Sunday, 23 December 2012

Kiwie & Katastrofekat review the Diviners

Two short reviews (the same or similar to those we both have up on goodreads) about the Diviners, for more thoughts check out our book chat!

Katastrofekat's thoughts: I loved this book. I didn't know what to expect going into the book, as I have never read anything by Libba Bray before or read much set in the 1920's. I have always found the 1920's fascinating, but haven't actively seemed it out in the books I read. So I went into this book without much background. That wasn't a problem at all. Libba Bray has written a wonderful book which was so captivating from the first chapter, that I just didn't want to put it down. I read the whole book in three days, I was so eager to find out how it ended.
I liked the main character and I found her well written. She was a rounded person with bout flaws and strengths. The way the main plot unfurled itself felt natural and the story was believable.

I want the next book in the series to come out now please! I need to know how the story will continue.

Kiwie's thoughts: More please. Now. I read this book in big chunks and loved it. It is fun and entertaining, but not without substance. Fun, thrilling and it accessed/manipulated my feelings in a way that I liked. I clutched my reader and read as fast as I could to get to the next part or the answer sometimes. While other times I just enjoyed hanging out with the people filling the pages.

Evie O'Neill was a great character, yearning for attention and fame, but not cruel and careless in a way that would make you think she would walk over dead bodies to get there. She did stupid things, she wasn't super-smart, but she wanted to do right, and she put in the effort when she had to. I liked her a lot.

I liked the minor characters as well, especially Memphis, and I would have loved to learn more about Theta. I love it when I can understand a character's reasoning, even when it is flawed/I disagree with it, and for the most part I could with every important character in the Diviners. Yay!

Naughty John was scary, a great bad guy and monster. I like how your own belief is what matter, and how they had to deal with John according to his etc. I loved the whole cult of Brethren aspect, I've always been fascinated by cults, and religious fanatics in general. I don't understand how someone can believe so strongly in anything, nor how someone can be swooned into these beliefs/ways of living etc.

Also: The setting of the 1920s in New York city made me super happy. I love the decadent part of the 20s, the reckless spending and parties. The fashion. Everything like that, the "glitz and glamour". I romanticize a bit I guess, but I just like it, and find it a powerful proof of how in denial people can be, as while things were great for some, it was terrible for others, and not in another country, but within a city or area.

I think someone woud have to knock me unconscious to keep me from reading the next book!

What followes is a bookchat between Kiwie and Katastrofekat, about the book The Diviners by Libba Bray

Katastrofekat : So, where to start then?

Kiwie : We both read the book superfast, which probably means that we both liked it a lot. What was your favorite thing?

Katastrofekat : I really liked Evie, and that her personality was so well written. I liked that she wasn't a perfect person

Kiwie :Yeah, she was not a Mary Sue, she had real flaws, and I really liked that.

Katastrofekat : Yes. And i also appreciated that the supernatural elements in the book were so easily accepted, that a large part of the book didn't disappear in the characters coming to terms with magic being real.

Kiwie : Yes! Most of the characters were already aware of their own abilities, or that it existed so few of them were shocked. I really liked that not everyone knew about the others. They were all so close to each other, if only they talked. I think Evie is the only one who "came out" to anyone other than their absolute nearest/in a situation dependent of it. It also didn't define their personalities.
Kiwie : Nobody had a personality comprised of "their specialness" and then "oh, they liked to read, or watch movies" they all had normal ambitions and wishes and we got a peek into more than just one side of them, which was really neat.

Katastrofekat : Yes, that is true. I also liked that Libba Bray had included such things as her friends crush on, whats his name... her uncles assistent, without it taking us away from the main story. She was successful in creating small breaks form the excitement, so my brain got a little break, but not making the book to long either.

Kiwie :True. The plot was fast paced even with the breaks, and I suspect that a lot of that will help build the overarching plot of the series. I also really wanted to get to know some of the characters not so close to Evie better, like Memphis. I also am really interested to see what the deal with her uncle is.

Katastrofekat : I also found Memphis interesting and I'm super excited to find out what blind Bills role is in all of this. First I didn't think he would come back in the story as anything other than "just-another-bystander" but then towards the end his character really changed I felt like we were taken for a spin with him.

Kiwie : Yes! Is he a diviner too or something else? He really blindsided (ha ha...) me with his ability.

Katastrofekat : I got more of an impression of him as maybe a former diviner. Like if he used to have powers, but after he went blind he lost them and now he has to tap into the powers of new diviners to even see clearly in his own dreams.

Kiwie :Ah, good theory. Because they came along before, and that lady whats-her-name who showed up at the end and talked to Evies uncle, might be one too, or at least have some knowledge. I'm also curious about people losing their abilities, and Evie getting headaches and her uncle being worried about it. What is the drawback (outside too much unwanted information) of these powers? And why does the uncle not share what he knows with Evie, there clearly is something he's not telling.
Kiwie :I get that he is trying to protect her, but by the end of the novel it's a bit too late...

Katastrofekat : Yeah, I thought the same thing. I also guess that there is more to the story with his assistant (what's his name?)

Kiwie :Yeah, Jericho. Also there is the whole thing with Sam. I just want more, immediately.

Katastrofekat : Me too. I thought a book of almost six hundred pages would be enough, but it's not. I would gladly have added another hundred pages to the story.

Kiwie : Libba! Hurry up and get us the next one! Well, don't hurry too much, because a terrible sequel is pointless.

Katastrofekat : Yes, write like the wind, but do not compromise the quality of the book!

Kiwie :Yup!
Kiwie :What was the least likeable thing about the novel?

Katastrofekat : Not so much the story, it was just that there where a lot of characters who got introduced briefly and then we never got to know them. Like Henry and the girl form the china restaurant, who could walk in dreams. I hope some of them comes back in the next book. Also, the police officer kind of annoyed me a bit.

Katastrofekat : And maybe the ending was a bit rushed, but still loved it.

Kiwie :Ah, yeah the china restaurant girl was strange, like an omen of a sort. Henry could also walk in dreams couldn't he? I'm expecting his return in the next one. I wonder if Evie will be the main character or perhaps someone else? Like Sam, Theta, Henry, Memphis or Jericho? Or even Mabel, although probably not, she's currently destined to get into trouble with that guy she suddenly fell for.
Kiwie : That annoyed me a lot. Mabel is supposed to be somewhat smart, at least not stupid, so why did she get so instantly attracted to that dude? Unless it is revealed that he's got some sort of power that does that, I don't like it.

Katastrofekat : Yes, an omen! That was the word I was looking for!
Katastrofekat : That is true, that bit with Mabel on the end was kind of out of character for her. Also, I think that it was a bit of a easy way out by the author, as in real life if Evie and Jericho got together, Mabel would be disappointed, at least for a while. With that new guy she kind of avoided the whole issue.

Kiwie : Yes, I thought that too. I don't like that. It does keep the plot free of a certain kind of drama, but Evie attracts that sort of thing, and I don't see why it shouldn't be there. Or Mabel could just fall out of love with Jericho after getting to know him, getting criticised by him and figuring out that she didn't really like him after all. She had a distance crush on him up until Evie forced them
Kiwie : together. It would be easier to just let her fall out of love with him. Better.

Katastrofekat : Yepp.
Katastrofekat : I wonder if uncle Will will continue being such a push-over in the next book, or if he will finally learn to say no to Evie. She kind of need to hear that word sometimes I think. Or maybe that will be Jericho's job now?

Kiwie : Mhm. I wanted to scream at Evie in the end, when she talked to the reporters. It was such a *headdesk* moment for me.
Kiwie :Nothing good will come of that.

Katastrofekat : You said it. She don't know when to stop, that girl. But then again, if she did, her personality wouldn't be as fleshed out as it was. But someone really should tell her to stop sometimes.

Kiwie :Yeah, and not just by sending her away because she is too much. Her parents did it, then her uncle tried to do it (which is why she talked to the reporters). She needs someone to level with her and explain things to her. Flaws all around (which is good, but frustrating sometimes).

Katastrofekat : yeah. I kind of felt sorry for Evie sometimes, since it seems like people generally don't listen to her and when she tries to get attention by using her diviners powers, they just want to send her away.

Kiwie : Yes, because she is attention seeking and spontaneous to a fault she is ignored. Wanting to have fun and be famous does not mean that you have to be a bad person or stupid, and I think Evie proved that she is neither of those things.

Katastrofekat : I agree. It would be fun if any of the other characters were to be the main in the next book, but I think I would miss Evie a lot if her part in the series got smaller actually. I don't think it would be the same book without her.

Kiwie :True. Her instinct is what drove this ahead a lot. I still want more of the others though, so the next one will have to be twice as long... I wonder what will happen with Sam and his crush on her too. He's seems like the type to create trouble.

Katastrofekat : He does. But I kind of expect him to go off looking for his mother in the next book, and not be such a big part of Evies life. Or perhaps there will be drama between him, Jericho and Evie?

Kiwie :Yeah, he is more concerned with his mother than Evie I think, and he does not like falling for Evie so he might just leave that alone. It is also possible that there is no Evie and Jericho, because they both have valid reasons for not wanting to date the other, even if they are attracted to each other. I wonder if the next one will start right after this one, or jump ahead in time.

Katastrofekat : I kind of hope it will start of where this one ended, as I felt like the ending was a bit rushed, so continuing on from there would tie it nicely together.

Kiwie :  It's a typical book in a series ending though, like the main plot (Naughty John) wrapped up nicely and then some stuff happened to make us want to read the next one. Which in this case wasn't needed. I would have picked up the next one with out without all the possible drama that was set up in those last pages.

Katastrofekat : Yeah. I think someone woud have to knock me unconscious to keep me from reading the next book!

Kiwie :Let's not forget about Naughty John, how great of a bad guy was he?

Katastrofekat : I think he might be the best bad guy since Sauron! He was really creepy and reading about him kind of made me want to check under my bed, to be sure he wasn't hiding there!

Kiwie : I know. He's this nut job of a ghost who was raised in a cult! He's awesome. He is my new favorite ghostly killer (Maureen Johnson's Jack the Ripper in the Name of the Star being the one getting dethroned here). I also loved how they had to get rid of him according to his beliefs, because they were strong enough to bring him back from the dead. This makes me wonder what other kinds of shenanigans people in this universe can get up to, if belief is that strong.

Katastrofekat : Mhm! Also, when Evie looked into his youth, even though he was a creepy psychopath, I felt kind of bad for him as well, growing up in that crazy cult, being branded with hot iron from his was little and all. It's like he might be the bad guy, but you can sort of still understand why he does what he does. Also, I loved that Evie used the coin from her brother to banish him, because it was holy to her. I

Kiwie : The best villains are like that. Mhm, the coin thing was also great, another proof of individual belief.

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
First published in 2012
It is book #1 in a series.

What we're told is inside (copied from goodreards):
It's 1920s New York City. It's flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It's after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it's the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O'Neill, it's escape. She's never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she's shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she's always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn't about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren't crimes of passion. They're gruesome. They're planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can't solve them alone.

Evie wasn't just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer - if he doesn't catch her first.

Kristine's expectations:
I must admit, I've read the first couple of chapters already and I am very exited. I've read Libba Bray before and liked it, while this is an entirely different book I expect the writing to be in the same league (I read Beauty Queens). I know that this book is set in New York City in the 1920s and that there is a great evil about. 1920s = one of my favorite eras and in combination with mystique/the supernatural I'm so in (also I keep imagining my grandmother, who I never met, with her friends playing with ouija boards in the living room while the men had drinks and cigarettes in the dining room. Which is a thing that happended, much later than the 20s, but still). This books is long though, as long as the last one we read and that didn't work out so well for us (if mine wasn't an e-book I would have thrown it into the wall like Katastrofekat did...), but the language is, so far, much lighter and flowier. If that makes sense.

Katastrofekat's expectations:
This is my first time reading anything by Libba Bray, so honestly I don't know what to expect from this book. The 1920s are fascinating, but my only experience with it before going into this book, is what I have seen in movies. So I think this book will be a very new experience for me. I really hope I will like it, and as long as it isn't as complicated and dryly written as the last book we read (which annoyed me to no end), I think I will find something to like. I'm a big fan of books with a supernatural undertone, so I hope that's not just a minor plot point.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The court of the air, review by Katastrofekat

First impression of the book was that this was going to be a heavy read and would probably take some time to finnish. It was hard to get a grip of the universe where the book takes place. We are thrown directly into the story and we didn't get to know anything about the backstory. We get introduced to the two main characters in the story, but we don't get to know a lot about them.

A few chapters into the book, the pace picked up and the story became more engaging. I really wanted to keep reading because I wanted to know what would happen next, but I still felt quite confused, as the rules of the universe are still being revealed.
The world was very different from what I was expecting. The world has a very complex political system and it is inhabited by many different creatures, but again we don't get any backstory for any of the creatures, so it is confusing. A lot of names and new words are throw our way, but since this book doesn't have a dictionary I felt like I had to guess what the author ment. There is also magic in the book, which I wouldn't have guessed going into it.

I think the story might have been good if it were written differently, but I have to say I find it a bit difficult to keep reading, as it feels like I'm constantly is getting hit with new facts. It actually feels like parts of the book smacks you in the face. I want to feel more submerged in the story, but so far I'm finding it hard as the story is so dense with facts and at the same time it's like I can't get my head around all the facts and make them fit together.
Also, there is no map in the book and that makes it hard to imagine how this world is built up. I really think the book would read a bit easier for me with a map.
I also think i find the story a bit slow because there is very little description in the book. Here we are, in a whole new univers with things that don't exist, but they aren't described so it is hard for me to imagine what things look like and thus get into the swing of the story. Also I felt like the book was kind of superficial, we never got to now how the characters felt about the things that was happening to them.

I really want to like the book, but it feels a bit like the way the book is written is fighting me.

When I start to get into the rhythm of the book and it feels like I'm finally understanding what the writer writes about, he skips to something else entirely and I feel just as lost once again.
Also, it kind of annoyed me that the book was named the Court of the Air, when the actual court of the air is only mentioned about ten times and we never get to know much about it.

I spent the last thirty pages of the book eagerly waiting for the last page, so I could put an end to the book by throwing it in the wall (and that is why I bought the pocket edition, and not the e-book).

Kristine thinks out loud about The Court of the Air

I'm not going to write a long post about The Court of the Air. I read the kindle edition and it was riddled with spelling errors (wor ds we re n ot who le) and the text would jump from one perspective/person/scene to another WITH NO WARNING! This was not a stream-of-consciousness novel, so I'm guessing it should not have done that. More air please! Someone should rectify this, but I'm guessing nobody will.

Now, I'm going to rattle of some points in a few lists and try not to spoil too much, but I am going to do this anyway: SPOLER ALERT! There might be bits and bobs revealed, I do not feel that any of the information below will spoil the storyline, but the world that is built in the novel will be poked and prodded at a bit. Time for lists:

The good:
  • I'm fascinated by the steam creatures (steammen) that have a life of their own, that become deactivate when their life ends. I'd like to learn more about them, they are workers, warriors and a race of their own, and I love the "ending" created for them (I say "ending" because this book is the first in a series). They also call the humans softbodies, which I found so charming that I'd like to befriend one (even if some of them found the softbodies weak etc.)
  • Epic world!
  • Mu-bodies! 
  • I also liked the Carlists, the royalists, the circlist etc. The politics and religion aspect, though it was tedious at times, it was nice to have, and easy to draw parallels with our world, which is cool.
  • The court of the air = cool, but (oh uh, we're heading into the bad prematurely) they weren't important enough to have the title of the novel I think. 
The bad:
  • Maps! I wish there were maps! 
  • Glossary, I really wish there was one. Stephen Hunt made up words and things and I'd like a decent explanation, and sometimes he used words in other context than those I've seen them in before, and while the kindle comes with a dictionary and I am able to undestand things through context, I'd still like a dictionary, with explanations not just of words, but of what exactly a Carlist is etc., and maybe even who some of the characters are because there are so many and we only see parts of this world (which I would love to explore more I just don't know if I can get throguh another of these novels).
  • The first half (or thereabout, I made a note at 41%) was too long, to boring, I struggled with it when I was in my last third I enjoyed myself for the first time. I bet a bunch of readers put this down before that!
  • Molly and Oliver were too alike, I realize that they came from different backgrounds and had different abilities, but they were both alone without family (sort of), had an ability (they were the chosen ones in this context, which is fine and I get the whole offence/defence, yin/yang thing), but do they need to be without personalities? Molly likes stories, Oliver likes what? I don't think he has a peronality and most of his skills come from his weapons. Fey is not a personality. I suspect the lack of personality might have a function here (he's easily pushed around), but I still would like some of that for him.
  •  The throwing of gears, gear-gi-oh or something like that, felt a little like "put a cog on it and call it steampunk". I accepted it and moved on though.
  • Too much shoved into a novel. This could be trilogy on its own! Too much information, too few pages, yet too many pages. There is a problem here. Strangely enough I feel as if a lot of this could have been solved by adding illustrations.

More depth to the characters, a map and a glossary and I would have loved this novel. Somehow I also think it would have been better longer, if chopped up into several shorter novels, or parts at least. The flow was wrong.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt

Cover of the Court of the Air
The first book out for The Cat's Tale! Read October/November 2012!

Title: The Court of the Air
Author: Stephen Hunt
First published in 2007
Publisher(s): Harper Collins Voyager (UK) and Tor Books(US)
Genre: Fantasy
It is book #1 in the Jackelian series.

About the novel, as described on Goodreads:

When streetwise Molly Templar witnesses a brutal murder at the brothel she has recently been apprenticed to, her first instinct is to run back to the poorhouse where she grew up. But there she finds her fellow orphans butchered, and it slowly dawns on her that she was the real target of the attack. For Molly is a special little girl, and she carries a secret that marks her out for destruction by enemies of the state.

Oliver Brooks has led a sheltered existence in the backwater home of his merchant uncle. But when he is framed for his only relative's murder he is forced to flee for his life, accompanied by an agent of the mysterious Court of the Air. Chased across the country, Oliver finds himself in the company of thieves, outlaws and spies, and gradually learns more about the secret that has blighted his life.

Soon Molly and Oliver will find themselves battling a grave threat to civilization, an ancient power thought to have been quelled millennia ago. Their enemies are ruthless and myriad, but the two orphans are also aided by indomitable friends in this endlessly inventive tale full of drama, intrigue, and adventure.

What we expect/want from this novel:

Kristine: This is, as I understand it, a fantasy novel, set in a "Victorian-styled world" (x), which is a kind of setting that I really like. So I'm hoping that is well done, and my thoughts naturally wander to steampunk and that sort of thing, especially with the hot air balloon on the cover, but I don't expect a technology heavy novel or anything. I expect a mystery slowly being revealed. Why is Molly special? Why is Oliver framed? Who are the Court of the Air? I'm currently imagining airborne military, like an military air force, only you know, in hot air balloons and their likes instead of planes, or possibly a royal fortress floating about (okay, not really, but something royal or government related anyway). So many possibilities! I also hope for death and destruction.

Katastrofekat: Well, Kristine have pretty much said what I was thinking. I'm really into this kind of books lately, so I really hope it will live up to my expectations. Like Kristine, I don't think there will be much techy stuff here, but if it isn't seampunky in any way, I might be a bit disappointed. When reading the description, I was reminded of Phillip Pullmans His Dark Materials-series, and if this book is reminiscent of that, I think I will very much enjoy it. Looking forward to starting, so I hope my book arrives soon (that should teach my to not go for the e-book).