Thursday, December 27, 2007

Book Review

Book one of the Bartimaeus Trilogy
The Amulet of Samarkand
By Jonathon Stroud.

This book involves the adventures of the clever djinni Bartimaeus, who is a demon called up into service by a young magician apprentice out for revenge. The wily Bartimaeus tries everything he can to get out of robbing the powerful magician Simon Lovelace at the command of Nathaniel, who has called him up without the knowledge of his master. Nathaniel is a clever magician and so Bartimaeus has no choice but to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Lovelace. This thievery sets off a chain of events that threatens the whole government. Nathaniel has to thwart Simon Lovelace’s plans before it is too late.
I really loved this book. The character of Bartimaeus is absolutely hilarious! He is so wily, clever, and sarcastic that it is delightful. Nathaniel is a really talented magician, but I like how the author makes him so incredibly unwise. He basically causes all heck to break loose and then has to solve it. He really does loose everything and has to suffer fully the consequences of his actions. He tries to do the right thing despite the fact that everyone tells him it is stupid. One of the most fun aspects about this book are the footnotes that the author includes for Bartimaeus, which illustrates his several levels of conscious thought. The notes include jokes, insults of the reader (and humans in general), and interesting, side notes and background information.
One thing that bugged me about this book was how the magic system worked. The magicians got their power by calling up demons. I wouldn’t label this book as satanic or evil because the author does the magic in good fun. Yet if you are overtly sensitive to these types of stories (as I personally am because of my religion and because I’m just weird. I know there are others of my religion that would have no problem with reading this book.), then you should probably be aware that the magic involves controlling demons that try to hurt you if they can. The fact that I could like this book so much, while not liking the magic system, I think testifies to how well written it is. So if you have run out of books to pick up then you might want to try this series.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Gamila's Review

So, I've been wanting to start a book review blog for a while and so I decided to start one. Since I mostly read LDS Fiction and Young Adult books that is mostly what will be reviewed here, but I reserve the right to review other random books too.

One thing I'll try to do with my reviews is to post something else interesting about the author or book. Whether it be a link to a official/fan website, information about upcoming releases from the author, cool cover art for different editions, or other weird facts that I earth up on account of my strangeness.

I'll also start a little series that is called, First Impressions. This is a new thing I've been thinking about posting for a while since the beginning of fall. My school schedule has allowed me to read for an hour after lunch. So I would sit myself down in the library and pick a book and read it for an hour. If I liked the book I read it again the next day, and if I didn't I picked up a new book. Though sometimes books were checked out and I never ran into them again. So, I'll post about my book for an hour experiment, which I think will be fun. No promises on how long this will last.

Anyway, I'll probably start posting regularly after Christmas. Till then farewell.

Blogger Bio

Gamila Walrus is my on-line pseunodymn, and a nickname I adopted while in college, so it is not my real name. I’ve lived in Utah, my whole life except for a stint in California that I don’t remember on account of being an infant. I’ve lived in various places through out the state, north and south, cold and warm.

When I was small I really didn’t like to read very much. I was more of a tomboy that would run around the neighborhood and get into trouble. It wasn’t until 6th grade that I got really into reading with the baby-sitters club books. I read 100 of those things before I got tired of them. I look back and think I was psycho now. Eh, at least I was reading. So, yeah I became addicted to reading in middle school and high school, I always was working my way through a book. Still am always working my way through a book, or several books at one time.

My mom got me started on LDS fiction with the Work and the Glory series and after that I read lots of LDS fiction. Anything I could get my hands on, or that my mom would buy for me, and she was really generous with book money. I guess my addiction to YA probably arouse out of my fanaticism with Harry Potter. It is weird to think I’m not that interested in the series now that it is ended, because I loved it for so long. So, yeah, Harry Potter lead me to read other works in the age group, and I really enjoy Y.A. fiction.

While living in Provo I attended BYU and double majored in History and Latin teaching, and met my Husband. We both were part of a fantasy and sci-fi writing group in the club Quark. We became fast friends in our freshman year, and then he went on a mission, not knowing that I was seriously in love with him. So, I wrote him letters for two years, and when he returned we dated, discovered we really were a good match for each other and got married a year later in 2007.

Outside of my reading obsession I really love to write. I was in the Quark writing group for five years. (I think I should get an award for being the longest consistently attending member, cause I was.) Being in the writing group helped me to look at writing with a critical eye, which helped with my own writing, and probably lead directly to this blog being formed.

I also love to quilt and sew, and finally have my sewing machine out of storage and so I occasionally work on projects.

I do a lot of cooking because the hubby can’t at all. (not joking) I really enjoy it though. I’m usually cooking a new recipe at least once a week, and find it satisfying that I have a natural knack for it.

I like Latin, a lot. I like to play the piano, but don’t currently have one in my apartment. So sad. I also like to travel, but haven’t gone anywhere cool for a while, but I have been to England, Italy, Israel, Mexico, Canada, and all over the East Coast of the United States. Traveling is one of my mother’s hobbies so I have her to thank for most of these experiences.

Policy, Purpose & FAQ


Alright, friends, I suppose it is good to state my review policy.

I love to participate in blog tours, author interviews, and reading ARCs and have done so several times in the past, and enjoyed it. I encourage you to contact me if you are interested in me participating in promotional activities for your novels, but before you do please read the following:

1. I like Y.A. and LDS Fiction, though I don’t mind reading something different every once in a while. The reason I like these areas of fiction is because I refuse to read graphic sex-scenes, extreme swearing (I don’t mind a few swear-words), and other offensive or graphic material.

2. Sorry to self-publishers, but in general I probably won’t be interested in your book. I may be interested in LDS themed books that couldn’t find a place in the market for some reason or the other. I like to champion obscure works when I feel they merit it. Please, heed the caution number one above, and keep in mind that I am a conservative reader.

3. I am open to e-book ARCs. Though, they won’t get reviewed as fast unless you give me a general time period within which you wish me to post the review. (Giving me a time period is perfectly acceptable, though please give me at least one week.)

4. In general, I don’t like romance novels. I do enjoy books with romance in them though. To be more specific I don’t like books that have the romance as the main plot. But I like many books that have romance as a sub or side plot. They must follow rule number one though.

5. Don’t send me books that have rape, sexual abuse, or child abuse in them. I really hate these themes, and feel they are seriously exploited and sensationalized in fiction and media today in insensitive and offensive ways.

Or why I decided to start this blog.

1. It is hard to find good LDS book reviews, though that is less true now than it once was. My links include some good sources to LDS book reviews. In addition, I hear the complaint all the time that LDS fiction sucks. I want to prove that wrong in some measure, and point out the good books in the market. I recognize that there are still a few bombs in LDS fiction, and if I read one I want to let readers know about it so there are less people picking up one book and calling the whole market a pile of trash, because it is simply not true.

2. I probably shouldn’t admit this, because it will open myself up to hate mail probably. I like to write, and would like to be published one day. I’ve participated in a writing group for a long time, and have attended writing conferences, and completed two novels. So, this blog gives me a way to look at writing critically, and thereby increase my own skill at the craft.
I really don’t want to come across as being a person who thinks they could have written the book better, or is superior and all that junk. My novels are not publishable, and really do stink in a lot of ways. I’m not an English Major, nor a grammar snob/nazi. I don’t pay attention that much to typos. I focus more on characterization, plot, and larger issues at play in a book.

3. I love love love books! The only thing better than reading a really great book is sharing a really great book with someone else. I get to know the people in my life and when I learn what they like to read offer up books. My husband has discovered lots of new series this way. (Mistborn, Temeraire Series, Pendragon, Percy Jackson)


Where do you get your books?

90% or more of my books come from the library. The BYU HBLL has a huge collection of LDS fiction, and so I get most LDS books there. They also have an awesome children’s section, and so I get a lot of YA books there. I also buy a few, and a win a few in contests here and there on the web. I also get several from authors themselves. Sadly, I will move soon, and BYU library will no longer be available to me. Sniff.

How do you define LDS Fiction?

For the purposes of the blog I define an LDS novel as a book that is published by an LDS publisher intended for a Mormon audience. I know this isn’t a perfect formula, but it basically works. Lots of LDS authors publish with national publishers, and unless these books are overly LDS I don’t label them as LDS fiction.