To be perfectly frank, I didn't have high expectations when I cracked open A Crown of Wishes. I did not enjoy The Star-Touched Queen due to its similaTo be perfectly frank, I didn't have high expectations when I cracked open A Crown of Wishes. I did not enjoy The Star-Touched Queen due to its similarity to other books that I have read; however, the premise was promising. And, I did enjoy the lush atmosphere of Star-Touched Queen. I enjoyed A Crown of Wishes so much more than the first book, I think in large part, due to the fact that is seemed much more original than the first book. Or at least, the author was able to put a unique spin on a familiar story that appealed to me. The sense of humour was also much more evident here, and I really enjoyed that.
Gauri is the princess of Bharata and when she unsuccessfully tries to roust her brother from power she is imprisoned by a neighbouring kingdom. Vikram is the puppet prince of that neigbouring kingdom and he longs to have some real power when he is finally crowned emperor. So, one magical invitation later, both Gauri and Vikram will have their chance to win their wishes in a otherworldly tournament. That is, if they can get along long enough to accomplish their tasks.
The concept behind the novel is simple, but the author carries off the plot with style. The descriptions of the magical realm that Gauri and Vikram are beautiful and I absolutely loved the funny bantering between the main characters. The fact that both characters grow up throughout the tournament is also a huge plus. If you enjoyed the lyrical style of the first book, A Crown of Wishes is sure to impress. And while I personally found the lyricism to be over the top (just as I did when reading Wintersong), there are many readers who enjoy this style of writing. A really nice addition to the YA fantasy genre.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley. ...more
The Autumn Republic is the final book in McClellan's Powder Mage trilogy. Having enjoyed both The Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign, I was pretty confident that I would also enjoy The Autumn Republic. In the final book of the trilogy the author ties up loose ends and satisfactorily concludes the trilogy. However, I have since learned that there will be a new trilogy set in the same world with Vlora as one of it's main characters. Yay! So, I can also say that The Autumn Republic leaves enough room for this upcoming trilogy.
The Autumn Republic picks up right after the events in The Crimson Campaign. Tamas returns to the front after being presumed dead and gets right down to work fighting the Kez. While Tamas would prefer to search for his son, Taniel, who has also been presumed dead after capture, Tamas has to deal with the betrayal of some of his loyal soldiers. Taniel who is incidentally not dead makes his way to his father to rejoin the battle only to be thrown for a loop when his companion, Po, is kidnapped since she has control of a god. Those pesky gods are causing trouble again. Meanwhile Nila is learning to control her powerful skills as a Privileged and Adamat finds himself once again embroiled in investigative work for Tamas, although he's hoping that this time his family doesn't suffer for it.
Like the previous books, there is a lot happening in The Autumn Republic and the author keeps the momentum moving in all of these plot lines. And while I certainly have my favourite characters that I want to read about, all of the points of view keep the reader engaged. For such a large book, The Autumn Republic is a quick read because of the fast-paced nature of the narrative. There's lots of action, magic, fighting, and intrigue, but there's also a great emphasis to the development of the main characters, which is what drew me to the trilogy in the first place. In the case of The Autumn Republic, readers are treated to a greater presence of Nila in comparison to the first two books, I really liked that she was given a greater focus in this book. Nila was a wonderful character and her interactions with Bo gave this heavier book some much needed levity. Nila and Bo, my new favourites.
If you've enjoyed the previous books in the trilogy there is no doubt in my mind that you will like the final installment. The Autumn Republic is everything that I wanted the final book to be. The only bad thing about the book is that it had to end and now I'm forced to wait for the next trilogy to begin (yes, I'm hoping for some cameos from my favourite characters)....more
Monstress is the first volume in a a historical fantasy graphic novel series, and it's amazing. Like, reallOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
Monstress is the first volume in a a historical fantasy graphic novel series, and it's amazing. Like, really amazing. The artwork is gorgeous and the storyline is compelling and mysterious. Fantasy fans out there will rejoice at the sheer level of complexity of the world that has been created in this graphic novel.
is a teenage girl who's out for revenge. She orchestrates her own capture in order to infiltrate those she believes to have the information that she needs. Something has happened to Maika and she finds herself changing, becoming more violent as she's influenced by an unknown force. Maika struggles to control the monster that is living inside her, but it's a constant struggle and at this point Maika doesn't have much control over the mysterious creature the compels her to do things she wouldn't otherwise. The world that Liu creates in Monstress is fantastic. A war has ended, but the division that brought that war still exists. It's a division between those that naturally have magic and those that do not. Because of this division there's a constant tension between the two sides, and that could break at any time and erupt into war. Maika is at the centre of that tension because it's clear that she has something that both sides want. Maika's strange abilities set her apart from both sides and it's clear that that inner monster that she's providing a home to could change the tide for either side. The duality of Maika's nature ratchets up the suspense in Monstress since it's anyone's guess whether Maika will use her powers for good or ill. And, readers don't exactly know who the good guys are. I personally have my doubts about certain individuals.
While I did enjoy the storyline and the character of Maika, what really makes this such an impressive graphic novel is the artwork by Sana Takeda. Seriously, the art is beautiful, dark, and expressive. All the themes that the author is trying to get across is emphasized by the art; they are a perfect accompaniment to the story, enhancing the tension and meaning of the author's words. The art alone will have me coming back for volume two.
The last thing that I'll mention is that the novel offers some fantastic secondary characters. When Maika breaks herself out of lockup she rescues a fox faced girl who provides a sharp contrast to the jaded Maika. This little fox is an innocent, and her capacity to care for Maika is lovely. Then there's the two tailed cat, who is snarkily funny. This cat offers unsolicited advice to Maika, and Maika's attitude towards the cat is downright hilarious. The moments of humour in Monstress are unexpected, but add an interesting texture to the book.
Monstress offers readers a rich reading experience, introducing readers to a mysterious heroine and a complex world. There are so many unanswered questions by the end of volume one, it's impossible not to want to more. Monstress is the perfect read for fantasy graphic novel fans....more
I really enjoy Williams' first installment featuring the Copper Cat and her disreputable companions, and like its predecessor The Iron Ghost is filledI really enjoy Williams' first installment featuring the Copper Cat and her disreputable companions, and like its predecessor The Iron Ghost is filled with excellent characters who embark on fantastic, yet morally ambiguous adventures in which our heroes learn that they should yet again be asking more questions before agreeing to taking on a job.
The only complaint that I have with The Iron Ghost is that it didn't seem different enough from the first book. I would have liked to have seen more focus on the characters and how they have been changed by their adventures (both past and present). Instead, The Iron Ghost ended up reading more like filler segments that are building towards a bigger event. Not a bad thing in and of itself, but it did make for a less satisfying reading experience than the first book.
If you enjoyed The Copper Cat this second book will appeal, if only to see what the intrepid trio is up to. There is a lot of development in larger world of the book, which will presumably have an impact in the next book, but I will be reading to see how Cat, Aaron and Sebastian ultimately solve their lasting problems.
*ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley. ...more
Forest of Ruin picks up where Empire of Night left off: the empire is on the verge of war, Moria and AshynOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
Forest of Ruin picks up where Empire of Night left off: the empire is on the verge of war, Moria and Ashyn are separated and those that they care about are in imminent danger. Having LOVED Empire of Night, I anxiously awaited getting my hands on the final book of the Age of Legends trilogy. Did Forest of Ruin live up to my expectations? Well…no, no, it did not.
As soon as I cracked open Forest of Ruin it seemed that something was different. The tone seemed off and everything I liked about the second book seemed to not work for this time around. What I loved about Empire of Night was the author’s use of multiple perspectives. Both Ashyn and Moira get equal page time and readers are immersed into the twin’s perspectives and their very different personalities. I really appreciated this narrative style in the first two books, but I didn’t find either sister that interesting this time around. For me, the problem lays in the fact that Ashyn and Moira didn’t really seem to change that much in the final book. Ashyn continued to be reserved yet quietly strong, and Moira continues to be brash and impulsive. There was very little progression in either girl’s character development that reading their separate narrative felt like a re-hashing of Empire of Night.
Another disappointment for me was the depiction of the Ashyn and Moira’s relationship. These sisters are purportedly close despite their differences. However, for the majority of Forest of Ruin Ashyn and Moira were separated and when they do come together there is very little evidence of their bond. Rather, readers are told that they have a bond but readers never really see that bond in action, just several moments where the sisters get together for “girl talk”. Personally, I was hoping for a more complex relationship between the sisters. Instead, readers are treated to each sister’s focus on their respective romance.
I’m not usually a reader to complain about the romance plot, but again I felt the romance, like the character development, was rather lackluster in Forest of Ruin. The budding romance between Moira and Tyrus and Ashyn and Ronan was fantastically depicted in Empire of Night, yet when it came to book three, the charm of those romances seemed to fade. Again, the same romantic difficulties that were apparent in Empires of Night were once again explored and little new ground was covered, simply a resolution was put forth by the end.
Due to repetitive nature of the final book in the trilogy, I felt that Forest of Ruin was kind of an unnecessary conclusion. Yes, the greater conflict involving Alvar Kitsune needed to be addressed, but when it came to the lives of the characters themselves, little new ground was broken making for a somewhat tedious read....more
Flamecaster is the first book by the much-hyped Chima that I've read. I've wanted to read Chima's Seven ReaOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
Flamecaster is the first book by the much-hyped Chima that I've read. I've wanted to read Chima's Seven Realms series for a long time, but alas, time, there is never enough. Instead, I decided to jump right into Chima's new series, which I understand is connected to the Seven Realms series. Having not read the other series, I think I can safely say that Flamecaster can be read as a standalone series.
Flamecaster follows the adventures and revenge plots of four people. There's Ash, a young prince who's family has been targeted by a rival king. Like Ash, Jenna's friends have been murdered by the same king, and now she is being hunted down by the king because of the mage mark on the back of her neck. Lila is playing multiple sides, but it's anyone's guess who's side she's really on. And perhaps the most mysterious of all, Destin Karn, son of the powerful general that serves the dastardly king seems to have his own operation running that is contrary to his king. Each of these characters have their own motivations, but what ties them all together is their hatred for the current king of Arden.
The revenge inspired plot of Flamecaster had me intrigued from page one, as did the introduction to four different characters who all get their own point of view in the novel (yay for complexity of storytelling!). However, I must confess to not absolutely loving Flamecaster. For some reason it took me forever to get into the book; the start of the book was slow in setting up each of the characters and their reasons for doing what they're doing. I impatiently waited for the four character's narratives to come together and personally, I wasn't overwhelmed when this did happen. There was a lot of build up to the second half of the book and I had to work to finish the book. The characters were compelling, but I found the plot to be slow moving despite the exquisite writing of the author.
The last third of the book is where the momentum really picked up, but ironically this was where I felt the plot started to get rushed. Everything happened so quickly at the end. I blinked and Ash was in love with the captive Jenna, and Lila's true purpose was revealed. It all just happened so quickly, and I wasn't expecting that considering the length of time I had to put in in the first part of the book.
To sum up, I struggled with Flamecaster. It was a hard book to be immersed in, which isn't exactly a constructive piece of book reviewing because that is a pretty personal reaction to reading a book. It's hard to review a book where intellectually I can see the merits of the writing and crafting of the world, yet that indescribable "something" was missing for me. I know there are many readers out there who loved this book, I was not one of them, and I think that's okay....more
Daughter of the Pirate King is getting a lot of praise and I'm so disappointed that I didn't love it as much as the majority seems to. I mean, there aDaughter of the Pirate King is getting a lot of praise and I'm so disappointed that I didn't love it as much as the majority seems to. I mean, there are pirates! And a lady pirate, at that. Alas, the fact that main character Alosa is a competent and able-bodied pirate was not enough to counter what I felt to be a contrived romance and my own disappointment that this is yet another YA book that can't stand alone.
Alosa organizes her own kidnapping to a rival pirates ship in order to find a map for her father, the king of all the pirates. Alosa's plan goes awry and its further complicated by her (predictable) feelings for the ship's first mate, Riden. Okay, so romance is expected in YA, but for me, it was like I had read this already. The romance didn't really offer anything new and is something that you've read before if you read a lot of YA fantasy. Without the addition of pirates, of which there are few in YA, I don't think I would have kept reading about Alosa and her tepid romance with Riden. There wasn't really anything wrong with the romance, it just ended up being kind of boring for me.
So, Daughter of the Pirate King is a fun adventure tale that will definitely find it's audience. The pirate hook is unique and the writing is crisp; however, those who read widely in the YA arena may be disappointed.
*ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley. ...more
There's absolutely nothing wrong with this book. The writing is lush and atmospheric. The characters strong and compelling. So why didn't I finish theThere's absolutely nothing wrong with this book. The writing is lush and atmospheric. The characters strong and compelling. So why didn't I finish the book? For me, this would have been a much more engaging read had I not read Cruel Beauty. There were way too many similarities plot-wise between this and Cruel Beauty that I lost interest. ...more
A Promise of Fire is one of those books that's a bit tricky to review. On the one hand, it's a bit of a proOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
A Promise of Fire is one of those books that's a bit tricky to review. On the one hand, it's a bit of a problematic read considering that it's a romance and the so-called hero kidnaps the heroine. On the other hand, I found it an entertaining read that I couldn't peel my eyes away from. So keep in mind that you too may be frustrated by some character's actions in A Promise of Fire but you will ultimately enjoy this one for being a breath of fresh air in the romance genre.
Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a psychic who works in a circus. Cat is also in hiding from the powerful Fisa family. Cat's powers make her unique; she can sense when a person is lying, which makes her valuable as a political tool. Due to her ability to sense a lie (just one of many fantastical abilities) Cat is known as a Kingmaker. Since escaping the Fisa family Cat has successfully hidden her abilities and carved out a life for herself in the circus. Naturally, that life is not mean to be and Cat is kidnapped by the Sintan warlord Griffin who wants to use Cat's ability to solidify his sister's leadership after overthrowing the previous leaders of the Sinta and bringing in a non-magical leader. Enter magic and mayhem and things get complicated very quickly. A Promise of Fire is a really, really good start to a fantasy romance series. The fantasy romance genre is one that I don't see getting a lot of love, but is probably one of my favourite sub-genres. I wish more books in this genre were published! The fact that A Promise of Fire combined fantasy with romance is exactly what made me want to read the book. Personally, I found the level of detail in the world in which Bouchet created to be intriguing and descriptive without being overpowering (detailed world building can be your enemy). The Greek mythology aspects in the novel came across as both refreshing and reflective of those adventurous myths of old. Add in a romance and I was one happy camper and I'm officially anxious to get my hands on book two.
Despite my love for A Promise of Fire and it's refreshing content, I will admit that I did find the romance problematic. Cat is kidnapped by Griffin. Okay, this concept is not a new one in the romance genre. But what I found troublesome was the fact that Griffin never realized why this was, you know, wrong. Cat was understandably not happy about being dragged away from the life she had built and fought back constantly. While Griffin and his merry band of kidnappers never abused Cat, the whole setup left me feeling rather uncomfortable. Definitely more of an "old school" romance vibe going on here, which isn't helped by the fact that readers only get the story through Cat's eyes. What was going through Griffin's head is anyone's guess. What I does help to mitigate some of the problematic nature of Cat and Griffin's inevitable relationship is the fact that it took so long to develop. It's not a perfect relationship by modern standards, but I do think the author was able to show that there was more than coercion at work in Cat and Griffin's relationship. And, A Promise of Fire is only the first in a series, so there's still time for Griffin to show some empathy towards Cat's situation.
If you're a fan of the fantasy romance genre and feel, like me, that there's been a bit of a drought with these kinds of books being published, you will not want to miss A Promise of Fire. The world that the author has created is unique and familar. The romance might be problematic, but it's also compelling and serves as a good base for deeper exploration in future books. An excellent debut from the author....more
Gorgeous writing, yet, I confess to being less enthusiastic about the plot. Perhaps its because I'm not a classical music fan, but I personally foundGorgeous writing, yet, I confess to being less enthusiastic about the plot. Perhaps its because I'm not a classical music fan, but I personally found Wintersong to be a little too slow moving for my taste. The characterization of Elisabeth was lovely as was her progression from quite mouse to independent young woman. Considering how much I enjoyed the characterization, I was surprised at my lack of interest in the plot. For me, there was too much focus on music and its creation and not enough exploration of the world and the other characters in it. As that is my sole issue with the book, I suspect that Wintersong will appeal to fans of lyrical writing and have a high interest in music. Sadly, that reader is just not me. There will also be huge appeal for fans of fairy tale retellings since this very much evokes that tone.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley. ...more
So Legends and Liars pretty much picked up after the ending of Swords and Scoundrels. I had felt rather ambivalent about Swords and Scoundrels and I can’t say that Legends and Liars really changed my mind. The characterization continuing to feel a bit weak and there was an over abundance of play-by-play description of all the fighting, which is never going to be my thing.
In Swords and Scoundrels, Kacha and Vocho fled the city of Reyes and into enemy territory. However, even in Ikaras the famed duelist are not safe. When the powers that rule Ikaras decide to move against Reyes, Kacha and Vocho have to decide whether or not they should lend a hand to save the city that has betrayed them.
What I was looking for in Legends and Liars was a greater emphasis on the characters. Kacha and Vocho are the main characters and I would have expected there to be a little bit more exploration of what makes them tick. To an extent there was a bit of digging into these characters. Kacha is conflicted about her true reasons for going back to Reyes and Vocho is less certain about his desire for fame. Surprisingly it’s other characters that I found more compelling that Kacha and Vocho. Alicia is styled as the villain of Legends and Liars and I found her perspective was really readable. There’s a reason that she’s turned to “the dark side” and this makes her a more complex and interesting character. Petri too has changed a lot in Legends and Liars. Petri is brought to the lowest point he can go after being tortured and mutilated and the consequences of those actions are going to have serious ramifications for the final book in the trilogy. I wouldn’t have expected to be more invested in characters other than Kacha and Vocho, but I was. In fact, I found both Kacha and Vocho to be a little bit dull as characters. There is only fleeting moments of greater characterization of them both, and because of this I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I would have expected.
The emphasis on detailed descriptions of what all of these characters were doing is another element that I didn’t enjoy in Legends and Liars. I am never going to be a reader that likes a lot of detail. I really don’t want to know how many times you blocked an opponent who was trying to kill you, nor do I want to know the gritty details about your trek through some goat trails. Many readers love this kind of detail; I am not one of them.
What I did appreciate in Legends and Liars were the moments of humour. You would have expected much of this to come from Vocho; however, it was Kacha and Vocho’s trusted companion, Cospel, that provided many of the moments of comic relief. Cospel didn’t play a huge role in the narrative (he’s not a duelist after all), but the moments that he did appear gave the story a much-needed lightness.
Legends and Liars is sequel that didn’t really work for me. Considering how I felt about the first book, I was hoping for something a little different in it’s sequel. For those that prefer their fantasy more focused on the characters and their personal journey, I might say approach this trilogy with caution. For those that enjoy action-packed adventures and lots of detail about those adventures, you’re much more likely to enjoy Legends and Liars....more
Ghostly Echoes is the third historical mystery featuring Abigail Rook and Mr. Jackaby, a private investigatOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
Ghostly Echoes is the third historical mystery featuring Abigail Rook and Mr. Jackaby, a private investigator with an unusual specialty of the unexplained.
Abigail is a transplant from England who fell into employment with the eccentric Jackaby and with this third book it's clear that Abigail has embraced her investigations into the paranormal and has no intention of going back:
It seemed like only yesterday I had been back home in England, packing for my first term at university. Had someone told me that I would throw it all away and run off to America to commune with ghost and answer to ducks and help mad detectives solve impossible murders, I would have said they were either lying or insane. I would have sorted them on the same shelf in my mental library as those who believe in Ouija boards or sea serpents or honest politicians. That sort of foolishness was not for me. I adhered to facts and science; the impossible was for other people.
A lot can change in a few short months (p. 20).
Indeed they can.
In Ghostly Echoes Abigail is comfortable with the supernatural. She's works with a duck, has a flirtation with a werewolf, and is friends with a ghost. In fact, it is Jenny the ghost that drives the plot of Ghostly Echoes. For fans of the series, it will come as no surprise that Jenny, the ghost that lives in Jackaby's house, was murdered. In this latest installment, Jenny has decided that she's ready for Jackaby and Abigail to investigate her murder. The strange thing is that Jenny's murder seems to be linked to Jackaby and Abigail's first two cases together, which readers were treated to in Jackabyand Beastly Bones.
Like the previous two books in the series, Ghostly Echoes offers readers great characters, and engaging mystery and subtle nods to important issues like diversity and personal identity. While I do appreciate the content and craft of the novel, it's the characters that keep me interested in the series. I love Abigail as a character; her perspectives on Jackaby and his investigation are always well done. That said, I felt that Jackaby stole the show a bit in Ghostly Echoes. Readers finally learn more about Jackaby and his mysterious past and the author sets the stage for more to come in the next book. And while Jackaby's past is of immense interest, I continue to appreciate the fact that Jackaby continues to be his blunt self:
"Hello, detectives. My name is Cordelia Hoole," she said. "I got your message."
"Hello, Mrs. Hoole. My name is Jackaby," said Jackaby. "I've got the unconscious body of an unpleasant stranger. Would you mind holding the door?" (p. 141)
With lines like that, who wouldn't love Jackaby? Comedic relief aside, I really liked how Jackaby's care for his partner and those under his care (i.e. Jenny the ghost, the duck etc.) really shines in Ghostly Echoes. Jackaby's a fairly enigmatic character, but in Ghostly Echoes I felt that readers get to see a different side of him through Abigail's eyes. Character development, you are my friend.
Ghostly Echoes is another great installment in the Jackaby series; however, it does leave readers wanting more. There's not much in the way of a conclusion in Ghostly Echoes; rather, the majority of the book reads more like the setting of the stage for what I presume is the final book in the series. I didn't mind the stage being set, but I did find that it made for a more challenging read than the previous two books in the series. And finally, I think what we needed was more Charlie. Who's with me?...more