THE ALCHEMYST by Michael Scott Book Review
Series: The Secrets of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel, #1
Publication Date: May 22nd 2007 by Delacorte Press
Rating: – Acceptable
Book Summary: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330. Nearly seven hundred years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty and Nicholas Flamel lives. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects – the Book of Abraham the Mage. It’s the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. And that’s exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won’t know what’s happening until it’s too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it. Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott Book Review Overview:
- Unrelatable and forgettable main characters
- Secondary characters like Nicholas Flamel, and his wife, Perenelle, were more interesting
- Awesome blend of different mythologies and alchemy
When I hear the name, Nicholas Flamel, I immediately think of the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter. The name has popped up in other places throughout the years, but I never really gave it much thought. I was reintroduced to Nicholas Flamel in THE ALCHEMYST by Michael Scott and quickly found out that Flamel was actually a real historical figure.
One of the biggest issues I had with THE ALCHEMYST by Michael Scott is the fact that the main characters, Sophie and Josh, were unrelatable. I found their characters to be flat and under-developed. I know that this is the first book in the series, and I imagine that Scott will use the rest of the books to develop their characters. But to me, it’s always important that I create a connection to the characters in the first book. Unrelatable or forgettable characters is probably the top reason why I end up not continuing with a series.
I ended up finding the secondary characters such as Nicholas and Perenell Flamel to be more interesting than Sophie and Josh. Because of my limited knowledge about Nicholas Flamel and his wife, I was really excited to learn that they had been actual figures in history. Scott provides readers, like me, with lots of background information. He manages to successfully weave Flamel’s history and myth into the plot. Sometimes, it does feel like the long paragraphs of information disrupts the flow of the plot. However, I enjoyed learning so much about Nicholas and Perenelle that I didn’t mind it as much as I usually would have.
Additionally, Scott seamlessly blends a combination of figures from different myths into his novel. If I had not done a little bit of research into the characters, I wouldn’t have guessed that they were from Egyptian, Norse, Celtic, and Greek mythologies. Scott adapts these mythological figures into his novel and transforms them into quite memorable characters. I quite enjoyed the combination of mythology and alchemy in THE ALCHEMYST.
Despite enjoying some aspects of THE ALCHEMYST by Michael Scott, my inability to relate to Sophie and Josh dissuade me from reading the rest of the series.I can’t embark on an epic quest with characters I don’t really care about.
BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore Book Review
Series: Graceling Realm, #3
Publication Date: May 1st 2012 by Dial
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations |
Book Summary: Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle–disguised and alone–to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.
Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore Book Review Overview:
- Kristin Cashore will not disappoint fans of the Graceling Realm
- This can be read as a standalone but it’s really a lot better if you read the other two books first
- The romance is not as epic as the Fire or Graceling but it’s still pretty sweet
BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore is technically the third book in the Graceling Realm series, but the publisher insists that you can read this as a standalone. True, you probably can; it’s been a while since I’ve actually read Graceling and Fire so my memory is fuzzy on what had happened in those books. So prior knowledge really is not required to read Bitterblue. But at the same time, you probably won’t appreciate it as much. The beauty in BITTERBLUE is partially based on all three stories finally coming together cohesively. You’ll read about all your favorite characters from previous books and see them in a new light from Bitterblue’s perspective.
Like any subsequent book by any author, I was a bit worried when I started to read BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore. A big fan of the first two, I was worried that this one would not live up to the epic fantasy world. I had nothing to be worried about; Cashore continues to weave beautifully written stories set in a magical realm. She knows how to write fantasy.
There’s just a touch of romance in BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore, and I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t as epic as the romances in Graceling and Fire. Okay, let’s face it: Bitterblue has a lot of problems that she has to deal with first, so romance can’t be her top priority. Still, I enjoyed the chemistry even if I wanted a little more.
BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore will delight fans of the Graceling Realm series. And readers who discover BITTERBLUE first will definitely be convinced to pick up the other two books.
About the Author
Kristin Cashore wrote the New York Times bestsellers Graceling and Fire, both of which have been named ALA Best Books for Young Adults. Graceling is the winner of the 2009 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature and Fire is the winner of Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. The books are world travelers, currently scheduled to be published in thirty languages.
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DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor Book Review
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2
Publication Date: November 6th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations |
Book Summary: In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor Book Review Overview:
- Immense character growth for Karou
- Fleshed out secondary characters that you can’t help but love
- Wished for more romance but the amount of lovey dovey was appropriate in terms of the plot
Like with any other sequel, I had doubts coming into DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor. The first novel of the series, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, had been a stunner. A wonderful blend of fantasy and romance, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE had easily been one of my favorite reads of last year. Was the sequel going to be able to live up to my high standards? It seems that I had nothing to worry about. DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor is everything that readers have been anticipating. It will not disappoint.
Karou grows so much in the span of DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT. She is such a different character from DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, hardened by her recent experiences. She struggles between following through her obligations and following her heart. It is so easy to empathize for Karou because you grew to love her in the first book. You understand why she has difficulty in deciding what to do.
I think that the secondary characters are such a delight in DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor. Taylor takes this time to flesh out the characters, and we see a side of them that we did not get to see in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Furthermore, I loved the interpersonal relationships between all the different characters. Karou’s friendship with Zusana is one of my favorite elements of the book. The relationships in DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT continue to be true and genuine.
I yearned for a little more romance, but that’s mostly just me fangirly-ing over Karou and Akiva. They are a match-made in heaven (no pun intended) and it hurts me as a reader to see them apart. The amount of romance is adequate in terms of what is going on in the story. There’s not a lot of girly squealing in DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor, but I know it will just make things a lot sweeter in the later books. No matter what happens, you just know that Akiva and Karou are meant to be together.
Laini Taylor is such a talented author. The world-building continues to be richly detailed and beautifully written. She artfully weaves themes of war, loss, and betrayal in DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT. Fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone will not be disappointed with this enchanting sequel.
About the Author
Laini Taylor is a writer of fantasy books for young people, but her books can be enjoyed by adults as well. Her ‘Dreamdark’ books, Blackbringer (2007) and Silksinger (2009) are about faeries — not dainty little flowery things, but warrior-faeries who battle devils. Her first young adult book, Lips Touch, is a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award! It’s creepy, sensual supernatural romance. . . about kissing. Taylor is also an artist with a licensed gift product line called “Laini’s Ladies.”
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