Tag Archives: A Song of Ice and Fire

Challenge Update, July 2019

1 Aug

Another great month for audiobooks! I’m glad something good came out of my crazy fitness endeavors. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in July:

Being Mortal // Atul Gawande (4/5)
Ajax Penumbra 1969 // Robin Sloan (4/5)
The Golden Rules // Bob Bowman (3/5)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius // Dave Eggers (2/5)
A Storm of Swords // George R.R. Martin (5/5)
Good Morning, Midnight // Lily Brooks-Dalton (3/5)

Eggers slowed down my physical book progress a bit. I really slugged through that one. And Martin was a big win for my car-audio. I’m glad to call that one ‘finished’ finally! Overall, a good haul for the month.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

9/12
Another one bites the dust! Since the A Song of Ice and Fire series is based on the factual War of the Roses, I decided to count the book in the time period that the war happened which means A Storm of Swords fulfills the 1300-1499 time period. If you want to, you can fight me. But it’s my challenge so I made up the rules so good luck. None of the books I’m reading now will fit the periods I have left so it might be time to start getting strategic.

Goodreads Challenge

37/52
Killing it! I’m feeling great on this one and I’m really far ahead of schedule. Even the long audiobook didn’t bring me down so I’m happy to be confident in this one. Maybe I can bring my goal back up next year. You never know.

 

Book of the Month

Limiting it to this month seems wrong because I worked on it for so long, but I’m giving the title to A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. This was my favorite of the series so far and it feels like such an accomplishment just to have finished it.

Added to my TBR

It’s finally coming down again! I’m down a total of six books this month to 71. I know I’ll have a book club season role in here soon that will bring it back up, but I’ll enjoy this while it lasts. What’s even more amazing is that I didn’t add anything to my TBR this month. Yes, I am feeling alright, don’t worry!

Personal Challenge

I’m gearing up again to track personal goals here. This is a great way to keep me accountable and to tell you about me outside the wide world of books.

  • Finish 70.3 Half Ironman: DONE! I’ll do a full post on this at the end of the month but it went wonderfully, better than I could have expected. And no, it didn’t change my mind about doing another one. Never again.
  • Attend six weddings: We’re at the halfway point. Three down, three to go. One in August and two in October. I think we only have one more gift to buy so we’re well on our way!
  • Finish a weather blanket: I started getting caught up on this last week so I’ll be up to date pretty soon. I’m in mid-July right now, not too far off!
  • Write: I’m rededicating myself to this. With the time I’m not spending training, I can spend more writing. August is my rededication month so I’ll be beginning next week. My goal is a minimum of two hours a week and I hope for more.
  • See my friends more: Up and down. I had a friend reach out to me after my race so I got to see her and it was lovely. I have some fun adventures with friends happening soon that I’ve been planning for a while. So yes for planned trips/parties, but no a lot spontaneously. A mixed bag.

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re off to a good start If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2019, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Book Review: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

30 Jul

It took me three months to listen to this audiobook. For context, it’s 39 disks long. A normal book is around 10, long books are 15. This was 39. I believe it was over 50 hours of audio. I had to get a librarian to change my due date twice because I’d run out of holds. It felt so good to finally finish this book!

Cover image via Goodreads

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3) by George R.R. Martin

Other books by Martin reviewed on this blog:

A Game of Thrones (#1)
A Clash of Kings (#2)

Summary from Goodreads:

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces manoeuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords.

This book really took off. I looked at my ratings of the first two books (4 and 3 stars) and I’m surprised because this one was such a winner and I don’t remember disliking the first two. Maybe I’m going nuts. I was swept away with the story in book three. A lot of my favorite moments from several seasons of the show ended up in this book and the clash of them all together was very enjoyable. Each character is killing it and I’m liking the pacing a lot. Overall, I can’t wait to read book four. I’ve just got to carve out the time.

Martin builds amazing characters. As before, Tyrion is a favorite and I adore how he’s evolved in this book. Sansa is starting to become more likable and Arya is starting to feel less whiney. Most importantly, I’m starting to like Jaime. This book shows Martin’s amazing ability to build characters and I’m loving where it’s going.

Tyrion is again my favorite. I love how he appears to be evil and mean but it’s clearly a result of how his sister and father have treated him his entire life. I think his relationship with Jaime really shows a lot about him and in this book in particular. Jaime’s loyalty is very divided between the woman he loves and his brother when the two of them are at each other’s throats for most of the book. I think the brothers’ bond will be explored more as this goes forward, more so than the show did. I also loved the development of Tyrion’s first wife that we don’t get in the show. I won’t spoil it here, but I felt it showed a lot about Jaime that he told Tyrion the truth.

I can’t say I’ve been in situations like many of the characters in the story and that’s part of what makes it such a wonderful escapist pastime. The way they react in situations makes me think ‘I’d never do that’ or ‘I can see where they’re coming from,’ but their situations are not at all familiar to me.

George RR Martin
Image via GeorgeRRMartin.com

Arya and the Hound’s time together was my favorite of the book. I enjoyed the relationship they developed and being inside Arya’s head and hearing how she felt about Sandor and how that changed was really fun for me. She hated him but relied on him. She wanted to kill him but also wanted him to stay alive. I liked how she dealt with those mixed emotions and I think she grew a lot because of it.

There wasn’t a part of this book I disliked. I think it was all amazingly done and I really look forward to the next one now that Martin has kicked it into high gear.

Roy Dotrice was an amazing narrator yet again. I’m going to miss his voice when we finally get to books he couldn’t narrate. He does an incredible job with the mix of characters and the delivery of certain lines with deep emotion. He’s so talented and deserves the recognition he’s gotten for his performances.

There was a lot of loss and revenge in this book. Loss mostly from death but also other ways. Jaime’s loss comes to mind. Sansa is dealing with a loss of freedom. Revenge from Theon and Tyrion are prominent and the way the Northmen and outlaws are rebelling plays a large role in the balance of power in the realm. Revenge is often dark but we see how it can be so sweet in some of these cases.

Writer’s Takeaway: You rarely get a book as long as this one and it doesn’t drag at all. There wasn’t a down moment in this book, it kept rocketing ahead and I loved it. Martin does a good job of building to high points before switching to another character. This is something I’m trying to work into my re-write on my book which also uses multiple points of view. It’s great to see how it can be done well.

A great job and a middle book with no lag! A full Five out of Five stars.

This book counts toward the 1300-1499 period (assuming it parallels the War of the Roses) for the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Review: A Storm of Swords | literaryelephant
A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin | Lighthearted Librarian’s Website
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3) by George RR Martin | loudbookishtype

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 2

8 Sep
Image via Atlanta Black Star

Image via Atlanta Black Star

I’m really starting to understand this obsession with Game of Thrones. My husband and I flew through season 2 and upon writing this, we’ve watched the first three episodes of season 3… in one day. We’ll probably watch one more before we go to bed tonight.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

 

The Red Lady. In the book, I loved the descriptions of Melisandre. She was cunning and beautiful and terrifying. I thought the TV show did a great job of bringing her character to life. I thought she was crazy, to be sure, but I understand why Stannis is so taken with her and her powers. Kudos.

The Tyrells. I will admit I didn’t understand the importance of the Tyrells when I read the book. I didn’t realize Margaery and Loras were siblings and I didn’t understand that Joffrey’s new wife was Renly’s old one. Seeing the actress (and I love Natalie Dormer) helped me make the connections. Also, Googling characters so I spell their names right here is ruining the series for me. I’m going to have to stop writing these.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Pushing back the Reeds. I was nervous at the end of season 2 when the Reed siblings hadn’t shown up. As I said, I’m now a little into season three and I’m relieved they showed up. I get why they were pushed back. There was a lot to convey in the last few episodes of the season and introducing more characters doesn’t make it any easier.

Robb’s wife. I’m either completely blanking or this was added to the show. I don’t remember Robb taking a wife though there might have been some kind of a flirtation? I don’t recall, really. Anyway, seeing him with a woman has helped humanize him. I think he was very much the warrior in the book and he felt kind of cold.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Sansa’s escape. In the novel, Ser Dontos was trying to help Sansa escape for the better part of the novel. Though, he didn’t seem to be making much progress or really doing anything to help. The quick remark by the hound about helping her get out was a lot less convincing than Dontos had been. I don’t get why this was taken out.

Things That Changed Too Much

The House of the Undying. I was so upset. I waited the whole season for this because it was one of my favorite parts of the book. Daenerys had to use her wits and figure out the puzzle of the house rather than escape a trap, which is how it felt to me in the book. It was such a drawn out ordeal with so many intricacies and I loved it in the book. The show made it a quick ordeal in my mind and I was really let down.

I’m beyond what I’ve read now so I won’t be posting these for other seasons. I’m looking forward to not knowing what comes next. Is there any dissenting opinion? Do you all like the TV adaptation of A Game of Thrones?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 1

25 Aug
Image via Access Hollywood

Image via Access Hollywood

So yes, I caved. I read the first two books of the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ series but then I couldn’t do it anymore. They were too long for me and enough out of my genre that I couldn’t keep my interest held the whole time. I caved and watched Season 1. I watched the whole thing with my husband in about a week. Yes, it’s safe to say I’m impressed.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

How close this was to the books. I was really shocked that it was so similar. I kept waiting for something obvious to have changed, but there wasn’t anything. I’m glad Martin insisted on waiting until his books could be done as a TV series, they did them justice.

Dothraki language. I watched the extra features on the DVD that went deeper into this. The language creation and how the actors learned to speak it fascinates me. I was a Spanish language major in school so I find linguistics fascinating. I have so much respect for the man who put it together. Kudos.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Less focus on the maesters and septas. While some of these characters serve important roles, to be sure, I felt that there was too much detail placed on them in the books. Maybe it’s coming in future installments, but I got them all mixed up in the book and found that focusing less on them (especially those who didn’t make it, cough) was better for me.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Tyrion in the battles. Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought Tyrion was more involved in the battles with Tywin toward the end. I wanted to see him fight on his pony but had to settle for him being knocked unconscious. I remember him being very involved in battles in the second book/season so maybe they’re running together in my mind.

 

Things That Changed Too Much

 

All the extra sex. It was a bit too much for me. It seems obvious this was to make it more ‘appealing’ on TV, but the books were risqué enough without adding more. There was too much focus on the whore houses in my opinion.

I’ve already started Season 2. I’m really enjoying this now. Is there any dissenting opinion? Do you all like the TV adaptation of A Game of Thrones?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martian (3/5)

16 May

I’m slowly buying into this trend. Slowly. I still haven’t seen the shows and I don’t think I’ll jump on the third book anytime soon. This isn’t my genre but the characters are great and that kind of makes up for it. Sorry for any big fans, you can’t please everyone!

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (Book #2 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series)

Also reviewed on this blog: A Game of Thrones (Book #1 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series)

Summary from Goodreads:

Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over an age of enforced peace are dead…victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard’s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King’s Landing. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

I read this book over a three-month period when I would have and lose the audiobook for it. I think that detracted from my enjoyment a lot. I would lose track of what was happening to characters, especially the more minor characters like Theon and Davos. I wished there were more about Dani because she was one of my favorite characters from the first book, but she didn’t have as big of a role in this book. I know she’ll come into play in a large fashion but it will be a while first.  Oh well. I found this book slower than the first and harder to enjoy because of it. Maybe it was my pace, but it was hard for me to get into it.

Martin’s characters are what I love most about this series. The women are smart and the men are cunning. I like the play of magic and strength for power. I think there are a few too many characters, though, and it would be easier if we didn’t have to follow so many plot lines to stay with the story. There was never a time I remember thinking ‘WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?’ about a character. They were all motivated well, even the ones you didn’t agree with (Theon).

Tyrion was my favorite character. We saw a softer side of him with Shay this book and I liked that, though he had to be even more cunning than before as Cerci tightens her grasp on the crown. Because my other favorite characters are the Starks, I feel like I should really dislike Tyrion, but he’s so well written and he has so many good one-liners that it’s hard to dislike him.

I related to Catelyn, Sansa, and Arya in different ways. I related to Catelyn’s loss of control. I’m at a point in my life when I’m in over my head and I don’t feel like there’s a lot I can control going on around me. Sansa’s fear of being her true self reminds me of high school when I (and I’m sure many others) felt like I had to play the part another friend (Cerci) wanted me to, even if I didn’t like it. And I related to Arya’s resilience. That was one thing that stood out to me in this story. No matter how much hardship was thrown at Arya, she always found a way to get through it and survive. She’s very admirable for that and I think anyone who’s had to tough out a bad situation can relate to her.

George RR Martin Image via GeorgeRRMartin.com

George RR Martin
Image via GeorgeRRMartin.com

I thought Dani visiting the ghosts was a great scene. It was great that her dragons went with her on the quest and she was so smart in how she approached each of the puzzles. Martin had great imagery in this scene and I was able to picture the complicated setting with clarity. It was a bit more magical than I’m used to, but it was really fun to see what happened.

I’m not a fan of war and battles so the battle at King’s Landing was a big dull for me. Luckily I was in the middle of a seven mile run so I toughed through it! It felt drawn out to me, reminding me of the Battle of Helms Deep in the Lord of the Rings. I felt that could have been faster, too. I’m not a war person.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Roy Dotrice, the same narrator from the first audiobook. I still stand that he’s my favorite narrator I’ve listened to. He does an amazing job with voices for the minor and major characters. I never get confused about who is talking. He works in the mannerisms of each character, something I rarely hear in audio and I greatly enjoyed. Him narrating could get me to listen to the third sooner than expected.

A lot of the characters in this book had to be self-reliant. Arya, in particular, can’t trust anyone around her and I think the same can be argued  for Sansa and all the contenders for the throne. I have a feeling this will come into play later in the series when everyone will have to trust each other and count on one another to succeed but that’s just my conjecture. We’ll see how it goes.

Writer’s Takeaway: The build-up on this one was rough. A lot of you have said the third one is great and totally worth it, but I’m dragging a bit with this series overall. I need some big event to take place and the battle at King’s Landing didn’t do that for me. It didn’t affect the characters I cared about very much and I’m reading for something new.

Well written, yet again, but not for me. Three out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Review: A Clash of Kings | The Literary Omnivore
A Clash of Kings: Book Two of A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), George R. R, Martin (HarpurCollins, 1999){Random House Audio, Narrator: Roy Doltrice) | The Archaeologist’s Guide to the Galaxy.. by Thomas Evans

Book Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (4/5)

9 Jul

I always believe in ‘read it before you watch it.’ Sometimes it’s hard to keep true to that. This is one of those cases. My mom is a huge fan of Martin and has read the whole ASoIaF series and is a big fan of the series. A good friend of mine, Alex, has frequently talked about how good they are. So I wanted to read it. But…. long book. So we turn to my frequent answer to long books: audio!

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Summary from Goodreads:

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

Epic fantasy seems to be an understatement. This book is so vast that some of the characters have never even talked about each other. I have to look up the Wikipedia page to help me remember all the people. But am I invested in their stories? You bet I am! Martin is a great story-teller and while the books are notably long, there’s nothing I would have taken out. I loved every twist and turn and betrayal and reveal.

I’d heard before I started reading that Martin writes strong female characters and I think it’s better to say he writes believable female characters. Catelyn is strong because she’s protecting her family. Dany is strong because she can’t trust anyone to have her best interest in mind. Arya is strong because she’s alone and has to be. They’re all great. Nothing against the men. I really enjoy a lot of the male characters, especially Jon Snow and Tyrion. (Side note, looking at family trees just ruined a surprise for me. Don’t do it!) All of the characters seemed to be really well motivated and realistic. I think this is going to be my favorite thing about Martin.

Dany’s story was my favorite because it confused me the least, but Jon was my favorite character. I think his life is a beautiful tragedy. He lives just on the edge of royalty and privileged yet recognizes he is entitled to nothing and has to work for every scrap he earns in life. And man, does he work hard. I have a lot of respect for him and I love how giving he is. He’s a more doting brother to Arya than Robb and the only friend Samwell has. He’s got a great heart.

I related to Tyrion more than I thought I would. I think he handles his condition with pride and grace and I think he’s a good example for anyone facing adversity of any kind. He’s short, but that doesn’t mean he can’t kill and ride and fight for his life. Scrappy doesn’t seem a good word for him because he’s trained, disciplined, and wickedly smart. It’s a good example of how you can use your brains to outsmart anything and come out on top. I might have bad knees, but I can still train my legs to be strong. Tyrion would appreciate that.

George RR Martin (Is that a turtle on his hat?!) Image via GeorgeRRMartin.com

George RR Martin
(Is that a turtle on his hat?!)
Image via GeorgeRRMartin.com

It’s hard to pick a favorite part of the book. There were scenes I enjoyed more than others, but I can’t say a particular one stands out as my favorite. I did like Martin’s descriptions of the landscapes. He’s created so many unique places and landscapes and his descriptions of them really helped pull me into the world in a way I wouldn’t have been without them. With something so fantastical, it’s good he’s able to use words so effectively.

OK, spoiler here for my least favorite part. So if you haven’t read the books, skip to the next. I was so shocked by Ned’s death that it made me angry. In a way, I saw it coming. But having a narrating character die that early in the story blew me away! I felt betrayed. Ned knew Cersei’s secret and now who is going to reveal the truth about that terrible woman? Ugh, so angry!

My audiobook was narrated by Roy Dotrice. I have never heard such a good narrator before. Dotrice immediately drew me into the story by adding laughs, coughs, and stammers to the characters, something I can’t recall in other narrators. He had distinct voices for the characters and it kept me interested the whole time. I can’t wait to hear him narrated the next book in the series (I looked it up to make sure he does them all!).

Are there positive themes in this book? The characters I thought tried to do the right thing were punished more than those who cheated and stole what they wanted. The Lannisters are on top for most of the book and the Starks are punished for trying to be noble. I will say, the characters are perseverant. No matter the things going on around them, most stick to their guns and continue to believe in what they believe is right and just. Even if I as the reader don’t think Jamie Lannister is worthy of praise, Tyrian does and stands up for him. So I guess the theme is standing up for what you believe is right?

Writer’s Takeaway: The first thing that sticks out to me is length. As a writer, we’re always told to cut things down, make them shorter so they’ll sell. Look at how successful this series is! (Side note, JK Rowling was told the same thing.) Some people want to hear a long story and that’s not bad. The other lesson I’d point out is character development and motivation. Martin gives us narrators from all parts of this web and all seem justified in their cause in their own way. Every villain is the hero of their own story and Martin doesn’t fail to follow this rule.

A really great story though a bit out of my comfort zone. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin Review 5/5 | Becky’s Blog
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin |  Review | Bookish Unicorn