“Gilded Cage” by Vic James

gilded-cageHave you ever read a book that’s so compelling you can hardly put it down but is so annoying that you wish you could? That’s how I felt over the 8 days I spent reading Gilded Cage. I was curious about some of its plot points, but I had so many issues with it that I was frustrated the entire time I read it.

Quick summary:

Gilded Cage is a young-adult fantasy novel set in the present day, where some people (the Equals) have magical abilities (the Skill) and enslave those who lack such abilities (the Commoners). Some countries have improved their policies and allowed equal opportunities for both Equals and Commoners; however, in the U.K., where the story is set, slavery is still in effect.

When the story begins, one of our protagonists, Abigail, and her family are about to begin their slave days. Commoners must dedicate 10 years of their lives to being a slave, however individuals can choose when to begin. Parents can choose for children under 18, but all Commoners must begin before they are 60.

Abigail is 18 and is studying to be a doctor. However, she is willing to set her aspirations aside to start her slave days with her family, which includes her mom and dad, her 15-year-old* (I forgot his age, but it’s about there) brother Luke, and her 10-year-old sister Daisy. Abigail plans for them all to have an easy time working their slave days at the Kyneston estate, one of the most powerful Equal families in the country that is managed by brothers Gavar, Jenner, and Silyen Jardine. However, her family is ripped apart when Luke is taken to Millmoor, the harsh factory town that mistreats its slaves.

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“The Monstrumologist” by Rick Yancey

The Monstrumologist

Not a fan of the cover.

This is the first time that while online shopping I’ve had an experience akin to shopping in a bookstore. Usually I only purchase books I’m already familiar with online but this time, I picked up something new. Something I’ve never heard of. I didn’t even like the cover. It was the title that caught my attention. After reading the synopsis, I decided to get it. How far would Yancey go in his exploration of monsters, I wondered. Would he go so deep as to show humanity in monsters and monstrosity in humans?

Quick summary:

The story that makes up The Monstrumologist is relayed in the diaries of Will Henry. They were found after he died (sometime in 2007) and given to Rick Yancey. In this book, the first volume of his diaries, it’s 1888 and Will is the 12-year-old orphaned apprentice to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a monstrumologist, a scientist who studies organisms generally considered monsters and, in some cases, hunts them.

One night, Dr. Warthrop and Will receive a visitor with an unusual package — a monster that died while eating a young woman. The doctor informs Will that the monster is an anthropophagus, a headless predator that resembles humans in stature except its mouth is in its chest. They also receive another surprise — a baby anthropophagus within the body of the young woman. The doctor concludes that anthropophagi are in the area and makes preparations to uncover how they appeared on American soil and why in New England within the vicinity of a monstrumologist.

Their quest for answers and eventually to root out and kill the anthropophagi takes Dr. Warthrop and Will on quite an adventure on which Will learns that monsters come in many forms and sometimes fear helps as much as it hinders us.

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“Shadow and Bone” by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and BoneThis has been on my TBR list for a while, so I’m glad that I finally read it. Since I read this for the Bout of Books read-a-thon and was on vacation at the time, I got through it very quickly, in two days actually. I think that’s the fastest I’ve read a book this year. This was possible because Shadow and Bone is a quick read. It is fast-paced and there’s hardly a dull moment.

Quick summary:

Genre: young-adult fantasy

From Goodreads:

Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal — and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.

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“Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Cover of "Beautiful Creatures"

Available on Amazon and at you local bookstore.

It took me a while to work up an interest in this book. I first watched the movie and because I enjoyed it so much, I decided to read the book. Unfortunately, when I first attempted to read it, I put it down almost immediately. I enjoyed the prologue but when the story began, I found the voice too dry to bear. But after reading The JK Review’s review of the novel and movie, I decided to give it another try and be patient. It paid off.

Quick summary:

I read this book a while back so the details of the story are a bit foggy but here is the gist of what I do remember. Beautiful Creatures is told from the perspective of Ethan Wate, a teenager in his junior year of high school. He resides in Gaitlin, a small town in the South Carolina, which he hates because he finds it too backwards. He can’t wait to escape its borders and explore the wider world. In the meantime, he escapes through books. He is an avid reader on account of his late mother being a librarian. When the story begins, he’s been having weird dreams of a girl and hearing a strange song on his iPod in the mornings. Soon the girl he sees in his dreams turns up at his school. She is the new girl in town—Lena Duchannes, niece of the town’s shut in.

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“Jinx” by Sage Blackwood

Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

This cover drew me to the book…

This is a fun story. I wanted to read this book because of its title, Jinx, there’re so many possibilities of how this story could turn out. Of course, it has to involve magic! If not, I wouldn’t have read it. Also, it must involve a character to whom weird things will happen. To say the least, the story turned out almost as I thought it would and almost better.

Quick summary:

Jinx is about an orphan boy who once resided with his stepmother and stepfather until they chose to get rid of him. To do this, his stepfather took him into the forest, the Urwald, and stepped off the path (it’s recommended that one should not step off the path in the forest since bad things could happen: attacked by trolls or werewolves, or tricked by the trees) and tried to leave him in there. However, the stepfather could not find his way back to the path. Luckily, or unluckily, a wizard happened to be about. The wizard, called Simon, happened to be in need of a boy so Jinx’s stepfather sold him to the wizard before being taken off by trolls, which may or may not have been called by the wizard.

Jinx goes off to live with the wizard Simon, tidying the house and such. While there, he meets butter churn-riding witches and travelers who stop by the wizard’s house. After living there for a while, he meets Simon’s wife Sophie, who lives in another part of the world. Apparently, Simon’s house has a portal that can take a person to a land called Samara, which is where Sophie lives. Sophie doesn’t do much except to rile Simon up and treat Jinx like the little boy he is at times. I think her purpose in the story was simply to lure Jinx to Samara and heighten his interest in magic.

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“The Tombs of Atuan” by Ursula Le Guin

Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

Though I enjoyed the first book of the Earthsea Cycle, A Wizard of Earthsea, I did not enjoy the second as much.

Quick summary:

In The Tombs of Atuan, we are introduced to Tenar, the priestess of the Nameless Ones, gods without names. She was taken from her family at the age of six to become the new priestess since the old one had died. Brought up in a dry landscape void of any other humans except the women who serve the temples of the gods and the soldiers who guard the outskirts, Tenar knows nothing of the outside world except wisps of memory from her childhood. Her hopes and dreams are limited to the walls of the temple. It’s not until Ged Sparrowhawk appears in the Tombs, searching for the other half of the Ring of Erreth-Akbe, that she becomes curious and begin to defy the rules given to her to follow.

My reaction:

The Tombs of Atuan is a good story but while reading, I kept wondering what would happen in the next book. It’s probably because there’s not much action in this installment that I found it hard to commit my attention to it, however, it was not a boring read. I quite like the story of the Ring of Erreth-Akbe, which besides Ged’s appearance is the only thing that connects this installment to book one.

Still, I like that the protagonist is female and from the Kargish islands, a place that does not hold magic in high regard. This perspective gives us a different view on the world and structure of Earthsea. Also, I loved that in order for Tenar to escape her servitude, she must choose to be free. Though Ged can take Tenar away from the Tombs, in order to truly escape the powers of the Nameless Ones, she must choose to go.

My appreciation for the story grew when I read the afterword (included in the September 11, 2012 edition). In it, Le Guin discusses her reasons for writing the story and why she chose to write from Tenar’s point-of-view. It’s amazing the thoughts given to the craft of this story.

The Farthest Shore (book 3) ->

<- A Wizard of Earthsea (book 1)

Quotes from the book:

“…it is no use trying to open a door until you know how the door is opened.”

“She wept in pain because she was free…Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake…It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one.”

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” by J.K. Rowling

Available on Pottermore and at your local book store.

Available on Pottermore and at your local book store.

I was so excited to re-read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It’s my second favorite book in the series simply because it is the first Harry Potter book I’ve ever owned. When I was probably 12, I sent my father to Borders to battle with other parents and procure a copy for me since I was not in the country when it was released. A few days before the release date, I left to visit relatives in Jamaica. My father bought the book and brought it to Jamaica for me. I was elated. Great dad!

As soon as he gave it to me, I started to read it. I read all day and by nightfall, I had finished the book and was upset. I no longer had a Harry Potter book to read. I regretted not dragging out my reading, stretching it so that the book would last for days. But still, it was near impossible to do so since it’s hard to put down a Harry Potter book when you first pick it up.

Such was not the case this time, 13 years later, when I reread Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I had to put the book down many times. Not because I wanted to but because I have matured and now have stupid adult responsibilities (like work and bills and work) that do not allow me the leisure and pleasure of reading all day, even though I was on vacation. The one thing that remained the same is my enjoyment of the story.

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