This is more of 4.5, but definitely worth the read. It lost a half point due to editing errors where important words were strangely omitted, such as "This is more of 4.5, but definitely worth the read. It lost a half point due to editing errors where important words were strangely omitted, such as "to" (the most common). Otherwise, this is a beautiful book!...more
I was at work, wandering through the stacks looking for a book to read when I came across our new book section and I found this. The blurb on the backI was at work, wandering through the stacks looking for a book to read when I came across our new book section and I found this. The blurb on the back sounded interesting coupled with the cover of a bad ass chick about to break someone's face. I've never read any of Anna Kashina's books; heck, I didn't even know who she was until I picked this up.
Sadly, this book did not live up to the blurb. In fact, the blurb has nothing to do with what is actually written. Blades of the Old Empire is not a story about Kara, but about Kyth and Ellah, and their journey of self-actualization. Kara just happens to have her own subplot and be on the cover.
I can't really say that what I read was particularly memorable. All of the characters--and by all, I mean ALL of the characters--were one dimensional. There was not one character that stood out to me as being their own person. They were all flat and lifeless. Combine this with forced, blocky dialogue and you have Flat Stanley.
Kashina's descriptions were so stereo-typical, so boring, so full of "so". Every female described, aside from the Cha'ori leader, was so perfect, so lythe, so gloriously beautiful they had no flaws whatsoever. So. So. So. The males were no different. Kyth could have been twelve, Evan in his twenties, for all the description that was given. I thought Princess Aljbeda was a woman until Kashina came out and said she was five, and then I was like, "Gross." And speaking of the little princess, for being a five year old, she spoke like she was thirty. Even if she had been schooled in proper princess-y etiquette and politics, I can't imagine her intelligence to be much higher than her age. For how she spoke, she might as well have been the woman I thought she was. I mean, my kid is six and still speaks like an alien half the time, and she's pretty damn smart!
Every man on the planet seemed to lust after Kara. Yet no one lusted over Ayalla (except for Alder), who was described as being the most beautiful woman ever. (And no one seemed to mind that the Forest Woman walked around naked half the time, either.)
Time between the beginning and the end felt skewed. Each party only had X-amount of time to take care of business before they needed to return for a grand council meeting. But for what goes on, it definitely felt like things were happening too fast to be believable, and even then I wasn't sure how much time passed by.
Orbens are NOT rare if everyone has them.
Lastly, Kashina had a fondness of repeating certain words and phrases--constantly. As a writer myself, I can understand when something sticks with you and sneaks back into your prose. Once or twice is forgivable. More than once in the same page, every page, is annoying. Especially when one character thinks of it to themselves, and then POOF! another character thinks the exact same thing. I might have lost my ability to eye roll for all the times that I did.
I should say something positive about this book. But I must not tell lies. For the first book in a series, that is part of a grander series (though that's never mentioned!), this book just didn't cut it for me. It was mediocre at best and I was glad to be able to get rid of it....more
Except for the atrocious editing of this Kindle edition, the story was pretty decent. I am not sure what the male protagonist's name was, as there werExcept for the atrocious editing of this Kindle edition, the story was pretty decent. I am not sure what the male protagonist's name was, as there were four--yes, FOUR--different spellings of his name! They were Kam (what I stuck with), Kara, Karn, and Karr. So, who knows, but I liked him, and Britta was all right. I didn't think there would be elements of fantasy in this, but Squires made it believable.
For the book itself, I'd recommend it. But stay away from the Kindle version!...more
You know a book is good when you’re sitting at the kitchen table, morning coffee in hand, and you slam the mug down and yell, “But what happened to---You know a book is good when you’re sitting at the kitchen table, morning coffee in hand, and you slam the mug down and yell, “But what happened to---!?” That’s when I knew I had something good in my hands.
Grimspace is herald as a science fiction story, but it is so much more than that. It has adventure, romance, betrayal, political mind games, and one hell of a crazy protagonist. As a person living with OCD, I related to Sirantha Jax right away because I’m no stranger to the dark, paranoid thoughts of imminent (and often unfounded) dread. She lives in her head, helped by the fact that Aguirre writes in first person present. So the reader gets to really experience Jax’s thoughts and emotions on a more personal level that if they were just viewing things from afar. Not only that, I haven’t seen such a well balanced mental case since Nancy A. Collins’ Sonja Blue series, and that’s saying something. You don’t find many strong female characters—and hardly any when it comes to anything remotely romantic—but Aguirre’s Sirantha definitely breaks the mold.
The other cast of characters were a good mix of dark, funny, witty, and dangerous. In just the few locations that take place in the book, Aguirre populated the universe with a diverse group that was well rounded despite being secondary characters. How often do you find an author able to give backgrounds to almost all of the characters encountered in such a short amount of time? George R.R. Martin did, and look how BIG his books are. Even the alien races were written well, even for the short time we got to encounter them.
I really enjoyed the idea behind the FTL travel, and the concept that a ship’s pilot and jumper—a person capable of guiding the ship into a wormhole-like place called grimspace—are bound to each other beyond physical contact. It was interesting to see two people forced to work together and open themselves up, leaving them raw and forever changed. And when the romance came about, it wasn’t forced or cheesy; it fit in at just the right moment and didn’t become too distracting from the main story. In fact, the story itself was a roller coaster of slow times (as in, the characters actually took a moment to rest and reflect on recent events) and action. It really felt like a movie unfolding before my eyes.
I wanted to like this book. I really, really wanted to. I mean, it has two of my favorite genres--vampires and Steampunk--mashed together, so what wasI wanted to like this book. I really, really wanted to. I mean, it has two of my favorite genres--vampires and Steampunk--mashed together, so what wasn’t there to love?
A lot, apparently.
The Greyfriar is more-or-less a post apocalyptic story in which vampires have come out of the coffin and taken over the Northern hemisphere. It's colder and more inhabitable for them. And well, they wilt in the heat like little undead flowers after a few hours in the sun. So enter the new human empire, Equatoria, and its failing emperor, child prince, and a princess betrothed to a cocky American, vampire-killing Senator.
What starts as a routine tour of the Empire for royal siblings Adele and Simon, turns into terror, death, and all that fun stuff that makes up a romping good action flick. Yet the authors (this is written by a husband/wife team) seem to rely too heavily on the action, and not enough on the character building. Each chapter, save for a bit toward the end, is a fight scene that is drawn out in excruciating detail. That's not a pun, by the way. The amount of detail is so overwhelming that I caught myself actually skimming over them and rushing to find the end so I could get on to the next battle.
As for the characters, they all felt rather two-dimensional, including the main characters: Princess Adele and the Greyfriar himself. Sadly, Adele is a typical Mary Sue. She's weak and lovely, and all seem to want her, and more so when she wields an amazing glowing sword and kicks vampire ass. Wait. What? Yes, she is more or less Neo from the Matrix. She was completely hollow for a main character, and in an attempt to make her dynamic, the authors tossed in a few "changes" that seemed far too out of place. I found her description to be lacking and all but nonexistent as she was lost in the ambiance of the setting. In fact, I couldn't tell you what any of the characters really looked like! As for the Greyfriar, he falls under Adele's charms almost immediately and vows to protect her no matter what the cost. When the truth is finally revealed to Adele--a truth revealed to the reader much too early in the story--the result is typical of a cheesy romance story. He lied; she resents him; he saves her life again; she loves him. The End. Attempt was made to give the Greyfriar personality, though his was slightly more opaque than Adele’s transparent one.
When it came to the Steampunk element, this book catered to goggles and steam airships, swords that glowed, and a world torn by war. Pretty basic elements, all in all for a Steampunk story. However, the vampires were a mystery. My image of the vampires were a mix between 30 Days of Night, the Necromongers’ sniffers (from the “Chronicles of Riddick” movie), and regular human beings. I love vampires. Love. I didn’t even mind these vampires being able to walk in the sun, or their ability to fly like Superman. But aside from their claws, not much was described about these warmongering fiends and what they really looked like. It was all a guessing game.
For an introductory novel in a series, this does set up the world…abundantly. But for such an interesting mash up of genres, it would have been nice to get to know the people who inhabit that world. I’m hesitant to read the next book, and am not sure I can totally recommend this one....more
This is easily a new book to add to my favorites. The writing is unique and easy to fall into; the action is almost non-stop, though there are downtimThis is easily a new book to add to my favorites. The writing is unique and easy to fall into; the action is almost non-stop, though there are downtime moments so the reader doesn't get bored; and just the tiniest bit of romance, which, thankfully, doesn't detract from the story.
Moira Young has built up quite the post-apocalyptic world without really saying that's what it is. The land holds the ashes of a previous society, the Wreckers, which the reader can't help but realize it's our own. How and why their civilation fell is surprisingly not a major point in the story. Is this a bad thing? Not in the least. So many dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories take up too much time filling the reader in, but Young has just done away with that. There were people before, and that's all we need to know.
There are touches of cliched PA devices: the shanty towns, the gladitorial arenas, the powerful villian and his henchmen. However, if you go beyond this, there are other additions that really made this story stand out to me. One such thing are the "hellwurms", who sleep during the day and climb out of the ground at night to hunt and feed. I pictured a crossbreed between a maggot and an ant attacking the ragtag gang of characters. These curiously giant creatures add to the mystique and "time-before" of the world Saba and her friends inhabit.
Language is a different stroke in this book. Realistically the spelling is atrocious, but as the story is told through Saba's eyes, it's no wonder she speaks and talks like she does. The lack of quotation marks can be said the same of as well. Fortunately, Young makes it easy to see who's speaking and who's not, save for a few intense moments. Also, to be able to read and speak eloquently, as is the case with schyster Rooster Pinch, is an oddity. It's not that reading was banned, but the ability to just faded away like the Wrecker buildings in the Sandsea.
Saba is by far one of the more well-rounded characters I've read in this genre and age bracket. She is headstrong, stubborn, afraid of change, codependent, and mean. Her desire to save her brother blinds her to all else, just as the "red hot" (rage) blinds her during her bouts in the Cage. But throughout the book she actually grows and changes, just as a good character is supposed to. There is a smidge of romance, and in a way, the object of her desire (Jack), causes the seeds of change to sprout. I was also extatic to see that she didn't immediately go ga-ga over Jack, and in fact, spent most of the time pushing him away. It's not every day you see that in YA fiction, so Moira Young has earned some major brownie points in my book.
There is, however, one major gripe I have with Blood Red Road. Saba is eighteen, and not once did I picture her or anyone else besides Tommo and Emmi as being their ages. She neither acted, sounded, or even appeared as such in my mind's eye, and I think this type of story really lost out on some things. Even if Saba is uneducated, there are things we do as adults, things we feel, the way we act, that I just didn't see in Saba. She might be eighteen, but she seems more like a child to me than I think Young meant her to be.
For everything else, this is an impressive book. I couldn't put it down. I didn't want to, but life and the need to eat, sleep, or use the restroom, sort of got in the way of that. If there is a post-apocalyptic book to read, this would be one of those that you need to read.
A Great and Terrible Beauty was enjoyable, if a little too fast paced. I can't say whether I read it so fast because I was that engrossed in it, or ifA Great and Terrible Beauty was enjoyable, if a little too fast paced. I can't say whether I read it so fast because I was that engrossed in it, or if it was just really easy to read.
It is, first and foremost, a YA book, and I feel that Libbra Bray did an excellent job at capturing the fickleness of teenagers. The girls were petty and rude to each other and to their fellow classmates, but they were friends and loyal to each other in the end. They had a bit of the mob mentality when they were finally caught and reprimanded, blaming the course of their actions on a teacher who, though a bit progressive in her teaching methods, was not involved in the girls' antics directly.
The realms, though one reviewer said they were like Faery, read more like a glimpse into Purgatory to me than the land of Faery. This being evident in the dead Gemma encounters on several trips through the veil--cleverly disguised as a door (a symbol used when dead ones "cross over")--who either come to torment her or send messages to loved ones as was the case with Madame LaFarge.
I didn't quite understand the role of the Gypsies on the school grounds. It seems to me that such a prominent school like Spence would more or less run them off, or involve the authorities. If appearances mean everything, why keep people on your land that society has stigmatized? The Gypsies were depicted a little stereo-typically, but then again, this story is written from the viewpoint of a Victorian teenage girl. Where India probably lost its exotic charm to her, the Gypsies of Spence became the new taboo and enticing people to wonder about. Granted, they were the perfect camouflage for Kartik, a Middle Eastern boy who seemed to be the sole member of a secret society that is against the Order and the magic of the realms. Of this, it would have been nice to see other members of the Rakshana, since one seventeen-year-old boy couldn't keep a group of girls from crossing over into the realms.
This story is written in first person present. I find I hate first person present. Why this is such a fad in teen fiction, I have no idea. It's not as engaging to me as past tense, because I like knowing what happened then versus what is happening now. The only exception to this--when compared to other first person present tenses--would be Blood Red Road by Moira Young because that was written in an entirely different format that fit with the actual story. A Great and Terrible Beauty is just a regular story with "I say," "I am wearing..."
Still, Bray's book was a bit of fun, light reading. It'd be great for teenage girls looking for a bit of historical-fantasy reading....more