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A Memory Of Light: Book 14 of the Wheel of Time: 14/14
A Memory Of Light: Book 14 of the Wheel of Time: 14/14
by Robert Jordan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 17.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Edge of Your Seat Fantasy, Great Book, 14 Mar 2013
A reminder here that I try for no spoilers, but don't read on if you're worried I may give something away. I haven't had any complaints yet, but I know I'm the type of reader who wants to know virtually nothing about the storyline of the next book in a series I'm reading. There's your fair warning.

Sanderson had hundreds of main characters, and hundreds of story arcs, to cover in this one. A close friend and I have discussed how this series would end for years and neither of us could comprehend how Sanderson could put the finishing touches on this one. While there were a couple small areas we complained about after finishing the series, the rest of the story was amazing enough that it didn't change the way we felt one bit. The Wheel of Time series is, and will continue to be, one of the greatest epic fantasies ever told.

I didn't think it was possible, but Sanderson kept an unbelievable pace throughout the entire novel. The chapters and sections were shorter than in previous WoT (Wheel of Time) books, but not only did it work well, I believe it was needed in this case. The reader is all over the map at first as we're brought into the state of mind of all the characters and reminded where we're headed: Tarmon Gai'don, the final battle, possibly the end of all things.

The final battle isn't just one battle, but many. Some on a larger scale and some that are small yet lead to larger fights that may or may not be known by the other characters. Matrim, Perrin, Rand, Egwene, Nynaeve, Lan, Tam, and I could go on, all have their part to play, and they're each significant.

Best Aspects of the Book

Sanderson keeps to the storyline and to Jordan's vision of an epic story while continuing to focus on the individuals and their actions that brings us to the final climax.

Again, THE PACING! I swear my heart was racing through almost every page of this darn book. Not just the battle scenes, but with every decision the characters made bringing us closer to the end of the world, and the book.

The epic battle scenes. Sorry for using the word "epic" again, but it's the only word that encompasses the breadth of this story. The tactics, the blood, the soldiers, the individuals; they all play significant roles in the final battle. Another reviewer said something similar, but the way the scenes played out it was as if Sanderson had first hand knowledge of that battle, as if he were there copying down what he saw.

Many may not see this as a positive, but it made the book more realistic in my opinion. Characters are dying all over the place in this one. It makes sense considering it was the final battle. If we'd had this grand battle to only have a few characters die, not only would it not have been as realistic, but the reader wouldn't be on the edge of their seat wondering when their other favorite characters were going to "wake up from the dream," as the Aiel would say.

Sanderson completed so many story arcs in one this one book that it was simply amazing. In a recent conversation with the friend I mentioned above, we discussed how Sanderson could have easily written another four or five books in the series with each of those story arcs being a story of their own.

The Negative Aspects

With how much I loved this story, it's hard for me to say anything negative. However, I try to keep an unbiased tone when I write a review, though that's pretty much impossible in this situation. While I say some of these things are negative, it's only my opinion and other readers may disagree.

Where was Thom Merrilin? No, he wasn't removed from the story, and he played an important role, but I loved his character and I wanted more. With the how big of a part of the story he was throughout, I thought there would be more.

There were some parts that were 100% Sanderson, particular lines especially. He sticks to a Jordanesque style throughout the previous two books he wrote, yet in this one, I felt there were times when the things he wrote were something Jordan probably would have done so differently. Of course, we'll never know, and I've no doubt that Sanderson did the better than any other author could have in his position. My argument against this is that I'm not sure Jordan could have completed this series the way Sanderson did, and that's saying a lot, because I love Jordan's writing. Before this book, I wasn't completely sold that Sanderson could finish the WoT series the way it should have been. Now, I can see that Robert Jordan and his wife picked the perfect author to finish this epic story.

This part goes with one of the positive aspects. I mentioned that Sanderson completed so many story arcs above, but there were some I wish he'd spent more time on. "Wish" is the key word there. We all wish we could read more of our favorite book or series, but that's just not possible. I won't mention which one, but there was one point that had been alluded to almost since the first book, and then when we reach the actual moment, it's over in less than two pages. I can't complain too much, the story arc was completed, even if not in the way that I had imagined.

The actual ending. I could probably put this in both the positive and the negative. In my mind, it fit perfectly. So why does it go in the negative section? Because, in my mind, there were just enough questions left that the ending read like the final line was a precursor to the next book in the series, which of course we won't have. I think my brain is still working on what exactly I think about everything.

I give A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson five of five stars, and the series itself, five of five stars. If you're looking for a true epic fantasy with an epic story line, an epic cast, and now an epic ending, the Wheel of Time is for you.

The Eye Of The World: Book 1 of the Wheel of Time: 1/12
The Eye Of The World: Book 1 of the Wheel of Time: 1/12
by Robert Jordan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 8.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Turned me into a Bibliophile, 14 Mar 2013
This is the fifth time I've read this book. Keep in mind that I'm the type of person who rarely watches a movie or reads a book a second time. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan is the book that drew me into the reading world, and now the writing world. I'd read maybe ten novels before this one, usually because they were required reading for school.

I don't remember the exact times, but it took me almost three months to read the first 60 pages or so, then I read the next 700+ in a matter of days. My bedside hasn't been without a book since.

If you couldn't guess by my introduction, I'm in love with this series. If epic fantasy is your genre, do yourself a favor and check this book out.

The main plot behind the story (there are probably hundreds of sub-plots later in the series) involves a few villagers whose lives are changed dramatically within the first few chapters of the book. They're thrust into a world of legend and fairy tales, learning along the way that those legends aren't necessarily fairy tales after all.

Their fate is tied to the fate of the world, and maybe time itself. With only a single Aes Sedai and her warder to guide them, they fight just to survive the coming shadow.

The book starts much slower than other books I'm used to, particularly the first time I read it because I'd never read epic fantasy before. I'm still surprised I kept going that first time.

Once the action started there was no putting this book down for me. Though The Eye of the World is filled with action, there are plenty of slow downs to give the reader a chance to take a breath. Even during these slow parts, Jordan keeps the tension up by making sure the characters are in constant danger. He'll give the reader a false sense of security right before unleashing another unique monster to keep us on our toes.

World Building

The depth of Jordan's world is breathtaking. Other fantasies I've read often focus on the world building, almost as if the world is the story. Some readers may disagree, but I never felt this with The Eye of the World. Every intricate piece seems to play a much larger role that we may not realize until later in the series.

Political Intrigues

The political and personal intrigues used in this series go way beyond anything else I've read before or since. As I mentioned with the world building, each political nuance discussed plays a significant role in the story. The only other writer I've seen come close in this respect is George R. R. Martin in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. I actually describe the first book in Martin's series as more of a political thriller set in medieval times.

Interpersonal Relationships

Perhaps the most impressive part of Jordan's first book in the Wheel of Time series is the interpersonal relationships and the inner thoughts of his characters. I don't think he had a degree in psychology, yet the motives and inner workings of each character were amazing, especially the male/female relationships. It felt as if he knew each character on a personal level and we were seeing things from their perspective.

Then there is the story itself. Epic in every way, shape, and form. Though we're able to feel for the characters on a personal level, we still sense the impending doom as the entire existence of their world is uncertain. There are some similarities to other fantasies, of course, as there is in any book in this genre, but the story is told in a unique way with a new kind of magical system. Each book only develops these systems more as Jordan unveils a deeper understanding throughout.

I almost say it's a MUST that you're an epic fantasy fan to enjoy this book because there are details aplenty, details only an epic fantasy reader, or possibly one who enjoys historical fiction, could truly appreciate.

by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.18

5.0 out of 5 stars King at His Best, 14 Mar 2013
This review is from: 11.22.63 (Paperback)
When readers hear the name Stephen King, I'm sure many think of his hits that were turned into movies. Those like Carrie, Pet Cemetery, or Cujo. If you've seen these movies or read the books, you know King has the ability to write gruesome stories, yet keep the story interesting enough that the horror doesn't take away from the plot.

Still, many people don't enjoy horror, including me. At least these days. I used to LOVE King's horror stories, but I've grown out of them.

That's why 11/22/63 surprised me. I know King's books aren't all horror, but this one was different for me. It was easy to tell King was the one who wrote it. It had his humor, his attention to character detail and intricacies, but the feel was different.

I wasn't even alive when President Kennedy was assassinated, yet the idea behind this book was intriguing because of the stories my parents told. They couldn't tell much, but they knew exactly where they were when they heard the president was killed. They knew the feeling, the horror, and the sadness. I couldn't wait to hear what ideas King could create during this time period.

King sucks you in from the very first chapter. It helped that I had an idea of what the book was about, but it wouldn't have mattered. You're given tension, a great plot idea, and flawed characters right from the beginning.

The characters? Amazing as always. Each character has their quirks, their small details that make them real whether it's the way they say a specific word, the way they wear their hat, or the way they smell.

If you haven't heard yet, 11/22/63 is a HUGE book. The hardcover edition is listed at 849 pages. Not a big deal if you're an epic fantasy fan such as myself, but if you're not used to books this long, you may get bogged down.

Getting bogged down wasn't possible for me throughout most of the story because the intensity and interest level were kept on over-drive. If there was one area where a reader may get bogged down it would be during a part when the main character just observes. It was interesting, but I personally could have used a little more action, or had it broken up a little more. That was around page 500 or so, and went on for around 50 pages.

However, if I was alive during that time period, or if I was a history buff, the details alone probably would have kept me interested. I also wonder if this was King's idea of the calm before the storm. There wasn't necessarily a calm, but once this part was over, I flew through the rest of the book.

Other than that one portion, I have no complaints. It was one of my top three favorites by Stephen King, maybe even my favorite.

If you enjoy typical Stephen King, you should try it. The same goes if you're into historical fiction, alternate histories, time travel stories, the Kennedy assassination, or just an awesome book.

This book is well worth the read.

The Wind Through the Keyhole (Dark Tower Novels)
The Wind Through the Keyhole (Dark Tower Novels)
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Almost Gave it Four Stars, 27 Nov 2012
Of the original seven books in the Dark Tower series, book four, The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, was my favorite. This surprised me even at the time I read it because it read like a western rather than a sci-fi fantasy like the rest of the books in the series. I've never had much interest in the western book genre.

When I heard TWTK (The Wind Through the Keyhole) brought back young Roland soon after he became a gunslinger, I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next book in the Dark Tower Series.

Almost Gave it Four Stars

About halfway through the book, I felt I'd been had, that I was tricked into buying this book I thought involved young Roland. He is involved, but only for ten to fifteen percent of the book at most.

We start with Roland Deschaine as an adult, traveling with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy. Expected since that's who Roland had with him at this point in the series. I assumed he'd tell a story about his younger days as a gunslinger, and he did. But this is the part when I became a little upset.

Young Roland goes on to tell a story of his own. We end up three levels deep in this story. The storyteller tells of a storyteller telling a story! It was easy to follow, so that wasn't an issue, but I bought TWTK to read about young Roland Deschaine, Gunslinger of Gilead.

I've been a Stephen King fan for years so I stuck it out and I'm glad I did. The story young Roland tells is in fact, a great story. After I got past my little whine fest, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

There are lessons to be learned, magical elements, a new race of "muties," and as always, the beam. We learn the story of a young man (eleven years old, I believe) whose father was recently killed by a dragon of some sort. He and his mother fight for survival in a harsh world.

Just when they believe they've found their savior, King throws a twist in there to mess everything up. The young man's journey to save his mother, and himself, take us on a wild adventure filled with magic, terror, and suspense.

Even with my previous complaint, TWTK is one of the better Stephen King novels I've read.

I still wish we'd seen more of young Roland. Who knows? Maybe King will add yet another book to the Dark Tower Series one day.

Insurgent (Divergent, Book 2)
Insurgent (Divergent, Book 2)
by Veronica Roth
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Biggest issue... it had to end!, 19 Oct 2012
Book two starts a little slower than the first, as if we had to warm up to Tris' character after being away awhile. As an avid epic fantasy fan, the pace was still fast enough to keep my interest, especially since I enjoyed the first book and couldn't wait to find out what happened next.

Now that I'm writing this, I can see why the first fifty pages or so may have lagged. I mentioned in my Divergent review that I enjoyed how much we see into Tris' thought processes and what she's feeling. This happens a lot in this first section of this second book. We have access to more inner thought and emotion than actual action. Once we're past the first section, Roth drops Tris right back into the non-stop action and conflict.

During this conflict, we learn more about the factions; how they're separated, how each one relates to the other, and we even pick up some information about the Factionless.

The one aspect Roth truly impressed me with in Insurgent was the depth of the characterization. She did well with the complexity in Divergent, but really picks it up in this one. Characters you may have thought had nothing to do with the plot come to life in the second book. Many of the two-dimensional secondary characters make choices that wow the reader. Without giving too much detail, they're the type of decisions that make your eyebrows climb your forehead while you stare at the pages (or screen) for a few minutes wondering if it really just happened.

This happens in the final section. Roth reveals a secret about the factions that will leave you salivating for the next book in the Divergent series. This brings up my biggest issue with the book... it had to end! The secret is literally revealed in the final few pages. It's one of those situations when you want to scream at the author for doing this to you, and then give her a high-five for writing such an awesome ending.

Insurgent, book two in the Divergent series, gets five of five stars from me. Even with the bit of a slow start, it was well worth the read.

Divergent (Divergent, Book 1)
Divergent (Divergent, Book 1)
by Veronica Roth
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and Credible Dystopian World, 5 Oct 2012
Divergent has been compared to The Hunger Games for a few reasons: they're both young adult novels and written in first-person present point of view. Beyond that, the dystopian feel is similar. Aspects of their society aren't perfect, but both of the main characters deal well with what they're given.

Roth seems to spend more time on the inner workings of her main character than we see in Hunger Games. The reader is in her head and understands what she's going through on a personal level.

We're introduced to the faction system (mentioned in the book description) right away and why it's such a big deal. After this informative beginning, we're tossed into a whirlwind. Action sequence after action sequence takes place, we enjoy a slight pause while we learn what's going on in the main character's head, and then we head right into another action sequence.

The story is simply told yet the dystopian society Roth creates is more than adequate. The one thing that caught my eye every few chapters was the usage of the word "gun." It's used throughout the book, but I think only once or twice are we ever told what kind of gun it is. Honestly, it didn't matter. The rest of the book keeps you so in the story that it rarely crosses your mind to wonder what type of gun the characters are using.

If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, I highly suggest you check out Divergent by Veronica Roth. While the similarities are there, the story lines are different enough that you'll be in for another nail-biting read.

Easy five out of five stars.

Furies Of Calderon: The Codex Alera: Book One
Furies Of Calderon: The Codex Alera: Book One
by Jim Butcher
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Magical System, 5 Oct 2012
I have the audio book version of Furies of Calderon and this may have played a role in my final review of Butcher's story.

As mentioned in the book description, we find out right away that "people bond with the furies-elementals of earth, air, fire, water, wood, and metal." This worried me for a moment because elementals have been done before and I was in the mood for something new. My worries soon disappeared when Butcher took something done before and turned it into his own. The magical system he creates is unique enough that I looked forward to learning how it worked throughout the book.

I was surprised to find that Tavi was the only character mentioned in the book description. While he's definitely the main character, as much time was spent on the secondary cast as him. At least in the first book in the series. In book two, he seems to play a larger role.

The Good

I already mentioned the magical system.

The action sequences were great (mostly). Much of the book keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, a big feat in epic fantasy.

We're introduced to a broad cast of characters, each with distinct personality traits, similar to what Butcher brings readers in The Dresden Files. Probably the best aspect of the story was the motives behind these characters' actions. They were realistic and fit the "gray area" often found in real life. Characters weren't good or bad for no reason, they had grounds for the decisions they made.

The Bad

Drawn out and monotonous scenes were too abundant. This is an element of epic fantasy many writers fight with. Epic fantasy readers want detail, too much detail is better than not enough, but I think the secret is knowing when and where to place this detail.

When reading Furies of Calderon, I pictured the Orcs from World of Warcraft when they're in the midst of conversation and say, "Ooh! Shiny." I'd be in the middle of a great battle sequence, pumped and curious as to what would happen next... when we're brought almost completely out of the story to discuss a part of characterization that shouldn't be anywhere near that fight sequence. If it was needed at that particular time, Butcher should have found a way to trim the information down, or maybe refer back to information already known to the reader.

As mentioned earlier, I already began book two and can tell Butcher's experience with epic fantasy has expanded. He keeps up the suspense even during information dumping periods, and best of all, the information given is pertinent to the situation.

I genuinely look forward to reading the next five books in the series, especially if Butcher continues to improve as much as he has in book two.

Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers: But That's Not All They Do
Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers: But That's Not All They Do
Price: 1.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth it for Indie Authors, 31 Aug 2012
Many indie author publishing and promotional guides share similar information. At this point in my indie author career, it's all about finding bits of information not already in the multitude of other books written on the subject.

The Postitive

Aggie Villanueva's book didn't disappoint. She doesn't tell you what categories you should list your book under, but she explains how to find better categories, and how to change them step-by-step. She explains how Amazon uses your ranking within these categories to promote your work.

I've since implemented many of her ideas and noticed a tremendous difference. My debut novel, The Fall of Billy Hitchings, spent three weeks on the bestseller list in July, and has currently been there the last three days. Since making changes she suggested, my book has also been on the Amazon UK bestseller list for almost two months!

Understand that this book won't tell you how to put your book on the bestseller list, only how to make it easier using Amazon's built in promotional system with categories.

There were details I didn't expect to get from her book revolving around little known rules Amazon has about sharing reviews on other sites. She discusses these rules in detail and shares links that explain those rules more clearly.

The Negatives

I agree with a few other Amazon reviews on some of the negative aspects, but I can also argue those negatives were needed.

One complaint is that she uses this book to promote others she has written. This is a common practice, and some author's go overboard in this respect, but I didn't feel that as much in this case. Though there was quite a bit of self-promotion, Aggie used much of it to show the reader how her techniques improved those individual books, and to show that she was a bestseller herself.

I read another complaint about the usage of too many links. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Most of the links take the reader back to her blog and bonus information in regards to her book. This bothered me in that I felt if there was information to be found, why not place it in the book itself?

Here's the problem. Aggie Villanueva implements a growing trend with informational books in that it's a living thing. Whenever she finds new or pertinent information, she adds it to her website. She could have entered the new information in her book, but then those readers who bought her book before the implemented changes wouldn't have access to the latest information.

Definitely worth the money, but it would have been nice if the newer information was instilled within the book rather than on her site.

Nobility (The Fast and The Furies: Suspense Book 2)
Nobility (The Fast and The Furies: Suspense Book 2)
Price: 1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Writes With Such Depth and Emotion, 13 Aug 2012
Ever seen the movie Ocean's Eleven? Or any of the sequels for that matter? You'll get a similar feeling when you begin Nobility. The reader is introduced to a gang of pickpockets preparing for their next take. Each member brings unique capabilities to the team and it's these capabilities, along with their physical attributes, that gives them their nicknames based on Roman mythology.

MacRath keeps the pacing tight throughout most of the book. Each chapter is composed of short sections told from a different perspective, both the good guys and the bad, though that line isn't clearly drawn until later.

I have two complaints, and one relates to the above paragraph. Yes, the pacing was fast and the short sections improved that pacing, but it didn't fit in my opinion.

Let me explain. The depth in MacRath's writing is impressive. The myriad of ideas and thoughts running through his character's heads is realistic and he does well putting this on paper. My issue is many of these thoughts seem out of place in the midst of the quick pacing. As if we go from a lyrical masterpiece to an action sequence and back, with little transition.

How could this have been done different? I'm not sure, but this brings me to the other complaint. This book felt like two stories wrapped into one. We have the pickpockets, and we have Ray, another main character. While both were needed with this plot, either of those ideas on its own could have made up its own story, especially with the depth in MacRath's writing.

My thoughts on the two complaints.

MacRath could have used his depth of thought to create two completely separate novellas, or novels. One with the gang of pickpockets, fast pace, their ups and downs, their big takes, etc. And one with Ray and his personal life and issues. Maybe slower paced, but with the great attention to inner feelings and emotion that MacRath writes so well.

The one aspect I truly admire in MacRath is his wordplay. I wish I could explain this better. The way he puts things together, the way the words can have multiple meanings, it's quite amazing. His book is almost lyrical at times. I've heard of writers who could do this, but I've never actually read one... until now.

As with all book reviews, these are my opinions. If you check out the other awesome reviews, other readers may not feel the same.

What I know is that Reb MacRath is a talented writer and I look forward to more of his work. His writing style is unique and will no doubt draw readers based on that simple fact. I said this multiple times earlier, but he writes with such depth and emotion I can't help but wonder what he'll bring to the writing world in the future.

The Jungle (Oregon Files)
The Jungle (Oregon Files)
by Clive Cussler
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Action & Adventure, 11 Aug 2012
I can now say I completely understand why Cussler's books are listed under Action and Adventure on Amazon. It took me all of three days to fly through this one. Action-packed fits this book well.

This is the first book I've read by Clive Cussler. After this first taste, I know when I want a heart-pounding action and adventure I can go back to him and expect more of the same.

Even as filled with action as it was, the part I enjoyed the most was the characterization. Each of his characters was unique and easy to distinguish from one another. An easy example of this is the main character, Juan Cabrillo. He has a physical handicap, but I don't want to say more because it comes as a bit of a surprise in the book. It doesn't make him extraordinary, but definitely unique.

Many of the characters come from different cultures as well. Cussler's knowledge of these cultures and their idiosyncrasies is amazing.

Speaking of Cussler's knowledge, this guy does his research. The depth of detail, particularly pertaining to weaponry and other military items, was great. If I had one complaint it would be that, on occasion, he spent too much time on these militaristic details. While interesting to some, I found it bogged down the action a little. Not a lot, but with the fast pacing in the rest of the book, it felt almost out of place.

The plot? Awesome! I had a few ideas as to what was going on, but Cussler throws in enough twists and turns to keep the reader flipping through the pages. Though the mystery was there, the action sequences the characters live through to get to the answer were great.

There are a few parts not as realistic as others. Again, I won't give any details, but it may be something some readers will not enjoy. Though this is fiction, much of the technology was ahead of its time. It wasn't too far out for me, but it was enough that I should mention it in this review. While these technological advances were probably too advanced for modern day, they weren't so much so that a rich government couldn't have one or two of these projects secretly studied.

While not my favorite book, I have no complaints about this action-packed thriller. It certainly lived up to its genre.

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