August 30, 2013

A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

Things can change quickly in the game of thrones.
-from A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5

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It's bittersweet to post this review because it means that Ice and Fire August is coming to a close at The Book Barn and I'm finished reading all 5 published installments of George R. R. Martin's epic series. I'm really excited to have time to read other things and do other things, but I'm also going to miss reading about these characters daily so much! I've also made so many new blogging friends through this series because clearly it has affected a LOT of people (readers and television watchers alike!).

Fortunately at least two more books have still yet to be published in this series, because unfortunately I didn't feel like this book ended the month with a bang as I was hoping it would. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, and I know that this book was a favorite for many of you; however, it fell a little flat for me, similarly to A Feast for Crows (aka AFFC). While I feel like the details are what make this series so incredible in many ways, there may have been too much detail in AFFC and A Dance with Dragons, to the point where the story didn't move forward as quickly as I expected (and needed!). I wish Martin would have compacted both of these books and made them work as one unit as originally intended. I have absolutely no idea how he would have done this (*cough*cut out the Greyjoys*cough* lol), but many of the newer characters still did not resonate with me as a reader.

Now, don't get too angry with me, but I was especially disappointed with Dany's storyline; I felt like she did nothing but spin her wheels in this book!! I'm sure if I look deeper there's some great, powerful explication on her need for stability, to stop moving, her fears and doubts. But as a reader, I wanted action! I wanted Dany to keep moving forward and keep stringing bells in her hair! I need to keep reminding myself how young she is and how vulnerable she is, but I also have confidence in her as a reader and want to cheer her on. I really wish I could go into better depth on Dany, but I don't want to spoil anything at all for those of you who haven't yet read this book.

As I mentioned in my review for AFFC, even the worst George R. R. Martin book is still probably the best of 100 books chosen at random. While I didn't connect with this story as deep as books 1-3 in the series, I still enjoyed the experience of reading tremendously and loved the characters. It was exciting to follow Tyrion's story and some of the new characters were especially promising to meet (like, REALLY exciting to meet. I can't stress that but I can't say more). After reading this book, I am also excited to read theories about the future of the series without being spoiled. The beauty of Martin's writing is that you can never anticipate what is going to happen next. This epic tale is truly an adventure to read and discover, and I hope that I won't have to wait long for the sixth installment, The Winds of Winter! I really don't know how fans who started reading this series in 1996 have survived all of the time between publications!

Bottom Line: Not as great as books 1 through 3, but I enjoyed this one a little bit more than A Feast for Crows. A must read for anyone who has already started the series!  4/5 stars

P.S. I know fan fiction is seriously looked down upon and I haven't looked into any since high school, but I must say, I am addicted to No Featherbed For Me ... Arya and Gendry FOREVER! ;)

August 26, 2013

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon Wrap Up

Bout of Books

Read-A-Thon Goal: to read at least 100 pages of A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin (hardback edition) each day in order to finish by the end of the read-a-thon. When I started the read-a-thon I had 683 pages left in the book. I also added a goal to read Rob Sheffield's Love is a Mix Tape, but figured there was no way I would even be able to start it!

I'm happy to report that I finished A Dance with Dragons and started Love is a Mix Tape!! I did not finish Love is a Mix Tape, because my incredible boyfriend bought us Disneyland annual passes on Friday night, so I was a little bit too distracted to read after meeting my main goal! ;)

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I really don't know what to do with myself now that I'm not listening to any of the Ice and Fire books by GRRM! I guess I'm in the same boat as the rest of you now, waiting for The Winds of Winter to hurry up and be published!!

What did you read last week? Did you meet your reading goals?

This Friday I'll be sharing my review for A Dance with Dragons, I hope you'll come read it!

This week I'll be finishing Love is a Mix Tape, and probably starting One Summer by David Baldacci.

Happy reading!!

August 23, 2013

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon Update #3

Bout of Books

Read-A-Thon Goal: to read at least 100 pages of A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin (hardback edition) each day in order to finish by the end of the read-a-thon. When I started the read-a-thon I had 683 pages left in the book.

          Wednesday's Reading: 120 pages

          Thursday's Reading: 148 pages

          Total pages read: 622!

I have exceeded my page goal every day this week which means I only have 61 pages left, so I'm definitely going to be able to finish the book today!! Sweeeeet!
          Friday afternoon update:  I have finished A Dance with Dragons!! YAY!! I am so happy!!

To celebrate, I'm participating in the Bookish Mad Libs Challenge by The Space Between

A. Place name (from a book title) : Azkaban (from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
B. Fave Villain (from a book - list title/series) : Lord Voldemort
C. Adjective (from a book title) white (from White Oleander)
D. Number (from a book title) five (from The Five People You Meet in Heaven)
E. Noun (from a book title) dragons (from A Dance with Dragons)
F. Fave Hero/Heroine (from a book - list title/series) Katniss (from The Hunger Games)
G. Dessert (from a book title) cookie (from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie)


If you're going to participate in this Mad Lib, don't look below before you choose your words! ;)


Help! I'm being held captive in Azkaban by Lord Voldemort!
It is very white here!
He is demanding five dragons to set me free!
I have just discovered that Katniss was captured too!
On second thought, please send cookies, and don't worry if you don't hear from us for awhile!

Much Love,

:) Happy reading!

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

How much can a crown be worth, when a crow can dine upon a king?
-from A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4

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 Please note: this review contains spoilers for A Song of Ice and Fire Books 1-3

George R. R. Martin continues his epic tale of war for the Iron Throne in A Feast for Crows, the fourth book in his series A Song of Ice and Fire. This book and its sequel, A Dance With Dragons (book 5), actually take place over the same span of time; A Feast for Crows follows the story mainly of those at or related to King's Landing. As war continues throughout the realm of Westeros, new characters are introduced who vie for the right of King of the Seven Kingdoms. The most important new characters include the Greyjoys and the Martells of Dorne. While Martin continues to weave an intricate web of stories replete with ulterior motives and deceit, this book falls a little flat compared to the previous installments.

I think the biggest disconnect for me with this book is the overabundance of new characters that I didn't have any connection to. I feel like Martin killed off the heart of the story in A Storm of Swords and did little to repair the brokenness I had as a reader. Perhaps it was that I failed to trust Martin and therefore didn't want to get to know the Greyjoys and Martells; I have surely learned that GRRM does not have any desire to make me feel warm and fuzzy inside with happy reunions, so why grow attached to new characters? Sure, there were entertaining twists and turns, subtle nuances that kept me on my toes and interesting perspectives from new characters, but overall the lifeline of love I had for the first 3 books was hit or miss this read.

Speaking of interesting perspectives from new characters, the best part of this edition was definitely the point of view of Cersei, everyone's favorite evil queen. Getting a glimpse into Cersei's mind helps the reader gain insight as to why she's so crazy and what motivates her to be so evil. I gained a lot of empathy for her by learning her back story and the emotions she felt that drove her toward her actions. Similarly, I really enjoyed Jaime's continued chapter point of views; both are testaments to how incredible George R. R. Martin is at developing complex characters that jump off the page. I am constantly amazed by how transparency and realness of every character Martin creates.

Clearly you can't read this far into the series without continuing on, just don't be surprised when there is less life in this book as the previous three. I still gave this book four stars because the worst book by George R. R. Martin is still the best book out of a group of 100 at random, in my opinion at least! The best way I got through this book was with audiobooks, which I never thought I would be able to listen to. But this helped my southern California commute tremendously. Overall, not my favorite book in the series, but worth the read for Cersei alone!

Bottom Line: You can't stop reading the series just because this book is often referred to as "The Ugly Stepchild of A Song of Ice and Fire". It definitely isn't as intense of a read as the first three books in the series, but take your time and read this one anyway. It's worth it in the end! 4/5 Stars.

Next week's book is A Dance of Dragons by George R.R. Martin

August 21, 2013

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon Update #2 & A Challenge

Bout of Books

Read-A-Thon Goal: to read at least 100 pages of A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin (hardback edition) each day in order to finish by the end of the read-a-thon. When I started the read-a-thon I had 683 pages left in the book.

Tuesday's Reading: 119 pages, goal exceeded!

Total pages read: 354! YAY!

I'm so happy that I exceeded my goal today because it gives me a little bit of a buffer for the rest of the week if I don't meet my daily goals. I'm also excited to have finally gotten to some chapter point-of-views of characters from A Feast for Crows!

Musings of a Bookshop Girl is hosting a Bout of Books Read-a-Thon Challenge today:

1. Which 5 books are at the top of your To Be Read pile at the moment? 

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Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield, Legend by Marie Lu, Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman, Emma by Jane Austen (re-read), All the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue

2. If I gave you a wad of cash and sent you into the bookshop right now, which 5 books would you buy to add to the stack? 

 (Assuming I can't choose to-be-published books like Allegiant, The One, and She Has Your Eyes...)

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The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling), Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, The Siren by Kiera Cass, Cinder by Marissa Meyer

How would you answer these questions? 
(Feel free to post the link to your challenge post)

August 20, 2013

Read-a-Thon Reading Update #1

Bout of Books

I am sincerely aiming to finish reading A Dance with Dragons by the end of the week, so I'm really using this read-a-thon to keep me on track! I ended up splitting the balance of my book to give myself page milestones each day and that is helping me measure my reading better than calculating hours; although, I think I'm coming close to my 6 hour daily goal so far. My daily page goal is approximately 100 pages each day, which may not sound like a lot, but it's the hardback edition and this book is about 50%  larger than my head.

To kickoff the read-a-thon, I read 128 pages this weekend and 107 pages on Monday. It doesn't sound like much, but I swear if you saw this book you would understand it translates to at least 300 normal pages haha! ;) I'm on target right now to finish on Friday, but tonight I'm going to an Angels baseball game and can't guarantee I'll fit much reading in tonight (unless I read at the game, but I'd probably get some major dirty looks!).

What have you been reading this week? Do you prefer hardback or paperback books, why?

August 16, 2013

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

The truth is all around you, plain to behold. The night is dark and full of terrors, the day bright and beautiful and full of hope. One is black, the other white. There is ice and there is fire. Hate and love. Bitter and sweet. Male and female. Pain and pleasure. Winter and summer. Evil and good. [...] Death and life. Everywhere, opposites. Everywhere, the war. 
-from A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3

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Can I give this book six stars? Because I really would if I could! George R. R. Martin continues to weave the story of the seven kingdoms of Westeros and beyond in A Storm of Swords, and thus far this is the most jaw dropping book in the series.This installment is that which inspired season 3 of the show, the season that recently left my Facebook and Twitter feed absolutely abuzz with disbelief over things that happen. Let me warn you: do not allow yourself to be spoiled! I was fortunate to have my dear friend Taylore reminding me almost daily not to go trolling through the internet for anything Game of Thrones related. As always, my book reviews remain spoiler-free, so you are free to continue reading here! ;)

Almost as if A Song of Ice and Fire is simply one insanely large book, A Storm of Swords continues right where A Clash of Kings left off: with Westeros in the midst of a war for the throne and Daenarys Targaryen slowly but methodically making her way to the Seven Kingdoms to join the fight.  While the self-proclaimed kings plot and fight for the throne, Jon Snow learns more about wildlings and White Walkers as he ventures with a group to explore beyond the Wall. The webs that Martin began weaving in the first two books only grow more intense and the twists and turns are magnified with shocking moments and very unexpected developments between different characters. Like many other reviews I have read noted, I wanted to throw my book across the room multiple times reading this!

Even though this was my favorite book in the series, it is still very dense and I found it difficult to read for extended periods of time, depending on which point of view I was reading. But sometimes I just really struggled through the characters, which is a blessing and a curse with these books. Fortunately some new point of views were introduced in this book, most notably Jaime. Hearing his perspective was refreshing and altered my perception of the Lannisters. One of the hallmarks of a great writer is the ability to give multiple dimension to their characters, especially by making the reader sympathize with the "enemy". When I find myself rooting for Tyrion and Jamie I am reminded at how incredible George R. R. Martin is at storytelling.

My favorite point of views are historically those of the Starks, especially Arya. Is anyone else secretly hoping that Arya and Gendry end up getting married someday? I promise I'm not offering any spoilers because as I type this, I haven't read the last 2 books published in this series and there are still 2 books left to be published; but I think Arya and Gendry getting married would be like a symbolic fulfillment of Robert Baratheon marrying Lyanna Stark. Not that George R. R. Martin would ever be predictable...

If you haven't started reading George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones), I highly recommend carving a reasonable amount of time for you to do this! A Storm of Swords is worth the read alone, but you can't understand its beauty without reading the first two books and I promise you won't be able to stop once you're three books in!

Bottom Line: The BEST book so far in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series! If this type of story interest you at all, this series is a must read!! 5+/5 stars

If you've read or have started reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series, what chapter point of views are your favorite? Who are your least favorite? I get easily bored by Davos, Bran, Jon and Sam - even though I really love all of them as characters. I admit Jon and Sam's chapters have gotten way better though!

Next week's book is A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

August 15, 2013

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon Goals

Bout of Books

Time Devoted to Reading
I will be reading a minimum of 6 hours each day 8/19 through 8/24, plus listening to audiobooks for at least 1 hour each day during my commute.

On Sunday 8/25, my lovely cousin Wendy is visiting from out of town so I make no promises on reading; those 6 reading hours will likely be spent gabbing with each other, I'm just being honest! ;)

My Goals
  • My goal is going to be much different than most because I'm really just trying to finish ONE book, A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin. At over 1000 dense pages, I don't feel like I've gotten anywhere with it yet (13% in a week!) and really want to try to finish it by the end of this read-a-thon! While I don't know if it's possible, I'll settle for 75% done. These books are incredible, but they have really been putting a cramp in my schedule and making my read-a-thon goals appear quite weak! ;) 
  • If by some miracle I finish my main book, I also hope to read Rob Sheffield's Love is a Mix Tape because that guy is awesome and I really want to get into his books! How have I not already?!

Books to Read

P.S. With all the Ice and Fire reading I've been doing, I really keep wanting to spell Rob Sheffield's name "Robb". Any other Game of Thrones lovers relate? haha! 

    August 14, 2013

    Bout of Books Read-A-Thon

    Bout of Books

    Summer is a great time to read a lot, so it's no surprise to see all the great read-a-thons many book review blogs are hosting! Next week I am going to participate in the Bout of Books 8.0 Read-A-Thon and I think it's really going to inspire me to finish the George R. R. Martin Ice and Fire series on time! YAY!

    The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

    Do you participate in any read-a-thons? How much more reading have you accomplished during a read-a-thon than during a regular week?

    August 13, 2013

    A to Z Bookish Survey

    I couldn't help but participate in this fun survey from Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner! Jamie's book review blog is pretty much my new favorite, FYI! :) 

    Author you’ve read the most books from: J. K. Rowling thanks to the Harry Potter series!

    Best Sequel Ever: I have to go with Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, although Ordinary World by Elisa Lorello is a close second.

    Currently Reading: A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

    Drink of Choice While Reading: There's something about coffee + reading!

    E-reader or Physical Book?: Why can't I choose both?!

    Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School: This is the most cliche answer ever, but I'm going to have to go with Peeta from The Hunger Games trilogy. He was nerdy enough with the right amount of heart and wit.

    Glad You Gave This Book A Chance: Faking It by Elisa Lorello!

    Hidden Gem Book: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

    Important Moment in your Reading Life: Starting a book review blog!

    Just Finished: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri.

    Kinds of Books You Won’t Read: I never say never, but I'm not big on non-fiction books that don't have a story (I get so bored). Also, not big on paranormal or vampire, but I never say never and definitely have read and enjoyed such books before. I just don't reach for them. 

    Longest Book You’ve Read: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin at 1216 awesome pages.

    Major book hangover because of: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin haha.

    Number of Bookcases You Own: I only have 2 because I am trying to keep a handle on things for now, but when I move, watch out!

    One Book You Have Read Multiple Times: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

    Preferred Place To Read: In/on water, whether in the tub or in the pool. A hammock would probably be just as nice!

    Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read: "I would always rather be happy than dignified." -from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

    Reading Regret: Not starting Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and A Song of Ice and Fire sooner!

    Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series): I think every series that is completely out that I have started I have finished. I can't start something new without finishing a series. I need to finish what is already published from the Song of Ice and Fire series, but I am almost done!

    Three of your All-Time Favorite Books: White Oleander by Janet Fitch, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb.

    Unapologetic Fangirl For: The Selection series by Kiera Cass; I hate that I love the series so much, especially after the latest installment, The Elite, but I do love it.

    Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others: Allegiant by Veronica Roth, but also She Has Your Eyes by Elisa Lorello!

    Worst Bookish Habit: Not breaking the spines of new books like you're supposed to. I just can't bear to hurt a pretty new book! And yet I'll go in the pool with one, go figure!

    X Marks The Spot- Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book: I picked the 27th book on my Kindle since I'm not at home as I type this and, embarrassingly enough it's 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James hahaha!

    Your latest book purchase: Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

    ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late): Entwined with You by Sylvia Day

    Have you done this survey? Post your link in comments so I can check it out!!

    August 12, 2013

    Monday's Reading Recap

    I'm cutting it close, but it looks like I'm on target to share a review for all five books in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series throughout the month of August! I am pretty proud of myself considering how epic these books are! I hope you enjoy reading my reviews and plan on reading this series if you haven't already!

    I went to my first real book reading this past weekend at LA's Book Soup (crazy that I hadn't been to one before! I've been to signings, but not to readings. I got to hear Rob Sheffield (of Rolling Stone magazine!) read from his new book, Turn Around Bright Eyes, and he was amazing. More on that experience in a later post! :)

    Now here's what I'm reading . . .

    Last Week I Finished Reading: A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin (I did it!! YAY!!)

    This Week I'm Reading: A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin and Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri.

    This Week I'm Sharing a Review For: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin (my favorite of the Ice and Fire books!!)

    What are you reading this week? 

    August 9, 2013

    A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

    The night rang to the clash of steel and the cries of the wounded and dying. For a moment Arya stood uncertain, not knowing which way to go. Death was all around her.
    -from A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
    A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2

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    Warning: This review contains spoilers for A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

    In the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, readers find Westeros in serious discord. The death of King Robert Baratheon has left his teenage son, Joffrey, in charge of the realm; but with rumors that Joff is Jamie Lannister's bastard child, it seems every man is vying for the throne. Robert's militant older brother, Stannis, and carefree younger brother, Renly, are both challenging Joffrey's claim to the throne respectively; and upon the shocking execution of his father, Robb Stark is more fierce than ever to separate himself as King in the North and rid the realm of Lannisters. Similarly, Daenerys is motivated by the death of her beloved Drogo to press on and claim the iron throne. Armed with her dragons, Dany is stronger than ever, despite ever-present obstacles. But the danger north of The Wall is still looming and Jon Snow is going straight into the unknown beyond. With so many differing opinions, so many secrets, and so much deceit, it's hard to tell if there will be peace in the realm ever again.

    I was afraid after reading A Game of Thrones that I would get burned out of this series quickly, but on the contrary: A Clash of Kings only reinforced my enjoyment of George R.R. Martin's mythical world. This book picks up right where the last one left off and jumps straight into the action of war. Different character perspectives are integrated as chapters, which was especially helpful in seeing every side's perspective. While I may not agree with a character's claim to the throne, reading their reasons and motivations for seeking power through people on their side made me more sympathetic to their plight. It really calls to question what is right by the law versus what is right for the kingdom. My only complaint is that the reader does not get this experience with Renly; I would love to hear his perspective and think he should have been afforded at least a chapter or two.

    My favorite element of this book actually isn't the politics or war, but the fact that the Stark children are all spread out and separated from each other and have to use their individual survival skills to find a way back together, not to mention cope with the death of their father. Robb is fighting in the thick of war, Jon is on The Wall, Sansa is stuck in the castle ultimately as a Lannister hostage, Arya is pretending to be a boy joining the Night's Watch, and Bran and Rickon are waiting at Winterfell for their family to return. I love seeing how these children utilize what their parents have taught them to get by each day and how they are all such survivors. I really hope none of them die and am praying to read some really incredible reunion scenes in the future! 

    One thing that differed from the first book is the increased element of magic. Without magic, some things are somewhat predictable; but with magic, all bets are off! At times, this made me frustrated because the utilization of magic doesn't make for a fair fight and doesn't always seem to make the most sense (i.e. with Bran). But this additional dynamic definitely adds to more drama and brings the story to a new level. 

    Overall, this book was about war, but Martin continues to impress me with the way he strings his stories together with character experiences, crossing time and culture to build a timeless a story about relationships and politics. This story doesn't have as defining of an ending as its prequel, so that means if you read it, you're definitely going to have to press forward straight to part 3: A Storm of Swords.

    Bottom Line: If you read A Game of Thrones, you definitely can't miss this one! Once you've started, you just can't stop! 5/5 stars

    Next week's book is A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

    August 2, 2013

    A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

    When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.
    -from A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
    A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1
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    A Game of Thrones, the first book in the series titled A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin has been haunting me for quite some time now. I have friends who have been pressuring me to read it and friends who have been pressuring me to watch the series on HBO. I can't watch something and then read it (I learned that lesson with The Princess Bride) so I needed to read it. But at 864 pages, it was hard to carve out the time and dedication for this monstrous book, not to mention its sequels. Additionally, I kept hearing about how confusing it is to keep up with the huge cast of characters which only made me more apt to push the book off longer. I'm very proud to report that I have finished A Game of Thrones, and if you have been pushing this book off as much as I was, I'm going to help encourage you to tackle and enjoy it as much as I did! 

    The fantasy series A Song of Fire and Ice series takes place long ago in a faraway land where seasons can last lifetimes and supernatural creatures dwell outside The Wall of the Seven Kingdoms. Confused yet? Well, let me break down the cast of characters to help you understand better than the publisher's synopsis. In A Game of Thrones there are mainly 4 families or "houses" with which you need to concern yourself:
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    • House Stark: Eddard "Ned" Stark is the head of this house and he is the Warden of the North. Ned governs with a strong adherence to honor, duty and integrity and doesn't like to play games when it comes to getting things done. 
    • House Baratheon: The house of King Robert, one of Ned's best friends from his youth (Ned helped him win the crown). King Robert has become a lush as he has gotten older, prioritizing wine and women over governing the Seven Kingdoms.
    • House Lannister: This is the house the Queen comes from, along with her twin brother, the Kingslayer, who (as his name implies) killed the previous king. This is also the richest house in the entire Seven Kingdoms, and, as you can only imagine, he who holds money holds power.
    • House Targaryen: The house of the previous monarchy. Only two descendents from the king remain: Viserys and Daenerys, the son and daughter of the slain king. Throughout his entire life, Viserys has been plotting to win back the throne and he uses his naive, sweet sister to help make this happen. 
    When Ned Stark is approached by King Robert Baratheon to be the Hand of the King, Stark is honored but doesn't really want the job. The previous Hand of the King, one of Stark's best friends and brother-in-law by marriage, is suspected of being murdered. Driven by honor and duty, Stark takes the job and begins to uncover secrets at the capitol, King's Landing, that complicate his job and friendship with the King. At the same time outside The Seven Kingdoms, Viserys Targaryen is arranging a marriage between his sister and a savage Dothraki leader so that he may gain military power to take back his father's throne. Finally, on the other side of The Wall, the looming danger of wildlings and White Walkers breaking through into Westeros is more present than ever. Ned Stark's level headed leadership may be the only thing that can strengthen the kingdom enough so that it can defend itself from whatever threatens them beyond their borders; unless, of course, the most dangerous enemies are already within the castle walls.

    First of all, I was more stressed out than I needed to be about the huge cast of characters in this book. YES, there are a ton of characters, but one of the many talents Martin has as a writer is structuring his books in a way that gives the reader ample time and information about major characters so that you remember them. And you will remember them; the characters, whether "good guys" or "bad guys" are colorful, memorable and multi-dimensional. I did have a little trouble with minor characters, but I read this on my Kindle and was able to simply search the book for the first time a character in question was mentioned to refresh who they are (I highly recommend this!). I also googled images of the characters as I read to better imagine them (at least the way HBO imagines them).

    Each chapter alternates between the points of view of different characters which gives the reader insight into experiences happening all over the realm and beyond. After reading the first book I can't begin to imagine the effort it must take Martin to craft together this masterpiece of a story. Each character has their own experience, truly unique to them and through these experiences a world is developed by stringing them together and mixing them with each other. Martin's way of storytelling is incredibly impressive once you've really immersed yourself into his story.

    Some major topics this book examines is the importance of family, honor, duty and power. Ned Stark's children alone are worth writing about and examining their relationships with each other and their parents, most notably Ned's bastard, Jon Snow. A Game of Thrones is another book I wish I could have read in college because many papers could have been written about the themes and motifs in this story. I also found the role of women in this time to be very interesting, especially looking at Arya Stark, a tomboy. When most women are either ladies or prostitutes, I enjoy seeing Arya forge a new way for women.

    I could probably write for days about all the arcs and themes I loved in this book, but since this is a review and not a thesis, just believe me when I say that there's something for everyone: adventure, mythology, romance, deceit, mystery, politics, murder, monsters, and everything in between.

    Bottom Line: If you like complex but salacious very long stories, I highly recommend this! I know it isn't for everybody, but if you think you'll like it, you probably will! I advise carving out a good amount of time to dedicate to the entire series since there are 5 books averaging 1000 pages each and 2 more to be published in the future! 5/5 stars!

    Have you read A Game of Thrones? Who are your favorite characters? 

    Mine are Dany and Arya -- girl power! {HAHA} But I also find The Lannister trio dangerously intriguing!

    The first season of HBO's Game of Thrones encompasses the first book in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Here is the trailer for that season:

    Next Week's Review: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin