While this is the second book in Ashley’s Fantasyland series, by the time I have got around to writing this review I have actually nearly finished reaWhile this is the second book in Ashley’s Fantasyland series, by the time I have got around to writing this review I have actually nearly finished reading them all, and I can honestly say the The Golden Dynasty is the best in the series.
The best way I can describe it, and I’m going to go on a brief sojourn here, but bear with me, it’s relevant! In the first season of Game of Thrones (apologies I haven’t read the books), my favourite scenes were those between Daenerys and Kahl Drogo. I loved the unusual love story that developed between them. So now imagine if things had turned out differently for them and instead their story was a romance. This is how The Golden Dynasty read to me. It reminded me so much of it in fact, I went and checked series and publication dates to see if one could have influenced the other (they could have).
Like the first in the series, our heroine Circe has found herself transported to a parallel universe, switching places with her parallel twin. Unlike the first book however, Circe did not chose to make this switch, and wakes up to find herself in another world with no idea of how she got there.
This is quite an unusual romance to get your head around, because of the incredibly different culture that Dax is from. For example (minor spoiler here) the beginning opens with a rape. Circe’s rape. But in Dax’s world as this act is part of their culture and the ‘wife claiming’ he believes he has done nothing wrong. When this happened I really wasn’t sure I was going to like the book, rape is a tricky issue in a romance and in a romance between the hero and heroine downright ridiculous. Right? Well actually, no. Believe it or not, it did work. I didn’t like him at first, but quite understandably neither did Circe, but he did methodically begin to chip away and mine and her heart.
There were several parts of the story that were quite shocking, Dax is meant to be a powerful man in charge of a savage land, culture clashes are inevitable. Circe’s journey from victim to Queen was brutal, but with a little fairy tale dust to take off the edge. I couldn’t get enough of the love story between two people who for the first half of the book didn’t even speak each other’s language. There were times when I didn’t exactly like Dax, understandably. Then there were times he was so sexy I just wanted to lick him all over ;-). Circe has got plenty of spirit and it’s certainly needed for the story to work, to forgive a man for the worse crime he could ever commit to you, to cope in a brutal world and become queen of their people, but she had it in spades and you route for her right from the beginning.
Ashley has her own unique writing style, if you haven’t read anything by her before, and you could easily pick this up as a standalone novel, it’s very slangy and even in a fantasy novel she sticks true to her tone of voice.
I loved this book, it is by far and away the best in the series. This was quite a different love story and perhaps because I loved the romance between Daenerys and Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones so much, which this really, really reminded me of, I adored the romance between Circe and Dax.
Over the past year I have fast become a Kristen Ashley fan, having read the entire of her Rock Chick and Dream Man series. I was intrigued by her FantOver the past year I have fast become a Kristen Ashley fan, having read the entire of her Rock Chick and Dream Man series. I was intrigued by her Fantasyland series and when it went on offer on Amazon, I couldn’t resist. Wildest Dreams is the first in this fantasy based series, where the heroine of the book gets whisked off to a parallel universe and finds herself living in the shoes of her parallel twin. This is a world of magic, elves, dragons, and talking cats. Where technology does not exist.
In Wildest Dreams, our heroine Finnie finds out about the existence of this parallel universe, and grieving the loss of her parents, who are still alive in the other universe, she makes a deal to switch with her counterpart. Things naturally do not run quite to plan and she finds out that while her ‘twin’ might be a Princess, there is also a lot of things she didn’t disclose to Finnie before the switch. Including a marriage to a certain intimidating Drakkar.
The book is written with Ashley’s characteristic humorous and serious page-turning writing style. Although, I have to say, I think this book took a little bit longer to get into than some of her others, and to get hooked into the story and the characters. There were also a few writing glitches that made me wonder if this was one of Ashley’s earlier works as it wasn’t as smooth as the writing in her Rock Chick books for example. There were a couple of instances where she would make the story work by saying, oh by the way I told this character this a while ago – and that element would be quite a major plot point, and would have worked a lot better if the scenes had been woven into the plot at the relevant time rather than added in as an after thought. It turns out it isn’t one of her earlier works, which means it wasn’t the smoothest of writing I have seen from Ashley.
Don’t worry, while this did niggle, it didn’t ruin the story. I loved the rich fantasy world Ashley created, including Finnie’s immense wardrobe! The chemistry between Finnie and our hero, Frey was fabulous, and Finnie was such a great heroine who embraced life and all of its experiences to the fullest. The story was funny and sexy and thoroughly enjoyable.
That being said, I didn’t always like Frey’s authoritarian manner. Ok, yes I know he’s an alpha male etc, etc… But he made a few too many decisions behind Finnie’s back for my liking. He did of course get discovered and face the consequences, but I’m afraid he did still occasionally annoy me.
There was a great cast of secondary characters, again something Ashley does well. I loved Apollo and Frey’s shipmates, as well as Finine’s handmaidens. They made the story richer and I enjoyed watching Finnie’s friendship with each of them develop.
My final criticism of the book was I felt that it could have been a smidgen shorter. There were sections that needed snipping. In general my main feedback really is editing, it needed better editing with plot threads and overall length. These were the two failings of the book, although it was still a great book, it could have been better.
Do I think this is Ashley’s best book? No. But that certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a read. I went straight onto read book two immediately (which is loads better), and I’m still a fast Ashley fan. I did enjoy the fantasy setting. It has dragons and elves and the parallel universe added a different twist to a romance story.
I am fast becoming a rather big fan of Kristin Cashore’s writing. You could be forgiven for thinking that book two iReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I am fast becoming a rather big fan of Kristin Cashore’s writing. You could be forgiven for thinking that book two in her Graceling Kingdom series would have the same world building we’ve already seen in Graceling. But, Cashore has cleverly crafted an additional rich and exotic world layered onto the clever landscape she has already depicted. I think it’s also fair to say if you really don’t need to have read Graceling to pick this book up. They could both quite happily be viewed as two separate stand-alone stories. I actually kind of wish there was more overlap, perhaps we will see this in Bitter Blue, the third book in the series.
Fire, our heroine lives in the Dells and she is the only living human monster. Monsters are vividly coloured, compelling and utterly beautiful version of normal animals, with mind control abilities. Think magenta horses, turquoise and gold tabby cats or bright green raptors.
Fire is a monster woman with red, gold and magenta hair, she hates that she’s stunningly beautiful, that some people lose their minds when they see her, wanting to possess her, to marry her, or there are those that would just prefer to kill her. She hates that she can control people with her mind, and every time she goes out she has to have a guard as animal monsters simply want to eat her. Or perhaps even worse than all of this, is the dark and cruel legacy her monster father has left before her.
This book truly vivid setting that completely draws you in. The world building is complex, rich and engaging. Even now, there is one scene where Fire rides out on her horse to save a group of soldiers and I can see it in my mind’s eye with almost cinematic quality.
The prologue actually began with Leck, a prequel to the cruel and evil King we meet in Graceling, and I found myself a little disappointed at first. Thinking to myself, we’ve met this baddie, we’re done with this baddie, I want a new one! But in actually first, as soon as I was over my initial irritation, once again Leck does most effectively wear his wicked crown. Thankfully, Fire also delivers with it plenty of additional villains to keep you entertained.
If I’m honest, I think I preferred Katsa from Graceling as a heroine, and I found I couldn’t help comparing them. But Fire did really grow on me, her sense of right and wrong, her repeated self-sacrifice, and the affection she feels for those she calls friends, even when those friends are not always kind to her demonstrated her a real strength of character. She became a solid heroine in her own right.
In addition, Cashore has created a rich array of characters, each so completely three-dimensional their flaws as important as their nicer qualities. For example, Archer, Fire’s best friend is one of these, he is noble, brave and full of love, but at the same time grumpy and impetuous. It’s also interesting to watch how Fire’s mesmerising beauty and mind control abilities play into these relationships. Where does the line between love and infatuation lie?
The love story was a real slow burner, and I mean real slow burner, have patience until the very end kind of one. But I think it would be hard for anyone not to fall for the brave, dedicated, honourable general that is Brigan. By the end I found I did want to see more of the two of them together, and that their scenes were just a touch too short for my satisfaction.
Technically, as Fire is 17, this is probably viewed as a YA novel. But as the rest of the characters were in their early 20s, and each had such huge responsibilities – a King, a general, warriors, a military strategist, the King’s sister responsible for running the kingdom, I think it’s fair to say that this is definitely on the older side of YA and not really a problem for me who generally steers clear of them.
Another great book from Cashore and for audiobook fans, also a well narrated story. I think I loved Graceling slightly more, but I think this is more to do with Katsa being awesome rather than due to any deficiency in Fire. I would recommend fantasy fans most definitely add this series to your reading list if you haven’t already.
FEVER tells the story of super intelligent modern day teenager Eva and Sethos (Seth) a seventeen year old gladiatorReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
FEVER tells the story of super intelligent modern day teenager Eva and Sethos (Seth) a seventeen year old gladiator in ancient Rome. For all of you fellow time travel fans, this book has a nice bit of time travel, although perhaps not in the way I expected.
Our characters have nothing in common, other than their age, and the fact they have both suffered from an inexplicable fever. But the fever they suffer from will bring them together, even though they were born centuries apart.
It’s quite hard to write this review without too many spoilers, to reveal anything about the fever or how our characters meet, other than the fact time travel is involved I feel would give too much away. So I shall just refer to events as before the fever and after the fever.
The book is told in from two narrative points of view and is divided into three parts. Eva’s story and Seth’s story, the two main characters don’t actually meet until the third part of the book. This meant that the love story felt like it took a while to take route. There is a love story before and after the fever, and the love story before the fever didn’t quite resonate with me. It felt rushed and naive. As did Seth’s obsession with the ‘love of his life’. But ironically, although it irritated, this obsession made the second part of the love story all the more lovely.
Seth was my favourite of the two characters. He made the greatest journey throughout the novel, not only in terms of time, but in growth of character. Quite literally from gladiator to modern day schoolboy. Eva is complicated. Brilliant, but lost at the same time. She struggles throughout the story to find her place in the world. But I also like the fact that she didn’t fall into the generic high school geek-ette category (I may just have made up a word there ). Also the relationship between her and her mother is just heart-breaking.
The actual fever part of the story was the most fascinating, what is it? Why does it happen and what is the wider implications of it? Don’t expect all of your questions to be answered! It’s a unique and intriguing concept. I like that is a different idea and hope that this is the first in a series rather than a stand-alone novel and we get to find out!
I really enjoyed this book, and actually read it quite quickly. The romance did need perhaps a little more time to be allowed to blossom, and I would have liked the main characters to have met sooner to enable to this to happen. But it was well written and packed with compelling scenes. There are few books that combine scenes from the barbaric gladiator’s arena, complicated micro-biology and high school drama and do it successfully. But FEVER does.
A well written and interesting start to a new series. I am quite intrigued about the Fever and the clever concept that Shulman has created. Her characters and strong and compelling and it has a lovely story full of promise.
OMG! Mr. Brett how could you leave us with an ending like that?! Argh! A whole year I've got to wait to find out what happens too, a whole year! I can't take it! BUT..... Despite the truly evil cliffhanger (and you all know just how much I hate them, if you don't then read here), the fact Renna drove me round the twist, clearly Arlen and Leesha are incapable of making any decent decisions in their love lives and the characters do far too much spitting for my liking, I'm still giving this book a MASSIVE five stars. Quite simply because Brett is an amazing storyteller. This series is what epic fantasy is all about. It's phenomenal. There were passages where I literally found myself with goosebumps on my arms.
Ok, so let's rewind. The Daylight War is book three in Brett's Demon Cycle series set in a world where at night, demons rise from the core and kill and eat people. Their only protection is wards which people paint on their homes and pray they don't fail. Legend decrees that one day there will come 'The Deliverer' a man who will help humans fight and defeat the demons.
By book three we have two contenders for the title of Deliverer, the humble Arlen Bales, and Ahmann Jardir, ruler of the Krasians. By now, mortal enemies after Jardir's brutal betrayal of Arlen in The Painted Man. The stories are as much about the characters surrounding Arlen and Jardir as they are about Arlen and Jardir themselves and the journey's each of them make.
As we saw in The Desert Spear, Brett takes characters you thought you hated and cleverly sets about changing your mind. The first part of the story is told from Inevera, Jardir's ruthless and manipulative first wife's point of view. She's like a Middle Eastern Lady Macbeth. I was never a fan, but the telling of her childhood and her journey to become the woman she is now was intriguing, painful and cleverly woven. I saw Inevera in a totally different light. I might not like her, but I found myself begin to empathise with her and respect her. This is part of Brett's talent, he makes you engage with the villains until you're not really sure if they're villains at all.
Then, as the lives of the different characters begin to overlap more and more, we have an interesting development for violinist and jaungler Rojer. Inevitably we see more of his musical talent, but most importantly there is a very surprising romantic development for him. I thought it was honestly going to be disaster, but it ended up being funny, romantic and one of my favourite parts of the book. The ins and outs of the relationship was quite humorous, fascinating and tender.
The main focus of the story is preparing for the new moon and the epic battle we all know is coming. We watch as the characters prepare for the rise of the mind demons, demons who can only walk the earth for three days a month when the moon is at its darkest. Terribly powerful and clever demons who are determined to crush the resistance that Arlen and Jardir have started. The systematic countdown in the narrative until these epic battles adds drama and tension to the narrative.
When the fight scenes do inevitably arrive they are chilling and compelling. I found the scenes in The Hollow with Arlen much more sinister than with Jardir. But both were great. For the Hollow scenes, they literally had me on the edge of my seat and visually I could see every moment clearly, the fear of the Hollowers is palpable with the unrolling horror. It had a cinematic quality to it.
As I inferred in my first paragraph, I did have some issues with this book and first and foremost this has to be with Renna. Good God that woman is annoying, what on earth does Arlen see in her? She is stroppy, undisciplined, rude and spoilt. I spent most of the scenes hoping she would find herself killed by the demons she liked killing a little too much. And if I never hear her saying I love you Arlen Bales again it would be too soon. Plus who refers to their partner with their surname like that? I do hope she reaches a painful demise.
Then there is Leesha. That woman has no taste in men whatsoever. Goodness me she went from one car crash to another. As in The Desert Spear I found myself completely frustrated with her choices and some of them seemed so impulsive and not like the careful and strategic thinker she is in normal day to day life. At the same time my heart did ache for her and she is far from naive about the position she's in, I also found the scenes when she realises Arlen and Renna are betrothed genuinely sad.
Despite me being frustrated with these characters and their choices, oh and the spitting, did I mention the spitting? Ugh, gross habit, which all of these characters seemed to do a lot more regularly to show their displeasure or insult another. Yuk! Anyway, despite these irritations, I could still appreciate that just because the characters weren't behaving the way I wanted them to, that this was still great writing. Layers and layers of it cleverly woven together as Arlen and Jardir's stories and battles become unravelled piece by piece. As a reader I could appreciate that I might not like the way the story was going and the choices the characters made on occasion, but I also understood it was going that way for a reason.
Of course, there is the scene we have all desperately been waiting for. That moment when Arlen and Jardir finally meet once more. When Jardir realises that Arlen is still alive and the ultimate battle of who is the true Deliverer really begins. If you want to know, I'm afraid you're going to have to read it yourself ;-).
I could write so much in this review, there are characters I haven't even got around to mentioning - Abben, the Dama'tings, the Hollowers, the relationships between all of the characters are richly portrayed and three dimensional. Quite frankly, this book is fantastic.
I will add a small footnote to this review as this was an audiobook, that The Daylight War has a new narrator, he was good, but not quite as good as Peter Joyce, I'm not sure why they changed him?
A truly superb book that fantasy fans everywhere should read. I have seen Brett compared to George R. R. Martin, I haven't read the Game of Thrones books, so I can't comment, although the TV show is awesome. What I do know is that this book gave me genuine goosebumps, his character portrayals are excellent, his plotting immensely clever and battle scenes epic. I did debate marking the book down from 5 stars because there were a few irritations, and of course that hideous cliffhanger. But how can you markdown goosebumps?
I’ve wanted to read UNDER THE NEVER SKY for a while. If you remember it was on my ‘Top 10 ‘Must Have’ Books 2012′. IReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I’ve wanted to read UNDER THE NEVER SKY for a while. If you remember it was on my ‘Top 10 ‘Must Have’ Books 2012′. I’ve seen some great reviews of it, but I also had a certain amount of trepidation about picking it up. Mainly to be honest because it’s a YA novel, but also because I wanted it to be good! But of course, like so many other readers I loved it, and read it in less than two days.
Following the recent trend for Dystopia, UNDER THE NEVER SKY tells the story of Aria. Aria has grown up and spent her entire life cocooned in Reverie, an enclosed and protected city that is entirely reliant on technology. After an event she is expelled to the world outside also referred to as ‘the death shop’. She believe she won’t last more than a few days outside, told that the very air will kill her.
There she meets Perry. Perry is wild, a hunter and a survivor, he also needs her help. Agreeing on an uneasy allegiance as Aria knows Perry is her only chance of survival they team up.
UNDER THE NEVER SKY is a vividly drawn world. Barbaric and stark is one breath, full of beautiful and poignant relationships in the next. The story is one of growth, love and survival.
Aria and Perry are fabulous characters, their distrust and dislike of one another at the beginning makes the storyline all the more fascinating as they both grow and adapt. Aria is strong, a survivor, just in a different way to Perry. But I liked them both for different reasons. Perry is like a young warrior of old, a hunter and protector, but also one with great depths and strong emotions for those he cares for.
The contrast between life in Reverie and life in the wastelands is profound. I really enjoyed Rossi’s depiction of these two worlds, but in particular the outsider’s lives and the unique gifts a few of them possessed. They were fascinating and brutal, loyal and colourful.
The love story is completely spell binding. It’s a slow grower and that’s why I think it works so well. It’s believable as you watch two worlds collide, painfully at times as they slowly begin to respect and understand one another.
Ahh and the ending. No cliffhangers, hurray! It had me worried for a while! But man, I loved it! It was perfect and not perfect all at the same time. It had a proper conclusion, even if everything was not tied up in a tidy bow for us just yet.
A stunning and well written start to a new series. A superb piece of writing for an author’s debut novel. Pacy, easy to read with a beautiful, believable love story at its core. Even not being a huge YA fan I loved it. Rossi is definitely one to watch.
In 'The Spirit Thief', Aaron has created a clever world where every thing in the world hasReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (7 out of 10 on the blog)
In 'The Spirit Thief', Aaron has created a clever world where every thing in the world has a soul. Be it the wind or a singular piece of wood. Every item has a soul and a will of their own. Which is where wizards come in. Wizards or spiritualists can talk to the spirits, a good wizard treats spirits with respect and takes spirits into their service via a contract. A bad wizard takes away a spirit's will and forces them into servitude.
The story is of two main characters. The cheeky and wildly charismatic Eli, who also happens to be a wanted thief and Miranda the spiritualist charged with tracking him down and apprehending him.
Both characters are polar opposites, with Miranda being a total stickler for the rules and Eli very much enjoying flaunting them to see just how much he can get away with. Eli is such a fab character he's witty, cheeky and clever and despite the fact he is a notorious thief and a bit of a rogue, I loved that intrinsically he was still a good person.
Eli is like that friend of yours who despite the fact is always up to mischief and drives you a bit crackers, yet you still can't help but like him. His mission is to increase the bounty on his head to a million gold coins and he glories in his notoriety. So what better way to increase this than to kidnap a King and hold him to ransom? Eli's madcap plans are just hilarious and I couldn't help but delight in that fact that he charmed himself through most of them too.
However, I really liked Miranda also, disciplined, honourable and determined. It's her essential goodness that makes her who she is, and the banter between her and Eli never fails to amuse. Of course, when the real baddie comes into play you know the inevitable has to happen and they're just going to have to team up for the greater good.
We never really get to the bottom of what drives Eli, why he is so obsessed with increasing the bounty in his head and I think we'll have to wait for subsequent books in the series to really understand him.
The sidekicks in the book are also an interesting combination. Eli has Josef the expert swordsman and Nico a young girl with a demonseed inside of her and Miranda has a ghost-hound, a giant dog who can jump buildings and run faster than a horse is the best way I can describe him. All great characters in their own right. I found I wanted to learn more about them, particularly Josef and Nico.
A part of me was hoping for a sneaky, unorthodox love story between Eli and Miranda. But in retrospect I can see now that it wouldn't have fitted in with the overall tone of the book. I think I'm just too much of a romantic at heart!
The book is narrated by Luke Daniels, who I've mentioned before in my reviews as one of my favourite narrators. He always manages to get the tone of the book and the voices for the characters in such a way you can fully imagine them.
This book isn't really gritty or dark, it's more of a light, fun adventure story. But it's well written with great characters. I also think it would appeal to YA fans....more
'The Heir of Night' is the first in a new four part fantasy series. The Derai live on theReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (7 out of 10 on the blog)
'The Heir of Night' is the first in a new four part fantasy series. The Derai live on the edge of the world, charged with guarding 'The Wall' against the ancient and terrifying Swarm. A ferocious, demonic race.
The Derai are an uncompromising people, ruled by tough rules and routine. But their task is such a hard one, they dare not deviate from the way of life that has been followed for hundreds of years. For, legend claims that if the House of Night falls, the rest of the world will follow. Victims to the Darkswarm.
Thirteen year old Malian is the Heir of Night, daughter to the Earl of Night and as his only child and successor is destined to rule the Derai after his demise. A daunting task for any child to comprehend, but Malian embraces her future with relish, longing for adventure.
By contrast our other main character is Kalan. Kalan is from a noble warrior family, but when is family discovered he has magic they disowned him, turning him over to be trained as a priest of the Temple of Night. For in the Derai magic and warriors do not mix.
This is a book about destinies, bravery and hard choices. When after years of silence the Darkswarm rise again, it becomes evident that the Derai are no longer strong enough. A lot of the old ways and magics have been lost with time. And suddenly the fate of both a race and the world may potentially rest on the shoulders of two children - Malian and Kalan. But they are surrounded with suspicion, untrained and in terrible danger.
The first few pages take quite a bit of concentration, as there is so much world building and past to take in. It was one of those books where you occasionally have to pause as reread the previous paragraph in order to make sure you have understood it correctly.
I really engaged with the characters. They are complex and intriguing. Take Malian's father as an example, a tough and scrupulous man, strict to the point of brutal. He makes decisions that you can't quite comprehend and yet is softened by his love both Malian and his non Derai girlfriend Rowan.
Those of you that struggle with dream sequences, may struggle with this book as there are a lot of them. As Malian and Kalan discover the ability to enter the dream world and converse with legendary warriors of the past and mythical beings. A lot of the plot moves forward through these passages.
My one big criticism of this novel, is that it very much feels as though it's setting up the rest of the story and subsequent novels. It's about setting the scene and while still enjoyable, did feel slightly incomplete.
An interesting and promising start to a new fantasy series. With great characters, I really enjoy stories about destinies and look forward to seeing who Malian and Kalan become. I also have teensy hopes of a potential love story there too. ...more
We've waited two books to meet him, so much that I wondered if we ever would. But, book three in this trilogy is finReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
We've waited two books to meet him, so much that I wondered if we ever would. But, book three in this trilogy is finally about the alleged traitor, Prince Alberon. Once again the story is more about lethal political games than it is about action, as Wynter and Alberon's half brother Razi try to get to the bottom of the split in the kingdom and prevent an all out war between father and son.
Prince Alberon is not quite how I expected him to be. We have seen him thus far only through the eyes of Razi and Wynter, which has been slightly rose-tinted and filled with childhood memories. The grown up Alberon is a mixture of nobility and bravery, but at the same time spoilt and impetuous. And I wasn't able to gel with him the same way I have with other characters in the books. There were times when I felt like giving him a good slap!
At last, and most importantly we finally discover what the feared 'bloody machine' is that King Jonathan and Wynter's father have done everything in their power to hide. The revelation shocking to our three main characters, but perhaps more disturbing is Alberon's plans for it.
Wynter, Razi and Christopher arrive in the camp accompanied by the Merron, Christopher's people. But after the events of the last book their relationship with Razi is shaky. And yet despite those shocking events, I still could not help but like most of these strange people, with their ancient habits and traditions and wanted them to get the new beginning they were so desperately seeking.
Prince Alberon's camp is made up of numerous political envoys from different nations and the relationships between them are tentative at best. But when the hideously violent Loup Garous arrive, the same people that enslaved and mutilated the man she loves, Wynter is suddenly very fearful for the future. It seemed that Alberon the boy she had once loved like a brother, was no longer a person she knows or understands.
For a lot of the book I had absolutely no idea how it was going to end. I got to about three quarters of the way through and I still had no idea and began to get worried that things weren't going to get tied up as nicely as I would have hoped for a trilogy. The ending seemed to come out of nowhere and totally took me by surprise. It's an explosion of edge of your seat action and horror. Then it all ended as abruptly as it started. But, never fear there is an epilogue, which in a one word summary was lovely.
This has been a fantastic trilogy. The lure of the books has to be Celine Kiernan's amazing characterisation. These were people I loved, feared for and cared about. Wynter was such a fabulous heroine and at the same time while still brave and determined, very different from heroines seen in a lot of stories at the moment. Don't be put off by the less action scenes, because the political games and revelations are as thrilling and definitely keep those pages turning....more
Lady of Light and Shadows in the second book in C.L. Wilson’s Tairen Soul series aReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
*Warning: Contains minor spoilers*
Lady of Light and Shadows in the second book in C.L. Wilson’s Tairen Soul series and takes off pretty much where Lord of the Fading Lands left us. It follows the aftermath of the psychic assault on Ellie, and Ellie’s accidental amorous spell on the court (much to her embarrassment). Both of which have had larger implications than either she or Rain could have realised.
This novel is much more political than the last one, as the Fey manoeuvre through the Celierian Lords in an attempt to prevent them from opening the border to the Eld Mages. With most of Celieria skeptical about whether they are still dark, and the long-lived Fey with no doubt as to their danger.
I found the first half of the book quite slow going. I love Rain and Ellie, but I found some of the scenes between them too slow and saccharine. Perhaps it was the fact I was listening to this as an audiobook, but the dream sequence sex scenes weren’t to my taste. All a little bit too much 1970s Mills and Boon for my liking.
But, then came the second half of the book, and I was reminded why I loved the first so very much. The pace of the story jumped immensely, the political games and deadly intent of the Eld began to unfold. You had a hint of where things were going to go, but not quite how and it was like you were on a roller-coaster, knowing that deadly descent was looming in the distance.
Things were helped greatly by the introduction of a new character – Gaelen, also known as The Dark Lord and I have to say he kind of stole the show. His redemption via Ellie, the darkness in his soul, the fact that he’s willing to do things the other Fey refuse to do. Quite frankly he scored pretty high on both the sexy and cool-o-meter.
There’s an unexpected twist in terms of Ellie’s parentage. But I can’t really say anymore on that subject! But I do hope that it gets resolved as the series progresses. Up until now Rain has been the unflappable Knight in shining armour, but in Lady of Light and Shadows I felt that he really let Ellie down. My heart broke for her, and I wanted to give him a serious slap. Of course every romance needs that scary moment when you think everything is going to unravel, but I do believe that Ellie should have made him grovel rather more!
I think it would fair to say the theme of this novel appeared to be betrayal. And poor Ellie certainly sees a lot of it in this book as corruption seeps into the very heart of the city. Rain, her mother, her best friend. The poor woman faces it on all sides, all from people she loves. It’s hard because Ellie is just so innocent, she’s not a natural fighter, but I did like it that she began to grow some teeth in this book. I suspect after the end of the book she’s going to need it.
A slow start, but a great ending which meant that by the end of the book I was already looking forward to getting my hands on the next one. Lady of Light and Shadows mixes a rich fantasy setting, with a lovely romance, some interesting fae magic, political intrigue and I have to give a particular mention to the Dark Lord himself, can I see more of him please?
*Warning small spoiler towards the end, but the paragraph is highlighReviewed for Book Chick City's Audio Book Sunday Feature
(8 out of 10 on the blog)
*Warning small spoiler towards the end, but the paragraph is highlighted so you can skip it*
This book reads like a fairytale, a grown up Cinderella story. Carpenter's daughter Ellysetta is on the verge of being trapped into a marriage with hideous butcher's son, when something unbelievable happens. The infamous and powerful Rain Tairen Soul arrives and claims she is his shei'tani, his true mate.
Rain Tairen Soul is the Lord of the Fading Lands and a Fey warrior. His people have never recovered from a terrible war with the Dark Mages over a thousand years ago and it has been centuries since a new Fey child has been born. Worried about the survival of his race, he is desperately seeking for a solution. He never expected to find his true mate. In fact, Rain is a Tairen, and the Tairen do not have true mates. So her discovery is unbelievable, but at the same time undeniable.
Of course, everyone knows what happened the last time Rain had a mate, and she wasn't even his shei'tani. Her murder nearly bought about the destruction of the world. A darkness Rain nearly didn't come back from. He is man of legend and ferocity.
The romance in this book is absolutely tender and captivating. Ellie's vulnerability and naivety perfectly offsets Rain's darkness and power, whilst at the same time complementing one another. I adored the rags to riches element of the story. Poor, common Ellie stealing the heart of the King of the Fey.
As the first in the series the novel is setting up the story for later books. The burgeoning blackness, the rise of the Mages once again and a poignant discovery about Ellie's parentage.
This novel does have a strong fantasy setting that may put off some, but if you don't usually read this genre don't let it put you off. I would go as far to say that if you're an epic fantasy fan this book isn't for you. This is a stunning romance through and through, with an unusual fantasy background.
The one downside of listening to fantasy story as an audiobook is that it can make all of the unusual names and places harder to get your head around. For some reason I find them easier to grasp when I can visualise how they're spelt.
The narrator of the audiobook was very good, however, the production itself seemed to be very poorly edited. The switches between narrative phrases were too short, there were jumps in the story without pause which messed up the rhythm of the audiobook. Then you would have long gaps and you'd think it was a break and then dialogue between characters would continue. Which got quite irritating.
*Spoiler in the next paragraph*
As much as I loved this book, I have marked it book down a point, because it contains one of my pet hates. I don't have a problem with dream sequences in general, in a lot of stories they play an important part. But, what I cannot stand is the consummation of a relationship via a dream sequence. It you aren't there in person and flesh isn't touching flesh, then it isn't real!
The love story between Ellie and Rain is so magical, the tension, genuine love and affection grown so tenderly, that it was a scene I anticipated. Rain had sworn a Fey oath to Ellie's father that he wouldn't make love to Ellie before they were married, and this just felt like such a cop out! I'd have rather of waited until the next book for the real deal.
*End of spoiler*
The romance of this book totally swept me away. I really cannot wait to read (listen) to the next instalment in Ellie and Rain's love story. Frustratingly, it doesn't seem like it's been recorded yet, or at least not for distribution in the UK. Let's hope that changes soon!
Fans of romance will love this story and I'm really excited to have found this series, because if they're as good as this book I know I'm going to adore them. ...more
'The Painted Man' is a phenomenal book. I listened to it as an audiobook and it was one of thoReviewed for Book Chick City's Audio Book Sunday Feature
'The Painted Man' is a phenomenal book. I listened to it as an audiobook and it was one of those stories that I downloaded and wasn't really sure what to expect. At nearly 20 hours long, or 560 pages for the paperback version, it's a commitment and not a quick read. But it's well worth your time.
The story is set in a world where humans live in fear. At night, when the dark comes demons, known as 'corelings' rise from the ground. With supernatural powers and strength humans are no match for them, and each night they hide in their homes behind magical wards and pray that, that night won't be the night they fail. As the corelings grow, the human race is slowly diminishing.
Legend says that things weren't always this way, they tell of a man, 'The Deliverer' who led men and women onto the battlefield to meet the demons on equal ground. They speak of fighting wards that have since been lost. And prophecy decrees that one day 'The Deliverer' will return to lead the human race to victory once more.
There are three lead characters Arlen, Leesha & Royer. But Arlen is by far the most compelling. The story begins when Arlen is eleven years old and follows him as he suffers tragedy and pain. We watch as he slowly grows up, becoming increasingly frustrated with his existence, unable to bear a life of fear and hiding he embarks on a journey of discovery. A journey that leads him to suffering, sacrificing and ultimately rebirth as he becomes obsessed with finding a way to fight the demons.
Leesha is a girl perfectly happy to meet her fate, to marry young and bear her husband children. Until she is betrayed and everything changes. Surprisingly, she finds herself taken under the wing of the ancient, local herb gatherer where she begins to believe that her destiny maybe something very different from that which she originally imagined.
The third main character is Royer, while perhaps the least engaging of the three, his story still plays an important part. Orphaned at three years old after a hideous coreling attack he is raised by an alcoholic jaungler. His love of music leads him to an important discovery.
The story is carefully crafted layer by layer until you're almost desperate for the three main characters to meet. But you have to wait and be patient as the author builds the characters and story with meticulous care. The book is violent and uncompromising at times. There are incidents that will make you gasp. A couple of times I even found myself shouting at my iPod in frustration, as I willed each of the characters to succeed, or as I tried to prevent them from doing something stupid.
I fell for each of the characters, flaws and all and became absolutely absorbed in the story, until I was trying to think of ways to jump back in my car for another quick drive in order to listen to the audiobook some more.
I have to take the time for a quick comment on the narrator. He is the first male narrator I have listed to, which took a while to get used to, but as soon as I did I found he was excellent, building the story and tension nicely.
If you're a fan of fantasy, then this book is a must-read. It is epic fantasy at its ultimate finest. Peter V. Brett has drawn a powerful, engaging world that I couldn't get enough of....more
'The Crowded Shadows' takes off where 'The Poison Throne' had left us. With Wynter, leaving her dying father behindReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
'The Crowded Shadows' takes off where 'The Poison Throne' had left us. With Wynter, leaving her dying father behind in the corrupt court to embark on a dangerous and lonely quest. She must travel through the dangerous and bandit infested forest, a solitary, young women as she tries to track down the exiled and believed traitorous Prince Alberon, who was once her dear friend. Her hope in finding him is that she may get to bottom of the darkness that is seeping through the Kingdom and save her friends.
As I begin this review, I'm not quite sure where to start. This book really wasn't I expected it to be at all. It takes you on a remarkable journey. Wynter is such a brave and eminently likeable heroine. A mixture of strength and diplomacy, yet vulnerable at the same time. In fact all of the characters are magnificently well rounded. My heart was in my mouth as Wynter travelled on her own, terrified that something was going to happen to her and fracture her lovely innocence. So it was with a huge sigh of relief when the book welcomed Razi and his companion Christopher back into the fold.
Travelling through the forest together on their journey to find Alberon, the trio encounter the ruthless and terrifying Loup-Garous. We learn more about Christopher and his time as a slave, a prisoner of this terrifying wolf clan. With nowhere to turn, they end up taking refuge with the Merron.
The plot is quite intrinsically complicated and keeps you guessing at all times. The Merron are an ancient and superstitious tribe. But Wynter and Razi have one thing on their side, Christopher's adoptive father was Merron, and he was raised in their culture and he understands their strange and dark traditions.
You spend a lot of the book feeling as puzzled and confused as Razi and Wynter are. As Christopher tries his best to manoeuvre his friends through the ancient Merron ways without them getting hurt and the Merron getting offended. It soon becomes evident that the Merron are part of the ever growing political web that is surrounding the Kingdom and they cannot afford to alienate them. But their culture is shocking and tests the trio's friendship to its limits. There are scenes in this book that will absolutely make you gasp.
The three main characters continue to be at the heart of the story, governed by their friendship and loyalty to one another. I wasn't sure about the blossoming love story between Christopher and Wynter at the end of the last book, but my feelings changed in this one. Their tenderness for one another was warm, sweet and captivating.
A lot of the initial story development from 'The Poison Throne' was put on hold, we learn nothing of the ominous 'bloody machine' and it looks as though we're going to have to wait for the third and final book to get those much needed answers and to meet Prince Alberon. But while this should have been frustrating, it really wasn't. This book had an important part to play in the overall journey and development of both the characters and the story.
I've seen this trilogy often classed as a young adult novel, but it really doesn't feel like one to me despite the fact that Wynter is only fifteen years old, she comes across as much older. Also this is definitely a part of a trilogy and not a stand alone novel.
I really enjoyed this book. Celine Kiernan is a very talented writer and she builds her stories cleverly and with obvious passion. The first two books of the trilogy so far have been well crafted together. It's also quite unusual for me to be looking to the end of a trilogy without a clue as to how it's going to end and I can't wait!...more
Where to start?! I loved, loved, loved it! This book is a re-read for me, well I guess technically a re-listen. I reReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
Where to start?! I loved, loved, loved it! This book is a re-read for me, well I guess technically a re-listen. I read it back in 2010 and I enjoyed it. In fact it was one of my Top Ten Reads of 2010. And when I was sent it and Fire (the second book in the series) as audiobooks to review, I decided to read/listen to it again. I gave it 3/5 the first time, but after my second run through I’m going to have to increase it (what was I thinking?!)!
This really is a fabulous book. Cashore’s world building is immense and she has drawn a vivid picture of the seven kingdom GRACELING resides in, but what has the clincher for me was her completely rich and complicated characters.
Let’s start with the concept. A world where a select amount of people are born with a special gift, these people are called ‘gracelings’, these people are easily identified by their unusual different coloured eyes. For most people this might be swimming, cooking, dancing or even fighting. Enter our main character Katsa who at the age of eight, killed a man with her bare hands. Her grace is killing.
Katsa is such a unique and fascinating character. She is moody, strong, determined, wilful and often rude, refuses to ever marry and horrified at the idea of falling in love. She is awesome! She made me laugh regularly, she is one of the toughest heroines I’ve come across, I don’t think any of my favourites could take her!
It’s strange because in my own personal life, a lot of Katsa’s personal ideals differ vastly from my own. For example, the idea that marriage somehow makes a woman weaker, the fact that she never wants to be a mother. And while I did strongly disagree with these opinions, I understand that these thoughts, fears, and yes for Katsa horrors, are what made Katsa… Katsa. The life that she has lived, her grace, her upbringing do not endear her to a life of marriage and motherhood. But the writing twists its way until we see Katsa having to protect the life of a young girl against an unimaginable evil with her own. I respected her, for what made her tick, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride the plot took both Katsa and me as the reader on.
As a counter balance to Katsa we have Prince Po. He is much more grounded and down to earth, warm, kind and gentle, but ruthless in his own way. His grace is so cleverly developed as the book progresses, opening up his skill and friendship in ways with Katsa that I hadn’t anticipated.
The love story was unexpected. It was so sweet and tender, there was something quite beautifully innocent about it. It was completely lovely and captivating. I think I read too many romances as I so wanted the fluffy white wedding and due to the nature of the book, I knew I was never going to get it. But I still absolutely (yes I’m going to use the word again) loved it!
The plot, again … where to start?! Well it both begins and ends with a kidnapping. The first an old man, the second a young girl. And the journey in between is an intrinsically woven plot, drawn together bit by bit, unraveling like a powerful, lethal and beautiful snake.
The story has everything, fight scenes, love, betrayal, blackmail, a pure evil villain – I challenge you find one more sinister, an epic, terrifying journey, pain, heartache and at its core survival. Katsa develops from a young, slightly naive woman manipulated by her King, to a strong woman who understands the need for sacrifice for the greater good, and that understands that even her deadly grace cannot protect her from some of the most terrifying things life has to throw at her. You watch Katsa evolve and grow through several revolutions into a more rounded, whole and strong woman.
As this was an audiobook, I must take a moment to comment on the narration. Read by Emma Powell, it was rather nice and quite rare for me to listen due to my reading tastes, to listen to a British narrator and she was great. Powell bought the story and characters to life with her voice.
A superb novel, Cashore’s writing is rich, detailed and captivating. Even if you’re not a fantasy fan I would urge you to pick GRACELING up. An amazing start to a new series, three-dimensional characters that breathe off the page, a beautiful love story, an epic journey and everyone’s favourite battle of good versus evil. Go buy it!
I thoroughly enjoyed 'The Poison Throne'. The lead character is Wynter. She returns home aReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (7 out of 10 on the blog)
I thoroughly enjoyed 'The Poison Throne'. The lead character is Wynter. She returns home after several years of travelling and succeeding in a man's trade, working as her father's carpentry apprentice. She is looking forward to seeing her childhood friends Prince Alberon, heir to the throne, and Razi the King's bastard son. However, as soon as she and her father arrive at the Kingdom gates it because evident that things have changed in their years of absence, the atmosphere is tense and something is very wrong.
The King, a previously genial and kind man has become a cruel dictator. The King's son and heir, Alberon is missing, declared a traitor, and her dear friend Razi is named the new successor despite his reluctance and public outcry.
The King, unwilling to listen is ruling through fear and violence. The only man he seems to listen to is Wynter's father. But Wynter's father is seriously ill, a condition they must keep secret from the rest of the court.
When Wynter is reconciled with Razi she is introduced to his new companion and best friend Christopher. Aside from his promiscuity, Wynter is suspicious of Christopher and Razi's relationship. Razi's deep, unquestioning trust of Christopher gives Wynter cause for concern.
This is a story of dark secrets and dangerous political games. Amidst violence, fear and games she really doesn't understand Wynter is left with some very difficult decisions. How can she choose between her dying father, her best friend and saving the Kingdom?
The plot of the story is very difficult to explain both because it is very detailed, but also for fear that I may give too much away.
What really makes this book is the characters and their relationships with one another. Wynter's warm and loving relationship with her father, her deep bond with Razi and her confusion and desperation to help those she cares for. Wynter is a determined and brave heroine you cannot help to admire. Each of the characters are complex and rounded. With as many flaws as they have strengths and this is what makes the story so engaging.
One thing to note, is that while I know this book is the first of a trilogy, it is most definitely written as one of three and does not stand-alone on its own. You finish the last page ready to grasp for the next book. It is also advertised as a young adult novel, but despite Wynter being a teenage girl, it reads very much like an adult story.
This book sucks you in with its rich characters and intrigue. The 512 pages whizz by at the speed of a much shorter book. It's not what I would call action packed, the lure of the story is the mystery as to what has caused the darkness that is spreading through the Kingdom, and at the heart of it the love and friendships that fight to survive....more