What a great read. In Blood Song we follow Vaelin Al Sorna as he finds himself at a very young age unwillingly enlisted in the Sixth Order - a military branch of the Faith. We journey with Al Sorna as his connection with his classmates turn into the bonds of brotherhood. From the Sixth Order he begins a journey of political and military intrigue with twists and turns the whole way.
I really enjoyed the character development and world building in Blood Song. Anthony Ryan spends his time honing each character, presenting a rich cast of people that the reader cares about. There is gradual world building throughout the story - no info dumps here.
I am slightly concerned by the reviews for book two and three...it looks as though Ryan shakes up his storytelling technique and branches out to maybe bite off more than the book(s) can feasibly chew? I will still move on to Tower Lord, however, based on the strength of Blood Song...hopefully knowing that Ryan changes his storytelling technique ahead of time won't throw me out of the story? Hopefully? We'll see.
Fretting about the next books in the series aside (I'm probably just borrowing trouble), I really enjoyed this. Blood Song is the type of slow-burn fantasy that really holds my attention. This is military fantasy done right.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter is such a fun take on the "classic horror" genre! I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would. Theodora Goss does a great job hearkening back to the classics while still creating a fresh and fun new story. I was worried that I would be unhappy with how the classics were treated...I mean, there's a reason why they are classic stories, you know? I worried for nothing, though, because Goss did well. There were all the elements from the classic horror stories while learning about the new characters -- the daughters of these famous "monsters".
If I had one complaint with the story, it was the character asides sprinkled liberally throughout the book. I listened to the audio version of this story and was not initially aware that Goss was utilizing this tool to help build her characters. Mixed in with the story are snippets of dialogue from the characters after all the drama went down...their voices as they "proof" the written text of the story. It was a strange literary device and, to be honest, it threw me for a bit of a loop. I wonder if the written text has some visual way of noting that these were asides and not part of the immediate plot? In the audiobook version there is no warning or break...the narrator veers off into these out-of-story character asides with no differentiating between them and the main story. It was confusing at first and took a while to get used to. I eventually did get used to this device...but it took some time and I was not a huge fan of it for about the first fifty percent of the book.
That minor irritant aside, I do appreciate the risk that Goss took in writing her story this way. I think it ultimately paid off to help create more vivid characters. We didn't have to spend as much time in the story itself creating these characters...the off-shoot narratives helped do that.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daugher is such a fun read and I would easily recommend it to anyone who enjoys the classic monster-horror genre.
Such an enjoyable read! The Shadow of What Was Lost pulled me in right at the prologue and it was a fun ride from there. If you are looking for a fantasy book that has magic, quests, mystery, and some politics then I think this may be a great option.
In Shadow we follow a group of Gifted friends - Davian, Wirr, and Ashalia - as they embark on a series of adventures following an incident at their school. Along the way they meet up with a mysterious young man named Caeden who has no recollection of his past but has troublesome rumors of murder following him.
There are twists and mysteries unfolding everywhere and I did not really find any portion of the nearly 700 pages to be dull or dragging. Islington has a brusque writing style that leaves out flowery detail and instead relies on character dialogue to relay the world building, magic system, and character development. I may be in the minority, but I really don't have an issue with description when it comes to world building (as long as it is not delivered in the form of an info dump) and I did find myself missing the descriptive sections at the beginning of the book. I eventually grew used to the style, though, and ultimately think that it fits this book quite nicely. The brusqueness of his writing lends the story a fast-paced feel and I was flying through the story to find out more about the characters and the world.
If I were being overly analytical I might place this story more at a 4.25 or a 4.5, but I easily decided to round it up to a 5 simply because of the ease in which the story drew me in and intriguing world and characters. I am very much looking forward to An Echo Of Things To Come!
Silver borne by patricia briggs
Unwept by Tracy & Laura hickman
If i could sum up Unwept in two words, it would have to be:
I've read plenty of books where the author(s) do not do an adequate job with character development/world building/magic system/etc and I am left with an overall question mark about what the book was even about.
I'll be honest - when I started Unwept I was worried that scenario was going to happen again. I hated that...I have fond, fond memories of Tracy Hickman's participation in the Dragonlance series and I have read and enjoyed a few of the books he has written in concert with his wife, Laura. So, when I started Unwept with absolutely no clue what was happening...well, it was worrisome.
But I kept reading.
And I am glad that I did! Unwept turned out to be a fun, surreal ride. In this novel we meet Ellis who has no recollection of her past. She comes to consciousness, waking from a horrific nightmare, finding herself on a train bound for a small, seaside town in Maine. Everybody she meets seems to have knowledge of her and her past...but the can't (or won't?) give her the answers she is desperately seeking. To make matters even more disorienting, Ellis is visited in the dark of night by a mysterious suitor who keeps trying to take her away from the small Maine town. Unsure of what is going on, Ellis embarks on a journey to discover her past...but is she ready for the answers she may find?
The reader is definitely in the same boat as Ellis. You discover Ellis' backstory along with Ellis. At times this can be frustrating...I would have enjoyed a little bit of insider knowledge at the start of the story. I think it would have made the book more enjoyable? But, really...I don't know. Maybe it really is best to be on the same page as Ellis. *shrug*
I think this book requires a little bit of patience to wait and discover the story along with Ellis. And the fact that Unwept starts a series should tell you that you're in for the long haul on this one. I devoured this story and am looking forward to seeing how the next chapter unfolds.
Divine by Mistake by P.C. cast
Oh...I so wanted to like this book. Diving by Mistake is my second foray into P.C. Cast's writing...and it's the second time I've had to put a P.C. Cast book down (the first book was Goddess of Spring).
It's not that I didn't like the story...I mean, check out the back cover blurb:
The most excitement teacher Shannon Parker expected on her summer vacation was a little shopping. But then her latest purchase--a vase with the Celtic goddess Epona on it--somehow switches her into the world of Partholon, where she's treated like a goddess. A very temperamental goddess... It seems that Shannon has stepped into another's role as the Goddess Incarnate of Epona. And while it has some very appealing moments--what woman doesn't like a little pampering now and then?--it also comes with a ritual marriage to a centaur and the threat of war against the evil Fomorians. Oh, and everyone disliking her because they think she's her double.
Somehow Shannon needs to figure out how to get back to Oklahoma without being killed, married to a horse or losing her mind...
I mean...sounds interesting, right? I thought so. Definitely not your run of the mill marriage-to-a-horse (turns out to be not as creepy as it sounds) romances. Plus, I've seen Cast's writing style compared to Anne Bishop's as well...and since Bishop is one of my favorites, I definitely wanted to check Cast out. Well, there are similarities between the two...namely the strong female lead (but Bishop writes stronger leads), sense of humor and fondness for animals. But Cast's book didn't catch me like Bishop's books do.
With this book and with the previous Cast book I tried to read...I just couldn't finish it. Not that the writing was painful and not that the plot was bad. In fact, I started this book reading at a furious pace because it was funny, clever and really interesting. Then it went from 80 mph to a standstill in about five pages flat. It's like the book was stuck in mud spinning its wheels. The switch from "I care about this character" to "yeah...whatever" happened almost as instantaneously as well. What's weird is that the same exact thing happened with Goddess of Spring as well.
I have a feeling that the story/writing/everything picks back up eventually (because there's a lot of plot out there that needs to be wrapped up)...but I just couldn't make myself wade through the mire to get there.
So...had to put this one down. I would say, though...if the synopsis looks interesting to you then definitely check it out because you may not find the middle part to be sloggish like I did. Maybe I just picked up her books at the wrong time? Even though I didn't finish this one...still giving it two stars because of how much I did enjoy that first bit.
autumn bones by Jacqueline Carey
Ok, so I won't lie...I'm sick and tired of hearing about Daisy's creepy tail. Oh and in this book, we get a description of it! It's several inches long with blond hair that stands on end much like the hair on the back of your neck when you're alarmed.
All I can think about is a rat tail with some hair on it. Seriously...go Google a picture of a hairy rat tail. Actually, don't...who knows what you might end up seeing.
Other than the tail ...*shudder*... this was an OK book. I didn't love it...but I didn't hate it either. In Autumn Bones we delve a little deeper into Daisy's forays as Hel's liaison and her attempts to keep the eldritch under control in her little town. It doesn't help that her boyfriend Sinclair turns out to be descended from a line of obeah men/women (ie. a family of strong Caribbean withes)....a family that wants Sinclair out of the States and back on the Islands with them where they think he belongs. Soon Daisy is on a deadline to save her town from an evil duppy (ie. the ghost/spirit of Sinclair's dead obeah-man grandfather) before the veil between the living and the dead is torn down forever.
I remember really enjoying the first one (Dark Currents) and I definitely think a knowledge of the first installment is almost a must to really enjoy Autumn Bones. My biggest issue with the story was that it slowed w-a-y down right at the climax of the plot. I mean, why would it do that? The set-up chapters were really easily to read and moved fast...but when the plot really started to pick up, it just got tedious.
So tedious that I was ready for it to just be done.
Oh and there's a tail-waggin' love triangle as well. Not really original, but...whatevs.
That said...will I read the next one when it comes out? Yeah, I will. I don't know if I will it will be as "on top" of my reading list like this one was...and I still waited several months to read this one.
Blood rights by Kristen Painter
Living her whole life in this form of slavery, Chrysabelle is ready to flee her master and escape her gilded cage...only to find, on the eve of her escape, her master murdered in their home. On the run and suspected of murder, Chrysabelle teams up with a rogue vampire named Malkom as they uncover a political web of lies that aim to tear down the veil that has been hiding the existence of supernaturals from ordinary people.
I apologize for that run on sentence.
Anyway, like I said, this book started out really strong. It has a beautiful cover and stays away from the recycled vampire plot and world. Painter's idea of the comarré is an interesting one and the twist she throws in about their world was quite good (let's just say they don't just feed vampires their blood).
But about a third of the way through things started to change. Oh, the world was still fun and the revelations were interesting...but Chrysabelle started to turn into a bit of a Mary Sue...she's the best comarré, she's the best fighter, she's the best blah blah blah. It got old. She's the best. At everything. Got it.
And the plot, which had been moving along quite nicely, devolved into political mush. Oh, there are other things happening in the story other than politics...but it seemed politics were the main focus with some fighting in between scenes.
Then it happened...Malkolm started his monologue about his past (which happens just under halfway through the book or so?) and I knew how the book would end. I hate that. I think if I had stayed immersed in the plot, the big plot twist at the plot climax would have been really great...instead, I felt disconnected from the story and had a general feeling of "yep...saw that coming".
I think this read is three stars because of the world building and it really did start out as an interesting read. Maybe I just read the book at the wrong time or something. As it stands at the moment, however...I don't plan on continuing the series.
The Hunger by L.J. Smith
This book celebrates its 20th birthday this year. First published in 1994, The Forbidden Game starts my favorite series from L.J. Smith. In fact, this book has a treasured spot on my "all-time favorites" shelf.
In this first installment of the trilogy, we meet Jenny Thornton who is searching for a fun gift to bring to her boyfriend's party. She stumbles upon a store she never knew existed and meets the store's only employee, the oh-so-gorgeous Julian, who sells her a game in a plain, white box. Once she makes it to the party, however, Jenny thinks she may have made a mistake. Her friends decide to give the game a try, however, and in doing so they begin the fight for their lives.
This book is part Labyrinth and part Jumanji. A young David Bowie can easily be imagined as Julian. And a game coming to life and forcing its players to fight for their lives within the constraint of The Game? Well...that's obviously Jumanji (although I think Jumanji came a short while later?)
If you've enjoyed The Vampire Diaries or The Secret Circle, be sure to check out this other gem from L.J. Smith. This is easily my favorite Smith book/series.
Whelp, it's been a pretty slow reading week. Ok, not really...but, I've been re-reading Anne Bishop's Written in Red since the new one in "The Others" series (Murder of Crows) just came out this Tuesday. While I wish Bishop would also revisit her "Black Jewels" series, her new urban fantasy series is setting up to be almost as great. Anyway...on to today's TBT post. Since the weather around here has been crazy these past few months (80+ degrees yesterday...but back down to the 40s today? Gotta be kidding me.(), this seemed like a fitting choice.
ill wind by Rachel Caine
Have you ever looked up at the sky (or shaken your fist at the Weather Channel) wondering what's up with the weather these days? Well, Rachel Caine gives you the explanation you were looking for: a select group of humans (called Wardens) who can control the various elements (like Weather, Fire, and Earth) are embroiled in a battle against themselves and Mother Nature as they try to regulate Nature's wrath upon the earth. Oh, and they harness the power of the aether (where they do their Warden-y stuff) with the help of captive Djinn, of course.
So, what happens when one Weather Warden, Joanne, discovers that she's been corrupted with a Demon Mark (which, as you may have guessed, is bad news for anyone let alone a Warden)? She seeks out the strongest Warden of them all - Lewis - who happens to be the only Warden who can harness all the elements, rather than just one. When her plans go awry, however, Jo stumbles across a mysterious hitchhiker named David and the two of them embark on a journey to not only save Jo from a certain death-by-demon-mark, but to also save the world.
Ok, so that's obviously a hugely generalized summary. I'm writing this review having read several books into the series and I don't want to give any future spoilers, so I will just stop there with the plot.
But, what a fun concept for a book/series. Caine does a great job with the world building...it comes across as the "real world" - especially since the average person doesn't realize that the Wardens are responsible for holding back Nature's wrath. Once she set up the general populace's ignorance, Caine was free to expand the Warden and the Djinn universe and she does so perfectly. From the aether to the Djinn to the crappy politics within the Warden's world, it comes across as just realistic enough to make it believable.
I found the Djinn concept to be really interesting as well. I'm glad Caine stayed away from the stereotypical genie (ie. Aladdin's genie or the like). These Djinn are more forbidding, more dangerous. Their enslavement to their Warden masters is an interesting element and puts a pall on the Wardens actions and will certainly be something Caine will address as the series progresses.
The writing style is a bit light and tad fluffy. If you are looking for an epic urban fantasy, this is probably not going to scratch that itch. This is pure escapist fiction and will probably be a quick read...but sometimes that is just the book you need.