have an interesting courtship the whole way through both of the first 2 books from the time they meet, so at least try to hit the high points of their conversations as well so you can see why they fell in love,  and also why she was so drawn to DeMalo.
     Did she make a mistake in sleeping with DeMalo? Of course, but that's something that, to me, makes these books great. We don't have a perfect heroine. We have in these books someone who isn't perfect, and maybe a bit naive at times, like all the rest of us before we learn from our mistakes.
        Keep in mind that Saba hasn't ever really had human interaction up until she went searching for Lugh, so the fact that these two very interesting men are drawn to her wild uncaged spirit is of course intoxicating to her, and that's why I believe she does the things she does.