Okay, seriously . . .? This book was AMAZING. It's so hard to find a fun, clever contemporary romance that doesn't at least occasionally cross over inOkay, seriously . . .? This book was AMAZING. It's so hard to find a fun, clever contemporary romance that doesn't at least occasionally cross over into cornball territory.
Lucy was a tiny little spitfire, Josh was just damaged enough to be interesting without being angsty, and together they alternately hys-freaking-terical and so adorable I literally CANNOT EVEN.
Sally Thorne . . . I've got my eye on you, woman. *tips hat*
SO. It's been obvious from our first introduction in LEVIATHAN WAKES that Fred Johnson, the butcher of Anderson Station, isn't a stone cold killer . .SO. It's been obvious from our first introduction in LEVIATHAN WAKES that Fred Johnson, the butcher of Anderson Station, isn't a stone cold killer . . . You don't walk away from the military you've served your whole life when following orders led to the slaughter of "terrorists" if you've got an empty chest cavity.
If you've watched THE EXPANSE, then you already know this story, what really happened that day, why the Belters of Anderson Station led a revolt.
It is heartbreaking. But even if you do already know, THE BUTCHER OF ANDERSON STATION is still worth reading. You've seen it through the eyes of Kiri's father. This is Fred's version.
If you wondered what it meant to see him standing there, arms slack, face expressionless, staring at the carnage he'd wrought, if you wondered what was going on in Fred Johnson's head . . . here's your answer.
SO. I know that practically the whole world loves this book, and I'm not trying to undermine the majority. Truly, I'm not. I've said it before, and I'SO. I know that practically the whole world loves this book, and I'm not trying to undermine the majority. Truly, I'm not. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the biggest (only?) downside to training yourself to read books critically for review, is that you can't turn it off. I may never be able to devour a book, paying zero attention to anything but how it makes me feel, and enjoying it without any kind of expectations ever again.
That probably sounds awful to a lot a people, but I don't mind. I might even prefer it this way.
But hopefully, you now feel sorry for me, horrified by analytical approach to reading-for-pleasure, and no longer want to tar and feather me for besmirching the honor of one of your best loved books. *crosses fingers*
I have three main issues:
1. The unequal cost vs. gain ratio.
I won't try to deny that the conclusion of ME BEFORE YOU packed a powerful emotional punch.
My tears weren't the result of pain felt on behalf of poignant characters who had been brought to life by a talented writer.
The situation was tragic, so I felt pain.
No more or less than I would have felt if I'd read the same scenario in a book summary or a 500 word article in the local paper.
I could try to isolate reasons for the disconnect, like it's told in the third person, but that feels like a cop-out--I've encountered plenty of compelling characters in third person POV books--but ultimately, Will and Lou didn't join those ranks.
2. Gratuitous use of personal tragedy to justify behavior that didn't need justification.
Moyes took what would have been the most interesting aspect of this tale (Lou's quirky fashion sense), and turned it into coping mechanism.
I'm usually all for gaining insight into characters, but that insight needs to be meaningful. Turning a young woman with a colorful and unapologetically wacky fashion sense into a victim, who is merely trying to disguise her femininity is . . .
Well, it's offensive.
It suggests that you must be damaged to escape conformity, that you can't be an individual for the sake of individuality, or simply b/c YOU'RE DIFFERENT.
3. Postmodernism makes my nostrils flare.
ME BEFORE YOU is a dispiriting combination of selfishness and pointlessness masquerading as a love story.
I've frequently addressed my feelings on Postmodernism, so I won't reiterate the long version here, but suffice it to say, I HATE it.
I hate the inevitability of pain and disappointment and of mediocrity. I hate the implication that Bad Things will happen, so the best you can do is bear it gracefully, or, at the very least, with stoicism.
Reality is something I avoid when reading recreationally, so encountering the kind of inescapable sadness and loss often found in Postmodern literature is something I assiduously steer clear of.
Sometimes with limited success . . .
If you share my view, do yourself a favor and skip this one. In my opinion, ME BEFORE YOU is a headache you don't need.
The only part of the story that didn't shriek of the uselessness of hope in the face of reality, was Lou's personal growth throughout her endeavor, which annoyingly makes me want to read AFTER YOU to see if the changes stuck, and will almost certainly be another disappointment.
1. Beast and kits always plays havoc with my emotions. It's so fierce and so pure and so . . . single-minded.5.0 stars
KITS hits me in ALL the FEELS.
1. Beast and kits always plays havoc with my emotions. It's so fierce and so pure and so . . . single-minded. Nothing is more important than kits. *rubs fist over heart*
2. The birth of Molly and Jane's friendship:
I pulled on my socks and carried my boots into what was left of Molly’s house. We had tea. We shared secrets. Weirdly, Molly held my hand while we talked, as if protecting something fragile or sealing something precious. Even more weirdly, I let her. I think that, for the first time in my life, I had a real friend.
1. If you're new to JANE YELLOWROCK, proceed with CAUTION. I will not intentionally spoil anything, buReviewed by: Rabid Reads
Before we get into this:
1. If you're new to JANE YELLOWROCK, proceed with CAUTION. I will not intentionally spoil anything, but this collection includes NINETEEN stories about events that take place both before and throughout the main series.
If you're curious, check out my review of Skinwalker. It's safer. And enthusiastic (b/c LOVE Jane).
2. I've been slack on keeping up with Jane lately, b/c stubbornly waiting for the European vamps to get here, so I'm reading a lot of the recently written stories for the first time--the older stories from HAVE STAKES, WILL TRAVEL and CAT TALES I've read several times now, and I read BLACK WATER when it first came out.
So my opinions on Big Deal situations in the main series are evolving. *coughs* Bruiser *coughs*
3. I hate Rick with the fire of ONE THOUSAND suns. My reviews of his POVs reflect that. FYI.
We Sa and the Lumber King - 4.0 stars
FIRST, I'm not sure there's a more perfect example of Beast vs. Jane than this one:
Night vision came as sunlight left. Earth turned into silvers and greens and grays. Liked this time of day/ night. We sa called it beautiful. I called it safe.
If you're a longtime reader of Jane, you know there are periodic references to the Hunger Times. This is a (very) short story from Beast's POV as she tries to get rid of the humans destroying her natural habitat.
Beast is . . . Beast. *snickers*
We also get a peek at baby Jane, who hasn't yet found her way back to human form after melding with Beast.
The Early Years - 4.0 stars
An 18-year-old Jane follows an instinct she doesn't understand and finds her way back home. It gives me FEELS.
Snafu - 3.5 stars
Very short--probably less than 10 pages. Hmm . . . 18 y.o. Jane's first day on the security job training. First 10 min. really . . . But that's all you need to see all the reasons we love Jane. #kickass
Cat Tats - 4.0 stars
Oh, look. Ricky Bo got himself in trouble b/c chasing tail. SHOCKER.
This one's told from Rick's POV, and if you've been curious about how he got his mountain lion/bobcat tattoo:
Rick didn’t know what it meant to have the cats here on his body, beneath his skin, part of him.
IT MEANS NOTHING.
I like this one b/c lots and lots of PAIN for Rick (whom I HATE).
Kits - 5.0 stars
KITS hits me in ALL the FEELS, and it's probably my favorite Jane short to date.
1. Beast and kits always plays havoc with my emotions. She's so fierce and so pure and so . . . single-minded. Nothing is more important than kits. *rubs fist over heart*
2. The birth of Molly and Jane's friendship:
I pulled on my socks and carried my boots into what was left of Molly’s house. We had tea. We shared secrets. Weirdly, Molly held my hand while we talked, as if protecting something fragile or sealing something precious. Even more weirdly, I let her. I think that, for the first time in my life, I had a real friend.
I may have cried. A lot.
Haints - 4.0 stars
HAINTS is one more reason why vampires and witches shouldn't mix. o.O
This one is told from Molly's POV, which is awesome b/c we get to see Jane through her eyes (ALSO b/c Molly). Evan is on hand as well, and as he's not hating on Jane, that's fun, too.
Two word summary: WEIRD magic.
ALSO, there are several Easter eggs hidden for true Jane aficionados.
Signatures of Death - 4.0 stars
You know that job Jane had prior to hitting New Orleans? The one where she nearly got her throat ripped out? The one where some kid got her on video with her eyes glowing?
This is that story.
It's not pretty. But dealing with rogue vampires rarely is.
Good thing we have Jane.
First Sight - 4.0 stars
Jane's first meeting with Leo and Bruiser told from Bruiser's POV.
Kind of sexy . . . But I'm still not #teambruiser
Blood, Fangs, and Going Furry - 3.5 stars
Have I mentioned that I HATE Rick? B/c I do.
This one is from Rick's POV, and it details his first full moon as a were . . . A were unable to shift b/c witchy tattoos. It appears to be rather painful.
THIS PLEASES ME.
And I would've given it full marks if it hadn't been for his, "Woe is me, I really effed things up with Jane," and, "I really need to talk to her, I need to explain," crap and trash.
(view spoiler)[Stay the fuck away from Jane, you ASS. (hide spoiler)] <------not a spoiler, just me cursing at Rick (spoiler tagged out of respect for Jane who hates potty mouths).
Fool me once . . .
Dance Master - 4.5 stars
Okay . . . That was HOT.
I'm still #teamjane but now I'm closer to #teambruiser than I've been since that limo ride in one of the first books . . . youknowwhatimtalkingabout *fans self*
Golden Delicious - 3.0 stars
Short story from Rick's perspective. Takes place during his training with PsyLED.
I hate Rick.
At least there's Pea. *glares daggers at Rick*
Cajun with Fangs - 3.5 stars
This one is a Hatfields and McCoys scenario played out by vampires and witches in the bayou. Jane gets tricked into helping moderate a dispute, and by "tricked" I mean clocked with a heavy object.
Pretty standard as far as these types of things go, BUT most of the involved parties have fantastic Cajun accents, and I do love me a good Cajun accent.
The Devil's Left Boot - 4.0 stars
This one was told from the POVs of two of the Everhart sisters, Elizabeth and Boadacia. It takes place after the big Evangelina showdown, and tensions are still running high.
When their high school nemesis shows up of the family restaurant, as much as Liz and Cia would like to send her packing, they end up agreeing to help her find her mother who's disappeared.
For a fee.
They find themselves over their heads and call in Jane who just happens to be in town, but in the process of working their magic, absorb another witch's blood magic . . . The same kind of magic that made Evangelina go CRAY . . . The effing end. *shakes fist*
Beneath a Bloody Moon - 3.0 stars
If Faith Hunter has a flaw, it's overusing concepts and/or revamping (HA!) ideas that have previously been treated as unique.
We know from MERCY BLADE that werewolves are cursed with both madness and an inability to create female werewolves. Which was why Magnolia Sweets was such a Big Deal.
Yet in this story, what are we dealing with?
Another female werewolf. *sighs* And the way the story plays out, we never get an explanation for HOW she exists or what the deal is with the inexplicably HUGE dire werewolf.
ALSO, there's Rick. Being Rick. Ugh.
Black Water - 4.0 stars
Feeling responsible for the kidnapping of two women (b/c the kidnapper busted out jail seeking revenge after someone on Jane's team killed his werewolf sister), Jane enlists the help of Sarge (from BENEATH A BLOODY MOON) and his monster dog in a rescue mission.
I want to know 3 things:
1. How is it exactly that Sarge is sane? 2. How are Sarge and Christabel able to communicate with monster dog? 3. WHAT THE BLOODY HECK IS CHRISTABEL??!
Off the Grid - 4.5 stars
At Dragon Con 2014 (and 2015), I went to a bunch of Faith's panels. In one of them she talked about a new series she's working on. I was excited about this for numerous reasons, the two biggest being:
1. New Faith Hunter series--YAY. 2. It takes place in Oak Ridge.
For those of you that don't know, Oak Ridge is in Tennessee, near Knoxville. It's also where the first atomic bomb was made.
One of my dads has lived in Andersonville, part of the same county that Oak Ridge is in, for about 20 years, and has been working at Y-12 for the last 6 or 8 years.
I am fascinated by this place.
I have been fascinated by this place since I was a teenager.
In this story we meet Nell Nicholson Ingram, who is the heroine in Hunter's new series. I'm not sure what she is exactly, but my money's on her having some kind of Fae in her ancestry, and the only thing I love more than Native American folklore is the Fae.
Fae in Oak Ridge.
GIVE IT TO ME NOW.
Not All Is as It Seems - 4.0 stars
This was a Molly POV, so I was already inclined to like it, but, man alive . . . Every time I think vampires are wholly unredeemable, every time I'm ready to write them off completely (b/c reprehensible, elitist, devious, hedonistic, disgusting creatures), something has to go an throw me for a loop.
This time it was Lincoln Shaddock.
I really like the Asheville vampires. Against my better judgement, but all the same . . . I like them.
Cat Fight - 4.5 stars
CAT FIGHT sends Jane back to bayou, b/c the vamp/witchy version of the Hatfields and the McCoys aren't playing nice any longer.
Our star-crossed lovers are behaving like children, Shauna stealing a valuable magical artifact from her father-in-law and running home to her Mama and Daddy . . . Then the Vatican gets involved, and basically it's a big 'ol mess.
Good thing Jane's excellent at making people shut up and listen.
We get some more insight into Edward (which makes me not-worried for Leo, the control-freaky jackhole), and Gee also makes an appearance (I LOVE Gee), so, yeah, it was great.
Bound No More - 4.0 stars
Boy howdy, Angie Baby is gonna be hell on wheels when she hits adolescence . . . o.O
In this final tale, Molly is in town with Angie for the Witch/Vampire parley, and that light dragon thingy is out for Molly's blood. If you want to know why, READ THE BOOK.
Point of interest: the thing that put me off so badly in DARK HEIR--Jane continuing to dothething when it had been established that if she didn't stop, it would KILL HER--was explained better, so I'm okay with it now . . . Either that or I've had enough distance to get over it. *shrugs*
SO. Should you read BLOOD IN HER VEINS for yourself? Only if you love Jane. And if you don't love Jane, GET OUT! what are you doing here? Highly recommended.
9/13/17 - B/c I am an I D I O T, I'm just now realizing that there was a live recording of the book launch at NOLA StoryCon last year, AND I'M IN IT (9/13/17 - B/c I am an I D I O T, I'm just now realizing that there was a live recording of the book launch at NOLA StoryCon last year, AND I'M IN IT (0:44). B/c mariachi elephant line. Robin is too, in the last like 5 seconds. OHMAGAWD:
Non-spoilery list of things you can look forward to in MAGIC BINDS:
1. Finding out once and for all whether or not Roland is a Bad Guy.
2. Kate struggling with her Dark Side.
3. A character from the past who you thought was gone for good is BACK. And I'm okay with it!*
4. (view spoiler)[Andrea and Raphael have their BABY!!!! (hide spoiler)] <------not really a spoiler unless you're one of those people who doesn't want to know ANYTHING, even when it's obviously, unignorably coming. And if you're one of those, you probably shouldn't read reviews at all . . . o.O
5. Finding out what Christopher is!
6. SO much EPIC backhistory on Roland and the rest of Kate's ancestor's, and the ancient world they lived in.
7. WEDDING hilarity.
There's more, but I'll save it for the full review. The important thing is that MAGIC BINDS continues the upswing in Kate Daniels awesomeness.
*#1 rule is: once you're dead, YOU'RE DEAD.
WARNING: this review is going to get bumped repeatedly until this book is released. If you have a problem with that, please feel free to unfriend me and block me. I don't give a damn. (<------Stolen from Sarah, b/c you can't improve on perfection.) #sorrynotsorry
Kate and Curran are getting married on the July 6 (I know the book says June but it’s July) during a Russian pagan festival. So there will be lots of Russian stuff in the books. Also certain people (using plural here to avoid spoilers) get kidnapped by Roland and slowly murdered, and Kate must go and get said people rescued, even if they were total assholes in the last book.
So wedding. Kidnapping. Family reunions. Flower crowns. I want Kate to have the traditional Ivan Kupalo flower crown on the cover and so help me all the evil deities of Slavic pantheon, I will pitch a huge fit if it’s not there.
I'm simultaneously impressed and infuriated by this knowledge.
It's not that I consider myself to be exceptionaReviewed by: Rabid Reads
I've been had.
I'm simultaneously impressed and infuriated by this knowledge.
It's not that I consider myself to be exceptionally smart so that nothing ever gets by me, or that I'm super sneaky and thus able to suss out super sneakiness in others, but you know how it is: when you've read enough books, you become cynical.
If a character does even a single eyebrow-raising thing, you've got their number. Anything that qualifies as "questionable" behavior a suspect makes.
Take that well-developed cynicism and combine it with my OCD detail-orientedness, and, well . . . it's not often that I don't at least speculate when something's amiss.
And so I say again: I've. Been. HAD.
(view spoiler)[In hindsight, I feel like an idiot. The only thing keeping me from throwing myself off a cliff b/c SHAME is that so far (and don't you dare be the first) no one else saw it coming either. I told someone in a comment on one of my status updates that I felt like that Stupid Girl who thinks she can change the mind of Bad Boy who tells her up front that he's not interested in a relationship.
B/c THEY TOLD US.
And the WHOLE TIME I'm sitting there chuckling, thinking, "Those guys . . . sooooo funneh."
This world is another brand new concept to me, based on color, and, honestly, it probably wouldn't have worked if it wasn't so easy to visualize (b/c not a visual person).
I don't have a movie playing in my head as I'm reading a book.
I have vague to not-so-vague impressions of what things and people look like, but unless a description is so detailed that I associate it with something else I've already seen, I don't develop a clear picture. And maybe that's exactly what was going on here (The Wizard of Oz, anyone?), but, regardless, it was easy to imagine, so it did work.
The basic idea revolves around a magic system fueled by soul energy (sort of . . . maybe . . . O.o). Only it's called Breath. The more Breaths you have, the more colorful the world around you becomes and the more magic (animating) you can perform. A person whose Breath has been stolen/taken/given up willingly is called a Drab. They're alive, but they've lost some essential spark.
It's quite hideous, actually . . . but strangely compelling all the same.
Sanderson does this thing . . . he gives you a character (or three) that you don't like--I don't think you're even supposed to like them--and then he grows them. Slowly. Painfully. By the end, even if you still don't like them, you have respect for their journey, and you see how you could like them once they've weathered life's storm of reality checks. These characters are always young adults, so the forging process is entirely believable.
This sort of thing doesn't work for me outside of fantasy, b/c not enough book. Here though . . . there are plenty of other characters you do like to take the heat off the ones you have to patient with.
I like it. It adds depth and makes the scenario--fantastical as it is--more credible.
I'm not going to say anything about specific characters, b/c I don't think I can without launching a rant (b/c tricked and/or heartbroken). Just believe me with I say that they are wonderful and easy to connect with. *rants* *sobs* *glowers* *wails*
This is going to be short, not b/c it wasn't compelling, but b/c the plot points are simple and effective: arranged marriage to unify two nations on the brink of war.
It does not go as planned.
Conjecture:(view spoiler)[I think Clod the Lifeless (HA!) is really Arsteel. I think his pseudo-sentience can be explained by being a Returned who was turned into a Lifeless. It would also explain Vasher's strange response to Vivenna when she mentioned that Denth and co. had a Lifeless. (hide spoiler)]
This is only my second Sanderson read, but in addition to the character(s)-you-don't-like, other patterns are also emerging.
I like this, too. It makes me feel like I understand the author and his story-telling process, so when he does one of those things that are typical of him, I can sit back and say, "That Sanderson . . . ha ha, ho ho . . . look at him doing that thing he does," b/c it feels like I know him.
These things are:
1. SURPRISE Bad Guy 2. Last 10% that might literally kill you (b/c heart attack). 3. HERO. As in true Hero to inspire epic poetry, b/c gloriously selfless and loyal and ALL THE THINGS that a Hero is supposed to be.
There are probably others, but I haven't picked up on them yet, b/c Sanderson noob. BUT. Believe me, I will keep you posted, and WARBREAKER is a must read, regardless of where you happen to be on your journey through the Cosmere. Highly recommended.
1. I am not an expert on the subject of STAR WARS novels.
This is in fact my first STAR WARS novel, so onReviewed by: Rabid Reads
Before we get started:
1. I am not an expert on the subject of STAR WARS novels.
This is in fact my first STAR WARS novel, so on the subject of canon, I got nuthin’. #blankslate
2. I am not a Chuck Wendig expert.
This is in fact my first Chuck Wendig novel (that I finished).
I mention these things b/c if you scan the reviews on Goodreads, most of the reviewers are one or both of those things, and many of them did not love AFTERMATH.
I did. A lot.
The only thing I can say in reference to Chuck Wendig’s other books is that I tried to read BLACKBIRDS, but it was too dark, too crass, and I called it quits a few chapters in.
So if you had a similar experience, this one is a whole different animal.
A Wookie-freeing, “singing, dancing murder bot”-introducing, makes your heart grow three sizes, wonderful animal.
In the trilogy meant to be the bridge between the original films and THE FORCE AWAKENS, we meet a new cast of characters while still getting a healthy dose of our longtime favorites.
As is typical in a first installment, AFTERMATH lays a lot of groundwork. The majority of the book is spent in alternate viewpoints, winding ever closer toward each other, which is not my favorite, but Wendig kept the POVs entertaining enough that I didn’t mind too much. And in any case, by the time we finally hit the gang’s-all-here portion, I was wholly invested.
Now I want to talk about Sinjir.
I’ve followed Wendig’s blog since Dragon Con 2015 when he made me laugh so hard in a storytelling improv panel that I thought I was going to puke, so I knew about the controversy going into it. I didn’t know which character had caused the fuss, but I knew there was one.
You: Wut controversy?
Me: Longtime STAR WARS readers got their panties in a twist b/c one of the new MCs is . . . *gasp* . . . GAY.
You: Da fuq?
Me: I know, right?
My newsfeed is currently spitting out all kinds of stuff about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, most of it fluff, but some of it is . . . Upsetting. Like the one that quoted a tweet from THE DAILY MAIL promoting a story on Markle that read, “from slaves to royalty.”
NBC News called this a “quiet brand of racism.”
Umm . . . How is that quiet?
Similarly, the majority of the SW fandom claims not to have an issue with homosexuality, they just object to needless gayness: if you’re going to have a gay character, it needs to fulfill some greater purpose. Just throwing gay people in willy nilly is unnecessary, or worse, political.
In other words, don’t use STAR WARS canon to soapbox your cause, sir.
NEWSFLASH: gay people are people too. You don’t need some specific reason to make a couple gay anymore than you need a specific reason to make a couple straight. THEY JUST ARE. #dealwithit
And personally, Sinjir was my favorite character. B/c hilarious combination of narcissism and snark.
So there’s that.
There’s also a True Believer for a villain, a self-serving bounty hunter who might not be as hardcore as she thinks she is, and a teenager who programmed his soldier droid using combat training and dance festivals.
Sound good to you? Then check it out for yourself. B/c AWESOME.
This was one of those odd books that makes you feel wrapped-up in the story while you're reading it, but then . . . fades to nothingness3.5 stars
This was one of those odd books that makes you feel wrapped-up in the story while you're reading it, but then . . . fades to nothingness.
I'm honestly kind of surprised that happened here, b/c when I say "wrapped-up," I mean wrapped-up. I leaked a few tears . . . Another time shit was going down and I was "tee-hee-hee"-ing with sparkly dancing fingers beside my head like a six year old . . .
Now that it's over, I mostly want to reread some Kristen Ashley. Specifically, Motorcycle Man. Or maybe Rock Chick #5 (or whichever one was LUKE STARK's book).
Whatever. The point is that instead of wanting to grab the shiny never-before-read second installment of this series, I want to read--again--one of several books I've read waaaaaaay more than twice.
Plot-wise, it was very much what I've come to expect from a contemporary Motorcycle Club romance: HAWT mountain of a biker sees a "good" woman and decides instantly that he must have her. She's different, she's special, and unlike the typical MC trash that he and his brothers pass around, she's "classy."
Whatever that means to a lawless biker dude . . . *snorts*
Regardless, he sees her, he wants her, he takes what he wants. And the only thing that keeps this from being a decidedly different sort of story is that Dollface decides she wants him too.
But the course of true love never did run smooth, blah-friggin'-blah.
Character-wise, all of the important players were fairly simple stock versions of what I've come to expect from this kind of book. There were a handful of unique and poignant moments--like I said, tears and tee-hee-hee-ing--but overall these characters lacked the moxie that is inherently KA or the shocking crassness of Madeline Sheehan . . .
Raine actually reminded me of Sookie, in temperament, if not in appearance. She was a very simple, very pragmatic, yet still distinctly female kind of woman. She often said things that were easily understood without needing to be said, and sometimes her internal dialogue read like a textbook, but she was both likable and someone I could respect.
SO. I do not regret snagging this as a diversion from my recent high fantasy kick. If KA or Madeline Sheehan are a little bit OTT for you, then Raine Falling might be the happy medium you've been looking for. If you still aren't sure, then do what I did and use your Amazon Prime to borrow the sucker. If you don't like it, no harm, no foul. ...more
4/29/18: So far the graphic audio version of STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE has been fantastic, so I’m hopeful that Kaladin will annoy me less this time . . . *cr4/29/18: So far the graphic audio version of STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE has been fantastic, so I’m hopeful that Kaladin will annoy me less this time . . . *crosses fingers*
WORDS OF RADIANCE is the second installment of Brandon Sanderson's STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE series, and, unfortunately . . . it fell a little flat for me.
Don't get me wrong, I liked it. This was one of those occasions when my rating steadily declined the more I stewed about the ends and outs . . . but immediately upon completion, I was all, "Yeah! Sanderson rocks again. WOOT!
But then came the stewing . . .
I had several significant issues with this book:
1. Cosmere crossover misfire.
The Cosmere is the realm in which many of Sanderson's different series take place. There are different worlds for the individual series, but these worlds are all in the same universe. I believe the ultimate goal is to begin a new series (after the completion of its forerunners) that ties the worlds together in a less tangential way.
Anyway, there are Easter eggs aplenty for a savvy fanperson, and I was made aware that a couple of important characters from a different series played important roles in WoR.
So I read the book from which these characters came just prior to starting to WoR . . . and then I completely missed Crossover #1's big entrance.
"How is that even possible?" you ask, and that's an excellent question, b/c, yes, I had just finished Crossover's book, and, yes, everything from it should have been fresh.
Sanderson decided to disguise Crossover. Changed his name and made him a "Master" of something he had previously only been good at. In fact, in Crossover's book, he wins fights against more skilled foe by distracting them, b/c he knows he can't win if he plays fair.
How are we supposed to recognize Crossover if he's in disguise?
Another excellent question.
The obvious answer would be to make a point of gestures or catch phrases Crossover became known for, or references to key ideas from the world we last saw him in . . . and in a way Sanderson did this: he made up metaphors that referred to the most obvious aspect of the magic system in Crossover's world.
BUT. There were no such metaphors used in the actual book.
So despite the obvious nature of these "colloquialisms," they flew right over my head, b/c they weren't consistent to that world. Add to that the fundamental alteration of Crossover's abilities, and I failed to see the point of having a crossover at all.
And that annoyed me. Greatly.
2. My previously favorite character became a Grade-A loser, whiny baby.
3. I HAVE RULES.
And Rule #1 was broken. If you don't want to be spoiled, that's all I can say about it. For the Sandersonites who demand to know my reasons for casting more aspersions on their beloved namesake: (view spoiler)[I KNOW he wanted to make a point about the resilience of Surgebinders when he "killed" Jasnah, but he chose a crap way to do it. The fact that he had to explain his intent in numerous posts and even wrote a Jasnah POV detailing exactly what happened only makes my point for me.
Furthermore, the focus of this book felt completely different than its predecessor.
In WoK, good triumphed over evil b/c valor and loyalty and determination to be better than the corrupt leadership. Slaves became bloody heroes, and I thought my heart would burst from the FEELS.
In WoR . . . Shallan refused to unstick her head from the sand, and no amount of witty banter could overshadow her chicken-ness. Kaladin was the aforementioned loser, whiny baby. Dalinar shifted his stance on something he had previously forbidden b/c it was a convenient way to get rid of the competition, and Adolin had a psychotic break.
Instead of steadfast perseverance resulting in victory, victory was obtained despite the lack of heroism, b/c last minute come-to-Jesus.
I do not like this. At all.
However . . . there were enough interesting plot developments and secondary characters to keep it from being truly awful. Lift was enough by herself to make reading WORDS OF RADIANCE a worthwhile endeavor, and in a series like this skipping installments isn't an option. But ultimately . . . I'd say we have a classic case of Second Book Syndrome on our hands. Recommended with qualifications.
Welp. I did it. I was patient. I waited. BUT. Now it is finally (almost) time: BR of EPIC proportions with Sanctum of Fantasy. Starting 5/1/15. WOOT.
Dear Brandon Sanderson,
My other reviews for this series:
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I tried to read SORCERER TO THE CROWN by Zen Cho THREE separate times, and had pretty much given it up for lost when I decidedReviewed by: Rabid Reads
I tried to read SORCERER TO THE CROWN by Zen Cho THREE separate times, and had pretty much given it up for lost when I decided to give it one . . . more . . . chance.
Many, many thanks to friend and fellow Ace Roc Star Anne at The Book Nympho, whose review influenced this decision. *tips hat*
The beginning is slow, no getting around it. Even if I hadn't been reading mostly high-octane, action-packed urban fantasy in the weeks prior to my first attempts, I think I still would have found it slow.
I was initially reminded of a Jane Austen novel.
You: But you LOVE Jane Austen! Me: Yes, I know. You: ??? Me: I love Jane Austen, despite the florid prose, not because of it.
BUT. Given time, this book grew on me for the same reasons EMMA and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE did: clever hilarity and exasperating yet wonderful characters whom I grew to absolutely adore.
And BONUS, there is the kind of whimsicality that can only be present in a FANTASY novel.
Zacharias Wythe is not a white, land-owning man in something like 19th century England. He was adopted and emancipated by Sir Stephen Wythe, Sorcerer to the Crown, and his presence in society is met with both acceptance and ridicule by the peerage, and:
Though he had never doubted his guardian’s attachment, being Sir Stephen’s protégé had at times felt like being a touring attraction—a dancing bear on its lead.
And how easy it is to blame one whose existence you already disdain for problems almost certainly not of his doing.
Like the steady decline of magic in England? Who better to hold accountable than the new Sorcerer to the Crown? Especially when it so neatly provides a solution to the problem that is the new Sorcerer to the Crown?
But regardless of continuous and varied mistreatment at the hands of other thaumaturges, Zacharias is determined to discover the source of England’s lack of magic as his station demands, and during this search he also discovers the plight of gentlewitches.
Well-bred ladies do not practice magic, you see. If a young lady is discovered to have any magical ability at all, she is shipped to a boarding school where her use of magic will be stamped out.
It is in one such school that Zacharias stops as a favor to a friend, only to find that the method of suppressment is an altered version of a KILLING CURSE, modified to be cast by a lady on HERSELF, draining her magic temporarily, along with her energy and essential spark.
Zacharias is predictably horrified (b/c not a stuffy, pompous wanker like his sorcerer brethren).
And it was at Mrs. Daubeney's School for Gentlewitches that things started to pick up.
I began to see hints, not carbon copies, mind you, but hints of well-loved characters from various girlhood favorites, most notably in Mrs. Daubeney, who when vexed behaves in a rather Mrs. Bennett-like fashion:
"You ought to have considered me, but no one ever does, and it puts me in an impossible position!”
Then there's the scene of utter pandemonium that somehow manages to combine early ANNE OF GREEN GABLES Anne:
Henrietta stamped her foot, her grey eyes drowned in green light. “I will teach you a lesson for that!” she cried. “How dare you call him my precious Mr. Wythe! How dare you say I am in l-love!”
With those wretched Pringles she doesn't encounter until several books later:
When Prunella entered the classroom, Clarissa Midsomer was trying to bang Emily Villiers’s head against a desk. Emily was resisting this, screeching in a manner fit to bring the ceiling down.
(I couldn't find a good picture of the Pringles or of the classroom in chaos after the fireworks were set off, but this one works just as well, I think.)
Flanked by fish-faced guardsmen, the Fairy King lounged upon his throne . . .
YES. That is fantastic.
Resemblances, purposeful or accidental, aside, were not the only amusements, and I found myself shaking with laughter on more than one occasion, be it the result of a formidable aunt named Georgiana Without Ruth (<------get it? Ruthless? *snickers*), or his fairy Highness explaining why England's magic is being shunted elsewhere (but don't worry, not to France. They don't like France any better than England does):
“It would be an end to all peace if they returned,” he said, with a sigh. “We should give them our first-born child if that would persuade them to stay away. Indeed, we made the offer, but they would not look at poor Cuthbert."
BUT. As much as SORCERER TO THE CROWN made me laugh, there is so much more to it than humor. Peppered throughout the story are painful truths:
To her surprise Prunella found that she was still attached to Mrs. Daubeney. She would never trust her again—no! But one could nonetheless be very fond of someone in whom one had no confidence whatsoever.
When Prunella at last listened to the full message contained in the singing orb, I found myself in tears, and there is an Elizabeth and Darcy scene so spectacular as to give its namesake a run for its money.
Maybe you didn't hear me: there is an Elizabeth and Darcy scene so spectacular as to give its namesake a run for its money.
SORCERER TO THE CROWN by Zen Cho was fantabulous. Plain and simple. I'm so glad I didn't let a slow start derail my consumption of one of the best books I've read this year, and I hope you'll read it for yourself, b/c it's just that good. Highly recommended.
Bff and I have a long and complicated history. We were introduced by our mothers soon after my family had relocated to her hometown. My mothe3.5 stars
Bff and I have a long and complicated history. We were introduced by our mothers soon after my family had relocated to her hometown. My mother, ever anxious for me to make friends, called me over to point out her new friend's daughter, a girl about my age with long, curling blonde hair, wearing a frilly dress, and . . . twirling.
I was not impressed.
This is a story that's been told many times, and not just b/c we did eventually become the good friends our mothers had hoped we would, but also b/c she grew up to be not in the least way inclined-to-twirl, whereas there are few people who would have a hard time imagining me twirl.
But regardless of whether or not that is an accurate perception (I'll never tell), I have not departed from my original stance far enough to encounter this:
Bath, England, 1816
It was the oak tree that distracted me. I happened to glance up as I walked beneath its full, green canopy. The wind was tossing it's leaves so that they twirled upon their stems, and at the sight I was struck by the realization that it had been much too long since I had twirled. I paused under the branches and tried to remember the last time I had felt the least need to twirl.
And not have a reaction like this:
However, I was in dire need of a palate cleanser, so instead of tossing EDENBROOKE aside in disgust, I kept reading, which was fortunate, b/c it turned out to be a surprisingly good read.
In fact, it it wasn't for this:
"How do you like her?" Phillip asked, nodding toward Meg. "She's perfect." And she really was. "Just spirited enough to keep it interesting without being difficult to manage. And so beautiful." I patted her neck and flashed him a smile. "A gentle mare would never have been able to keep up with you." He smiled too, but as if at a private thought. "You are absolutely right." I wondered what secret lurked beneath his smile.
Really? B/c it's pretty damn obvious to me that he's comparing you to the horse, you silly ideal of femininity.
Right. So if it wasn't for that, this would have been a solid 4.0 star read.
It was kind of an Austen mashup, including elements from MANSFIELD PARK, EMMA, and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, but still had enough originality for the familiar parts to not be off-putting. Plus, it was devoid of the long-windedness that so often plagued the literature of that time.
Overall, EDENBROOKE fulfilled the purpose I'd had in mind when I started it, and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical romance or Jane Austen. It's not all twirling and chauvinist comparisons . . . *pinky promises*...more
Okay, clearly, I loved SOUNDLESS, but ever since I finished reading it and posted a pre-preview, I've heard over anB/c curiosity will one day kill me:
Okay, clearly, I loved SOUNDLESS, but ever since I finished reading it and posted a pre-preview, I've heard over and over again, "This is the first highly rated review I've seen for this book."
That wasn't surprising to me. I'm often a black sheep. Whatev. I like what I like, and I don't what I don't.
But for unfathomable reasons, I scanned a half dozen of the MEH to WTF-is-this-crap? reviews today, and now I feel the need to elaborate.
The common complaints are: it's boring, it's poorly crafted, and it's about as Chinese as Disney is Grimm.
Personally, that last one is a selling point for me. I'm bored to tears by Chinese literature/folklore, and before you decide to tar and feather me over that statement, you should know I also hate, loathe, despise and abominate American literature.
So don't get pissy. It's nothing personal. I just can't relate, generally speaking.
That being said, there was a distinctly Chinese feel to this tale, but it was . . . wait for it . . . SUBTLE.
If you don't appreciate the above irony, or worse, you think it's lame, you probably won't like this book for the same reasons the others didn't.
Continuing backwards, I don't think SOUNDLESS was poorly crafted. I think it was deliberately vague b/c FOLK STORY. That's what this is, incidentally. A new one, which, yeah, is different, but the model is the same, and folk stories are not known for their specificity.
They're supposed to apply to Everyman.
But there was a beauty in Mead's simplicity. And if you, like me, were raised on fairy tales and such, I think you will also see that beauty.
Back to this being a folk story, it's important to know this is not a full-fledged fantasy novel. It's less than 300 pages long, and you should know that going into it, lest you have unrealistic expectations.
I don't think I need to bother with the claim that it's boring. Hopefully, by now, you'll have a pretty good idea as to whether you'll like it or not. I will agree it's not for everyone. If you're uncertain, be safe and try the preview chapters first.
That is all.
One more thing . . . It irks the fire out of me when someone reviews a book they did not finish reading without acknowledging that they did not finish it. It's misleading at best and deliberately deceptive at worst.
For example, someone who had finished the book would know exactly why everyone in Fei's village is deaf and going blind. #thatisall #forrealthistime
It's one thing to cerebrally acknowledge that the heroes of stories are brave . . .
But when an author is able to capture that bravery, the fearlessness in the face of adversity, the lack of self when others face harm or death if they remain ignorant to newly discovered information . . . That is the foundation of a truly great book, and that is exactly what Richelle Mead has done in SOUNDLESS.
Fei and her people have lived on the top of their mountain for generations. Hundreds of years ago, they also lived and farmed the fertile valleys beyond the mountain pass, but an avalanche blocked the pass, and ever since they have been dependent on the line keeper.
The line keeper sends food and supplies via zip cord, which has always been there and leads no-one-knows where.
But the line keeper only sends the supplies in exchange for the metal mined on the mountain top, and when the villagers begin to lose their sight in addition to their widespread and complete loss of hearing (also generations ago--no one on the mountain even knows what sound is), and they begin to send less and less ore, the line keeper sends less and less food.
It's only fair.
As an artist, it is Fei's job to record the daily life, to preserve the history in text and picture, to capture the growing crowd of beggars who have lost their sight and have never had sound. Beggars who can do nothing but sit in silent darkness, slowly starving, waiting for handouts from a dwindling food supply.
Fei is to observe, never interfere. She is separate from the lower working classes of miners and servants.
Except Fei herself grew up in a mining family. The boy she loved but can never marry (Li Wei) is a miner still. And when her sister, the last surviving member of her family, begins to lose her sight, Fei can no longer simply observe . . . So when an avoidable tragedy claims the life of Li Wei's father and he decides to climb down the mountain and confront the line keeper, Fei decides to go with him.
Something must change.
What follows is an incredible journey of discovery. Of life off the mountain. Of lies and abuse. Of kernels of truth in old stories. Of determination and hope and perseverance. Of new beginnings.
And it is truly lovely.
SOUNDLESS by Richelle Mead is her greatest work to date and completely unlike anything else she's ever written. An instant classic, it deserves shelf space in every library, every home, and should be told and retold to audiences of all ages. I don't know if it's a new version of an old story or an entirely new tale based on the Chinese folklore that inspired it . . . Either way, it's as beautiful as is it timeless. Highly recommended.
I read this in like . . . 4 hours? Maybe 5? And I loved it. So much.
This is unlike anything else by Mead that I've ever read (and I've read most of her stuff).
It made me feel EVERYTHING, but in the end . . . I was just . . .
Me: That's a complicated question. Technically, you don't need to. BUT. I think you should. B/c reasons:
1. It's my favorite (finished) YA fantasy series, so EVERYONE should read it.
2. I have an OCD compulsion to read everything in order.
3. There's something that happens at the beginning of FLAMECASTER that won't have the impact it should, if you haven't read Seven Realms.
You: What is this thing?
Me: I'LL NEVER TELL. But later I will dance around it like a zombie from Thriller (b/c still traumatized and can't help it).
You: Is there anything special about this spinoff?
Me: YES. I'm so glad you asked. This book takes place twentyish years after the events in Seven Realms, and the main characters in FLAMECASTER are the children of the main characters from Seven Realms.
HOW COOL IS THAT?
You: SO VERY COOL.
And now is when I'm going to get exceedingly vague.
That thing I mentioned? The one that I warned I'd be dancing around? Yeah, it's . . . so very awful.
It's almost as bad as the Bad Thing that happened in Morning Star, and the Bad Thing that happened in Morning Star is my current reigning Worst Thing to Happen in a Book EVER.
And this Bad Thing influences so much of what comes after that I can't talk about any of it. What I can tell you is:
1. There are dragons.
2. There are pirates.
3. It's funneh:
If I killed the bastard now, Ash thought, none of these lords would lift a finger to stop me. But then they’d turn around and execute me, because, you know, precedent.
B/c, you know, precedent. *giggle snorts*
4. The new characters will keep you in a near constant state of panic trying to figure out who's good and who's bad (which is a good thing b/c TWISTY and unpredictable).
5. There's a villain so contemptible that he/she/it joined the Most Vile Villain ranks with Umbrage.
And most importantly, I loved it. Unless the Bad Thing happened to make it easier for blah, something, blah blah, something to happen, in which case I will do much violence to quench the fire of my RAGE.
I'm hopeful that's just my paranoid, hyperactive imagination running wild, and this time next year, I'll be back to let you know, b/c Chima has proven with FLAMECASTER that her success with Seven Realms wasn't a fluke--she is awesome--and my YA fantasy monster is sated. Highly recommended.
Do you get feelings about obscure books? You see a cover, hear good things about an author, scan a blurb, and/or areReviewed by: Rabid Reads
Do you get feelings about obscure books? You see a cover, hear good things about an author, scan a blurb, and/or are partial to a publisher, so you get a feeling--more of an educated guess, really--and that makes you choose a book that otherwise would have been completely overlooked?
I used to do that fairly regularly. Not so much anymore (b/c no time for that nonsense).
BUT. That's exactly what happened here, and it's the best gamble I've made in a long, long time.
Simply put, BELL WEATHER is a fantasy. But it's a very strange fantasy.
What if when Spain and France and England decided to colonize the Americas they discovered a land saturated with magic? What if the native peoples not only worshipped various aspects of nature, but were so closely tied to them they were an extension of those aspects? What if rain sometimes fell up into the sky, and light sometimes fell like rain?
That's the only way I can think of to describe this world. It's not the Americas and various Europeans are not the settlers, but they walk and talk and quack like colonial Americans . . .
The story opens in the midst of a flood. A flood of flowers. Flowers that may or may not float up from the bottom of the river bed, and they do this at the same time every year.
An annual flower flood.
The river and it's banks are so covered with blossoms that Tom Orange almost doesn't see the unconscious woman in a floral print dress, clinging tenaciously to a tree branch as she is swiftly carried toward the falls that Tom has no hope of her surviving should he not reach her before she goes over.
I felt the urgency, trying to keep pace with Tom as he recklessly rode through bog and trees to rescue the maybe-already-dead-women. I had to stop several times, forcing myself to read more slowly, my eyes continually attempting to dart ahead.
The rescued woman is a mystery.
There are only so many places she could have come from (exactly three), but she claims to have no knowledge of what came before her near drowning. The only thing she seems to know is that her name is Molly.
FUN FACT: the name Molly means "ocean of bitterness" or "RIVER of dissent."
Beyond the spectacular world-building and mystery of Molly's origins, BELL WEATHER is fraking hilarious.
Tom owns and manages a tavern. The tavern, in fact, as it's the only one in Root, and Root is the only settlement on the quickest land route (HA!) between the two major settlements on the continent.
His employees include his ran-away-from-home cousin Bess, a mute he has become adept at deciphering, and a crone so old even the elderly of Root can't remember a time when she was young.
An old and superstitious crone:
“Any trouble while I was gone?” “Someone hexed my right hand—I haven’t determined who—and I could not make a fist until I finally guessed the healing word and scrawled it down with ash. Otherwise, no."
An old, superstitious, and rather cantankerous crone:
Tom entered the Orange and bounded up the stairs between the taproom and the parlor, both of which looked empty at a glance, and squinted in the darkness after so much sun. He pressed past his ancient cook, Nabby, who knelt below the landing with a bucket and rags, wiping blood off the steps and angry with him now, not only for his pell-mell approach but for sloshing her water, bumping her head, and tracking mud where she had cleaned the minute before he came. “And break my neck while you’re at it,” Nabby said, “and then you’ll have a broke-neck cook and a poor tongueless wretch and I should like to see you keep an orderly tavern after that.”
Also on the premises is a cat likely as old as the crone:
Tom hesitated, thinking he had made Pitt hiss. Rather it was Scratch, the cat who stalked the Orange. He’d been hiding on a step between the men without a sound and now he crouched, fierce and mangy, and defended his position. He was missing half an ear and had a milky left eye, and his decrepit coat was battle scarred and stank of rotting offal. Scratch vanished and appeared several times a week and threatened man, woman, and child with bites, sprays, scratches, and underfoot tangles that occurred too often not to be intentional. Tom had known the cat since time out of mind. According to Nabby, the oldest woman in Root, Scratch had been around since she was a girl. The sole explanation for the cat’s longevity—excluding the assumption that the creature was demonic—was that every ten or fifteen years for nearly a century, Scratch had spawned an identical heir, who presumably killed his parents and returned, by feral instinct, to terrorize the Orange.
The funniest incidents by far involve Molly, but you'll have to take my word on that b/c spoilers.
However, it is not all fun and games.
There is darkness in the past of many of the characters, as well as a band of thieves who steal "the most valuable part" of their victims plaguing the present.
The humor merely breaks up this darkness so you don't become woebegone (and thank goodness for that).
BELL WEATHER by Dennis Mahoney was a wonderful discovery. Between the fantastical world, the hilarious characters, and a criminal mind made all the more frightening for his mad genius, this is a book you'll be hard-pressed to put down. Highly recommended to any fantasy reader.
Last year I had a bad run of YA fantasy. A really bad run. So bad that I was seriously considering giving up YA altogReviewed by: Rabid Reads
Last year I had a bad run of YA fantasy. A really bad run. So bad that I was seriously considering giving up YA altogether, b/c I had clearly matured past the point to being able to enjoy it.
And it was Half the World's predecessor Half a King that kept me from making a brash decision I would inevitably come to regret.
I am pleased to tell you that Half the World (IM humble O) has surpassed it.
Thorn is a girl who lives in a world where women are resolutely confined to more delicate pursuits than say . . . WAR.
As children, they may be temporarily indulged in their desire to train with the boys and their wooden practice swords, but the older they get, the more discouragement they encounter, and if they persist in the stubborn hope of being the first girl in memory to take the Warrior's Oath and fight for their King, then more extreme tactics are employed to set the wayward female on a more acceptable path.
For Thorn that means facing impossible odds in her final test as a student.
But it is made clear that even should she win, there will be no place for her among the men.
And the situation isn't improved by Thorn's own surliness and sense of entitlement.
Abercrombie does an excellent job of showcasing how obstinately difficult a 16 year old girl can be, without making you hate her. Instead . . . you remember. You remember how convinced you were of your own infallibility, of how much more deserving you were of the thing that you wanted than that person over there. And then you remember how hard those lessons proved to be when you finally realized you were wrong.
B/c Thorn does learn. And it is hard.
I loved her, prickliness and recalcitrance included.
She winds up in disgrace that leads to swearing an oath to Father, yes, Father Yarvi, and Father Yarvi sees fit to have her trained by Skifr, a bizzare old woman from the far south.
And believe me when I say that "bizarre" does not even begin to cover it.
But I loved her too.
Know who else I loved?
The hodgepodge of villainous-looking crew members that Rulf assembles for the voyage Father Yarvi is leading to seek allies for Thorlby against the High King and his oppressive dictates.
Thorn wondered what mountain of corpses this lot might have heaped up between them, but she wasn't one to be easily intimidated. Especially when she had no choice.
Despite this initial impression, the men become family to both Thorn and Brand (don't worry, I'll get to him in a minute), and more and more my distinctly different first impression was reinforced:
She put on her bravest face, stepped up to the biggest man she could see and tapped him on the arm. "I'm Thorn Bathu." "I am Dosduvoi." She found herself staring sharply up at one of the biggest heads she ever saw, tiny features squeezed into the center of its doughy expanse, looming so high above her that at first she thought its owner must be standing on a box. "What bad luck brings you here, girl?" he asked, with a faintly tragic quiver to his voice. She wished she had a different answer, but snapped out, "I'm sailing with you." His face retreated into an even tinier portion of his head as he frowned.
It was either bluster or look weak and Thorn reckoned that no choice at all, so she puffed herself up and snapped out, "How did you get the scar?" "How did you get the scar?" Thorn frowned. "What scar?" "That's the face the gods gave you?" And with the faintest of smiles the Vansterman went back to coiling rope.
I'm sure there are people out there that are absolutely horrified by the comparison, and make no mistake, this is a book written by Lord Grimdark himself, so there is nothing Disney about it, but . . . I can't help it, that's what I saw in my head. *shrugs awkwardly*
And I haven’t even gotten to Brand yet. *sighs* Suffice it to say that Brand is . . . experiencing the exact same types of things that Thorn is experiencing, but he is a softer, gentler example of adolescence, and he serves as both a wonderful foil for Thorn, and a secondary illustration of why it’s idiotic to try to shove people into gender-specific boxes.
Bottomline: It’s just really, really good. Half the World is a stellar followup to Half a King, making this is a series that should be on the bookshelves of anyone who loves fantasy. And with the next installment Half a War just a few short months from release . . . blah, blah, just read it. You’ll love it. *winks*
Which is making the reviewing of SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo more than a little biReviewed by: Rabid Reads
My FEELS are broken. Words, too.
Which is making the reviewing of SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo more than a little bit difficult . . . FYI.
SO. Hmm . . . *scratches head*
The book started well enough, but by 40% it was more determination that kept me reading than enthusiasm. The characters were great. I felt like they were decently developed, and it was a veritable thunderstorm of one-liners and clever dialogue:
Kaz Brekker didn’t need a reason.
“He’s going to get us all killed,” she said. Jesper stretched his long arms overhead and grinned, his teeth white against his dark skin. He had yet to give up his rifle, and the silhouette of it across his back made him resemble a gawky, long-limbed bird. “Statistically, he’ll probably only get some of us killed.”
“A good time needn’t involve wine and … and flesh,” Matthias sputtered. Nina batted her glossy lashes at him. “You wouldn’t know a good time if it sidled up to you and stuck a lollipop in your mouth.”
But plot-wise . . . not much was happening.
I was bored.
I was bored while reading a book about a HEIST.
You: How is that even possible? Me: I'm still not sure. You: But you rated it 4.5 stars . . . Me: I know. Now ask me about the second half. You: How was the second half . . .? Me: Riddikulous.
And I have a strong suspicion that this is one of the rare books that actually improves on the reread. Some--not all, mind you, but some--of the boredom can probably be chalked-up to my impatience to know ALL THE THINGS.
So now that I know them . . . significantly less reason to be impatient.
As for the potential romances, I don't know if Bardugo was determined to avoid the inevitable fallout that is the natural result of love triangles, or love squares, as the case may be (*coughs* Darklings and Mals and Sturmhonds, oh my! *coughs*), but in SIX OF CROWS, there are six main characters and three obvious relationships.
She still managed to keep us on our toes though. As much as I immediately shipped two pairs, I did not ship another, and there are a myriad of obstacles to weather all around.
It was a perfect combination of security in the knowledge that if these people end up with anyone, it will obviously be that person, and tension b/c, OHMYGAWD, how are they ever going to overcome _______?
I still don't know. It didn't end in a nasty cliffhanger, but this is the first installment of a new series, so everything isn't going to be resolved.
Deal with it. *flares nostrils*
SIX OF CROWS is also significantly darker than Bardugo's GRISHA trilogy.
You: Darker than the Darkling? Me: YES. You: o.O
Personally, I loved it. I am unabashedly bloodthirsty, after all. And something about ruthless determination with just the smallest hint of humanity is so damn sexy.
*waves at Kaz* *swoons*
And regardless of how slow I felt the middle section of the book was, the writing was consistently fantastic:
“I owe you, Brekker,” Rollins had said as the boy exited his cell, hardly believing his luck. Brekker had glanced back at him, his dark eyes like caverns. “Don’t worry, Rollins. You’ll pay.” And apparently the boy had come to collect. He stood in the middle of Rollins’ opulent office looking like a dark blot of ink . . .
Pretty great, right?
SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo is the first installment of her new YA fantasy series, and I LOVED it. I wanted to be the one person in the world who made Kaz feel something. I wanted Inej to trust me so that I could tell her no part of her enslavement or what came after was her fault and have her believe me. I wanted to bang Matthias' and Nina's stupid heads together like . . . something you deliberately bang together, I felt helpless as I watched all the hot mess that is Jesper, and Wylan . . . I just wanted to hug Wylan . . .
As for the various villains, I want them to suffer. And I trust Kaz to make that happen, so I will be back, same bat time, same bat channel, next year, and hopefully you will too, b/c oh-so-highly recommended.
So that . . . was kind of amazing. At the 50% mark, I was . . . bored. And this is supposed to be a HEIST, which made me doubly annoyed, b/c how is it even remotely possible to make a HEIST boring?
BUT. The second half more than made up for it. In fact, the slow middle section is really my only complaint.
It's not that I don't like them or that I think I've outgrown them . . . IReviewed by: Rabid Reads
I don't read very many middle grade books.
It's not that I don't like them or that I think I've outgrown them . . . I'm just not . . . very interested in the kinds of stories and perspectives that frequent the age 9 - 12 bracket.
There's a reason I don't ostracize them entirely, and that reason is HARRY POTTER. The first several HARRY POTTER books can be classified as many things, but they are definitely middle grade, and they encapsulate the very best that MG has to offer: a story for ALL ages. A story that engages children, adolescents, and adults alike. A story that parents and grandparents can read to their children and grandchildren or read for themselves.
If doesn't happen often, but when it does . . . pure magic.
CUCKOO SONG by France's Hardinge is one such story.
Ironically, I almost DNF-ed it in the first 10%.
I might not completely shun MG books, but it takes quite an inducement to get me to pick one up, and if it hadn't been for the numerous recommendations from friends and bloggers I know and trust, I wouldn't have made it past the creepy shrieking doll scene that followed the mysteriously mysterious beginning.
However . . . I was determined to give it a fair shot, so I persevered. *salutes trustworthy bookish friends*
The story opens with our 13-year-old main character Triss waking up in bed, surrounded by adults she cannot place, unable to recall how she got there or even what her name is.
The adults turn out to be her parents and a doctor, and after careful questioning to determine what she remembers (not much), they tell her what they know: Triss stumbled into their vacation cottage the night before--after having been put to bed--cold, wet, and disoriented. They believe she fell into the "Grimmer," but they have no idea how it happened.
Triss, it seems, is a sickly, but obedient girl, and leaving in the middle of the night for an impromptu swim is completely uncharacteristic behavior.
While the doctor is explaining to Triss that her memories should continue to return with a little time and rest, her younger sister Pen pokes her head into the room and promptly unleashes a tirade to the tune of, "That's not my sister! She's a fake! How can you be fooled by that awful creature who is not my sister!"
No one pays Pen any mind b/c as good and obedient a daughter as Triss is, Pen is equally disobedient and BAD.
So Pen's tantrum is ignored by all . . . except Triss, who can't seem to get the accusation out of her head . . .
B/c despite her returning memories, Triss is experiencing . . . oddities: a ravenous hunger that no amount of food seems able to satiate, waking up covered in dirt and leaves with no idea how they got there, and the aforementioned dolls coming to life. *shudders*
And that's all I'm telling you about that. It's hard though. This tale is so wonderfully imaginative that it's almost painful to hold it all in.
The characters are also fantastic.
There were half a dozen (at least) memorable secondaries, but it was the sisters that truly shone.
Triss and Pen . . . were complicated. I'd already heard that one of the highlights was the wonderful portrayal of their relationship, and I was confused about that for a long time. BUT. By the end, not only was I in complete agreement, I also appreciated how honest the portrayal was.
Yes, there are gooey, glowy moments of sisterly adorableness, but there were also moments of the kind of bitter spite that can only be accomplished by sisters, and without those bitter moments . . . the lovely ones aren't nearly as sweet.
As engaging as the characters and this world were, what I loved most was how Hardinge used the disruption to shake this family out of stagnation.
A tragedy occurred years prior, and since that time the Cresents have been pretending: that things are fine, that one daughter must be coddled and protected, that the other is acting out and any reaction enables the behavior . . . and the girls have been slowly suffocating . . .
But one strange event begins a chain reaction that forces the Cresents on a path to acceptance and recovery.
CUCKOO SONG by Frances Hardinge is hilarious and bizarre and absolutely darling. The sisters and creatures were delightful, the adults (with one notable exception) horrid, but mostly redeemable . . . It's a fantastically entertaining story that is also peppered subtly with wisdom and thought-provoking messages that apply to readers of every age and station, and I highly recommend it to one and ALL.
Laini Taylor is a genius. No really. You know how “they” say that all myths and fairytales have an element of truth in them? HReviewed by: Rabid Reads
Laini Taylor is a genius. No really. You know how “they” say that all myths and fairytales have an element of truth in them? How that element of truth is where the myths and fairytales originally came from? Well, in Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Laini Taylor treats all the myths like they’re Athena—sprung fully formed from the head of Zeus. Greek, Middle Eastern, Egyptian, various and sundry Pagan belief systems, it doesn’t matter, it all combines to make one glorious whole. There are Mesopotamian Hamsa on the hands of resurrected Naga (Hinduism/Buddhism), Greek Minotaurs, Egyptian jackals, and a multitude of other mythological creatures. Hamsa that repel the mishmash of creatures’ enemy, the Seraphim. Seraphim who are wholly unconnected to Christian, Jewish, or Muslim ideologies.
And the magic that both sides utilize must be paid for in PAIN. This (IMO) is the best and cleverest part b/c in European folklore, both Eastern and Western, there are all kinds of pagan belief systems focused on witchcraft, earth worship, manipulation of the elements, etc. Almost all of those belief systems center on the principle of payback. Karma. The Golden Rule. Pick one. All variants of the same basic idea—if you put good in the world, it will come back to you, and if you put bad in the world, that will come back to you as well. Taylor takes this principle and transforms it into something with tangible, immediate results. In her world, you don’t have to look over your shoulder waiting for your bad deeds to catch up to you, you pay as you go. Or someone pays.
Right. So. Meet Karou. Karou is a blue-haired girl who lives in Prague, where she is in enrolled in a school of the arts. Before that she was somewhere else, and before that, yet another place—rootless, homeless, Karou. When she was a child, she lived in an other-place, surrounded by other-creatures who were her friends and family, but when she got older, Brimstone (the othercreature in charge of those who raised her) sent her out into the human world, to learn human things, and run human errands b/c Karou is human.
But if Karou is human, then how did she become a part of this otherworld? How did she acquire languages as birthday gifts, and why did her hair turn blue when she wished it? Why has she had tattoos of an eye on the palm of each hand for as long as she can remember, and why does she constantly feel like something is missing, that she should be doing something, being something, a part of something, that she is not?
Daughter of Smoke & Bone will make you ache. It will make you clench your hands and clutch your arms around your stomach in trepidation of what Karou will learn, must learn about herself, about the othercreatures she calls family, about the strange, burnt hand prints that show up on the doors that are the gateways to their otherworld, and about the beyond beautiful man with the shadow that has giant wings who put them there.
Inexplicably, I left these books off my list of Top 5 YA Series a few weeks ago. It somehow slipped my mind, though it has clearly earned its place there. It’s simply the most brilliant and unique story I’ve read in recent memory. I love the characters, both main and secondary, I love the world-building, and the romance is simply fantastical. Daughter of Smoke & Bone hits you straight in the feels, and you love every second of it, want more of it, are devastated when it ends.
So it’s a good thing Dreams of Gods & Monsters, the third (and final?) installment of this series will be released in only a few short weeks. Are you ready?