The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin

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Novel:
The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin and Luis Royo (Illustrator) | Goodreads
Release Date: October 21, 2014 (first published in 1980)
Publisher: Tor Teen
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought

The Ice Dragon is an enchanting tale of courage and sacrifice for young readers and adults by the wildly popular author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin. Lavish illustrations by acclaimed artist Luis Royo enrich this captivating and heartwarming story of a young girl and her dragon.

In the world of A Song of Ice and Fire the ice dragon was a creature of legend and fear, for no man had ever tamed one. When it flew overhead, it left in its wake desolate cold and frozen land. But Adara was not afraid. For Adara was a winter child, born during the worst freeze that anyone, even the Old Ones, could remember.

Adara could not remember the first time she had seen the ice dragon. It seemed that it had always been in her life, glimpsed from afar as she played in the frigid snow long after the other children had fled the cold. In her fourth year she touched it, and in her fifth year she rode upon its broad, chilled back for the first time. Then, in her seventh year, on a calm summer day, fiery dragons from the North swooped down upon the peaceful farm that was Adara’s home. And only a winter child—and the ice dragon who loved her—could save her world from utter destruction.

This new edition of The Ice Dragon is sure to become a collector’s item for fans of HBO’s megahit Game of Thrones.

The Ice Dragon is a “children’s” fantasy story filled with dragons, war, and sadness. The main character, Adara, is a winter child, and she has always stood apart from other children because she is quiet and unaffectionate. Her favorite season is winter and she is unaffected by cold, which allows her to play alone for long hours in the snow and to meet the ice dragon. Adara tolerates her family and likes the ice lizards that live in her snow forts, but she loves her the ice dragon.

I enjoyed most of The Ice Dragon. The illustrations are beautiful, and done in an old-looking style that complements the story. I liked Adara, liked her love of creatures and the coldness that distinguished her. However, I had a few problems with the story’s ending. It was lackluster, abrupt, and largely unexplained. Despite the story’s title, the ice dragon was quickly and easily cast aside, and felt very much like a minor character in the last part of the book.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH SPOILS PART OF THE ENDING.

Firstly, Adara somehow loses her otherness by shedding her first tears, which removes the winter from her and turns her into a normal child. I found that weak and disappointing—I didn’t see Adara’s differentness as undesirable, wrong, or needing to be fixed. Secondly, I disagree with the way the ice dragon is treated and represented at the end of the story. The ice dragon gives its life to help Adara save her family members—even though just moments before, she wanted to abandon them to live with the ice dragon safely in the north. Adara indirectly caused her uncle Hal’s death by running away. But the ice dragon, after flying south to rescue her from a cave, acquiesces to her demand and turns back toward her family’s burning and war-torn farm. The ice dragon is burned and melts—in other words, it dies—but Adara suddenly doesn’t care, because now she has her family back. Right, the family I mentioned earlier that she only tolerated and then abandoned. The Ice Dragon’s ending was rather insulting, as the magnificent creature who was so important to Adara throughout the story, sacrifices its life for her and she doesn’t even acknowledge its death. I know it’s a children’s book, but I find the depiction of animals like the ice dragon as present to serve human desires, then discarded like they meant nothing, deplorable.

OKAY: THE SPOILER IS OVER.

Sorry for the rant. I did really enjoy The Ice Dragon until its ending, which I felt was disloyal to the nature of the story, and to Adara and her ice dragon. I have yet to read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, but I have watched its television adaption, Game of Thrones. There were some very subtle similarities between the setting of The Ice Dragon and Westeros, mainly the rural location and mention of seasons (North/South/Winter/Summer), but I really think it’s a stretch to say that The Ice Dragon takes place in Westeros. Summer and winter seem to happen once a year, though the “winter is coming” for a long time threat is alluded to. And while the publisher claims The Ice Dragon takes place in the same world as the A Song of Ice and Fire series, Martin has never confirmed this. However, I did like that the theme of ice versus fire was played out in the story through the dragons, perhaps inspiring Martin later on when he began writing A Song of Ice and Fire. Overall, I am glad I read The Ice Dragon; I only wish the ending were different so that I could give it the five stars I thought most of it deserved.

Thanks for reading.

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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Novel: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman | Goodreads
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the first Neil Gaiman book I’ve ever read. Now, after concluding this beautiful novel, I am sure it won’t be the last. Gaiman has somehow managed to weave the very core and essence of childhood into his writing and the result is a story that will only grow more meaningful with time. Well-written and haunting, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is mysterious, poetic, and lovely. I quite enjoyed it.

I think it’s best to go into this novel ignorant. I didn’t read the plot summary beyond the first two sentences before beginning the novel, so all I knew was the setting (England) and something vague about a funeral. I enjoyed reading the novel blind, rolling with the childlike prose and figuring out (but never really figuring out) the ways of the world with the protagonist. Speaking of protagonists, this one is a seven-year-old boy, who I presume is named George given that his father’s nickname for him as a baby was “Handsome George.” Our narrator takes us through the strange happenings of his seventh year as he remembers them in a flashback. The novel’s feel is poignant and nostalgic, but in a way that neither the narrator nor the reader can fully comprehend. There is always a sense that things are a little blurry, whether it be in the child’s understanding of the world or the reader’s understanding of the story. Whichever the case, it’s clear that Gaiman has intentionally written The Ocean at the End of the Lane to be a subtle, open-ended tale; there’s a dreamlike quality to the story and it can be difficult to tell what’s real and what’s not.

I found The Ocean at the End of the Lane to be a short, beautiful novel. If I could write only one sentence about it, that would be it. It’s just beautiful, in a way that is hard to describe. It’s very much a mood book, so to know what I mean, you must read it. And I recommend reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane because it is short, and beautiful, and I think everyone, even children, can get something out of it.

Thanks for reading.

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Quotes for Thought

Just popping in to share a few quotes that have moved or inspired me recently. Enjoy!

  • “I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
    “Seen what?”
    Her smile widened. “Everything.”
    ― V.E. Schwab, A Darker Shade of Magic
  • “Did you know I always thought you were braver than me? Did you ever guess that that was why I was so afraid? It wasn’t that I only loved some of you. But I wondered if you could ever love more than some of me.I knew I’d miss you. But the surprising thing is, you never leave me. I never forget a thing. Every kind of love, it seems, is the only one. It doesn’t happen twice. And I never expected that you could have a broken heart and love with it too, so much that it doesn’t seem broken at all. I know young people look at me and think my youth seems so far away, but it’s all around me, and you’re all around me. Tiger Lily, do you think magic exists if it can be explained? I can explain why I loved you, I can explain the theory of evolution that tells me why mermaids live in Neverland and nowhere else. But it still feels magic.

    The lost boys all stood at our wedding. Does it seem odd to you that they could have stood at a wedding that wasn’t yours and mine? It does to me. and I’m sorry for it, and for a lot, and I also wouldn’t change it.

    It is so quiet here. Even with all the trains and the streets and the people. It’s nothing like the jungle. The boys have grown. Everything has grown. Do you think you will ever grow? I hope not. I like to think that even if I change and fade away, some other people won’t.
    I like to think that one day after I die, at least one small particle of me – of all the particles that will spread everywhere – will float all the way to Neverland, and be part of a flower or something like that, like that poet said, the one that your Tik Tok loved. I like to think that nothing’s final, and that everyone gets to be together even when it looks like they don’t, that it all works out even when all the evidence seems to say something else, that you and I are always young in the woods, and that I’ll see you sometime again, even if it’s not with any kind of eyes I know of or understand. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the way things go after all – that all things end happy. Even for you and Tik Tok. and for you and me.

    Always,
    Your Peter

    P.S. Please give my love to Tink. She was always such a funny little bug.”
    ― Jodi Lynn Anderson, Tiger Lily

  • “Very few of us are what we seem.” ― Agatha Christie, The Man in the Mist
  • Esse quam videri.
  • “Simplicity is an acquired taste. Mankind instinctively complicates life.” – K.F. Gerould
  • “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…” – C.S. Lewis
  • “Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart.”
  • “People will stare. Make it worth their while.” – Harry Winston
  • “I always ask myself why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question.”  – Harun Yahya
  • “You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, I told him, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” ― Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran
  • “All guilt is rooted in the inability to forgive oneself.” – Michelle A. Homme
  • “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”
  • “One day, whether you are 14, 28 or 65
    you will stumble upon someone who will start a fire in you that cannot die.
    However, the saddest, most awful truth you will ever come to find –
    is they are not always with whom we spend our lives.” ― Beau Taplin, Hunting Season
  • “Die with memories, not dreams.”
  • “And then there is the most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” – Randy Komisar
  • “Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others.”
  • “She was unstoppable. Not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them.” ― Beau Taplin, Unstoppable
  • “The problem was I wanted to be yours, more than I ever wanted to be mine.” – Beau Taplin, The Problem
  • “It is a frightening thought, that in one fraction of a moment you can fall in the kind of love that takes a lifetime to get over.” – Beau Taplin
  • “And in the end, we were all just humans, drunk on the idea that love, only love, could heal our brokenness.”
  • “Seduce my mind and you can have my body,
    Find my soul and I’m yours forever.” – Anonymous
  • “Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.”
  • “I love the person I’ve become, because I fought to become her.” – Kaci Diane
  • “Don’t say maybe if you want to say no.”
  • “Your life is your story. Write well. Edit often.” – Susan Statham

Thanks for reading.

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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Novel: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho | Goodreads
Release Date: May 1, 1993
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Also Published On: Lit Up Review

Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

One of my good friends gave me The Alchemist for my birthday last year. It’s her favorite book and I told her I’d read it by the end of the year. Alas, I began it on New Year’s Eve and finished it in the new year, 2016, just a few days past my deadline. But a few days is nothing compared to George R.R. Martin missing The Winds of Winter deadline, so I can’t complain.

The Alchemist is, first and foremost, a beautiful tale of destiny. It’s an allegorical novel, so it contains lots of symbolism and many religious allusions. The main character, Santiago, is simply called “the boy” throughout the novel, and he encounters a variety of interesting characters and cultures while on his journey to achieve his Personal Legend. The Alchemist is not quite a coming-of-age novel; it’s not about discovering one’s destiny or finding oneself. Instead, it’s about a person knowing what he or she wants and going out into the world to find or do it.

I think The Alchemist’s underlying message is very important and applicable to many people. I think that many people grow up with grand dreams and then, when they’re a bit older and on the verge of deciding their future, face what they believe to be reality. They settle for less than what they wanted, thinking it is more, thinking that a cookie-cutter degree, a stable job, a nice home will satisfy them. They convince themselves that later, when they’ve done all they need to do, they can do what they’ve always wanted to do; for Santiago, it’s to travel and see the world. But, “the trouble is, you think you have time,” to quote the Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama. Most people never end up achieving their Personal Legend, and all they’re left with is a dream.

Going into The Alchemist, I expected sophisticated writing and character development. However, it reads more like a tale than a novel and the writing style is simple and easy to follow. Like all tales, the story’s main purpose is its message, not its plot or characters. The Alchemist’s message about following your dream is beautiful and powerful, and I think that’s why it is so hyped. I found some parts to be a little bit too pretentious and deep for my taste, but overall, I enjoyed reading The Alchemist and I recommend it to all.

Thanks for reading.

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January Reading List

Helloooo. Today I’m sharing my January reading list, or January “to be read” (TBR) list. In the past, I’ve had a bad tendency of not sticking to my TBR lists because I get book cravings and read based on mood and change interests often throughout the month. But it’s a new year and I’m going to try the monthly TBR list out once more. Here’s what I’m hoping to read in January.

865The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho | Goodreads
Hehe, I cheated. I actually finished this novel over the weekend. But it was one of my top books to read in 2016 so I got right to it. My review will be up next week!

15783514The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman | Goodreads
I actually have no idea what this book is about. Regan over at Peruse Project read this in 2014 and liked it a lot, and my mom read it more recently and recommended it to me. All I know is that it’s haunting, beautiful, and open-ended.

18243700The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas | Goodreads
I read the Throne of Glass prequel novellas when they were originally released in ebook form. I finally bought the bind-up physical edition last year and slowly made my way through the first two and a half novellas. I need to finish this re-read!

Okay, so here’s where I start having trouble. The three books above I am SURE I want to read this month. I’m setting a goal (sneak peak at my upcoming 2016 reading goals post) to read four books per month this year. But I can’t pick a definitive fourth book. So instead, I’ll list the books I’m considering and hopefully pick from them later in the month.

  • Passenger by Alexandra Bracken | Goodreads
  • The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson | Goodreads
  • The Offering by Kimberly Derting | Goodreads
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis | Goodreads
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell | Goodreads

What are you planning to read this month? Do you make TBR lists or pick books as you go along? 

Thanks for reading.

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