Ultimately not too shabby of a second-in-a-trilogy book. The first half felt a bit rough for me. Almost from the start, Nielsen plunges us into dramat...moreUltimately not too shabby of a second-in-a-trilogy book. The first half felt a bit rough for me. Almost from the start, Nielsen plunges us into dramatic political bravado talk that strains credibility with its melodrama and presents Jaron in a bullheaded light. This is followed by some hectic excursions into new areas of the world and new groups of characters who may or may not be trustworthy.
What I enjoyed most about The False Prince was Sage's snarky attitude, his perfect quips and the deceptively nonchalant way with which he sets situations up in his favor. That aspect of THE RUNAWAY KING didn't really start blossoming for me until about halfway into the book, which was approximately when I stopped putting the book down in favor of, like, washing my dishes and instead plowed through the rest of it. Jaron REALLY shines in the second half of THE RUNAWAY KING: his wit is newly sharpened and cuts egos with ninja-like precision; for a few chapters there, his bullheadedness actually seems like an asset instead of a hindrance.
THE RUNAWAY KING was a bit uneven in its distribution of awesome. The first is crammed with too much new info, and it is only in the second half that the book picks up the snarky, adventurous, and calculated rhythm that made The False Prince so fun and exciting to read.(less)
While reading this, I couldn’t help but feel like the characters’ chemistry was constantly a tick out of alignment with each other. Cade and Sylvain w...moreWhile reading this, I couldn’t help but feel like the characters’ chemistry was constantly a tick out of alignment with each other. Cade and Sylvain work well together, but the road to their togetherness was a troubled and twisting one—not just for them, but for me as a reader. I never seemed to quite get just why the things they say to each other make the other go off in a rage just like that. Some sort of conflict with the character’s deep-rooted traits? Ostensibly yes, that’s what makes anyone, real or fiction, pissed off. Ostensibly Sylvain is justified in being mad at Cade’s clumsily worded attempts to get him to contribute to her family’s corporate chocolate brand. Ostensibly Cade is justified in…um, what is she justified in? I was never fully convinced that Sylvain’s interactions with her justified her outrageous actions.
But most of the time I felt like Cade and Sylvain were raging in the book just to rage, just to make their romance into the “we can’t stand each other but our sex is white-hot so that means we love each other” type. Which I have nothing against, y’know, if the author is able to convince me that the rages and the smolders and the flare-ups are the genuine products of two characters’ head-on personalities.
THE CHOCOLATE THIEF fell just a little short in this.
To give credit where credit’s due, I kept on returning to this book after every time I decided to put it down because I found problems with the writin...moreTo give credit where credit’s due, I kept on returning to this book after every time I decided to put it down because I found problems with the writing. So as far as self-published books go, this is a real nice free find. It has some of the problems that I’ve experienced in other self-published books—notably in pacing, world-building, and plot—but at its heart is a very delightfully strong protagonist and some chuckle-inducing dialogue.
Amaranthe Lokdon is one of the few female enforcers working for her emperor, but when she gets in the middle of a sinister plot that threatens the emperor’s life, she’s forced to drop everything from her old life in order to save herself—and possibly save the emperor. Amaranthe amasses a ragtag team, including Sicarius, a lethal assassin, to execute her crazy plan. But what if she can’t trust even her own team to have her back?
Amaranthe is the type of woman that many protagonists think they are but aren’t really. With her enforcer training, she’s more than physically and intellectually competent. She’s also capable of getting herself out of sticky predicaments with creative thinking. Instead of saying all the time that she’s resourceful and smart and badass, she actually IS. Whenever I thought I was done with this because of some writing weaknesses, Amaranthe comes out with something that impresses me.
About those writing weaknesses… Well, it’s just the stuff that I’ve generally found to appear in self-published books. As in, the world makes sense in the author’s mind, but somewhere down the line, the author’s intended world doesn’t align with the words that actually end up on the page. THE EMPEROR’S EDGE claims to be a fantasy with steampunk elements, but besides for a few mentions of engines and mages and whatnot, it was difficult to distinguish what made this world so different than a medieval/contemporary mashup of our own. (At one point one of the characters calls out, “Yo!” I facepalmed like it was the end of the world.)
I also haven’t warmed up to the Amaranthe-Sicarius romance yet, primarily because Sicarius himself doesn’t demonstrate even a HINT of romantic gestures throughout the whole novel. Amaranthe, girl, you are really deluded if you’ve spotted anything even remotely resembling him caring for you in this episode of your life. However, I believe that the potential for romance is there, and it can pay off in the end, if that’s something that motivates your reading.
Nevertheless, THE EMPEROR’S EDGE exceeded my expectations for a free self-published novel. It’s got its flaws, but they’re not deal-breakers, not with great characters and an admirable female protagonist leading the charge. I may even consider reading on in the series sometime in the future. Snap up this free e-book and be prepared to be impressed with how much heart it’s got.(less)
A dash of Indiana Jones mixed in amongst way too much unattractive love triangle angst. I think Eugenie would be better off dropping both Kiyo and Dor...moreA dash of Indiana Jones mixed in amongst way too much unattractive love triangle angst. I think Eugenie would be better off dropping both Kiyo and Dorian and telling them she's done with their Alpha Male nonsense and striking off on her own--and so would us readers benefit from it too.(less)
I wanted to like this because I'm always a sucker for these sorts of premises... but the execution was really, really poor, which resulted in me havin...moreI wanted to like this because I'm always a sucker for these sorts of premises... but the execution was really, really poor, which resulted in me having no connection with the characters at all. These teens' acting professions were used as a narrative ploy to get them to engage in some typical adolescent relationship shenanigans in a shared space that is not a school or summer camp. Everything just felt excruciatingly artificial. Disappointing, though I can say I didn't warn myself prior to giving this a try.(less)
Oh, this is the perfect complement to SERAPHINA! Everything that I loved about Rachel Hartman's novel is here: Seraphina's spiritedness and intelligen...moreOh, this is the perfect complement to SERAPHINA! Everything that I loved about Rachel Hartman's novel is here: Seraphina's spiritedness and intelligence, Glisselda's ineffable energy, the smattering of perfectly executed humor that charms you and draws you into the story. Those who haven't read SERAPHINA yet may consider reading "The Audition" to get an idea of Rachel Hartman's talented writing, while those who've already read and loved SERAPHINA will squeal over this opportunity for just a little more. Read it free on Scribd here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/97577759/Seraphina-Prequel-WEB!(less)
"Beauty" - Oh, funnn! Crown Duel fans will certainly appreciate the fact that Elestra's voice is reminiscent of her mother's--slightly sullen and tire...more"Beauty" - Oh, funnn! Crown Duel fans will certainly appreciate the fact that Elestra's voice is reminiscent of her mother's--slightly sullen and tired of being different from the other court children. The (view spoiler)[reappearance of Flauvic (hide spoiler)] was a bit odd, and how that developed requires a bit of suspension of disbelief or ignoring your feelings from Crown Duel in order to invest in it. However, this is certainly a novelette that would have the potential to be turned into a full-length novel, if Sherwood Smith is ever interested in doing so. 3.5/5
"Court Ship" - I wasn't a fan. The third-person omniscient narrator, the way it switched rapidly between characters' heads, reminded me of the narrative styles of A Stranger to Command or Inda, which I didn't really find effective. There's a spoiled princess being petty... aaaaaand not much else going on. The maybe-maybe-not friendship/romance was too ambiguous to allow me to care much for it. 2/5["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In an unprecedented move, Jeri Smith-Ready publishes an essential piece of her WVMP Radio series in an e-book novella format. Longtime fans of this ur...moreIn an unprecedented move, Jeri Smith-Ready publishes an essential piece of her WVMP Radio series in an e-book novella format. Longtime fans of this urban fantasy series, including me, have been eagerly awaiting LET IT BLEED. The verdict? While a refreshing dip back into the WVMP Radio world, LET IT BLEED’s novella length does make it feel a bit rushed and incomplete.
As ever, Ciara’s witty narration carries readers’ enjoyment of the story, but—and this may just be me—I wonder if the series may be suffering from the literary equivalent of the “Moonlighting” curse—that is, now that the main characters have gotten together and are getting married and all that, some of the tension that drew me through earlier installments of this series is gone. LET IT BLEED expands Ciara’s story to include more troubling conflicts and revelations, but it feels a little bare in some places, as if the story is trying to juggle too many of these conflicts, revelations, and sideplots, with the result that the pacing is uneven and the resolution abrupt.
I would’ve liked LET IT BLEED to be longer, so as to give space for the plots involving Jim and Ciara’s family to be given more space to develop. LET IT BLEED was a complete story structurally, but I didn’t have the same emotional investment in it as I had with earlier installments. Still, I am no less a fan of the series, and excitedly look forward to the final book, Lust for Life. There are, in my opinion, few protagonists who can compare to Ciara for paranormal resourcefulness and wit, and I’d follow her through anything to the ends of the earth…or the end of the series, since that seems more likely.(less)