Category Archives: Reviews

Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb : Review

23157777

After nearly killing his oldest friend, the Fool, and finding his daughter stolen away by those who were once targeting the Fool, FitzChivarly Farseer is out for blood. And who better to wreak havoc than a highly trained and deadly former royal assassin? Fitz might have let his skills go fallow over his years of peace, but such things, once learned, are not so easily forgotten. And nothing is more dangerous than a man who has nothing left to lose…

I knew before I even began reading this book that I was going to enjoy it, there’s no denying the fact that Robin Hobb is an amazing author. What I did not expect was to enjoy it so much I had to take a small break from reading when I realized whatever I followed it up with wouldn’t compare. While I really loved Fool’s Assassin and all the previous books in the series,  I though this newest offering put them all to shame. Robin Hobb has pulled out all the stops for what is most likely the last set of books about the Fitz and the Fool.

So when we last saw Fitz he had nearly stabbed the Fool to death and had sent his daughter back to Withywoods while he took the Fool to Buck keep via the Portal Stones in an attempt to get him the Skill healing he needed. When Withywoods is attacked and his daughter Bee abducted we find Fitzchivalry doing everything he can to locate her. There is really nothing I can say about Fool’s Quest without spoiling some sort of scene or plot detail, so I will only say one thing. If anyone who has read the rest of the series thought they knew what Fitzchivalry is willing and capable of doing to protect his family then they are greatly mistaken. In Fool’s Quest Fitz is willing to cross just about every line there is to find and protect his daughter.

I really don’t have the proper words to describe how hard this book hit me, I probably laughed or cried the entire way through it.  When I wasn’t laughing or crying I was most likely clutching the book in my hands as I paced around my bedroom in an attempt to process what I had just read. The only bad part about the book was that it had to end, I have never wanted a book to be endless so badly, the wait for the last book in the trilogy is going to be excruciating, the only thing that will keep me going crazy is to start a full reread now and hope it lasts the year!

Anyone who is a fan of Robin Hobbs Fitzchivalry Farseer and the Fool will love Fool’s Quest, it is the book we have been waiting over 10 years to read.

Fool’s Quest is set released August 11th by Del Rey.

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Advertisements

Review: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: The Clone Army Attacketh, by Ian Doescher

clonefinal300dpi

To Shmi or not to Shmi? 

The curtain rises on yeoman Jedi Anakin skywalker, a man torn between duty to his Masters, attraction to Padmé, and concern for his beloved mother, Shmi. His choices will determine not just his own destiny, but that of the entire Republic. 

Out, damned Fett! 

A noble lady in danger. A knight and squire in battle. And a forbidden love written in the stars. The quill of William Shakespeare meets the galaxy of George Lucas…complete with period illustrations, insightful soliloquies, and masterful meter that will convince you the Bard himself penned this epic adventure. 

Once again we return to the world of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, where people in doublets trade vicious insults while flying in ships and battling with lightsabers. It’s just as enormously fun as all the others.

I will fully admit that, while I do consider it a step down from the original trilogy, I didn’t uniformly hate the prequel trilogy – I enjoyed The Phantom Menace and though it has its problems, I still have some fun watching it. The same can’t be said for Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, which were plagued by an under-developed romance, inconsistent logic, and a wooden performance by Hayden Christensen as Anakin. I’ve only seen them once each and mostly refresh my memories of them through pop culture complaints about their quality. Luckily for me, then, that The Clone Army Attacketh came around and made the second movie fun in its own way.

 The book did its best to fix what went wrong in the movie, mainly the romance between Padmé and Anakin. While in the movie they had only a few scenes scattered amidst more interesting ones, their scenes get merged into one, with lots of added soliloquies that help show Padmé’s growing feelings for him. While it was nice that it got developed a bit more, it still felt intrusive, like if someone stopped Macbeth in the middle of Act 3 to show the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, and I was happy when the story got back to more interesting things. The romance was still underdeveloped, and while Anakin’s wish to marry Padmé can at least be dismissed as youthful impulsiveness, I still don’t see why Padmé would go along with it. I don’t think it’s very fair to blame to book for this, as they were in the source material, but it does pull the quality of the book down slightly, though at least you know that once the romance scene is over, you don’t have to deal with it again. I will make this point in its favour, and it’s one I never thought I’d concede: It makes the “I hate sand” line sound far less stupid.

As in the others, there were a lot of shout-outs to other plays; the one scene with Anakin and Padmé’s romance references most of Shakespeare’s comedies as well as Romeo and Juliet, and the play itself includes many references to Macbeth and, oddly enough, one reference to The Wizard of Oz. The character Rumour, who exists to spread discord, makes several appearances, and like The Phantom of Menace the book flirts with self-referentiality and continues Jar Jar’s character arc.

And if you need any other reason to read it, remember: This is the one where we have Samuel L. Jackson, wielding a lightsaber, speaking Shakespearean English.

Overall rating: 5/5


Dead Men Don’t Cry by Nancy Fulda: Review

71WtV3gss5L

What you’re lookin’ for. You won’t find it here…Folk find lots of stuff in this place, but never what they came looking for.

These days novels get all the attention, but there is a wealth of fantastic stories that can be found if you explore short fiction. It’s with that thought that I pick up books like this. Dead Men Don’t Cry is a collection of short fiction by Hugo and Nebula nominated author Nancy Fulda. Nancy has also won the Jim Baen Memorial Short Story contest. With a record like that, I reasoned one of her short story collections had to be good, and I was not disappointed.

Dead Men Don’t Cry contains eleven stories that ask questions I never even thought to think about. What do you do if you’re a billionaire living on the moon and just must have French pastries? You hire a ship to bring them to you from France every day (Pastry Run). How do clones feel about being clones? What about the person they were cloned from? (Blue Ink) How do you deal with a dead mother who just won’t leave you alone? (Ghost Chimes). My personal favorite Monument, deals with humanity making a tremendous decision, one that they will likely never know if it was a good one or a bad one.

Each of the stories in this anthology are unique and each one drew me in with its own special way of telling. Nancy Fulda has a powerful voice and successfully emerges the reader in nearly a dozen worlds, be they on earth, in space, through time, or in another dimension. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction. If you haven’t tried out the short form, this is a great place to start. If you have, you won’t be disappointed in this book.


Armada by Ernest Cline : Review

16278318

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

I discovered Ernest Cline back in 2011 when a friend of mine suggested I read his first book Ready Player One, which quickly turned into one of my all time favorite books. I have been waiting the nearly four years since them for him to follow up with a second book with the hope that his first book would not be just a fluke. After finishing it I can honestly say Armada is one of the corniest, most ridiculous books I have had the pleasure to read. I can’t count the number of times I had to laugh out loud at some corny science fiction cliche or shake my head at an extremely over the top scene. I absolutely loved it. I am glad to see that Ready Player One was definitely not a fluke and for Ernest Cline to prove once again he knows exactly which nostalgic buttons to press to make someone love a story.

Zach Lighman is what I would call your typical teenager — he goes to school, has an after school job, and would love nothing more than to spend all his free time at home playing video games. More than any other game Zach loves playing Armada, an MMO about fighting off an alien invasion through the use of remotely controlled drones, a game where Zach holds a place among the top 10 players in the world. Zach’s life quickly turns to chaos when he discovers a secret organazation run by the worlds top governments have been using television, movies and video games to slowly prepare the world for the revelation that aliens are real and an invasion is on its way. Zach will soon have to use all the skills he has managed to pick up playing Armada to help fight off an alien invasion and save the world.

While there are plenty of other books, movies and television shows with the same basic plot as Armada, Ernest Cline does something all of these other things never do. he acknowledges them. Cline takes some of the best tropes and cliches from almost every one of them and manages to shove them into the pages of his book, and he somehow manages to make it all work in an amazing way. Like Ready Player One this book is full of enough pop culture references to either make your head explode or have you digging out all your old DVD’s and video games in an attempt to relive them all once again.

The only complaint I would have against this book is that it had to end, I would have been happy to still be reading it weeks later. Like Ready Player One it’s only just a matter of time before Armada is picked up by a movie or television studio and this is something I can’t wait to see happen, it will translate well. I am already waiting to see what kind of story Cline will manage to come up with next. The wait is going to be unbearable.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan : Review (Or the Ravings of a Fanboy)

228665

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. 

 

It has proven surprisingly difficult for me to write any sort of review for any book in the Wheel of Time series over the last few years. I seem to make it a few short sentences in before my review becomes the incoherent ramblings of a rabid fanboy. This time around I have given up on even trying to be unbiased in any sort of way. I consider The Eye of the World to be one of the greatest pieces of Epic Fantasy I have ever read. It has become the standard to which I hold every other book I now read, which is a bit funny considering it took me weeks to even make it past the first chapter.

I remember picking up a copy of The Eye of the World from my local library around 10 years ago only to return it the next day after I couldn’t even get through the first chapter. I proceeded to do this at least twice a week for the next few weeks, picking the book up over and over again because the story just sounded so good. All that it took was for me to get through that first chapter and then I was hooked, unable to put it down until the very end. I still consider the day The Eye of the World‘s cover caught my eye as one of the luckiest days of my life, who knows how long it would have taken to discover it otherwise.

I’ve never been able to really decide what kind of story this really is — whether its a coming of age story, an adventure story, or something else entirely. It’s probably a little bit of them all — Robert Jordan did an amazing job taking inspiration from so other cultures, religions and even other authors and turning it into something EPIC. I can seriously read the Eye of the World and then turn around and reread it again just a few days later, that is how much I enjoy the story and the rest of the series is just as good.

I can’t honestly believe that there are people out there who haven’t heard of or read the Wheel of Time but If there is I would strongly suggest they drop whatever they are doing and go out and buy a copy. Buy two copies even, I myself tend to go through about two a year from all of my rereads.

 


Moon Called by Patricia Briggs : Review

71811

Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will. Mercy’s next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy’s connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water…

I remember picking this book up for the first time at the used book store near my house back when I was in the middle of an urban fantasy kick — as I am right now, mainly because it was just sitting near the Dresden Files book shelf. It then proceeded to sit on my book shelf at home for two long years before I finally remembered I had it and decided to give it a try. I have been kicking myself since that day for waiting so long to read this book, Patricia Briggs has turned into one of my favorite urban fantasy authors, second only to Jim Butcher and his Dresden Files.

In a genre full of wizards, werewolves and vampires it’s always nice to see a main character who stands out from the pack, and Mercedes Thompson does just that. Mercy isn’t just the best Volkswagen mechanic in the entire state of Washington, she’s also a Native American being known as a walker — a shape shifter with the ability to turn into a coyote at will. When her werewolf neighbor Adam is attacked and his daughter Jesse is abducted it is up to Mercy to everything at her disposal to help Adam save his daughter before it is too late.

There are just so many things that I love about this book that I have trouble even talking about it sometimes without spewing my fanboy all over people. For a protagonist Mercy is pretty bad-ass, in a world of werewolves, vampires, powerful Fae creatures and a government determined to control them all you wouldn’t think one little coyote would be able to hold her ground, but she does. It’s also always fun to read some urban fantasy where all the preternatural elements aren’t hidden from the world, but out there for everyone to see, it adds a really interesting element to the story.

With the Mercy Thompson books Patricia Briggs has managed to take all of my favorite tropes from the genre and twist them into something completely her own. A feat that is not easy to do considering just how many books that are out there nowadays, it gets more impressive the more I think about it.

I can’t count the number of times I have read and reread Moon Called, it is from one of those series that I always seem to be in the middle of a reread of. I would definetly give this book 6 out of 5 stars and would suggest anyone looking for some great urban fantasy with a kick-ass heroine pick up this book.


Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris #1) by Jim C. Hines : Review

12844699

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines was a really fun book to read, it is another book series that I wish I had discovered much sooner than I did. As I mentioned in my last review is really easy to find urban fantasy to read these days as it seems to be everywhere I look, it’s difficult to find good urban fantasy. So when I find books like Libriomancer I tend to read through them ridiculously fast. This book was so good I ended up reading the entire series in under a week and am already desperately waiting for the next book to release. It probably has the greatest magic system I have ever read about in any book, I can’t say how much I wish Libriomancy really existed in our world.

Founded by Johannes Gutenber over 500 years ago the Libriomancers are a secretive group of men and women with a very unique gift — they are able to reach into almost any book that exists and pull out an item from within to use. Need to sneak through a building undetected? Why not just pull an invisibility cloak from Harry Potter, or a shrink ray from pretty much any sci-fi book in existence. Isaac Vainio is one of these Libriomancer, but unlike the rest of his brothers and sisters in magic, Isaac has been stuck with a desk job in the middle of nowhere Michigan, about as far away from the rest of the world and Libriomancer politics as it is possible to get. However, when a group of Sanguinarius Meyerii — sparkling vampires who have been accidentally released between the pages of a book attack him in an attempt to learn Libriomancer secrets Isaac soon finds himself on the run. It will take his magical fire spider Smudge, a beautiful Dryad and his vast collection of science fiction noels to help Isaac find out just what the hell is going on, and keep himself alive long enough to do something about it.

I really can’t say enough how much I loved the magic system contained within this book, it is just awesome. There is just something about reading a book and have it mention another book or series I enjoy reading. This not only happens all the time in Libriomancer, but when it does it is usually when someone is reaching into the book references and pulling an item out of it to use. These references aren’t just used as gimmicks either, some of the items pulled from the books act as maor plot points for the story. Just trying to catch all the different books referenced and trying to figure out what item the Libriomancer is going to pull from the books is really fun. It makes the book and series really rereadable — at least to me it does.

I think anyone who enjoys reading urban fantasy will really enjoy the Magic Ex Libris series as a whole, I think about every book I’ve ever loved is mentioned in some way in the series. Just writing this review makes me realize I have to start rereading it again, which is not a good thing when I have to be up for work in less than 5 hours.


Skinwalker by Faith Hunter : Review

5585788

Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind-a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. But now she’s been hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps…

Urban fantasy has quickly become my favorite sub genre of fantasy these days, the only bad thing about it is there is so much available now that at times it is difficult to sift through all the bland or mediocre stories to get to the really good stuff. Sometimes I will try and read two or three books a week only to toss them aside after just a few chapters for one reason or another. However with Skinwalker by Faith Hunter I was hooked from the very first page, it quickly turned into yet another book I was unable to put down until I finished it. I will learn one day not to start a new book at 10pm at night when I know if I like it I will read it until 6am like I did with Skinwalker.

Jane Yellowrock is a shapeshifter, the last living skinwalker in all the world — or so she thinks. When a rogue vampire starts killing people in the heart of New Orleans Jane finds herself hired by Katherine Fontaneau, the proprietor of the brothel Katie’s Ladies and one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans, to hunt down and kill the rogue vampire before it becomes a PR nightmare for the vampire council. Oh, and she has 10 days in which to do if she wants to receive her full pay and a bonus on top of it. To complete her job she will have to accept help from wherever she can get it, all while fighting off the Beast within who wants nothing more to take control of the hunt.

One of the things I loved most about this story was the fact that other than our shapeshifting heroine there were only vampires and witches in the story. It was a nice change to read some urban fantasy where you are not provided with a bunch of different supernatural creatures to learn about and keep track of. While Jane and the rest of the world may only know about the vampires and the witches hints are dropped all throughout the book that there may be other races hiding out in the world still.

It was also nice not to read some urban fantasy where the focus was not on sex or romances, Jane Yellowrock is in town to get her job done and she has no time for anything that may get in her way. I think anyone who enjoys the Dresden Files or Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson books will love this book as much I do. I have already bought the next two books in the series and I plan to start the next one soon, never mind the fact that I know it will keep me up till early tomorrow morning.

 


The Gods of Laki: A Thriller by Chris Angus : Review

23130239

A race to unveil the secret of Laki, a volcano on the southern shores of Iceland, pits our heroes—a sixteen-year-old Viking girl from the tenth century, a German geologist from World War II, and a former Secret Service agent protecting a female volcanologist—against evil forces with a plan to cause an eruption using explosives, altering the global climate through the release and forcing the price of oil to skyrocket.

Everyone and everything on Laki is in danger, including the possibility of ever unraveling the mysteries of the place, as it faces burial beneath a carpet of lava flows. Caught underground by the fracturing physical breakup of Laki, everyone finds themselves ensnared by Laki itself—an unseen, implacable foe that seems everything but a benign presence. Every move they make appears to be guided and controlled by an intelligence that permeates the netherworld.

Only gradually, through all the conflict between the various factions, does everyone begin to realize that it is Laki itself that has always been in charge.

 The Gods of Laki: A Thriller by Chris Angus is definitely not the type of book I would normally pick up and read, as I don’t branch outside of science fiction or fantasy all that much these days. Chris Angus has managed to write a book that touches on just about every genre there is and yet still manages to stand out in a genre all its own, I’m still a little surprised at how much I enjoyed reading it.  This was another book that I was unable to put down once I picked it up and started reading, it cut into my precious sleep two nights in a row when I had to work early the next day.

There really isn’t much I can say about the plot that I can say without spoiling anything but I will try my hardest to do so. The Gods of Laki is told mainly from three different view points, each in a different point in time. In 940 AD a group of vikings fleeing from their homeland find refuge in the land of ice and fire, and quickly find out that their new home is not as safe as it seems. In 1940 Fritz Kraus is the only German student at the University of Iceland and he soon finds himself involved in events that may change the world forever.

Lastly, in the present day former Secret Service agent Ryan Baldwin has been asked to protect the volcanologist daughter of a high ranking government official while she studies a volcano in Iceland.

Chris Angus manages to take all three of these story lines and weave them into one amazing story that I think any reader will find themselves unable to put down. I can honestly say I was glad to lose the sleep I did to read this story, and I’m already keeping an eye out for more great stories by Angus. I don’t know many authors who can take Vikings, Nazis, an almost sentient volcano and tie them all together so well.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


GUEST POST: Game of Thrones: “Mother’s Mercy” Review and Recap of Season 5

[Warning! Here be spoilers]

gameofthrone

As predicted, the season finale of the fifth Game of Thrones cycle hit viewers between the eyes with numerous plot twists and cliffhangers, while the death knell tolled ceaselessly for characters both beloved and abhorred. An inclusion of controversial content and subversion of popular fantasy storytelling tropes has come to define this series, broadening its fan base to include all those who appreciate a bloody good story.

Season five saw fan favorite Tyrion Lannister journeying to Meereen to meet Daenerys Targaryen after his escape from King’s Landing. As it turns out, Daenerys was in desperate need of reliable counseling. Unable to control her dragons, she chained two of them up under a pyramid, announced an engagement to nobleman Hizdahr zo Loraq, and reopened the fighting pits in an attempt to win her people’s favor.

The Sons of the Harpy, a rebel organization, were fighting her regime after her decree outlawing slavery which destabilized their way of life. Their campaign began with assaults on Daenerys’ Unsullied troops in the city streets and culminated in a tense battle at the pits, that ended with her dragon Drogon arriving just in time to fly her away to safety.

Meanwhile, at Castle Black, Jon Snow was voted Lord Commander. Many of his men came to regret this decision, when they learned of his plan to let thousands of wildlings through The Wall. Upon arriving at Hardhome to bring the wildlings back with him, Jon, his small escort, and the wildlings fought a brutal battle with four White Walkers in which vast numbers of men, women, and children were killed and resurrected by the Walkers to be added to the army of the dead.

Arya Stark traveled to Braavos and ended up training to be an assassin at the House of Black and White. Her training was derailed when she realized Ser Meryn Trant, the top name on her kill list, was also in Braavos. Arya’s sister Sansa was brought to Winterfell by Littlefinger to take part in an arranged marriage to Ramsay Bolton, the sadistic torturer whose mutilation and psychological manipulation of Theon Greyjoy transformed him into the pathetically servile Reek. Ramsay’s rape of Sansa before the eyes of Reek was a huge controversy as viewers questioned whether the act actually served the characters or was simply exploitative.

In King’s Landing, Cersei’s arming of the Faith Militant gave their leader, the High Sparrow, the power to imprison her rivals Margery and Loras Tyrell. The plan blew up in Cersei’s face when her cousin Lancel, now one of the devout, informed on her for cheating on King Robert several years back, and Cersei too now sits in a cell. Cersei’s brother Jaime went with Bronn to Dorne to bring their daughter Myrcella back home, but their mission failed when Oberyn Martell’s bastard daughters, the Sand Snakes, intervened.

Game of Thrones is populated with at least twice as many characters as any other show on TV. This requires a large portion of table setting in the early parts of each season, as the show-runners maneuver each chess piece into play. However, as the seasons draw to a close, patient viewers are always well rewarded in final episodes.

This brings us to last night’s season finale. Subscribers can catch the episode on HBOGo, whereas the rest of us can look to television providers such as DTV and Xfinity to get caught up. Sunday night saw some of the bloodiest action yet: Theon and Sansa leapt from the walls of Winterfell following a massive battle between Bolton and Baratheon troops, Ellaria Sands murdered young Princess Myrcella by poison, Meryn Trant was killed by Arya Stark, Daenerys nearly succumbed to a gigantic Dothraki khalasar, and Jon Snow suffered a devastating death at the hands of his own men (several subplots being neglected here for the sake of brevity). In television today, there’s nothing else quite like it. The irresistible blend of fantasy, fiction and good old fashioned storytelling present in the GoT series will surely draw fans back once more to Season 6. There’s nothing else like it, and it’s the reason Game of Thrones viewers will continue to return, despite having their hearts broken, year after murderous year.

Guest post by Maria Ramos.

Follow her on Twitter


Review: The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy, and Other Stories, by Tim Burton

200px-Melancholydeath

From breathtaking stop-action animation to bittersweet modern fairy tales, filmmaker Tim Burton has become known for his unique visual brilliance — witty and macabre at once. Now he gives birth to a cast of gruesomely sympathetic children — misunderstood outcasts who struggle to find love and belonging in their cruel, cruel worlds. His lovingly lurid illustrations evoke both the sweetness and the tragedy of these dark yet simple beings — hopeful, hapless heroes who appeal to the ugly outsider in all of us, and let us laugh at a world we have long left behind (mostly anyway). 

Firstly, let me say that I love Tim Burton’s animated movies – The Corpse Bride is a masterpiece. When I saw The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy, and Other Stories in the local book store, then, I was excited for it. It’s short – not even 130 pages – so I read it in there, and was done in twenty minutes. My opinion on it is mixed.

The book is similar in style to Alice in tumblr-Land, being a collection of short poems that range from a few pages long to only two lines. Some of the entries are continued in later poems, but for the most part they’re self-contained. Illustrations on the adjacent page help bring the stories to life. The illustrations are like something out of one of Burton’s movies: creepy, but almost cute, in a way. Be warned, though: there aren’t any happy endings in these stories. They range from the merely melancholy to the truly macabre, with very little of the lightheartedness or uplifting themes that his movies often have. It’s easy to empathise with the put-upon main characters of the poems, who are without exception outcasts and unloved. Many of them meet sad ends. The stories are bittersweet at best, and many are outright depressing. Unfortunately, they’re not very memorable – I finished it two hours ago and have to rack my memory for details. While not as bad as the afore-mentioned Alice in tumblr-Land, where I found myself forgetting the beginning of a story even as I read the end of it, these stories didn’t do much to stick in the mind.

Ultimately, the book is an okay read once, but lacks the charming atmosphere of Burton’s movies. As it’s such a quick read, I don’t recommend actually buying it – reading it in the bookstore is more than enough.

Overall rating: 3/5


An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir : Review

emberintheashes_jkt_5-1

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir is a good read. It’s engaging enough to be engrossing, and has enough character development and action to keep readers hooked. This review isn’t going to be pretty, but one thing for sure is that Sabaa Tahir can definitely write. I personally may have found some things lacking, but her prose was unfaltering. With some refinement that we’ll hopefully see in future novels, I think she could even be excellent.

That being said, I was disappointing in An Ember in the Ashes. I had high hopes for this title, and all the other reviews that I had read seemed overwhelmingly positive. I agree, in large part, with them. However, for me, An Ember in the Ashes wasn’t enough. For those of you whom have been reading fantasy (or really, any genre fiction) for any length of time, the love triangles, and almost all plot twists/major developments will be painfully predictable. I can see this as being a good read for someone who needs something “light” after reading a heavy series, or for readers just getting into the genre.

It’s odd to call this book light, when it’s set in a world with merciless killings, brutality, and the fact rape is used as a plot device to move the story along (I’m not opening that can of worms in this review though.) It still managed to feel like a lighter read though, due to the fact that we’re only told about the brutality of the world, never really shown besides for at the very beginning of the book. This — the telling and not showing, did lead to a disappointing lack in world building. I’m hoping it’s something that gets expanded upon in the sequel, and that we do get to see more of the world and get some actual descriptions; as it stands, it kind of felt flat, as though the backdrop of a play was changed and barely alluded to.

I don’t mean for this to sound all bad. I got through this book in a couple of sittings, and I will probably read the sequel when it comes out. I didn’t love this book, I didn’t think it was a sensational masterpiece, or even really innovative, but I did enjoy it. Based on other reviews, and the fact that Paramount optioned it in a 7-figure deal does clearly show that it’s a loved book, just not by me.


If you’re interested, we’ve included a brief sample of the audiobook:


The Hidden Masters of Marandur (The Pillars of Reality #2) by Jack Campbell

25557059

Someone wants to kill Mari, a young Steam Mechanic in the Guild that controls all technology. She has learned that her world of Dematr is headed for a catastrophe that will destroy civilization, and that Mages really can alter reality for short periods. Someone also wants to kill Alain, a young Mage who has learned that Mechanics are not frauds as his Guild teaches, and that Mechanic Mari is the only person who can prevent the oncoming disaster.

The Hidden Masters of Marandur (Pillars of Reality Book 2) by Jack Campbell is probably one of the two best steampunk and fantasy mash-ups that I have read so far, which is fitting considering it is the sequel to the other best.

I was a bit worried when I picked this up to read that I wasn’t going to enjoy this book as much as I did the first, or that Campbell wasn’t going to be as good an author as I remember him being, but I’m glad I can say I was worried for no reason at all. Jack Campbell took everything I loved about the Dragons of Dorcastle and just piled on top of it with more awesomeness to create its sequel. I was yet again surprised by the originality of Campbells work with both of these books, it’s rare to find so many new ideas in a book these days.

The Hidden Masters of Marandur takes place directly after the events of the Dragons of Dorcastle— Master Mechanic Mari and the Mage Alain have managed to stop the dragon that was terrorizing the people of Dorcastle, but in doing so have revealed their rebellious nature to each of their respective guilds. Challenging the status Quo is something neither the Mechanics or the Mages guilds are prepared to accept however, and Alain and Mari soon find themselves sent out on dangerous missions by their respective guilds in attempt to silence their rebellious questioning. The Mechanics and Mages guilds don’t know everything however, Alain and Mari are in love and will not let anyone or anything come between them.
This book was another good reminder for me that there is good steampunk out there to read, you just have to look in unexpected places. I did not expect to pick up a book series originally created as an Audible exclusive and to have it turn out to be something I was unable to put down. After I finished both the Dragons of Dorcastle and the Hidden Masters of Marandur I found myself suggesting the series to everyone I knew or met who reads, the lady I met in the fantasy section of my local book store probably thinks I’m absolutely crazy at this point. The only bad thing about enjoying a book this much is how fast you finish it, now I don’t know how long it will be until the next book in the series releases, or what I will do to hold myself over until then.

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Our review of The Dragons of Dorcastle


Listen below for a free preview of The Hidden Masters of Marandur narrated by Macleod Andrews; courtesy of Audible.


The Darkling Child by Terry Brooks : Review

18710920

After taking up his enchanted sword against the dark sorcerer Arcannen, Paxon Leah has become the sworn protector of the Druid order. Now a critical hour is at hand, as a beloved High Druid nears the end of her reign and prepares to pass from the mortal world to the one beyond. There is little time for Paxon to mourn his friend and benefactor before duty summons him. For in a distant corner of the Four Lands, the magic of the wishsong has been detected. Paxon must accompany a Druid emissary to find its source—and ensure the formidable power is not wielded by the wrong hands.

But danger is already afoot in the village of Portlow. Gentle traveling minstrel Reyn Frosch possesses the uncanny gift, and curse, of the wishsong. And now his coveted abilities have captured the malevolent interest of none other than Arcannen—whose quest for power is exceeded only by his thirst for vengeance. The lone survivor of a brutal assault on a notorious pirate city, the sorcerer is determined to retaliate against the Federation’s elite military guard—and use the devastating power of the wishsong as his ultimate weapon.

The Darkling Child by Terry Brooks is the second book in his Defenders of Shannara series– a trilogy of stand alone novels loosely tied together by a small cast of recurring characters. While I actually enjoyed this book more than I have the last few Shannara books that have been published, I struggled at times to get through it. I think the fact that we only have one more Shannara book after the conclusion of the Defenders series weighed heavily upon me as I read. That being said, I started on my reread of the book not even a full 24 hours after I finished reading it the first time.

It has been 5 years since the events of the High Druid’s Blade and Paxon Leah’s run in with the dark sorcerer Arcannen, and all has been relatively quiet for the Druids in the Four Lands. But now duty sends Paxon and the Druid Avelene out into the world once more, the scrye waters that the Druids use to watch for magic have shown a disturbance, one that bears a striking resemblance to the magic of the Wishsong. Paxon will soon find himself running into old friends and enemies as he attempts find its source and ensure its safe transportation back to Paranor.

While the Darkling Child is loosely connected to the High Druid’s Blade by Paxon Leah and a few other characters, each book is clearly meant to stand on its own and I don’t think new readers will have a problem starting with either of the two books. For me this book proved to be a great reminder of why I fell in love with this series in the first place, it was nice to rediscover the magic of Shannara once again and I can only hope that Terry continues to surprise me with the last few books he releases in the series.

I think all fans of the series, new or old, will absolutely love this book, I know I did. Already I am counting down the days until the release of the last book in the trilogy, and already I am finding that wait unbearable.

The Darkling Child is set to be release on June 9th by Del Rey.

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.


Listen to a brief preview of The Darkling Child!


Uprooted by Naomi Novik : Review

22544764

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

There is no denying that Naomi Novik is an amazing author and anyone who has read her Temeraire series would probably agree with me. With Uprooted Naomi Novik shows she can move books about dragons and feuding governments and still manage to write a great story. I wasn’t really sure what to make of Uprooted in the first couple chapters but I knew right away I was reading something special. Like every other book by Naomi Novik I found myself sucked into the book as the story progressed and by the last chapter I didn’t want to see it end.

Every ten years the Dragon comes down from his tower to pick a young girl from one of the local villages to take back up to his tower with him. No one can say what happens to a girl chosen by the Dragon once the doors of his tower close behind her. The only thing people know for sure is she will emerge in 10 years a changed person who quickly leaves her village far behind her, never to return. It has now been 10 years and the Agnieszka, along with all the other girls of the nearby villages are lined up and waiting for the Dragon to emerge and make his choice.

This book was simply amazing, it was bar far one of the better books I have read this year, and while I probably say that after every book I read, there is just something enchanting about Uprooted. I don’t know if its the almost fairy tale like plot and setting or the the enjoyable cast of characters, but i was unable to put this book down from start to finish. I would warn anyone who has read anything else by Naomi Novik not to go into this story expecting anything remotely similar to her Temeraire series, because if they do they will find themselves greatly disappointed. Uprooted was really like nothing else I have ever read, and considering how much I read that’s really saying something.

I would easily give Uprooted 6 out of 5 stars, and put it on my list of books I will probably be reading over and over again for the rest of my life. I really hope this turns out to be a long and drawn out series of books.

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik is set to be published on May 19th, 2015 by Del Rey


%d bloggers like this: