Are you ready for a grisly tale? – This is perhaps one of the darkest stories I’ve read since A Clockwork Orange. Set in what appears to be medieval tAre you ready for a grisly tale? – This is perhaps one of the darkest stories I’ve read since A Clockwork Orange. Set in what appears to be medieval times, a teenage prince is driven by powerful forces and fate to return to his father’s kingdom to reclaim his place as heir. Along the way you’ll experience slaughter and the most blatant villainy witnessed and undertaken by Lawrence’s main character, Jorg. You’ll uncover supernatural powers set for and against this vengeful young man, whose life, and the lives of all those around him, hang on a razor’s edge at every moment.
Why I love it – I’m always game for a good historical fiction or fantasy that breaks from the mold and Prince of Thorns has both. Lawrence crafts a realistic depiction of what life must have been like in the dark ages, where chivalry was little more than a fancy label and the true brutality and ruthlessness of man manifests in extreme violence and cunning. Jorge epitomizes the opportunist and survivor in such an age, where the span between life and death kinetically hinge on cunning and mere whim. Jorge is a living dichotomy; the introspective soul searching for truth in a tangled web of lies and illusion, and the ruthless killer driven by a seething hate for his enemies. What Lawrence captures in this setting and plot is raw and real; not a pretty story by any stretch of the imagination. The dialogue is smart and the action savage – I’d give it 4.9 stars because though violent, I found it well-written, unique, and frighteningly hard to put down.
What were they reading? – Roth’s finale gets crushed by some readers and I just don’t get it…wait, yes I do. Don’t let the low score fool you, the cenWhat were they reading? – Roth’s finale gets crushed by some readers and I just don’t get it…wait, yes I do. Don’t let the low score fool you, the central theme from those who didn’t like Allegiant is all about the ending. I’ll not spoil it but I will say that it was perfectly fine by me in terms of how she handled her characters. Look, this whole series was about loyalty, identify, relationships, and principles. When you mix those ingredients and add the human condition you get a big mess – most of us go through a period of being a human train wreck, particularly when we’re young. No different with Tris, Tobias and crew. If you’re looking for a clean ending that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy you’ll be disappointed. If you expect that, like real life, some people sometimes lose the big hand in the card game then you’ll be fine with how this one wraps up. I will only say that Veronica Roth (and if you’ve read the other books in the series) isn’t afraid to schwack a character…she’s no George Marin by any stretch but she’ll kill one here or there to add some context.
The good and bad: I’m older so the teeny-bopper relationship struggles and bickering didn’t resonate but it sure looked a lot like some of the stuff kids go through in those early years when they have that first real relationship. I won’t argue holes in the plot because there were some but the Orwellian flavor to this dystopian fantasy really appealed to me. You’ve got a Don Rumsfeld element of subterfuge aimed at controlling vast swaths of population for the Greater Good – having lived it as a military guy I love the point of view Roth offers – because why not rage against the machine? The action picks up from Insurgent and seems to tie things off nicely enough for me – it’s not Brabury but it’s plenty good enough for 4.2 stars and worth taking a shot at any future work she does on another storyline.
Items of note – Master fantasy author Terry Brooks adds another significant piece to the foundation and backdrop of his epic Shannara tales, with whatItems of note – Master fantasy author Terry Brooks adds another significant piece to the foundation and backdrop of his epic Shannara tales, with what appears to be a two-book effort titled Legends of Shannara. Typical Brooks style and detail permeate from the pages as his small band of underdogs takes on the Demon known as the Ragpicker. Personally, I wasn’t happy about him throwing a demon in the mix because the previous series was all about wiping them out. Oh, and the trolls – you’ll witness the first big clash in centuries with trolls trying to dominate humans and elves alike.
The Bottom Line – Just because Sword of Shannara was my first fantasy read doesn’t mean every one of Terry Brooks’ stories gets high marks, but this tale is clever in its own right. Brooks weaves in enough interesting characters to make you care, dealing with familiar themes of sacrifice and truth versus greed and illusion; perfect ingredient for a real page-turner. His writing is just as crisp and classy as ever with some interesting details that answer questions bridging the Old World with the familiar realm of Allonon and the Ohmsfords. – that’s an easy 4.4 stars.
Setting the Scene – Insurgent starts with a bit of quiet after the storm that had Tobias aka Four and Tris running for their lives in the wake of the Setting the Scene – Insurgent starts with a bit of quiet after the storm that had Tobias aka Four and Tris running for their lives in the wake of the Erudite initiated, Dauntless executed massacre in the Abnegation district. Their hope for a little peace and quiet in with the Amity faction is short lived, forcing them to join forces with the FactionIess. Not going to spoil any of the good stuff here but suffice it to say they begin a trek to figure out who they really are and where they all came from. This book won’t really answer those questions but it does a fine job setting up the grand finale – which I’ll talk about in a subsequent review.
A Few Thoughts – Like Divergent, Insurgent has a ton of action and some interesting young adult themes on loyalty and interpersonal relationships. Because I’m 42 the latter is a bit of a bore but younger readers might relate to some of the challenges people face in the midst of ethical dilemmas, and balancing loyalty with self-preservation or sacrifice. Not a stand-alone novel at all but one you should read if you liked Divergent because Roth does a great job setting up Allegiant. Her writing is consistent with the first book and it kept me interested enough to move on to the finale – that’s good enough for 3.8 stars.
A Few Thoughts – If you read this book without trying to draw comparisons to other dystopian fiction you’ll really enjoy it, however, if you want moreA Few Thoughts – If you read this book without trying to draw comparisons to other dystopian fiction you’ll really enjoy it, however, if you want more of the Hunger Games you’ll spend far too much time trying to pick it apart. Both occupy space in the same genre, and both feature strong female lead characters…just stop there. I really enjoyed Roth’s work with this opening act of her Divergent series because the action scenes were plentiful enough to move the plot along nicely. She really worked on developing a few key characters and really established good depth for Tris, her main character.
There were some holes; however, I’m willing to bet many of these will be addressed in subsequent books as the series progresses. For one, I am keen to learn more about what led to the fall of society and the establishment of the various factions, not to mention what is really beyond the fence because there must be something left other than Chicago. The remaining questions establish a basis for suspense to keep me very interested in what will be revealed in subsequent books. Yes, I am very keen to keep reading and love what I’ve read so far from Ms. Roth; a great job by a very talented young lady – 4.1 stars.
Sanderson brings our favorite Reckoner back to electronic pages in this short bridge between his bestselling Steelheart and the upcoming Firefight. DaSanderson brings our favorite Reckoner back to electronic pages in this short bridge between his bestselling Steelheart and the upcoming Firefight. David is working hard to convince the humans of Newcago to come out of their subterranean refuge and own the peace he and the Reckoners fought so hard to win, but he also knows other epics plot to fill power vacuum left by Steelheart’s demise. Just when things seem to be working for the people of Newcago, Mitosis makes an appearance…actually multiple appearances around the city and he won’t underestimate David and the Reckoners in his bid for power.
A Few Thoughts – It was short but riveting; readers get a lot of action in this novella and more insights where David is concerned. The writing is vintage Sanderson, a master storyteller who owns the high fantasy genre and serves notice to publishers that urban fantasy will also be his! He leaves plenty of questions in setting up Firefight, the next big installment in this series. Mitosis is a great bridge to sate appetites by nudging the backstory just far enough while also presenting a really fun read in its own right – an easy 4.5 stars with lots of promise ahead.
Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage Trilogy) by Brian McClellan– average rating 4.4 stars on Amazon and 4.21 on Goodreads
What have we here? – McClellanPromise of Blood (The Powder Mage Trilogy) by Brian McClellan– average rating 4.4 stars on Amazon and 4.21 on Goodreads
What have we here? – McClellan opens a new fantasy trilogy with Promise of Blood, set in a time where magic, swords, and muskets are the tools of forces bent on controlling a government for the people or against them. None are pure in this tale of constant struggle, leaving you wondering who the real villain is and who truly serves the people’s best interests.
A Few Thoughts – This is the first time I’ve read anything by McClellan and while the set up seemed to take a while before establishing a suitable pace, it is clear he can tell a great story. He cleverly created a very unique world with new concepts of sorcery at the center of the political struggle. Some scenes come off a little over the top in terms of characters escaping danger but these do give you insight to the character, adding depth through their decision making and by revealing their passions. There are a lot of quality characters who have the potential to really drive the next book but the stable of main characters are really well done. There is a component of good and evil in the entire cast, which may frustrate some but I think it truly makes this a believable story from a political standpoint. A great start – 4.6 stars and really looking forward to the next volume!
Fairhurst’s follow up to her 1996 book The Art of Framing showcases a compelling argument, underpinned by real life examples of how today’s business lFairhurst’s follow up to her 1996 book The Art of Framing showcases a compelling argument, underpinned by real life examples of how today’s business leaders succeed or fail through framing problems within their companies and to outside stakeholders. More than the words leaders choose, it is their behaviors that carry the most weight and guide an organization through challenges.
A Few Thoughts – I read this book for a masters class and it captivated me from the beginning with its smooth narrative flow and a logical sequence of points that build from theory to application. Students, business leaders, and everyday people looking for more effective ways to communicate will undoubtedly find this an easy read and an enlightening experience that provides plenty of tools to keep with you – 4.5 stars for its utility, easy tempo, and common sense approach.
A Few Thoughts – This isn’t my favorite Sanderson novel by any stretch but it might appeal to teens who haven’t read his work before. For me the plotA Few Thoughts – This isn’t my favorite Sanderson novel by any stretch but it might appeal to teens who haven’t read his work before. For me the plot took a little too long to develop the right tempo and the two primary characters were more of a steampunk alter-universe version of Harry and Hermione from Hogwarts; even the professors seemed to take on characteristics of Rowling’s more prominent faculty members. Once you realize how high the stakes really are, and Joel starts figuring things out it gets a little interesting but the big reveal at the climax is undone with a strange setup for the next book. As a Sanderson fan I hope he lets this one go and explores other story-lines like Emperor’s Soul. This one just wasn’t what you would expect from a Fantasy master - 3.4 stars.