I think this is my favorite of all the books in the Twelve Houses series, which is unfortunate because I had to slog my way through several I didn't mI think this is my favorite of all the books in the Twelve Houses series, which is unfortunate because I had to slog my way through several I didn't much enjoy to get to it. Fortune and Fate nicely inverts several of the usual romance genre tropes -- instead of the hero being a brooding ball of angst over a mistake in his past, here the heroine suffers from some pretty serious survivor's guilt. Additionally, it is the hero who is the nurturing, empathetic one, who waits for the heroine to get herself together. It is a seriously refreshing use of character traits not based in gender stereotypes in romance, and for that I am deeply grateful. And that Wen is short and not some towering Amazon -- even better!
I also appreciate that both the hero and heroine aren't, well, young and stupid, so they approach having a sexual relationship with a sort of understanding directness, rather than flying off into the clouds with every touch of a hand. There's still passion there, but they don't let it make them stupid.
This is such a satisfying read, and I'm a little disappointed that there hasn't been another book following it, since there are some suggestions of things to come plotwise that it would be nice to see resolution to. But four years have passed since it's been published and no new book appears to be forthcoming, so I suppose that's not going to happen. It does, however, function very well as a standalone novel, and there is enough detail given of events in previous books that it's not really necessary to read them to enjoy this one. So, I recommend it to fans of fantasy romance. Without caveats, even!...more
Incredibly bad. Apparently the answer to all life's problems is to turn into a puma out of stress. Out of milk? Puma! Someone cuts you off at the checIncredibly bad. Apparently the answer to all life's problems is to turn into a puma out of stress. Out of milk? Puma! Someone cuts you off at the checkout? Puma! Argue with your boyfriend? Puma! Puma now!...more
This book is amazing! Everybody should read it! OK, maybe not everybody. But if you like humorous historical romances, then this should totally be onThis book is amazing! Everybody should read it! OK, maybe not everybody. But if you like humorous historical romances, then this should totally be on your to-read list. Sassy heroine, disgruntled Scottish werewolf hero? Um, yes please! Did I mention that I adore the hero? Because to quote Lord Flashheart, "Woof!"
Laughed out loud in several parts, never felt that the relationship between the hero and heroine was coercive or that they would not be able to figure out any relationship problems they had. Why? Because they talk to each other and listen (eventually). Nice!
Was also totally delighted by the heroine's fixation on food and that she was appropriately plump for this fixation. Eats like a horse, looks like . . . well, no, she doesn't look like a horse, but you get where I'm headed with this. Two thumbs up to Ms. Carriger!...more
I had high hopes going into this one, believing it to be a steampunk romance. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations. I found the developI had high hopes going into this one, believing it to be a steampunk romance. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations. I found the development of the relationship between the main characters to be rather thinly drawn, and it was full of cliched plot elements. The plot really seemed to exist to propel the two characters into bed together, which really isn't romance. Romance is the building of an emotional relationship, and sex can be an element of that relationship, but if the development of the emotional relationship is exchanged for the building of the physical one, then it's better classified as erotica. I just couldn't believe in the emotional relationship between Roxanne and Adrian -- what was it they saw in each other past finding the other one hot? -- so it didn't work as romance for me. Added to the choppy worldbuilding and plotting, and this is one fallen souffle of a romance....more
It’s been a really long time since I’ve read a fantasy book that I enjoyed as much as this one. It’s definitely a fantasy novel, but it has a lot of rIt’s been a really long time since I’ve read a fantasy book that I enjoyed as much as this one. It’s definitely a fantasy novel, but it has a lot of really delightful aberrations from standard fantasy tropes. For example, rather than being a young handsome farmboy thrust into the middle of a great struggle, the main character is 38, is of noble descent, has been imprisoned for 17 years for reasons unknown to him, and is horribly disfigured from his stay in prison. Before his imprisonment, he was the greatest musician there had ever been, widely believed to have been blessed by the gods, but his hands were destroyed in prison and his voice silenced. Rather than being hellbent on revenge, he’s mostly confused and conflicted over the whole situation, and he struggles with what is the proper way to feel. The plot focuses around discovering why he had been imprisoned in the first place and his path to finding meaning in his life again without the ability to play music.
I’ve just made this sound horribly dull and navel gazing, but there are also dragons and fighting and dragons and unlikely love and dragons – did I mention the dragons? The dragons are pretty cool, actually, though I’m not sure how much they deviate from the way dragons are usually portrayed in fantasy, because I usually avoid books about dragons at all costs. They sure as hell aren’t Pern dragons, though.
This is Berg’s first book, and it shows a little. There are parts that I would have liked to have better developed or more spelled out for me. I sometimes felt that as a reader, I really had to work to figure out what was going on with the way the narrator referenced something. It is told in first-person from different narrators, though, so I’m not sure if that issue was part of that character’s nature or a fault in the writing. I never felt that the first-person narration was done hokily – there aren’t any instances of the narrator explaining something that another character should have known for the benefit of the reader or the narrator info-dumping for the narrator’s benefit. But some of the sentences are very oblique, very glancing, so you have to think about what is really meant by them.
Anyway, yes! I enjoyed this! Pleasant surprise, really....more
A book of short stories by various authors, dealing with fairy tales. I enjoyed some stories and didn't enjoy others, but it's been a while since I reA book of short stories by various authors, dealing with fairy tales. I enjoyed some stories and didn't enjoy others, but it's been a while since I read it, so I can't be more specific.
There was one in particular based on Puss-in-boots that I enjoyed very much, but I can't remember the title. And there was another involving a fairly graphic rape that I just detested, because I thought that the message it was trying to send could have been done so with far less -- well, with far less rape....more
Quick review: The second book (Magic Study) is not as good as the first and third books, and the third book (Fire Study) is not as good as the first bQuick review: The second book (Magic Study) is not as good as the first and third books, and the third book (Fire Study) is not as good as the first book. They are, however, entertaining books. I found the story very interesting. Honestly, I picked up the third book, intending to read the third chapter in the tub, and I oh god, I'm so ashamed ended up reading the entire book in the bathtub. I looked like I was considering a career path as a California Raisin when I got out. Four hours of my life spent in the bathtub, because the author likes to end chapters very suspensefully, so you say, “Oh, I’ll just read one more chapter,” and the next thing you know, you need to get up for work in three hours.
All in all, an entertaining series. But (and there is always a but) there are things about it that bugged me. Let me tell you.
This is what I said about the first book:
It’s written in the first person, which is generally a bad sign in books, but I don’t think it detracted from the narrative at all. Yay!
And I have to say that while it didn’t detract from the narrative, it did detract from all the characters except the narrator/main character. When you write in first person, you miss a lot of opportunities to show the motivations of the other characters. In these books, the other characters sort of come off as all being in the Yelena Fan Club, so there’s some Mary-Sueness going on. It’s especially irritating when it comes to Valek, her lover, because he seems to show up to have sex with her and save her bacon. He’s pretty damned cool, and is totally more than a cabana boy and bacon saver. If these books were in third-person omniscient, then I think there would be a lot more subtlety flying around. The characters would be more three-dimensional, and that would be greatly appreciated. Right now, they’re sort of, “Yelena is in great peril! We must save her! Yelena is the only one who knows what’s going on! We must follow her!” and the bad guys are all, “Yelena has super powers! We must end her!”
Um, I guess that’s my biggest beef. First person and Mary Sue qualities. It’s a really cool world and an interesting story, but it does have shortcomings. Beach/blizzard read. I really did enjoy this books, but I wish they could have been better....more
Blergh. You guys, I can't read high fantasy anymore. I don't know whether I've grown as a reader or I've just read too much, but high fantasy just seeBlergh. You guys, I can't read high fantasy anymore. I don't know whether I've grown as a reader or I've just read too much, but high fantasy just seems really tired to me. And this particular book was a total Mary Sue fest. I probably would have enjoyed it more if Achmed was the main character and Rhapsody had disappeared from the story completely, though then we wouldn't have had Ashe, who I really enjoy.
A big irritation for me was the way the author uses twenty-five dollar words. She misuses them, but you can still see what she’s aiming for. It was really irritating, because she used them in the sense of the meaning of the word, but it’s far enough outside the word’s general use that it detracts from the flow of the writing. It’s like I used “sky blue” to describe what color the sky is at night. I mean, it’s the sky, so the color blue it is is arguably sky blue, except it’s definitely not light blue. Unfortunately, I've already returned it to the library, so I can't give any specific examples....more
This is printed by Luna Books, which is an imprint of Harlequin Novels. You know, the people who print all the “The Greek Millionaire Tycoon’s PregnanThis is printed by Luna Books, which is an imprint of Harlequin Novels. You know, the people who print all the “The Greek Millionaire Tycoon’s Pregnant Virgin Mistress” books. I guess this means that it could technically be counted as a romance novel, except the romance in this is sort of secondary to the main plot. The romance also breaks a lot of the “rules” of your typical romance novel, so I’m not going to put this in my “trashy romance” category. It’s too atypical.
I really enjoyed this. Really! I thought it was a very interesting take on both the fantasy and romance genres. It’s written in the first person, which is generally a bad sign in books, but I don’t think it detracted from the narrative at all. Yay!
So, plot summary: Yelena, a prisoner who is waiting to be executed, is summoned to the of Valek, who happens to be the personal security chief of the Commander (who runs the country this is set in, Ixia; he’s a bit of a military dictator). Valek is also the head spymaster for the country’s enormous intelligence network. He is a Big Shot, basically. He gives Yelena a choice: Either be hanged for the murder she committed or become the food taster for the Commander. Option 1: She definitely dies. Option 2: She might die, but if she develops a great enough skill in identifying poison, there’s a chance she won’t. Naturally, she chooses the second option.
I don’t really want to say anything more, because the book is a little suspenseful and I don’t want to spoil that. The main plot involves one of the generals (who act as governors over military districts) engaged in some very shifty activity, which brings Sitia, a country to the South into focus. Magic had once been used in both Ixia and Sitia, but following the overthrow of the Ixian royalty by the Commander and his supporters, magic was outlawed and all those with magical talent had automatic writs of execution, which apparently Valek carries out as chief spymaster. Guess who has magical talent. Yelena! Tension, tension, tension.
Ixia is based pretty heavily on Soviet Russia. There’s even a subplot that involves a gymnastics competition, of all things, which is a little silly but so unexpected that it really grew on me.
My one disappointment with this book is that there are some spots I wish more words had been devoted to developing. I think there are a couple places that would have benefited from a little more detail. There’s one character who pretty much does an about-face in attitude, and his metamorphosis is a little unbelievable for that reason. If some points of his development had been emphasized more, it would have made that transition less shocking.
Not a monument to literature, but totally, totally enjoyable. I plan on reading the next books, Magic Study (which I had already read last summer, not knowing it was part of a series) and Fire Study....more