Posts Tagged With: series

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


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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

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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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Series Review: The Lunar Chronicles – (an enthusiastic) 4 of 5

Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and (in 2015) Winter.

There’s a lot to love about this series:

1) Cinder was born of NaNoWriMo (the greatest thing ever for those of you who don’t know about it) and, to my understanding, much of the rest of the books were drafted in November as well.  I have a special place in my heart for NaNo books.

2) While having a core plot throughout, each book focuses on one Bad-A** lady from a fairy tale.  The plot line of her story more-or-less follows the trajectory of the classic tale while holding true to the core, original, plot.  Those are some mad skillz.

3) That original plot I mentioned? It’s creative and interesting and complex without being confusing.

4) The dudes are adorable.

There’s more, but I thing those are really the main highlights.  Yes, it’s YA, and as I’m not a YA myself any longer, there is many times where I can’t stop an eye-roll at some of the young thoughts and emotions that come flying off the page. The key is to let yourself go.  Immerse yourself into what’s happening and you’ll have a great time.

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Cinder is spunky, unique, and manages to stay in line with the traditional ideas of Cinderella – the evil step-mother, the step-sisters, and, of course, that dashing, heart-throbbing prince. What isn’t traditional is that our heroine is a messy mechanic cyborg.  Sha-zam.

Admittedly, because of how well we know the classic fairy tale, it is a bit predictable, but the character development keeps any dull feelings at bay. Meyer does such a  good job of creating each character as an individual. Every character is dynamic – I particularly found the evil step-mother and the Doctor very well designed. There isn’t just one static “this person is good/bad” feel to it.  How is it that, of all the characters, I love the android Iko the best?  That’s good writing.

Oh yeah, and did you know it takes place in future China-ish? Awesome!  It’s the little nuances that really make this first book shine. 

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Where Cinder was an awkward yet confident, down-trodden yet finding herself, kind of main character, Scarlet takes it all up a notch.  This girl kicks butt left and right and doesn’t break a sweat.  She’s sassy and sweet. Scarlet forms as a great second heroine while somehow not taking the sparkle off Cinder’s own adventures.

Of the three books out right now though, it is my least favorite. It’s a good gateway to the next but it’s also the least believable.  This might get a touch spoiler-y but I had two main issues throughout – the sudden deep but really quite unnerving attraction with Wolf, and Scarlet’s dedication to the grandmother.

Let me explain.  It’s not that I don’t think both of those things aren’t good and important for the book – they are – but the way things shook out were over the top.  I know Wolf is loyal (like a dog, get it, lolz) but the way he constantly threw himself in front of Scarlet got old (mostly because Scarlet is totally able take care of herself).  And – and this will sound calloused – Scarlet’s insistence to sacrifice herself for her grandmother became exasperating. No offense to my grandmother, but I think 99% of reasonable people would realize that a young, vibrant woman shouldn’t risk everything for an already dying old lady. Just saying.  I know we needed that for forward motion but it was insane.

Even with my few irks, Meyer was really able to make the additional characters shine – and be different – from the ones in the previous book.  Our cast is growing without any harm, and that’s wonderful.

I almost forgot – Thorne.  He is hysterical.  Total favorite.  He is this year’s Han Solo.

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Now, we have Cress.  She’s the perfect next main character because she’s wonderfully different.  Don’t get me wrong – she’s still a bad-a** with her seriously impressive hacking skills but she’s not going to beat anyone up.  In fact, she’s much more apt to hide in a corner, but that doesn’t mean shes’ a damsel in distress, either.  Meyer has made such a great balance of showing how her ladies need help sometimes, but that doesn’t make them weak.

A lot of things go down in Cress and they are all interesting.  One thing, after reviewing Game of Thrones, is that I do wish I could have believed a little bit more that bad things were actually going to happen. Sure there are cliffhangers and worries and the like but it was hard to ignore the fact that it is a YA book and, despite the dire circumstances, things were obviously going to work themselves out.

So, I maybe didn’t worry as much as I should have, but I still liked what I saw.  Emotions get deep in Cress – there’s insanity, near-fatal and irreparable wounds, deserts, disease, death, maiming, kidnapping, genocide, and the list goes on.  I don’t mean to say it’s depressing through.  How can it be when a character like Thorne is on so many pages?  He’s adorable and  he and Cress are a fantastic duo. Even more, when we do get back to the rest of the group, they still hold true to their own character traits.

Well, except for maybe Wolf.  You know, for being a “big, bad, wolf” he is a sally.  Seriously.  Whimper a little more, why don’t you? Suck it up and get the job done, bro.

*Cough* Anyway, as I was saying, like the rest, the story follows the trajectory of  a fairy tale, this time Rapunzel. The core plot is at the forefront and it’s intense.  Cress is set up beautifully for another book and I’m definitely ready for it.

All in all – a slow clap, high five, jig, and kudos to Marissa Meyer!

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: Bridget Jones – Mad About the Boy – 3.5 of 5

Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

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My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I heard there would be a third Bridget Jones book, all I could think was – amazgog.

I didn’t know a single thing about this nook prior to picking it up – I just jumped right in. I’m glad I went in blind because I’m not sure if I would have picked it up on the premise alone. Fifty-one year old Bridget Jones, widow, mother of two, dating a 30 year old? That sounds like all of these Hollywood movies coming out nowadays with the aging actors whose entire movie is about aging – booooring.

The thing is that 51 year old Bridget doesn’t sound like a 50 year old (nor, apparently, look like a 50 year old). She’s definitely the old Bridget with her ridiculous quirky attitude – she’s hysterically scatterbrained and makes any woman who reads Bridget’s diary feel better about herself. (Except for maybe my own mother, 99% of women are more put together than Jonesey here.)

There are some really wonderful things about this book. Her kids are freaking adorable and her mourning is intermittent (after all, it’s 4 or 5 years later) but still there and realistically touching. I loved her Twitter experience – Bridget Jones style of writing is practically made for Twitter. It made for a lot of giggles. And the part at the birthday party where she throws the dog in the pool – I might have piddled a little I was giggling so hard.

Overall, though, as much as I enjoyed the reading process I couldn’t quite get this book to 4 stars. There’s just too much about this book that felt a bit off.

1) I felt the ending was far too obvious and then came too quickly – we as readers didn’t get to fall in love with the right man.

2) Bridget’s weight issue was resolved so miraculously and then never gained back – the woman ate entire bags of shredded cheese every day and more or less kept her weight down? Whhaaaa?

3) No Darcy. It’s just not Bridget Jones without him.

4) HOW did she get so many damn Twitter followers?! (Okay, maybe that last bit is my own personal issue.)

There’s more but it’s a bit spoilery. Still, none of it makes the book unreadable. It’s a quick read overall and it’s still cute Bridget Jones. One and 2 might be better than 3, but it’s well worth the read.

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Book Review: Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First – read this: Book Review: Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber

then mix in happy gasps, jumping for joy, high fives all around, and you know how I feel.

Now, onto Drums of Autumn.

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Book Review(s): Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

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I can’t help it, I love these darn books.

To be honest, I didn’t really want to – let’s just say I can be pretty snooty about books that do really well in the eyes of the general public. I tend to over criticize them and decide to dislike them just because I wouldn’t be original if I did like them. Still, despite my efforts, the Outlander books have me hooked.

In my opinion, what’s not to like? Suspense, history, romance, adventure, this book is exactly what it’s cracked up to be. Somehow even with the dense, incredible amount of words this book has I was with it all the way. I adore Gabaldon’s descriptions – she’s managed to create a word with such meaningful detail. She doesn’t just tell us about the dew reflecting the cool, low sun on the horizon in the Highlands just because she wants to create a setting, she does it because it’s part of the story. I’ve never felt like the descriptions of place and people to feel quite so natural as with Gabaldon’s writing.

Now, I can’t speak too much to reading the dialect in the dialogue, something which apparently some people have a challenge with, based on reviews I had read. I have enjoyed both of these books on audio book – and, though I am sure the real book is nice to – I highly recommend you listen to the story. The narrator is incredible. She has so many beautiful accents and excellent rhythm. I truly believe Jamie and Claire, the two main characters, have come alive not only because of Gabaldon’s writing, but because of Davina Porter’s excellent performance. Even the smallest character has their own feel and cadence. As much as I love to read, it’s not often I feel a deep connection with a character and am truly sad to see him/her go. I won’t say anything more about the story because there are many twists and I don’t want to give any spoilers.

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If I weren’t already married to someone who is decidedly not Scottish…

Anyway, Outlander is great, and so is Dragonfly in Amber. This sequel to the first has just as much adventure, just as much love and sexy time, and one more added element to shake it all up – a realization of what the future truly is. It’s unnerving. In Outlander we didn’t know what the future would hold, truly. In Dragonfly we don’t know it all, but many, we know enough…

Okay, I won’t say any more. Chat with me if you want to gush – feel free to comment below. And If I said it once I’ll say it again -give this audiobook a try. It’s glorious.

PS – I started Voyager immediately after I finished this. Onward!

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

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