So the part I listened to in audio was semi-painful for me, but after that, I quite enjoyed it, even though some of it is admittedly a bit problematicSo the part I listened to in audio was semi-painful for me, but after that, I quite enjoyed it, even though some of it is admittedly a bit problematic......more
Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper is the kind of book that held a lot of promise for me: a fantasy concept of betrayal and death, an interesting chapter set-up, and a cover that is kind of bananas-awesome.
But those things are not enough to hook a reader, and here’s what lead to me declaring Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper DOA– errrr… DNF.
Predictability- I’m not sure if this was intentional or what, but there were “twists” as early in as the first few chapters of Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper… and I saw them basically as each new character was introduced
Distant narration- We go through multiple POVs, which is fine, but we’re distant… especially in the opening chapter which is not only distant, but BORING. Justin Somper seems to have been going for the slow poetic, meandering feel, but missed by a mile. The ruler of the kingdom was just assassinated. A little more urgency wouldn’t have been out of place.
Filtering- So, Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper is written in 3rd person past, which isn’t the closest POV as a rule, but that’s not something that would have ruined it on its own. (While I think that 1st present or past would have helped it, that’s neither here nor there) But there is a lot of “Jared could see” and “Jared felt” going on which only distanced us more. To put me with the character, the writer should have removed that extra layer of distancing… at least sometimes.
Adverbs and adjectives- I LOVE ADVERBS AND ADJECTIVES TOO, JUSTIN SOMPER, BUT JEEZ. To make matters worse, he often used two-four adjectives for one thing (a la “It was ___ and ____, _____ and _____”).
Dialogue tags- Sometimes you don’t need them. And Jesus, sometimes, they can just “say” a thing instead or needing to “inform” or what-have-you.
Repeating unusual word choice in close proximity- When you use the word “conjure” to describe someone imagining/picturing something, I like it the first time. When you do it again a few pages later, I’m rolling my eyes at you.
Basically, internally editing as I read got real old, real quick. This book made an assassin of me– and the victim was my reading of it.
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch popped up on my radar out of almost nowhere recently. It seemed like all of aPosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch popped up on my radar out of almost nowhere recently. It seemed like all of a sudden many of the people that I look to for fantasy recommendations were reading and loving it, despite the fact that The Lies of Locke Lamora came out the year I graduated high school. HIGH SCHOOL.
So it's been... a while since I read some adult fantasy. A long while. But when so many YA bloggers put it on their radar, I decided to give it a go and I am GLAD I DID.
Because The Lies of Locke Lamora is whip-smart. It's fantastical, it's got some of the smartest world-building I've ever seen and it has SUCH SMART PLOTTING. Seriously, pretty much all of the characters are plotting to come out on top and they're all so smart that it's anyone's guess who will win.
It did take me a little while to get into the book as it began, but I think that was because-- while it was still fun and interesting, it took a bit for me to feel the central conflict. It was definitely introduced, but not in a way that directly affected the main characters. But the pay-off I got for working my way through the set-up was worth it.
I'd recommend Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora to fans of George R.R. Martin and Megan Whalen Turner-- for the smart thieves combined with the swearing/graphic nature of the book at some parts.
Audio note: I began listening to The Lies of Locke Lamora on audio and highly recommend it to anyone who's looking for a audiobook because the narration is top-notch. The only reason I switched methods is that it's a long audiobook and I didn't have enough listening time....more
DNF at 25%. I hate when this happens... this author is super nice and very helpful, but I could NOT get into this. Narration's very surface level, intDNF at 25%. I hate when this happens... this author is super nice and very helpful, but I could NOT get into this. Narration's very surface level, introspection didn't have much emotion to it and felt like there was a lot of "telling, not showing." I just couldn't connect with the plot or any of the characters....more
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski had a lot of hype centered around it. This usually makes me both excited and nervPosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski had a lot of hype centered around it. This usually makes me both excited and nervous in equal regard. The Winner’s Curse certainly sounded like a “me” sort of book. I crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best. And I’m happy to say that although it didn’t elevate me to fangirl status, I did really enjoy it.
My initial draw into the story of The Winner’s Curse wasn’t through the setting, the politics, or even the characters at first; it was through Marie Rutkoski’s use of music. I love when I feel like a music is adequately described as well as the emotions around it as the two are so deeply wound around each other. It made me feel a bond with Kestrel that I didn’t before.
Although that’s not to say that I didn’t like Kestrel before those moments; I definitely did. She’s a smart young woman who really seems to know herself. In a world where her choices are military or marriage, she longs to be able to choose music.
(As a quick aside, I did enjoy that about the Valorians: that unlike so many historical cultures, women and men are equally valued as soldiers.)
Kestrel doesn’t care for the slave system, but, as a strong strategist, as doesn’t see where she can affect much change in the beginning. And she gets that her physical weaknesses don’t make her weak because she has an incredibly cunning and strategic mind.
And that’s why my biggest problem with the book was a scene where (view spoiler)[a “bad guy” attempts to assault Kestrel. I felt that it undid some of what it accomplished in earlier chapters where it was established that Kestrel was a different kind of strong and that enabled her to win fights her own way. Look, I believe that sexual assault has a place in literature, but NOT as a plot device, which is how it felt to me in The Winner’s Curse and it severely bothered me. The only point that I could see for it was to eliminate the “bad guy” and reinforce that Arin truly cares for Kestrel by saving her. (hide spoiler)] There should have been another way to accomplish that plot-wise.
The strategic minds and musical hearts of Arin and Kestrel are well-matched, and although the pull between them sang in some high stakes moments, I didn’t quite feel it in others.
Now, to the world of The Winner’s Curse. Marie Rutkoski has crafted a compelling world based loosely on the Greco-Roman empire. I love magic in my fantasy, but I also love a little divergence from the norm and it was refreshing to be in a fantasy world where magic doesn’t exist. At least in this installment; who can say what’s to come? The touches of the fantastic in The Winner’s Curse come in instances of Marie Rutkoski’s writing and the mythology that she created.
Overall, in The Winner’s Curse, I found a main character that I could root for. I found a world with politics and war that intrigues me. And I found a couple that I may not yet ship with the fire of a thousand suns, but that I ship with at least one sun. I’m not adding The Winner’s Curse series to my favorites list quite yet, but I look forward to welcoming book #2 of Marie Rutkoski’s fantasy series with open arms.
The Winner’s Curse was almost a total winner for me.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I am a fantasy addict. Which, if you already follow this blog, you know. If you are new here, it’s a helpful thinPosted to Almost Grown-up:
I am a fantasy addict. Which, if you already follow this blog, you know. If you are new here, it’s a helpful thing to keep in mind. Because I read a lot of fantasy, and I love it, but Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy and, in particular, this novel stand apart from the rest.
I won’t bore you again with what I thought about the world-building (stellar), but let’s jump right into Alina and her character arc. She’s come so far from the mousy orphan we met at the beginning of Shadow & Bone. Her struggle with adjusting to having power and what it means for her relationships with people is so interesting to “watch.”
SPEAKING of relationships, in the last book, I was underwhelmed by Mal. I sort of just felt like: “Okay, Alina likes him, whatever.” BUT GUYS, I GET IT NOW. Mal is kind of amazing and fears that he’s not important enough to Alina. But he’s so wonderful and funny and just wants to be useful and like– he’s drawn so well in this book. SO WELL.
And on the subject of characters that I’ve had flip-flopped feelings for: The Darkling. My love of him from the last book (that I choose not to examine too closely because whoa I don’t have time for that kind of psychoanalysis) is OFFICIALLY gone because OMG I don’t remember the last time I found a character so CREEPY. And ruthless. He’s completely terrifying.
To continue along this line of menmenmenmenMANLYmenmenmen, may I say: STURMHOND HALLO. I really enjoyed meeting this guy. He’s SNARKY and hilarious. I’ll analogize him a little bit to Marissa Meyer’s Thorne, but with a bit more of an EDGE. I could go on, but… anything else I might say would be spoilerific, so I think you should read and swoon for yourself.
Goodreads rating: 5/5 stars. If you like fantasy and you’re not reading this series, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life....more
I think that I’m one of many, many people who find Russian culture all kinds of fascinating. And like those many, manyPosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
I think that I’m one of many, many people who find Russian culture all kinds of fascinating. And like those many, many people, the Russian revolution and Romanov family is of a particular interest to me. Even if Tsarina was written by someone else and J. Nelle Patrick wasn’t the penname of a favorite author of mine, Jackson Pearce, I would have found my way to this book.
There’s something vaguely Gemma Doyle-ish about the beginning feel of Tsarina. I think it comes from the friendship between two girls from a wealthier class, and the magical tumult. It may have been added to by the character of Leo, who both opposes and supervises Natalya and her friend Emilia, but is kind to them. I was reminded in very slight ways of Kartik’s character.
The sense of danger and mysticism is palpable in Tsarina, and Patrick lays out the landscape of Russia in a lovely prose that readers of her work as Pearce have come to expect. I was very pleased with it in that regard.
But, although I did really enjoy, Tsarina, there were a couple of aspects that fell flat for me. I was a bit disappointed by the romance in this book. It’s not that it couldn’t be seen coming, but I didn’t feel the chemistry, so it didn’t work for me. And well… the ending was another thing. It’s another thing that you can see coming, but it just doesn’t quite work. Some of it is too convenient, and the pacing feels a little abrupt.
Still, those complaints are minor ones for me. Patrick gave me Russia and magic. She gave me hints of the Romanovs and a strong female friendship. She gave me lovely words and interesting characters. Tsarina was a read that I really enjoyed.
Have you heard? There’s a rumor this book is pretty good.*
I was cautious going into Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder. I had very sincerely enjoyed reading the previous novel, TouchPosted to Almost Grown-up:
I was cautious going into Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder. I had very sincerely enjoyed reading the previous novel, Touch of Power, but in my mind, things had seemed kind of… wrapped up. Looking back, I’m not sure why I felt that way because the Big Baddie is still alive and at large, with an army of the dead at his disposal.
But in Scent of Magic, we jump back in here Touch of Power left off. Avry and Kerrick have only just been able to get together and have ze sexytimes, when they must part for equally important and dangerous missions. There was a lot of exposition to explain what had happened in the previous book and I know it needs to be there to remind us, but it was dry and had a very this-happened-then-this-happened feel.
I still really enjoyed Avry in Scent of Magic– appreciated how in touch with her emotions she was and how determined she was to completely her missions, but my believability was stretched a little thin. Avry goes into disguise in the army without many people seeming the wiser which didn’t mesh with my take on her personality.
I was extremely excited to see some familiar and funny faces again, but they were a little lost amongst a cast of new characters. It’s one of those cases where I was overwhelmed and had trouble keeping everyone straight. I did, however remember Tohon aka the Big Baddie and was just as repulsed by him this time around. He’s sexually manipulative and every time he showed up I was about ready to vom in my mouth. He’s terrible and sickening.
The POV of Kerrick was interesting as well– he got to explore a side of the Fifteen realms that we hadn’t seen before and it was a cool side to see. There were conflicts that didn’t have to do with the war we were so focused on and I’m interested to see where that goes in the future.
To sum up: I don’t want this to be a review where you’re left wondering: “So did she like it , or what?” I did and if you liked Touch of Power, I recommend you continue on with Scent of Magic, but in my opinion, it has a slight case of Second Book Syndrome....more
Lordy, lordy, lordy. I bow to Kristin Cashore’s talent which is just as evident in Fire as it was in Graceling.
Obviously, having adored Graceling, I went into Fire with big expectations, but a little bit of a pouty face. Katsa and Po wouldn’t be there. I knew this and was prepared to miss them.
No offense to my favorite Gracelings, but I didn’t miss them. I didn’t miss them at all.
This was because, in Fire, Kristin Cashore once again created characters that were so utterly absorbing that I was much too busy focusing on them. The title character, Fire is vaguely reminiscent of Katsa in that they are both strong females who struggle with what they are, but each has her own distinct personality. Fire’s struggle to come to terms with what it means to embrace who she is without crossing a moral boundary line is engrossing. We also get a lot of peeks back into her past when she wonders if she used that power properly.
Fire is set in the same world as Graceling, but rather than Katsa’s kingdom and time, Cashore took us back in time and to a different kingdom. There’s different magical creatures in the lands. Where Gracelings ran rampant on Katsa’s turf, Fire’s homeland is plagued by creatures that they call monsters.
And she is one of them.
Fire is tied to Graceling by everyone’s least favorite character, Leck. With the earlier time, we see a little of Leck’s development. Honestly? I find him even more terrifying as a child than I did as an adult....more
Oh wait, I’m supposed to tell you WHY you should go buy this book first, right? Well,Posted to Almost Grown-up:
GOOD MORROW, FRIENDS.
Go buy this book.
Oh wait, I’m supposed to tell you WHY you should go buy this book first, right? Well, then, let’s hop to it!
We all know what a big fan of Tamora Pierce I am, right? Which is why a pitch that includes her name is guaranteed to draw my eye. But nothing besides the quality of a story will guarantee that it will hold my attention.
And boy oh boy, did The Cadet of Tildor hold my attention.
It wasn’t only that it held so many of my favorite elements: there was magic, a castle, and a strong female MC– it was that Alex Lidell crafted those elements so well.
For instance, our strong female MC, Renee de Winter is so proud of her future as a Cadet and so fearful that it won’t come to fruition– so she works at it. And the best thing about her is how much she grows as a character over the course of the novel. When the novel starts, she sees the world as very black and white. It was interesting as things changed for her so that she could see that there wasn’t always a clear answer.
Another character that I really enjoyed was Savoy, who was absolutely fascinating. He’s almost surly when he is called back to the castle in order to teach the cadets, but does a good job teaching. It was particularly interesting when we caught glimpses of what his character may have been like back when he was a student himself.
But the political unrest present in its pages is what gives The Cadet of Tildor life. The royal family fights against two crime families, who, in turn fight against each other as well. The seed of corruption runs deep in the world and as more was revealed about the families’ beliefs and the laws of the realms, I found myself actually understanding why different characters would ally themselves in certain ways.
The Cadet of Tildor is a fantasy novel that you’ll want sitting on your shelves alongside other YA fantasy favorites like Throne of Glass, Graceling… and yes, Tamora Pierce’s novels too.
…Is it okay if I tell you to go buy it now?...more
OOPS, I read Crown of Midnight in like… JUNE. It was actually a book I read DURING BEA while I camped out in lines. Should IPosted to Almost Grown-up:
OOPS, I read Crown of Midnight in like… JUNE. It was actually a book I read DURING BEA while I camped out in lines. Should I have reviewed it then? Probs, but I am a procrastinator, my dudes.
Here’s what you should know though: Crown of Midnight had me SCREAMING (not out loud of course– I imagine I would have garnered some LOOKS at BEA). I was caps lock texting Alexa much of the way through my reading.
Celaena is the king’s assassin now, and it’s REALLY interesting how it shifts her dynamic with others. The fact that she’s an assassin was obviously something that those closest to her knew, but the way their expectations and thoughts of her change with visceral reminders is fascinating.
Celaena’s changed as well, and she’s remained a character that I love. I love how she’s both kick-ass and a complete girly-girl who loves to shop. It’s something that I find fascinating– so often in fiction, women who like dresses or activities like shopping are written off as frivolous. It’s typically an easy way of stating that facet of their personality. But with Celaena, we have someone who is more than just one part of her personality. She can be soft, she can be hard, she can be frivolous and she can be serious. Just because she’s one way at one time doesn’t mean she’s that way all of the time. It makes her character incredibly dimensional and it’s one of the strongest things about Maas’s work.
Other characters are dimensional too, of course. This is one of the only series in which a love triangle (though that’s not an element that’s at play too much in this one… you’ll see) works for me. Why? Because I like both of the men involved. Of course I have a favorite, but I wouldn’t think Celaena was smoking something if she chose the other!
Naturally, Crown of Midnight is also filled with magic, intrigue, and action, and it’s an equation that equals an explosion of awesome. I’ll admit that I totally saw a twist at the end coming (from like… last book), but there are a MULTITUDE of other twists that I did not expect. Crown of Midnight is such a strong sequel… that it may have actually topped Throne of Glass....more
Lord knows, I loved Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas to PIECES. So, WARNING: GUSHING AHEAD. Where do I even BEGIN this ode ofPosted to Almost Grown-up:
Lord knows, I loved Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas to PIECES. So, WARNING: GUSHING AHEAD. Where do I even BEGIN this ode of a review?
Let’s try starting with the obvious choice: Celaena Sardothien. Our main character and assassin extraordinaire. I could write poems about how much I adored Celaena. I love how friggin’ dangerous she is. You guys, everyone is so afraid of her and she revels in it, letting everyone know that if she chose to move against them, they’d be dead in seconds. Homegirl is a bad-ass.
But there’s more to her than just that. I love how Celaena, despite said badassery, can be emotionally vulnerable… and hey, sometimes an ordinary girl. Her year in Endovier has scarred her, both physically and emotionally. It grates on her that she is serving a Havilliard (Prince Dorian), when she considers the line of Havilliard royalty to be on a level that is just below scum. She can be vain, indulging herself in pretty dresses, and confident in her looks to win men over. She likes reading, is decent with music, and has a bit of a sweet tooth.
And now she’s in for the fight of her life as she fights to become a hated king’s Champion. Despite her initial confidence, the challenges are not exactly a piece of cake. She’s got to keep her identity a secret amongst forbidable competitors. If that’s not enough, the universe keeps piling more and more on top of her, but Celaena rolls with the punches. And one punch she didn’t see coming? A love triangle.
Sarah J. Maas, you win ALL the awards for pulling a love triangle off. Plot-wise it is usually a total turn-off for me, BUT that’s because in most novels it’s so contrived. NOT SO in Throne of Glass. There is no clear choice, no obvious indicator that Celaena prefers one man to the other.
…And I can’t make up my mind either because GUYS. I would happily take EITHER one of them off her hands.
Dorian is funny and witty. He’s a bit of a womanizer, but NO WONDER with those looks. He likes to read and is pretty damn in touch with his feelings. But his feelings make him stronger and his character progresses until by the end he stands up for what he believes in.
And then there is Chaol. Who is also– Um– yeah. Well he’s gorgeous, strong, and committed to his position. He’s a warrior. But unlike Dorian, he doesn’t trust his feelings. He believes they’ll make him vulnerable.
If I’d known these things when I met her in a line at BEA, I would have begged Sarah J. Maas to tell me who I should root for because LORD I cannot decide and it is driving me nuts. I went actively seeking spoilers from her time on Fictionpress because I need a Throne of Glass OTP!
Aside from the boys, Celaena builds relationships with other people for one of the first times in her life. Nehemia, a princess from a foreign land and Nox, one of the other competitors. Are either of these friendships in her best interests? Probably not, but isn’t that the point? She’s finally building relationships without ulterior motives! Big character growth step.
The world that Sarah J. Maas built is very well-constructed, pulling you right into its flaws and past. Making you visualize the gaudy palace and drawing you into the web of power plots at play. And lordy, are there plots and sub-plots galore, but they all serve a purpose and are resolved at least enough to complete the novel, but leave room for expansion in the rest of the series.
Overall rating: 5/5. Slap a label on me and call me a fangirl because Throne of Glass is one of my new favorite books EVER....more