I know I just read this, but I was perusing my library's website for my next listen and this was available and IRe-read/listen. Original review here.
I know I just read this, but I was perusing my library's website for my next listen and this was available and I already missed Blue and the gang, so I thought why not. Plus, Will Patton WINS at narrating this series...I can't believe I ever doubted him. I mean, he was in a movie about fast cars...Maggie enjoys cars and driving fast...it just doesn't get more perfect than that. =)
ETA: This book was phenomenal the first time I read it, but the audio is even more so....more
An ARC of this title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. However, this review is for the audiobook version procured from mAn ARC of this title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. However, this review is for the audiobook version procured from my local library. My thoughts are my own.
I initially added this book to my TBR because it was recommended for fans of The Princess Bride.
Things this book has in common with The Princess Bride:
Ways in which this book is not like The Princess Bride:
- Quotables are sorely lacking - Banter is unimaginative - The Accidental Highwayman is not a stand-alone - No ROUSes...ha, kidding (there aren't, but why would there be?)
Now, I didn't expect this book to be exactly like The Princess Bride because where's the fun in that? But to compare it to my favorite movie ever gives it a lot to live up to. (The book ranks up there, but the movie is just plain better.) Marketing aside, it was a fun, jaunty little adventure full of faeries and magic and a runaway bride, and I'm very much interested in reading the next installment.
Also, the audio version of this book is fantastic. Steve West has such a great voice and I had zero trouble getting into the story thanks to his narration. Of course, I would probably enjoy his narration of the phone book, too. ;0)...more
Yay! There's going to be a third book!!! :D Loved this one just as much as the previous book...maybe even a little more since I got the swoons I was hYay! There's going to be a third book!!! :D Loved this one just as much as the previous book...maybe even a little more since I got the swoons I was hoping for! ;0)...more
I love revisiting old fairy tales that are given a refreshing new take. But while Stray was unique, it wasn't like any of the fairy tales I've read before. It does focus on princesses and fairy godmothers and evil queens...but in the most confusing mash-up ever.
"The Path" just seemed like a regimented way for a young princess to act and should she stray from it, via any number of allegations of gross misconduct on her part, she would become, well, a stray. Or find that her "path" no longer led her to a prince and a happily ever after but instead to a life of indentured servitude, by way of becoming a fairy godmother. That's essentially what happens to Aislynn...she can't control her magic and finds herself being whisked away to become fairy godmother to the Crown Princess at another academy.
I'm still not sure why or how girls who have magic of their own even need fairy godmothers, though. The magical system -- those who had it and how they used it -- left me frustrated, as did the lack of world-building. I was just left with soooo many questions when I finished this story. I know it's only the first book in the series, but it should have given me enough information to make me want to come back for the next book...and I'm not sure that I do.
I loved Caitlin Davies' performance of the End of Days series by Susan Ee, so I immediately thought this would be a winner, as far as the audiobook went. And it probably would have been, had I connected to this main character the way I did Penryn in Angelfall and World After. But because I found Princess Aislynn so annoying and her actions so foolish, I found it difficult to get into this audio even one iota as much as I did that other series.
This book was just entirely too slow for me, with none of the explanations I needed. There was also very little romance to be had. And when I find a protagonist as exasperating as Aislynn, there's little likelihood that I'm really going to enjoy the book in the end. I wish I'd liked the story more, but I think this is just one of those cases where I let my expectations get the better of me.
All it took for me to add Compulsion to my TBR was a look at that gorgeous cover and seeing a Southern gothic romance tag. I loved how this story started out, too...with Barrie who has a gift for finding lost things becoming a lost thing herself. What I didn't love was the fact that when I added this book to my must-read list, I was under the impression that it was a stand-alone. I should have known better, right? And maybe it's been a series since I first heard about it, I don't know, but I don't think Goodreads mentioned that at first or I wouldn't have been nearly as excited about the book. It's not that I didn't enjoy the novel -- I most definitely did -- but I'm trying to keep the number of new series I start to a minimum these days. Also, I read in the acknowledgements that the author had so-and-so to thank for helping her turn this into a trilogy. So, it wasn't a planned series to begin with. And I still don't think it needed to be. Anyway, that's more my issue than any fault of the story's.
Compulsion embodied everything I love about Southern gothic romances: the eerie setting, complete with old, decrepit mansions; restless spirits; peculiar townsfolk; and a romance that seemed destined in the stars. This book also includes a centuries old curse, warring founding families, and psychic abilities that have been passed down for generations. And yet, even with all of that, the story dragged its feet for the first half of the book or so. Not to the point that I was considering not finishing the book, just in the way that many a story from Southerners tends to require a lengthy build-up before getting to the good stuff.
That said, the romance took no time at all to develop between Barrie and Eight. But, I wouldn't exactly call it insta-love because their attraction is pretty much fated. While the Colesworths have always been feuding with the Watsons and the Beauforts, the latter two have always been drawn to each other. It's all curses and magic, but that doesn't make it any less real for these characters, despite how much Barrie fights her feelings for Eight. She's already lost so much before making it to Watson's Landing, and she doesn't want to add Eight to that list. Because of Eight's gift, Barrie can't be sure that what's going on between them is real, and she's just so afraid of being hurt, of being left behind. I did find Barrie's back-and-forth feelings -- her constant wavering and wondering if loving Eight would be worth it -- to be somewhat annoying in the beginning, but I forgave her that when it seemed like she was legitimately starting to trust him. Barrie just wouldn't allow herself to fall for Eight's Southern charm...at least not at first.
It impressed me how comfortable the author made these two with each other, despite their misgivings, even from their very first encounter. They just conversed so easily, had that easy banter of a couple who'd known each other all their lives. And I think that's part of the reason that this didn't seem like insta-love to me. The characters may have been initially attracted to each other, but they spent the entirety of the book getting to know one another. While I didn't immediately connect to these characters, I felt their connection.
I enjoyed all of the backstory for these families, even if it was slow-going getting to the bottom of the curse and how everything fit together. But it gave me time to get to know the side characters, as well, even the ones that weren't physically present. It was better that I was slowly introduced to them all because admittedly, the family histories were a tad confusing at times. Lots of brothers and sisters and betrayals and missing people to worry about. And after discovering all of the secrets and magic that had been hidden on Watson's Landing all those years, I thought the ending would be more suspenseful, but I guess that's where the beginning of a "spellbinding new trilogy" comes in.
I think that as far as meeting my expectations goes, this book succeeded. Based on my initial reasons for wanting to read Compulsion, I got exactly what I was hoping for. I really enjoyed this story, but I was hoping for a really compelling resolution in this book. Honestly, my biggest complaint is that I don't think a series is warranted here. I would have much rather gotten my ending here in this book and then moved on to read the next awesome story from Martina Boone.
GIF it to me straight: Yep, that's what I'll be doing for the sequel since this is not the stand-alone I was hoping for. :(...more
An advance copy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The audiobook version was also provided for review, whicAn advance copy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The audiobook version was also provided for review, which is what this review is based on. My thoughts are my own.
Exquisite Captive began very slowly, methodically building the world of Arjinna and portraying life as jinni slave here on Earth. There wasn't a chance that I was going to put the book aside, though, simply because of slow-pacing early on. Even a less-than-favorable narrator couldn't make me leave this story for later. I've only read one other jinni novel that I can recall, but it's clear to me that this new trend, this revival of an old favorite mythological being, is going to be to my liking.
Erin Mallon is not a terrible narrator. I listened to her narrate the entire Sweet trilogy by Wendy Higgins, and she only started to annoy me toward the end of the series. However, I feel that she was badly cast in Exquisite Captive. In fact, she may have been part of the reason I didn't love this novel quite as much as I expected to. I love a narrator who becomes the characters they're portraying, and Mallon just never seems to. She's not just reading the book, but it also seemed like she never connected with the story herself and it showed in her performance. Also, her male voices are kind of ridiculous, but at least she didn't have to affect a fake British accent this time around. I would have much preferred a narrator with a hint of ethnicity, especially considering the diversity of the characters in this story.
The cast of characters in Exquisite Captive is fairly complex, making it hard to truly connect with them or even discern their likability. Questionable motives. Political machinations. A sympathetic villain. I never knew exactly what to expect from any of these characters, and they surprised me more than once. I knew from my experience with Something Real that Heather Demetrios is gifted at creating a really well-drawn, vivid cast of characters, but I might be even more besotted with Nalia and Raif than I was with Patrick and Chloe. Which is saying a lot because I shipped that pairing SO hard.
Nalia is the last remaining member of her people, a powerful line of the jinn with unsurpassed powers. They were the leaders in Arjinna, and now that they are all gone, Nalia is the heir to the throne. Many things stand in her way -- not insignificant, the fact that she doesn't want to be princess and rule the other jinn -- including that she's enslaved here on Earth, complete with a bottle for a cage when she misbehaves. Nalia is not without her faults, and her sense of morality does come into question several times in this book. She's committed heinous acts and she wants no part of the rebellion...until it wants her, and even then, her thoughts are only of escaping her master and freeing her brother, the only family she has left.
But Raif changes her mind, or rather gives her more reasons to fight. Their initial interactions were of a political nature, but it soon became apparent that as much as these two seemed intent on hating each other, theirs was going to be a star-crossed love. First, I don't think I've ever met a character named Raif that I didn't like. They're usually the bad boy with an attitude type, but I'll take a powerful, chiseled, tingly-skin-making jinn any day. Raif is the leader of the rebellion, having taken over the duty when his father was killed. Nalia should be his enemy; she stands for everything he's fighting against. And yet, they cannot deny their attraction.
Malek is quite the enigma for much of the book. He is not the true villain in this story, but he is the immediate threat to Nalia's future. And yet, his feelings toward Nalia have grown into something other than what one would expect from a master/slave relationship. Malek has mistreated Nalia for most of the three years she has been in his service and she will always be beholden to him as her master, yet he's never taken advantage of her and is only now pressing her to explore her own feelings for him. I find Malek's character exceedingly intriguing and darkly sexy in that redeemable villain kind of way.
I thought the introduction of two leading men would result in the ubiquitous love triangle, but the romance here is more complicated than that. One of the men is her master and the other is her sworn enemy. There are obviously reasons why neither of these men should have a future with Nalia, and yet, by the end of the novel, it's clear to which man her heart belongs. I'm not writing off the resurgence of the love triangle in future books, but it would take some serious creative maneuvering to make that a viable arc, considering how quickly and neatly it was packed away in this installment.
Nalia is faced with choices she may not be able to come back from in this book. There's not simply the matter of a rebellion brewing in her homeland, but she must also now free the slaves on the Dark Caravan, in addition to saving her brother. And with the turn of events there at the end, I imagine things are only going to get more difficult for her. I'm anticipating exciting things for the sequel.
I was hoping that the story behind that gorgeous cover would be equally enchanting, full of the revelry I've come to associate with the Roaring 20s. What I got instead was a story of necromancy, debauchery, and revolution. Not that I'm complaining...the story as a whole is quite intriguing.
Dark Metropolis was a much darker read than I had been expecting. That might come as a shock to you considering the word "dark" is right there in the title, but as I said, I was hoping for more decadence, less dead things. I was also hoping for a bit more world-building. I had read in a couple of places that the setting was based on Berlin in the 1920s, that period between the World Wars, and the war-torn vibe was there on the pages especially toward the end of the book, but it never felt like we were in Germany. Maybe I just don't know very much about Germany during that period -- or even now -- but I needed more from the setting. It also would have been nice to understand the Valkenrath brothers and their plan to utilize Freddy to help the country survive the aftermath of the war.
It felt as if this book began as Thea's story but quickly morphed into Freddy and Nan's story, with Thea included as just a bit player until nearly the end. And it's probably for this reason that I never felt very connected to any one character. I don't mind a switch in perspective in the narrative, especially when it makes sense to do so -- as in this story -- but before the transition, I'd like to connect to the last person whose head I was just in. The closest I came to this was with Thea in the first 50 pages or so, before it felt like she was ripped away from me in favor of Freddy's story. I suppose this sort of parallels how the families of the undead in this story probably felt, but I'm not inclined to appreciate that possibility right now.
The three main characters were great in their own right, though. Each was honorable, strong, and rose to the challenge set before them. Thea is the demure girl just trying to make her way as a plucky Telephone Club waitress while also taking care of her mother, who is ill due to a magic spell binding her to her missing husband. On the outside, Nan is Thea's closest friend and fellow Telephone Club waitress. On the inside, she is empty and unfeeling...until she solves the mystery of her special gift. And rounding out this trio, we have silver-haired Freddy, who has more control over life and death than he ever thought possible. Together, these three seek to put an end to the injustices being forced upon their friends and family.
I respect the author's inclusion of two very different romances in this story but also the fact that she didn't allow them to saturate the plot. They were very subtle, and I quite liked that. Also, yay for diversity! Even if that's another aspect that I would like to see expanded further. Not sure how many books will follow this first one, but I'm sure we'll see more of these two couples in the sequel -- and see if their love can withstand.
The thing that disappointed me most about this story, though, was probably how neat and tidy the ending was. I never wish for a cliffhanger, but I at least want to be intrigued enough to return for a sequel, and I'm not sure I'm at that point after finishing Dark Metropolis. Overall, it was an enjoyable read, atmospheric and equal parts gory and enchanting, but there was just something missing.
GIF it to me straight: It started off well enough, but the book lost its stride somewhere along the way....more
I thought I'd start off the new year with a re-read/listen of a favorite from 2013. Check out my full review here. Also, the narrator for the audiobooI thought I'd start off the new year with a re-read/listen of a favorite from 2013. Check out my full review here. Also, the narrator for the audiobook is awesome, just so ya know....more
I am always, always on the lookout for a new fantasy series to flail over. So when early buzz started heating up over Snow Like Ashes, I told myself, "Jen...Jen...let's not get ourselves worked up over the book yet. Let's wait and see what some of our friends think before we go getting burned again." And I did. I waited. And I waited...not so patiently, I might add...until I could wait no longer and had to dive in. And I must say, those early reviews were spot-on. This book was fan-freaking-tastic. I couldn't put it down. I couldn't stop thinking about it when my family forced me to put it down in order to pay attention to them. Hell, I still can't stop thinking about it and it's been a couple of weeks since I finished reading it.
Just imagine Xena with white hair and you've got some idea of what Meira is like.
Meira is a character to root for. She's fierce and determined and skilled with a chakram. Meira is also loyal to a fault and wants nothing more than to be a functioning member of the ragtag group that managed to survive Winter's siege some sixteen years ago. She's plenty capable and more than a little strong-willed, and I really enjoyed seeing her come into her own as the story develops.
I did find her budding romance with the Crown Prince to be inexplicable, considering they each knew that it was impossible for them to become involved, what with Mather expected to rule the kingdom once they'd secured it for their people again and Meira only being an orphaned peasant girl, but that situation worked itself out, much to my delight. However, some readers -- particularly those not fond of triangles -- may find the way in which it does get resolved to be tiresome. I did not. It's one of those situations where the relationship never fully developed -- where the characters outgrew each other -- because of everything that stood in the way, and then a much more suitable candidate swooped in to steal our girl's heart. The circumstances in which Meira finds herself in this more suitable love interest's company weren't the best, but I found that even that was perfect, as if the whole scenario was fated to happen.
Sara did a great job of tying the magical elements into this story without ever giving too much away. I'd think I had a handle on everything, had the whole mystery of that fateful night sixteen years ago figured out, and then she'd throw me for a loop again. This happened several times until I just stopped trying to guess the outcome. Basically, the author surprised me at every turn, with her inclusion of magic in the story and how it was used, with her characters, and even with the romance. And I could not stop reading for fear of what the next surprise would bring.
Snow Like Ashes reads like a stand-alone, which I loved. There's the introduction to the world, which is a bit daunting at first but it becomes easier to understand the kingdoms and their monarchies as the story progresses. Plus, there's that awesome map to help things along. (I adore maps.) There are fight scenes and intense battles that solidly pit good against evil. And there's a firm resolution to this book, meaning no heartbreaking cliffhanger to wail over at the end. Though, if you're anything like me, you'll still wail over the fact that you don't already have the second book in your hands.
When I saw the book trailer for this sequel, I knew I had been missing out on something special, something eerily different, and I resolved to get to this series sooner rather than later. And then I listened to the first book, and I rather enjoyed it. When it comes to this sequel, though, I have very mixed feelings.
First, they changed the narrator. I like Kirby Heyborne. He's narrated some of my favorite audiobooks. But I think he was a bit much at times for this story. As I said in my review of the audio for Miss Peregrine's, Jesse Bernstein was subtle and it worked really well for me. But I felt Heyborne's narration was a little too subtle at times and a little over the top at others. His accents were great, but they felt a little exaggerated in comparison. Because of that, I had a hard time connecting and concentrating on this sequel. I'm not sure if that's because of the novel itself or because of the change in narrator, though.
This time around, the romance was much more prevalent, which made the ick factor more pronounced for me. It probably wouldn't bother most people, but it was just weird to me. Also, kinda sad. The time travel is also more frequent and somewhat chaotic, and I'm not sure I understood some of the rules completely later in the story due to my inability to give this story 100% of my attention. Oh, and this review copy didn't come with a .pdf of images associated with the story, though I gather there are pictures in the actual book. So, I couldn't even go look at the disturbing images in order to rekindle my interest in the story.
The story didn't pick up for me until about the last 25%, and that's when I realized that there's going to be another book. After all of the gallivanting from timeline to timeline, in search of someone who could help Miss Peregrine, the Peculiar orphans are no closer to their goal than when this book started. If I'd known this was going to be a middle book going in, I would have prepared myself for all of the running and chasing and hiding and waiting...waiting for something to happen that actually made me care.
Hollow City had its moments. It was fast-paced and there was some dropping of the jaw. I still find these characters and their stories terribly fascinating, but I'm disappointed in the lack of resolution. I'm also disappointed that the humor and snark from the first book was noticeably absent in this sequel. For better or worse, this was a very middling middle book, and I would have to see some very positive reviews of the next book for there to be any chance I'd cave to my curiosity and find out what happens to Jacob and the rest of the Peculiars.
I give up. I'm 65% in and it still doesn't feel like anything has happened. I always like her writing style, I'm just bored. Maybe I'll come back to tI give up. I'm 65% in and it still doesn't feel like anything has happened. I always like her writing style, I'm just bored. Maybe I'll come back to this when I have a better attention span....more
Ahem. Well, this book turned out to be not at all what I was expecting. And I don't mean that in a bad way, just...an unexpected one. These days, I pretty much skim summaries of books as I'm adding them to my TBR, only scanning for keywords like assassin or pirate or tattooed harpoon boy. So, when I saw the cover for this book and spotted that last keyword(s) in the synopsis, I immediately assumed it was about pirates because duh, I thought that was a sailor's knot on the front.
Turns out, it's a witch's knot, part of a trio of them significant to this story, in fact. Yep, it appears that this book is about whaling and witches, not pirates. No big deal...witches can be just as awesome, if not more so, than pirates. And believe me when I tell you that the family of witches in this story have quite the history. I loved how they passed on their magic, how they came into their magic, and how hard Avery fights to unlock her own magic. But I'll let you discover those things on your own.
Salt & Storm is a story about magic, true, but it is also a story of love and sacrifice, of which there is a ton in this book. The Roe Witch protects Prince Island with her magic, and Avery believes this is a great honor. However, it is an honor to some and a curse to others, but either way, it is a responsibility that comes with great sacrifice. And as Avery learns more about this sacrifice, learns more about the two Roe witches who came before her and what they have given up, she finds herself with something she's unwilling to lose for the first time in her life.
Or, I should say someone. What starts out as a deal, one that is mutually beneficial to both Tane (the aforementioned tattooed harpoon boy) and Avery, ends in a love story that just about broke my heart. Tane is a foreigner, on the island with a docked whaling ship, but he's been searching for Avery. Even with her magic locked away, Avery still has a very special gift, one that could help Tane wreak the vengeance he so desires. But as the two work together, they grow closer. I loved the romance that was slowly blossoming between these two because it was careful and cautious and sweet, with Avery dead-set against even liking Tane. But it didn't take too long for his open and honest manner to win her over. Hell, he won me over pretty much from the start, but Avery is a VERY stubborn girl.
I think that first line of the summary is probably all you really should know going into this story: "A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future." I mean, I had the wrong story altogether in my head when I set out to read this book, and I ended up loving it, if that tells you anything. The book isn't for the faint of heart: it's going to tug at your heart-strings, make you ponder what sacrifices you'd be willing to make yourself, and make you reconsider what you really value in life. It reevaluates the mother-daughter relationship in a brutal way and reopens generations and generations of old wounds and heartache. But it is beautiful and magical and tragic and completely lovely. I'm glad I didn't know what I was getting with this story because it took me by surprise in the best way possible...and also the worst. I didn't cry, but it made me want to for all that was lost but also for all that was gained.
Also of note, I'm a huge nerd and love to read the Author's Note when probably everyone else just skips it. I like seeing what they have to say about the research that went into the book and what allowances they made, etc. And I really liked Kendall Kulper's Author's Note. The writing was stunning and lyrical and Kendall made this half fantastical, half historical world come alive with her words. And now I want more of this world, so I guess it's a good thing that she's working on another story set before Salt & Storm. Prequels are usually iffy for me, but in this case, it makes a ton of sense for her to go back in time rather than to move forward.
Oh, wow. I didn't think it was possible to love Laini Taylor or this series any more than I already did, but this short story was absolutely adorable.Oh, wow. I didn't think it was possible to love Laini Taylor or this series any more than I already did, but this short story was absolutely adorable. It was beyond cute and sweet and completely romantic. If you've never been swept up in a love affair like this, then this is exactly what you're hoping for one day. Or, at least, you should be.
Zuzana and Mik are some of my favorite secondary characters, and this novella just served to emphasize why they're so beloved. It's been awhile since I first read Daughter of Smoke & Bone, but honestly, I can't remember a time when it wasn't Zuzana & Mik. It feels like they've always been together, that they've always been part of an ampersand. Which makes their little adventure in Prague even more delightful.
"I mean, who would I be if I'd been raised on milquetoast bedtime stories and not forced to dust the glass prison of a psychotic undead fox Cossack? I shudder to think."
I adored reading from Zuzana's point-of-view. As I said, she's a favorite side character of mine, but actually getting in the Rabid Fairy's head was something else. It was almost as if we were kindred spirits, the way her mind works. And oh, all the trouble she went to in order to actually "meet" Mik! I love her even more now.
"I've seen Zuzana out of her outermost layers at least, at the theater, but I've only known her in winter, so: sweaters, scarves, jeans, boots. Nary a glimpse of ankle or clavicle, those miracles of girl geometry. It's very Victorian, but in the depths of a girlfriendless winter, a glimpse of ankle would probably excite me."
And I felt like I really got to know Mik with this story. He's sweet and perfect for Zuze, but he's also a guy, and he isn't pretending like he doesn't have those "guy nature" type impulses. A fact for which I am very grateful because even worse than a bad boy who only thinks about one thing is a too saccharine-sweet guy who acts like he never thinks about it. Mik is the perfect amount of guy for me...er, Zuzana.
And, oh, the writing! The writing is as brilliant as I've come to expect from Taylor, but maybe it's just been so long since the last book that I've forgotten just how brilliant it is. I mean, she's got these two kids on a collision course of love, and they're feeling the same things and doing the same things, but both sound completely different as they describe the experience, and there's no lack in originality in how they do so:
Mik: "A little war commences in my brain, "rational self" versus "hopeful self," cage match. I'm not religious; I don't believe in things -- not out of any determination not to. It's more like a default setting: My brain is an inhospitable environment for belief, but I've always said -- and really meant -- that life would be more interesting if those unseen things were real (and dragons, too, please), and of course death would be less of a bummer if there were a heave (hell not so much). I've just never been able to believe any of it. Right now, though, to some small detectable degree, it feels like the pH balance in my mind is shifting. Like my skepticism is being neutralized. Hopeful self is sitting on rational shelf's chest."
Zuzana: "I know it's all brain chemicals -- everything is brain chemicals -- but my excitement and dread feel like tiny wrestlers in my heart right now. I picture Excitement choking out Dread and gently, almost lovingly, lowering his intert body to the ground."
I mean, they're not even describing the same thing here, but they both use the same basic metaphor, and it is delightful. Wait, I think I've used that adjective already, but it's true. Also, they use poetry and Latin and a treasure map, and it's all just so damn romantic. They even made me google lines of a poem: 'anyone who's woken up to find the wet footprints of a peacock across their kitchen floor.' I mean, what?
And what it all boils down to is this: these two are just so unbelievably in love, and they have been from the very beginning. There's just no stopping this kind of love, and I hope the elation I feel after reading this short story bodes well for the final book in the trilogy. Pleasepleaseplease let Karou and Akiva get an ending reminiscent of Zuzana and Mik's beginning!
I just finished Unhinged, and I wasn't quite ready to leave this world yet, so I downloaded this novella. I'm aware that it should have been read prioI just finished Unhinged, and I wasn't quite ready to leave this world yet, so I downloaded this novella. I'm aware that it should have been read prior to Unhinged, and I completely concur, but it didn't impede my enjoyment of either story any that I didn't read them in order. I should also point out that it's not necessary to read this novella before you pick up Unhinged and that a lot of what's covered in both Splintered and Unhinged is present in this story, just from a different perspective.
With that said, I have to admit that my loyalties have changed with each installment of this story. I love both boys for different reasons, and it's clear that both boys care very deeply for Alyssa, though I think it's clearest in this novella. For that reason alone, I think it's a worthy read. Worth $1.99? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on how much you love this series, I suppose. My other sister -- the one who's the hardcore Alice fan -- begged me for my advanced copy of Unhinged, and so I'm sure she'll be purchasing this short. But if the rivalry between Jeb and Morpheus doesn't have you excited yet, this story might not be essential for your continuation of the series.
Because The Moth in the Mirror is an exploration of the relationship each boy has with Alyssa and what each is hoping for...and what they're willing to give up. Honestly, if you read Unhinged, you'll already have read some of this, just not in the same context. Morpheus wants to know exactly what he's up against when it comes to Jeb, what his motivations, his strengths and his weaknesses are, especially when it comes to Al. So, he takes a ride on the train of lost memories, experiencing pivotal moments from Jeb's point-of-view.
Does this change anything for Morpheus? I'll let you be the judge, either based on your reading of this story or when you get to Unhinged. Either way, the truth is there, in his words but mostly in his actions. Morpheus may not be mortal, but he desires what one mortal has above all else. And despite his single-mindedness, his sheer arrogance, I still want Morpheus to come out on top.
When I started seeing all of the mixed reviews for Trial by Fire, I almost passed on it, even though I'd requested a copy for review. Actually, I did kind of pass on it. April had it for review, as well, and she was still keen to read it, so I told her she should review it for the blog. She actually ended up DNFing it, not because it was bad but because she just didn't have the concentration for it right now. I like a good, complex world, so obviously my curiosity was piqued once again at that.
And now that I think about it, I should have remembered that there were a lot of mixed reviews for the author's mythology-based series, while I was over here writing up my fangirl review for it. I really like Angelini's writing style, the way she weaves a story, giving some answers while leaving you with even more questions. And, yes, the complexity of the world(s) in this story is an added bonus. The magical aspect was impressive, and I love a good multiverse story, though that element of the story wasn't explored all that much in this novel.
After the events that transpire in this installment, though, I expect the multiple universes to be a much bigger focus in future books, so I'm not worried in that respect. What we did see in this book was a sickly Lily being swept from her own world -- our present-day world -- to one where witchcraft and magic survived the Salem Witch Trials. In fact, it's a world in which the witches are trying to vanquish true science and medicine in favor of their own powerful magic. And Lily has been pulled from her world in hopes that she can save this one.
In this New Salem, Lily meets her doppleganger Lillian, the most powerful witch of her world. Like Lily was in her world, this Lillian is very ill, and although she is labeled as the villain from the start, I sensed there was some underlying motivation to her actions that might be less sinister than the residents of her city would have Lily believe. That doesn't mean I trusted her or thought what she was doing was right, but I think there's more to her story, and I'm intrigued to find out what it is.
I was also very interested in the magical system in New Salem. Harnessing a witch's power in a stone is not a new concept, but the way in which it is wielded, how susceptible it is to others and how other mages can be put under it's control...those are new notions to me. And I loved the way in which the magical elements were explored as Lily learns how to manifest her own dormant powers. Seeing others grow to trust her and believe in her and then allow her to claim them so that they might all benefit from her powers made this book downright unputdownable.
The slow-burning romance helped to keep me listening, too. From what I'd heard about the book prior to picking it up, and from what I gathered from that synopsis, I thought a love triangle was imminent. I'm not ruling out the possibility in the future because of REASONS, but for now, I consider it very unlikely. Lily's short-lived romance with Tristan in her world is all but over when she's whisked away to New Salem. And when she meets Rowan -- sigh, will there ever be a character with this name that I don't instantly swoon over? -- they don't exactly hit it off, her sharing the face of the woman he despises most, but that changes over time. There's a Tristan in this world, too, but he's similar in a lot of ways to the one Lily left behind, and nothing ever really develops there. You'd think that this would probably be the most awkward aspect of the romance, but no. Just as Lily had a thing with the Tristan of her world, Rowan had more than a thing with the Lily (Lillian) of his world. Yeah. But it never devolves into an embarrassing, uncomfortable situation for them because it's Lily and Rowan all the way. You can see it. They can see it. But they're going to deny it for as long as they can hold out. It was worth the wait, though.
This book was totally worth me creating extra chores and making excuses so that I could keep listening, too. I finished it in a day, even though Emma Galvin is one of my least favorite narrators. I used to really enjoy her narration. But that was before I listened to her narrate the first two books in the Arcana Chronicles series by Kresley Cole. That series is compulsively readable, highly addictive, and I hate it, but I'll probably still end up reading the third book when it releases because I can't help myself. Anyway, I don't know if it was a combination of the terrible accents Galvin used for those books plus the annoying characters in them that made me start disliking her narration style and voice, but I know it started with those books. And yet, I didn't find her narration of this book so terrible. I did hear some of the things that bother me about her narration style, like the fact that it sounds like she's speaking with a giant piece of candy or something attached to the inside of her cheek, but it was less noticeable to me than usual. I was so compelled by the story and characters in Trial by Fire that I was able to completely overlook those facets that might otherwise annoy me to the point of giving up on a book. I wish I'd had the time to sit down and read this novel myself, but I would still recommend this audiobook.
Trial by Fire really surprised me, even though is shouldn't have. And it ended on the perfect note...right on the precipice of something BIG but not something killer that's going to leave you aching to know what happens next. I mean, yeah, you're going to wonder because the story is that intriguing, and you're going to be excited to see where the characters go from here, especially because of the point at which the story ends. But it's not a stressful ending, nor a devastating one. It's just right. :) This whole novel was just right -- just enough action, just enough magic, just enough romance -- to entice you to keep coming back to it. Or never put it down, as the case may be...it's a compelling read, to be sure.
GIF it to me straight: Yay, witches! Everybody dance now!...more
I don't think I'll ever love Untold or Unmade as much as I did Unspoken, especially since I adoThis review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.
I don't think I'll ever love Untold or Unmade as much as I did Unspoken, especially since I adored that original cover design on the hardcover and have never really come to terms with the redesign. But Unmade was a very fitting end for our friends in Sorry-in-the-Vale, and I'm sad to be saying goodbye to them.
I think I've mentioned a time or two how difficult it is to review a series finale without spoiling anything in the previous books, so this won't be my typical review. I will say that I wish I'd re-read the first two books in preparation for this final installment, not because I was missing or had forgotten any vital information, but because the witty repartee and humorous interactions between the characters might have made this sad, sad goodbye more bearable.
Thank you, Sarah, above all for these characters. For Kami and Sulky and Blondie and Rusty and Jon Glass and every bit of comic relief you bestowed upon them. They deserved it. I'll never forget -- or forgive you for -- what you've put them through, those that were sacrificed, and those that live on so that those sacrifices were not in vain. Thank you for making sure that, while they suffered, they always had a good support system, that they had each other in the end and always. I know what you did and why you did it but it doesn't make the hurt any less.
I'll miss visiting Sorry-in-the-Vale, the Sorrier River, the Crying Pools, the tolling of the bells...everything that made this sleepy little village quaint and magical and real. I'll miss Kami's newspaper. I'll miss her bond with Jared and Ash but also the love she held for her own brothers. I'll miss Aurimere and the secrets it held. I'm going to miss it all.
This final book was perfectly plotted, well-paced, full of the dark, snarky humor I've come to expect from the author. Kami still rocks as a quirky, independent, take-charge protagonist and I wouldn't have wanted her to change for the world. She's going to remain one of my favorites, without a doubt. I can't say I'm 100% happy with how this story finishes but I have my reasons. And they'd be spoilery if I told you, so you'll just have to trust me that this is a worthy end. I'm happy but heartbroken, which is honestly how I always expect to feel at the end of a treasured trilogy, so in that respect, Unmade is pretty par for the course.
Have you read Throne of Glass? Did you love it? (Of course, you did.) Then you must read The Assassin's Blade, a series of five novellas, all still from Celaena's perspective in the third-person narrative. (I realize that the full-length novels are third-person omniscient, but a lot of times, novellas are from another character's point-of-view specifically, and I wanted to assuage any doubts.)
I'm not going to go into each novella, but suffice it to say, they are all very enlightening and show Celaena's considerable growth as a character. I've just finished my re-listen of this series to-date, which obviously included this collection, so that I could start Heir of Fire with no reservations, and I have to say, Elizabeth Evans is a solid pick to voice these books.
If you haven't started the series yet, this is definitely a good place to start. If you've already read the first two books but have lingering questions about Celaena's past, you should pick up The Assassin's Blade. Of course, I'm a fangirl, so *I* think you should read all the books in the series.
Hey, I think this may just be my most succinct "mini" review yet!
I just listened to The Burning Sky on audio as a refresher so that I could finally get to The Perilous Sea, a book I've been looking forward to since the second I finished the first installment. And after listening to that first book on audio and loving it even more the second time around, I knew I wouldn't be able to wait to start the sequel. Actually, I knew then that I'd have to listen to this one on audio because the narrator was just so right for this book. I questioned a single narrator -- and a male one at that since Iolanthe is such a big part of the story -- but Philip Battley really was the perfect choice for this series.
That said, when I started this audio, I felt that things were progressing rather slowly, compared to what I remembered of the previous book. I'm sure that had a lot to do with the story being split into a before-and-after type of narrative, with me waiting not-so-patiently for the two halves of the story to meet in the middle. But I'm sure it had more to do with Titus questioning the path he thought he was on with Iolanthe after a rather surprising turn of events early on in the story.
The pacing did pick up, and I kept holding out hope that things were not as they seemed. And I was rewarded with one surprise after another. Usually, I pride myself on picking up on things rather quickly, having worked out how the book's going to go pretty early on, even if it does make for a predictable read. But with The Perilous Sea, I never knew what to expect next. And I often found that I didn't care; I just kept listening, kept hoping that Iolanthe and Titus would continue to outwit and elude the Bane at every turn.
It probably didn't hurt that each chapter shuffles the reader between the present and back to the beginning of the term, when Iolanthe and Titus are only just reuniting after a summer apart. And at the end of each chapter is a cliffhanger that left me reeling, but I was so engrossed in the story that I just could not be bothered to press pause. I loved how much more prominent the secondary characters were in this installment -- especially Kashkari -- and I really enjoyed the focus on whether the hero writes his own destiny or if it's already been written in the stars for him. Honestly, I am just really captivated by the direction this series has taken overall, even more so than I was in the first book.
I'm immensely happy with what was revealed in this book and what remains to be discovered. And I loved the romance even more this time around, maybe because I got to see Iolanthe and Titus work their way back to each other in one time line and fall in love all over again in the other. The way Thomas wrote this novel really is impressive in that manner. The Perilous Sea was an amazingly strong sequel, and this series is fast becoming a favorite. If you love fantasy, girls disguised as boys, and all manner of magic, I highly recommend this series.
GIF it to me straight: This sequel totally blew me away...and it's even better on audio!...more