Posts Tagged With: fantasy

Book Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora – 3/5

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

locke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book and I have a love/hate relationship. I find it really hard to give it a rating. I had a hard time getting into it from the start. It wasn’t that it was bad. In fact, I found it pretty funny (I personally love excessive swearing). But nothing really caught me. Still, I pressed on.

There’s this big block in the middle that is legitimately interesting. You have intrigue, good plot, twists and turns, it’s truly marvelous. I was seriously caught up.

Then there’s some crazy shizz that happens. Everything hits the fan. And normally that would hook me more… but it didn’t. Because when everything hits the fan is not the climax of the book. It’s like… 4/5 of the way through. So there’s this part after the climax that’s just plain boring. Seriously. I was way too sunk into reading it to stop but I considered it.

By the end, it picks up again. There’s new twists and things end on a note I am satisfied with. But even with all the good, the bad is just too great. This is a roller coaster where the highs are exciting but the lows make you want to die. I fear the rest of the series will be just the same. I wish I could tell you if that was true, but I have no intention of picking up the rest… at least not anytime soon.

By recommendation? Read at your own risk.

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Series Review: The Bridei Chronicles by Juliet Marillier – 4/5


darkmirrorbridei2 bidei3

The Bridei Chronicles by Juliet Marillier – 4 out of 5 stars

Marillier is my kind of writer. I have now completed five books of hers and I love her style. She mixes history with fantasy in a way that makes everything come alive. It’s genius. The stories feel like fairy tales and yet they are darker than that – they have the low heartbeat of life throughout. They are poetry and yet easy to read. I’m sold on her style and someday I am sure I will devour all of her writing.

I was able to enjoy these books on audio and, can I just say, the narrator for this audio book has the voice. Like – melt the ladies right down to their Maryjanes kind of voice. Not that my own husband doesn’t have a nice voice and all, but if he spoke like Michael Page… *fans self*

Each book in this series works toward the same goal – the rise of a new king to the kingdom to bring all the lands together.  It starts off at the core of it all; we see the future king grow up from the mere age of 8. In some ways that can make the first book a little slow and predictable. In others that predictability really clashes with the magic and wonder that arises and makes the whole scene really interesting. Book one is focused on Bridei and Tuala, while book two and three hone in on other characters, with Faolan playing a large part in all three (in many ways I feel like this series ought to be called The Faolan Chronicles.)

Book one may seem a bit slow as it establishes the new reign – but where book one lacks adventure, book two makes up for it. Most of the story in the second installment takes place in a faraway land where secrets and suspicions run wild. Unpredictable love abounds and magic plays an even deeper role.

The third book rounds out the other two perfectly.  A lot more focus is placed back on the kingdom and there’s even more history involved, but that’s not to say the action is put at bay. People who were once perfect are no longer one-dimensional. There’s a lot that goes on and we have yet another excellent character thrown into our midst.This book relies heavily on character growth and it happens so well. What Faolan went through in book two was crucial to put him in the right spot for book three.

I love the likely and yet unlikely romance that occurs in all three books.  Marillier does a wonderful job of making it the focus but not the whole story. I find it hard to believe that the series is over. In many ways I don’t want it to be (there’s so much promise of what Bridei and Tuala’s children will become – and even what Saraid will mean in it all). Maybe that is another series that has been created or yet to come. Regardless, I was sad to put these characters away. For me, this was one of the best ends to a series I’ve ever encountered. A little Disney-esque maybe, but it worked really well and tied off a lot of loose ends.

All in all, a great read.

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Book Review: The Dark Mirror by Juliet Marillier – 4/5

The Dark Mirror by Juliet Marillier

darkmirror

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Can I just say – the narrator for this audio book has the voice. Like – melt the ladies right now to their Maryjanes kind of voice. Not that my own husband doesn’t have a nice voice and all, but if he spoke like Michael Page… *fans self*

Anyway, that’s completely beside the point. This rating is supposed to be about Marillier’s story. I love this author – it’s like she can do no wrong. I can see where some people think this book isn’t up to the same caliber as some of her other books – in truth, it’s a bit predictable. The education of Bridei is flawless; and the hiccups he encounters are dealt with in a way we would expect. Every once in a while we get a wrench thrown in; but it’s nothing that’s going to boggle the mind. That being said, I came to really love that little kid. I love Tuala even more. It’s definitely one of those books where you want to shake the characters and say, “Rebel already!”

It’s a smart book. Marillier is a masterful storyteller. The tale weaves in and out of truth and fantasy and I feel the same things I felt the first time I encountered her in Wildwood Dancing. She add that curious element of darkness and mystery to the fairy tale; it gives me shivers as I read.

I obviously loved it as I have bought the second book immediately. Another winner in my opinion!

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YA Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone – 5 of 5!

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

smoke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To those of you who pick up this book – I recommend you buy/borrow the other two from the trilogy at the same time. You’re going to want to read them all in quick succession.

I borrowed this book from the library and read it in a day. Within about three minutes of closing the book I was online, confirming the others were on the shelf, and walking back to the library to borrow the other two. It’s that good, folks!

I love this book’s imagination, the colors, the scenes. It’s all so beautiful. The setting is incredible – Prague, the art studio, Poison. Even better are the people! Humans, angels, and creatures – they are all fascinating. Taylor does such a great job of showing me everything without overloading me with exposition. I can see so much, and I don’t even think that’s because I’ve traveled to many of the places (Prague and Marrakesh being two main settings – gorgeous on paper and in real life!).

Then there’s a plot. It has the scary angels which fascinate me (quick plug for how awesome Angelfall is) along with just as fascinating underworld beings. I love the way you’re not sure who is good and who is bad. The action is intense on both a large and a small scale. Both the reader and the main character, Karou, spend the book trying to figure out who she is – and what connection she has to the (potentially) imminent end to the world. That’s a plot hook if I ever heard of one!

Okay, enough of this internet business – I need to crack open book #2!

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Series Review: Game of Thrones -(a begrudging) 4 of 5

It’s official!  I’m caught up with A Song of Ice and Fire – aka, the Game of Thrones series.

Regardless of how good a Game of Thrones book is, when I get to the end I can’t help but give a huge sigh of relief and say, “Thank the Seven that’s over.”

gameofthrones

But first, let me back up. I bought the first book in this series in an airport bookstore because I thoughtlessly hadn’t charged my NOOK and I was desperate. I had heard everyone gushing over the HBO series but hadn’t heard any details so I thought it would be a good time to get started on the book. I think I was right. I managed to jump on the bandwagon before any of the secrets were revealed to me either through word of mouth or the show – and I’m glad. This book has a LOT of plot twists. Martin is a master at doing the unexpected. In this first book I even got used to expecting the unexpected and he STILL surprised me.

Let’s face it – just read Martin’s Good Reads bio and you’ll get an idea of the man. From what I can tell he lives and breathes fantasy and it shows. He’s got the whole universe in his head and is able to move character to character flawlessly. You definitely don’t feel like you’re missing out on any part of the story – and it’s a good story at that. Martin melds together realistic middle-earth situations with the supernatural to make a very unique epic.

That being said, I still think it has its flaws. Maybe it’s just because it’s still new and doesn’t have the long backing like LOTR has but I find the majority of Martin’s characters one-dimensional. Maybe that’s not fair – how about just predictable? I think that’s the downfall of having so many perspectives, it’s impossible to make ALL of them dynamic. It’s also long-winded – while I can’t say I ever lost interest in the story I did sometimes feel like I wasn’t getting anywhere. I think that really goes back to Martin’s thoroughness of the world – sometimes you can’t separate out what is essential and what is just cool.

Reading the first book in this series makes you want to jump into the second book head first.

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Be careful, though.  The second book is where you start to realize how “epic” this series will become.  Book two is just like book one – a lot of exposition intermingled with some adventure. It’s as though you unwittingly made a blood oath with Martin.  By cracking open book two you told him, “Yes, Sir, I want to know everything and more about this world you have created.  Lay it on me.”

And, let me tell you, Martin is not a shy man on the page. Not about his stories and definitely not about his eagle-eye focus on any and all private parts waggling or bowels fouling or what-have-you.  Seriously.  If it’s not a whore baring her nether regions then it’s someone messing their pants in fright. Or anger. Or self-loathing.  Or just because they have to go, I don’t know, Martin obviously gets his jollies from exposing people in the name of “reality” (in a fake universe, of course.)

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If you make it through book two, then book three is well worth the effort. Book three is where the magic happens.  That’s where all the painstaking exposition of book two that you scraped through comes to light (unfortunately, due to the length of the books you might not remember half that exposition, but never you mind that little piece).  Book three brings to light Martin’s showmanship and his ability to make all the ladies gasp, “No!”

If you’re weak of heart and stomach, and/or if you’re really enjoying the HBO series, it might behoove you to just stop at book three. Seriously.  If there is a weak link in the series for me, it’s book four.  For me, it’s obvious that when writing this book Martin had already had his fan base.  His editors are either terrified of him or they’re lazy.  Either way, they don’t even try to cut down the mumbo-jumbo that is book four.  Add in the fact that Martin changes the pace and only gives us half a story (but still as much, if not more, length) and you can probably understand why I’m so ornery about book four.

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This is my almost immediate reaction of book four when I finished it –

Man, what is it about these books? When I’m reading them, I’m usually enjoying the plot-line but straight up loathing GRR Martin. If I ever meet the guy I’ll probably say something to the extent of, “Hey! I enjoyed your books, but I had a real problem reading them because the whole time all I could think about is how I’m certain you’re a raging d*-canoe.”

Seriously. His descriptions of everything lewd are just so exhausting. How many times over in this series have we seen breasts/nipples ripped off/mangled/slices/clawed/whatever? We get it G, you’re creepily obsessed with describing lady-parts at really random times. Stop.

What’s with the sudden focus on women’s power? Boorrrring. It’s like out of nowhere we have all these heroines who, sorry Georgie, have a lot in common. Beautiful, young, and lusty for power (Seriously – Cersei, Asha, Alanna, Margaery, and Dany) so you get this slew of ladies whose internal thoughts are all something along the lines of “Woe is me, if I weren’t this super busty lady with perky nipples I could have all the power I wanted, blah blah blah”

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Still I pressed on and I can say, I overall enjoyed the 5th book more than I did the 4th. Things just seemed to move faster. The characters perspectives didn’t get as stale and there were fewer swinging breasts and heaving beasts and squeezed breasts in this one than in the others (though that’s likely due to a great lack of women narrators in this book compared to others – but I’ll still take it.)

After five books Martin’s unpredictability is getting a little predictable and I kind of wish he would just end it already. All the same, I can’t argue with the fact that he’s created an immense world and landscape. When he’s not being gross, his writing can be so engaging and, sometimes, downright beautiful. I can’t quite recommend anyone subject themselves to reading the series, but if you’ve already begun, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed working your way through this one.

So where does that leave me?  Muttering and complaining and, yes, still reading on. Martin, you’re a man I love to hate.

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Series Review: Angelfall and World After by Susan Ee – 4 of 5

Angelfall and World After by Susan Ee

angelfall   worldafter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first instinct upon completing these books?

Slow clap.

When I am reading a story I need one of two things for it to be something I like – I either need great characters with excellent development, or a kick-butt plot line. Obviously, if I can get both, I’m in love.

Ee just wows me. It’s not a writing marvel and it’s not a masterpiece but I can’t help loving this. It’s hard to explain why I enjoy reading these books so much. I think I just admire Ee’s risk taking. Honestly, she’s balls to the wall with this stuff. Descriptions are bare minimum, exposition is to the wind, this book is a learn as you go – and it’s going to go fast. I find myself filling in the gaps of what’s happening. Ee is constantly surprising me. Sure, like every ya novel with a female protagonist you get some predictable items but in the long run I just want to give Ee a hearty thumbs up. This book had a ton of “What the H?!” moments that make me all antsy in my chair. It’s well designed and even though some of the character development was a little shallow, I enjoyed it all the same. The Angelfall series, for me, is about the plot line. It was interesting, unique, and it was quick.

I realize that’s a terrible review that tells you nothing, but I’m sticking to it. Pleasantly surprised. If YA fantasy is your style, pick it up! And if you enjoy Angelfall, then World After will not disappoint. Penryn is still a BA and the world is still f’d up.

All I have to say is brace yourself for the ending to both of these books.  You’ll never see it coming.

Not sure when the next in the series is coming – but I’m looking forward to it!

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YA Book Review: Shadow and Bone – 4 out of 5


Shadow and Bone
by Leigh Bardugo

Shadowandbone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I tend to be super wary of YA fantasy books – actually I’m wary about fantasy in general. When it’s good, it’s good, but when it’s bad it’s poison to my soul.

No poison here – hooray!

Bardugo did good here. I mean, I always have something to nit pick but overall I really enjoyed this. I like the flavor of the setting. I’ve heard some criticism of the Russian/Not Russian of this and to all those people I lovingly flip the bird. This is fantasy, folks, and as much as you might disagree that means the author can do *~*~anything she wants*~*~ to her setting (so long as it’s consistent and works with plot and all of that, of course). It’s beautiful magic. If you’re going to moan about the improper use of Russian words, you should probably also be concerned with the fact that magic doesn’t exist in real life. Just sayin’.

Sorry for that side track – let me start over. I like the flavor of the setting. I love the back and forth between suspense and life. I like our main character and how we get deep but not too deep. I like the conflicting romance and, even more, I like what took me by surprise. Characters evolved in great ways. Bardugo had my hand quivering at a page turn because I didn’t want to see what would happen next because I was so sure it shouldn’t happen but everything was just going wrong… anyway, that’s enough of that before I have to hide this in a spoiler.

Like I said, I have some nit-picky. Teenage girls are annoying with their wallowing, sulking, and cattiness and I would rather not read about it, but so it is.

I have high hopes for this series moving forward. Once, just once I want to be totally satisfied with a YA series when I’m done with it. I’ve given a lot of them a chance (The Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent) and by the end they all sucked. Come on Bardugo. I am rooting for you here.

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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