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review 2015-12-12 18:20
Eon by Alison Goodman & The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove

I don't usually write posts about books that I haven't read ALL the way through, but sometimes I think that it's actually helpful to see how your initial impressions match with your whole reading experience. Also, it's helpful to see what a person thinks of the beginning - I mean, will this book capture you from start to finish? Anywho, today I thought that I'd share with you my current reads, Eon by Alison Goodman and The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove.

 

 
Eon by Alison Goodman | Goodreads
Release Date: August 31, 2010 (pb release)
Published by: Firebird (Penguin)
 
Quick, very bare bones summary: a sixteen year old girl masquerading as a twelve year old boy must learn how to control her Dragoneye power in order to save the empire.
 
So, actually, since I filmed that video, I finished reading Eon and its sequel Eona. My original thoughts are much the same. From the very beginning, I felt very captured by the story and its atmosphere. There are so many concrete details about the Chinese & Japanese mythology inspired world; it's easy to feel like you're there with Eon(a). It's more than just building an atmosphere: Kat Kennedy from Cuddlebuggery mentioned the idea of a Cultural Iceberg from Edward T. Hall, and looking at the Iceberg, with no doubt, Eon digs deeper into the water. You understand the religious beliefs, values, notions of self, perceptions, and more. And, as I emphasized in the video, I loved Eon(a) as a character. There are some books where I feel like I'm being very consciously manipulated to like that character - he or she's the one who provides for his/her family; he or she would sacrifice himself/herself to save the younger sibling, etc. This book wasn't one of them. I liked Eon(a) for her personality, for her determination to survive and her cunning. In some sense, she's like Katniss in her pragmatism. But she's also very different because this is a hugely duty and honor bound world, and Eon(a) has been shaped by that. So, in short, from the very beginning, I loved Eon(a) and the world.
 
I still loved them by the end, and wanted to continue onto the sequel, Eona, actually. I read Eona but will try to keep my thoughts focused on Eon. I loved the relationship between Heuris Brannon and Eon. I loved that there was no moralizing; there are so many fantasy novels where because you don't know the cultural values, you immediately pin your own onto that world, and you immediately demonize a character for something we would consider wrong. And that's because there's a HOLE in the world-building; you have to fill it in yourself. But Eon is not like that at all. So, for instance, as Eon's master, Heuris Brannon, beats Eon when Eon doesn't master things as quickly as Brannon wants. Is that wrong? In our world, probably, but in the world imagined by Alison Goodman, it's very much a part of the master/Dragoneye apprentice relationship. It's also similar to how no one is allowed to touch the Heavenly Emperor on threat of death. But, thankfully, because the world is so well-developed, it's not something where we're told GASP GASP that's wrong that he would threaten to kill someone for touching him! Instead we live it beside the character. And so I thought that the Eon/Brannon relationship was really complex. In Eona, that complex relationship is continued with someone else who I won't name (though I'm less a fan of his ending...). In general, Goodman seems to excel at creating a complex world with characters who are very much SHAPED by that world. They could easily have been character tropes: the orphan boy who has risen in fortune; the cross-dressing girl; etc. They're not.


I also really liked how romance was handled in the duology. Since Eon is actually Eona and Eona is pretending to be a 12 year old boy, there's not much opportunity for romance; if Eon did have a romance with someone at 12, it probably would've been a different book. But the relationships between characters are set for the next book, which then allows for a gradual development of the romance. I loved how gender identity was discussed in Eon. There are a lot of books with cross-dressing girls; rarely is it actually discussed why that girl has to hide herself as a boy and the repercussions of that. Here we got to have Eon(a) unpack how her culture treats her differently as a boy vs. girl, and her own biases about what it means to be female, male, etc. And that's especially challenged in some of the side characters: Ryko, a Shadow Man (aka eunuch) who takes steroids that enhance Sun energy (masculinity), and Lady Dela (a twin soul; a man who dresses as a woman and is accepted to be both - probably simplifying this). It's the rare fantasy that actually discusses the cross-dressing instead of using it to make the character seem more "badass" or give the character the opportunity to have traditionally masculine characteristics.

Wow! This is getting to be long. Okay, well, other things I liked: the cinematic feel of the book (there's a reason why Rites of Passage are what we focus on in so many different books - choosing ceremonies and the like - and man, this book doesn't disappoint on the climax and the dragon choosing ceremony and so many other extremely visual scenes) and the side characters and development of the characters (the emperor can't be touched because of rank; actual development of class rank, and how class rank affects each character! and side characters who have their own stories!). I didn't like the ultimate villain (the quickest way to make a villain is to have them hate difference or be cruel, etc. but the most fascinating villains, to me, are the ones most like the protagonist), the Dillon side plot, and how Eon's disability was handled. But otherwise, wow, I read those books so quickly and just ATE THEM UP.

The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove | Goodreads
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Published by: Viking

You can read my review of The Glass Sentence (book 1) here. You can also read my discussion of Sophia (main character) as a great heroine to follow.

I'm reading this along with Mel at The Daily Prophecy. I've stopped at around page 85. If you haven't read book 1, The Glass Sentence, it's based on the premise of The Great Disruption, a worldwide event that slid the different continents into different ages. We're following Sophia, who lives in New Occident (sort of New England) in the nineteenth century with her explorer uncle, Shadrack, because her parents went on an expedition and never return. Shadrack is kidnapped in The Glass Sentence, and Sophia goes searching after him. In The Golden Specific, Sophia is searching for her parents.

First off, just as Eon had AWESOME world-building and definitely fulfilled the Cultural Iceberg premise, so does The Glass Sentence/The Golden Specific world. SO MANY INVENTIVE DETAILS. For instance, S.E. Grove has created this religion called Nihilimanism (sp.?). Believers think that the world which Sophia and co. live in is the Age of Delusion, and they are trying to restore the Age of Verity, the time from before The Great Disruption. So much love for that creation. In general, I love Grove's discussion of different religions and different ways in which people cope with this HUGE event, and I love how she develops the cultures of each individual place.

I love the characters. Sophia is this wonderful, determined heroine who is often left by herself because the adults around her are dealing with other things or have to work late nights (in The Golden Specific, the latter is true). It actually feels realistic - it's not parents being neglectful, more that jobs can be really demanding and sometimes there isn't time for the kids. So Sophia is forced to be resourceful. The character relationships established from The Glass Sentence are really getting developed in this second book, and the inventive details also apply to the characters. For instance, there's this fixation on a potential villain as having REALLY WHITE TEETH. Has anyone ever seen the episode in Friends with Ross and his white teeth? It's this small detail, yet it's also again something that I think a lot of people would relate to. Teeth can totally creep people out. I don't even know the full details behind the teeth at page 85, and I'm creeped out.

In short, The Golden Specific is promising to be every bit as awesome as its predecessor, The Golden Sentence.

What are you all currently reading? Have you read either of these books? Would love to discuss!

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review 2014-08-06 00:00
Eona: The Last Dragoneye
Eona: The Last Dragoneye - Alison Goodman Absolutely loved these books! The sequel was even better than the first book, and that one was already amazing. It's rare that I love everything about a book from beginning to end, especially YA novels. Alison Goodman showed that even overused tropes, such as love triangles, can be exciting and likable.
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review 2014-03-12 21:36
Eona: Return of the Dragoneye - Alison Goodman

What an amazing, fantastical, gut wrenching end to this duology.  I loved it!  I think the first book is better of the two but I gave this five stars just because Alison Goodman doesn't disappoint me or let this story that I'm very much invested in go to the dogs.   She develops (and nurtures) Eona into this magnificent warrior and young lady.  The pacing felt a little inconsistent in the first half but the second half is a page turner and I couldn't finish it fast enough.  The romance that wasn't really there in the first book, heats up and I have to say I too struggled with the lovelines.  The only thing that really irked me was all the deception but then in the book's defence this has been a running theme from the beginning - I couldn't say I wasn't forewarned. 

Highly recommended series. 

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2013-10-18 00:25
[Day 17 of Book Challenge] Your favourite quote
Mine Till Midnight - Lisa Kleypas
Devil in Winter - Lisa Kleypas
Blue-Eyed Devil (Travises, #2) - Lisa Kleypas
Magic Strikes - Ilona Andrews
Magic Bleeds - Ilona Andrews
Angelfall - Susan Ee
The Eternity Cure - Julie Kagawa
Eona - Alison Goodman

I think I am going to put it all behind a cut. There will be spoiler ahoy for books if you want to get spoil then go ahead and click on the cut.

 

Mine till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

 

“You’re not like any man I’ve ever known,” she said. “You’re not even someone I could have dreamed. You’re like someone from a fairy story written in a language I don’t even know.” 

“The prince, I hope.” 

“No, you’re the dragon, a beautiful wicked dragon.” Her voice turned wistful. “How could anyone have a normal everyday life with you?” Cam took her in a safe, firm grip and lowered her to the mattress. “Maybe you’ll be a civilizing influence on me.” He bent over the slope of her breast, kissing it through the muslin veil of her gown. “Or maybe you’ll get a taste for the dragon.” He found the bud of her nipple, wet the cotton with his mouth, until the tender flesh pricked up against his tongue. 

“I th-think I already have.” She sounded so perturbed that he laughed. “Then lie still,” he whispered, “while I breathe fire on you.” 

 

(Cam to Amelia)

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text 2013-10-17 02:12
[Day 16 of Book Challenge] You favourite female character or A.K.A. Your Girl Crush
The Immortal Rules - Julie Kagawa
Magic Bites - Ilona Andrews
Naked in Death - J.D. Robb
Married By Morning - Lisa Kleypas
Mine Till Midnight - Lisa Kleypas
Angelfall - Susan Ee
Eona Reprint Edition by Goodman, Alison [2012] - Alison Goodman
Devil in Winter - Lisa Kleypas

Funnily enough I don't have nearly as many favourite female characters as I do male ones. Is it because I seek out particularly strong or ruthless females to like and soft ones I like but never truly get to love? Perhaps I just answered myself.

 

Allison Sekemoto in Blood of Eden Series by Julie Kagawa, Allison is a strong, ruthless character who will anything and everything to survive including becoming the very thing she hates the most. A vampire. She confronts the world she lives in with such a practical and cold manner you can't help but be in awe when she faces situation most people would crumble under.

 

Ekaterina "Kate" Daniels in the Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews, Kate is a ruthless, at times bloodthirsty, character who is a skill assassin with a cool head on her shoulders. She kills with no compunction, stares death in the eye and does not blink but makes it pee in its pants and gets together with a guy who is even scarier than she is, and Kate is darn scary folks. 

 

Penryn Young in Angelfall by Susan Ee, Penryn is thrown into a post apocalyptic world with gangs and killer angels stalking the street of the city she lives in. She survives by sheer strength of will and does not flinch in doing what is necessary even when such a thing is unthinkable. Like saving the life of her enemy to get her sister back or killing a murdering angel in cold blood to save herself and her sister. She faces the adversities to life with the kind of unflinching strength that is remarkable.

 

Eona in the Eon Series by Alison Goodman, Eona is a girl pretending to be a boy in a patriarchal society that looks down on her gender and brutalizes and subjugates it. It is a big theme of the book for Eona to stop denying her womanhood and fully embracing it as that is the source of all her magical powers. Book 2 in the series is especially good as she comes to embrace her powers and becomes the most powerful woman in the land.

 

Eve Dallas in the In Death Series by J. D. Robb, Eve is a New York police lieutenant who hunts down cold blooded killers. Her no nonsense approach to life and emotions is particularly appealing to me as we see so very few cold blooded women in fiction. Often times the mothering female is the epitome of womanhood and the cold, calculating ones get the shaft. I must say I am really enjoying peeling away at the layers of her character and getting to know her slowly in each installment.

 

Amelia Hathaway in Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas, Amelia is a practical young woman who is labelled a spinster because of the conventions of her time. I like her because she takes this offensive label and starts beating people over the head with it. She takes charge of her sibling when her brother goes off the deep end with grief, is opinionated and headstrong and terribly likable and funny at times. She gets seduce and ensnared into marriage by Cam but really who can blame her when a hot guy like that is seducing you?

 

Catherine Marks in Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas, Cat is a strait laced woman, I liked how she didn't believe everything she was told, how she questioned everything and tried to choose what was best for her. I liked how she handled her man and was touch by her vulnerabilities.

 

Evangeline "Evie" Jenner, later on Lady St. Vincent, in Devil In Winter by Lisa Kleypas, Evie is a strong girl, shy and soft spoken but with a core or steel. Once she makes up her mind about something no power on Earth can dissuade her. She makes up her mind that she wants to be with her mortally ill father and knows that for her to succeed she must come out from under her families thumb. The only solution? Marriage to a scoundrel who will anything and everything to keep her away from them for her inheritance. Her unflinching and bold proposition to Sebastian is awe inspiring, she corners him in his home at a late hour and proposes they marry, he gets her money and she gets her freedom. I really liked how when Sebastian tries to bully her she stands her ground and does not let him get his way. She is also a sweet girl, understanding and kind. You can't help but love her.

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