HOME   ABOUT ME   BLOG REVIEW INFO   BOOK REVIEW INDEX   GIVEAWAYS

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Book Review: Stormcaster (Shattered Realms #3)

Release Date: April 3, 2018
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 544 pages
Source: Library Audio Book

The third book in the thrilling four-book Shattered Realms series from New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima

The Empresss in the east—the unspeakably cruel ruler whose power grew in Flamecaster and Shadowcaster—tightens her grip in this chilling third installment in the series.

Vagabond seafarer Evan Strangward can move the ocean and the wind, but his magical abilities seem paltry in comparison to Empress Celestine’s. As Celestine’s bloodsworn armies grow, Evan travels to the Fells to warn the queendom of her imminent invasion. If he can’t convince the Gray Wolf queen to take a stand, he knows that the Seven Realms will fall. Among the dead will be the one person Evan can’t stand to lose.

Meanwhile, the queen’s formidable daughter, Princess Alyssa ana’Raisa, is already a prisoner aboard the empress’s ship. Lyss may be the last remaining hope of bringing down the empress from within her own tightly controlled territory.

Multiple intricately interwoven storylines converge in this gripping novel about a brave, coordinated effort to undermine a horrific tyrant.

    

Review:

Characters: I honestly don't know how to write this section because there are just so many characters that this installment focuses on. I mean, I went into this book expecting it to feel like the other installments, a change in focus, this one on Evan Strangward, his story, and what's going on in Carthis, which we sort of get, while possibly getting a few chapters here and there continuing the previous installment and showing what happened to Alyssa after the end of Shadowcaster, which we also sort of get. However, instead, this installment really felt like the first time this series has come into focus as a new generation of heroes banding together to take down a new foe. While I enjoy the first two installments in this series I really fell in love with this series here, this was the first time that I could truly see the focus of this series, which is mostly the amazing and complex characters that fill this amazing world, and while the story might have been spread a bit thin due to how may POVs there are, but honestly I wouldn't have it any other way it really illustrates the scope of this world and this story.

Romances: So, I'm not going to lie to you, there's very little romance in this book, with the romances from the previous books split up for the entire installment we don't get that much development on that front, other than off-handed references and some not so off-handed references here and there, but no real development for the couple. We do have a new POV in this book in the form of Evan Strangward, who is the focus of most of the beginning of this book, and that long beginning does detail a romance that he has, and while it is an adorable romance that I ship to no end, it's not in the book much beyond the beginning and while I understand why that is, as they each have different parts to play in this story, I just wish we could have seen more of them together in this book.

World Building: As I said before, this book was series changing for me, I would say it's mostly because it actually continues the story we know. While the previous installment did continue the story from Flamecaster a bit, Shadowcaster felt more like a companion novel, telling a concurrent story from a different front. This installment, well this installment feels like a mix of those two plotlines with a dash of Carthis and I love it. While there are so many Points of View that sometimes the plotlines can feel a bit spread thin at times, I never felt a lull in the story. I was hooked from the very beginning that the only times I would set this story aside were to make sure I didn't burn through it too fast, which in a way I kind of did as I'm anxiously awaiting the final installment in this series. This book expands the scope of this story so much and finally introduces us to Carthis, the Empire across the sea where a great many mythical creatures are assumed to live, including dragons. It was hard not to be struck with what exploring this world, even more, would be like, I mean, I would be completely down for a series set in this world that takes place completely, or almost completely, in Carthis because I feel there's still so much left to learn and I'm not sure how much will be able to come out in the final installment in this series.

Predictability: So, I'm not sure how to talk about the predictablilty in this installment as, while there are a good number of unpredictable and surprising moments in this installment, I still feel no closer to the answer to two of the biggest mysteries in this series, the first being the origin of those with mage marks, and while it seems that we get some explanation on that, I don't trust the source it comes from, and secondly, who is targeting the royal family, which again I would say we get "closer" to figuring out who it is, but since I'm pretty sure I figured out who it is near the beginning of the previous installment I was kind of hoping that that reveal wouldn't be drawn out. Again, I will say that there are a lot of amazing unpredictable moments in this installment but I felt they all happened at the moment and I didn't really feel a large build-up to anything unexpected.

Ending: So, since there are a few plotlines this book follows there are quite a few final climactic moments and I'll be honest with you, they're all full of tension, including something I thought would never happen in this series, and a particularly bad ass moment by one of my new favorite characters, even if they didn't need to be put in a situation where that badassery was necessary. Anyway, each of these moments is fraught with tension leading to some of the most intense moments in this series. It all leads up to some rather moments where we learn more about not only what just happened, but what will happen as this series heads into its final installment and it ends with one hell of a cliffhanger.

Rating:


Okay, look, I loved this book, it was nearly impossible to put down and I practically flew through the story. I am so sad that I have to wait for the next installment, and I just pray that it'll be worth the wait!

POST SIGNATURE

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Blog Tour Book Review: Tracing Shadows (Scout #1) + GIVEAWAY!


Release Date: April 8, 2017
Author: Alex Lidell
Publisher: Alex Lidell
Length: 312 pages
Source: Review Copy for Tour

To protect the throne, seventeen-year-old spy Kali must play a male guardsman trainee by day and royal lady by night.

Orphaned and trained on a spymaster’s remote estate, Kali is a scout who works alone in the shadows. But when a terror group threatens the Dansil throne, the king forces Kali to accept a mission at the palace or forfeit her sister’s life.

Suddenly thrust into the light, Kali must infiltrate high society as the royal Lady Lianna while penetrating the servant ranks as Kal, a male guardsman trainee. It doesn’t help that Trace, the harsh and enigmatic captain of the king’s guard, is soon assigned as both Lady Lianna’s palace escort and Kal’s commanding officer.

As Kali edges closer to the truth behind the violent group’s identity, she uncovers dangerous secrets that could bring her mission to a brutal end. A scout’s job is to observe and report, never to engage . . . but if it means saving her sister and kingdom, Kali may have no choice.

TRACING SHADOWS, by Amazon bestselling author Alex Lidell, is the first novel in the Scout series. Perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce, Leigh Bardugo, and Sarah J. Maas.

  

Review:

Protagonist(s): The majority of this fantasy tale is told from the first person POV of Kali, a young scout, and spy who is assigned to the palace early in the story in an attempt to keep her kingdom from going into all-out war, oh, and her sister's life is on the line. Kali is an adept spy who can easily pass as either male or female which allows her to take up two roles in the palace, both as the king's newly arrive niece Lianna and a new guard recruit Kal. Kali is very much a lone wolf and has been conditioned to never rely on anyone as you can never be sure who is on your side. I really enjoyed watching Kali grow and develop over the course of this story, even at the expense of her pride on most occasions. Kali is a force to be reckoned with and while she makes plenty of mistakes and does a few pretty unlikable things she gets as good as she gives sometimes. Then there's the Violet of it all. See, even though this book is mostly told from Kali's POV, there are third-person chapters from the POV of Violet, the princess of Dansil, who is still struggling with the loss of her mother and the inattention she gets for not being the king's next in line. Violet's storyline goes to some unexpected places and it was really interesting to watch her character arc blossom over the course of the book.

Romance: So, there's really not a whole lot of romance in this book. I mean, it's there, there's no denying that, but it doesn't really factor into the main plot all that much and most of the book focuses on establishing a relationship between the couple instead of diving head in, which I was very happy to see. The thing is though, I'm not a huge fan of the love interest, Trace, there are times when he can be pigheaded, stubborn, and sexist at times in this book, which is completely on purpose as Kali has none of it, but when I felt that a romantic relationship would start to form between the two, well Trace doesn't show his best side and while I'm sure that it's all part of his character development, it's hard for me to see these two together eventually, let alone root for them.

World Building: Okay, so in the recent past I complained about a series's world not feeling unique enough, in fact, that series has a lot of the same tropes woven into as this one, the difference, this world feels so different. First off there's the POV it's coming from, a spy trained to ferret out secrets and who is tasked with being a spy within the palace walls. Then there's the almost cult-like religion, Children of the Goddess, then there are the stand out characters and their own personal arcs, there is so much about this series and this world that completely blew me away. I love the spy angle and the magic system is very interesting even though I don't quite understand it, that's okay because neither do most of the characters. I was actually really bummed when I found out, at the end of the book no less, that this is going to just be a duology, I really enjoyed the little we saw of this world and am sad that we don't get to explore it for longer, though who knows, maybe the author will write a spin-off farther down the road.

Predictability: Looking back over the book I can say, without a doubt, that for the most part, this story did an excellent job of keeping me on my toes. In fact, of everything revealed in this story, I can really only think of one thing that I was able to predict and even then I wasn't 100% sure. I have to admit I was caught off guard by a twist more than I'm happy to admit, but it made for a very engaging and exciting story.

Ending: So... where was the final climax? As this story was headed towards a close I was anxiously awaiting the final climax, whether that be a physical, action-themed brawl, or something more cerebral, I was waiting, and while there is a bit of tension at the very end, it felt like it was more happening around our characters rather than to them and without a true final climax this story just feels like it was cut short. Don't get me wrong the very end is intense and full of conflict, but much in the way a cliffhanger would be, since that's what it was, but without some sort of final challenge full of tension, something that the book had been building toward, it just sort of feels incomplete.

Rating:


I really enjoyed this book, I could barely put it down and was sad to see it end so soon. Luckily the wait for the next and final book doesn't seem too long. For the most part, I love this story, but I did have a few minor problems with it but I'm no less chomping at the bit for book 2.

About the Author:


Alex Lidell is the Amazon Breakout Novel Awards finalist author of THE CADET OF TILDOR (Penguin, 2013). She is an avid horseback rider, a (bad) hockey player, and an ice-cream addict. Born in Russia, Alex learned English in elementary school, where a thoughtful librarian placed a copy of Tamora Pierce’s ALANNA in Alex’s hands. In addition to becoming the first English book Alex read for fun, ALANNA started Alex’s life long love for YA fantasy books. Alex is represented by Leigh Feldman of Leigh Feldman Literary. She lives in Washington, DC.  Join Alex's newsletter for news, bonus content and sneak peeks: www.subscribepage.com/TIDES 


Giveaway!


3 winners will receive an eBook set of Alex’s TIDES SERIES & an eBook of TRACING SHADOWSINTERNATIONAL. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway



POST SIGNATURE

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Book Review: Attack of the Fiend (The Last Apprentice #4)

Release Date: February 26, 2008
Author: Joseph Delaney
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Length: 546 pages
Source: Purchased Book

"I see your future clearly. Your master will be dead, and you will be alone. It would be better if you had never been born."

Thomas Ward is the apprentice for the local Spook, who banishes boggarts and drives away ghosts. But now a new danger is threatening Tom's world. The witches are rising and the three most powerful clans are uniting in order to conjure an unimaginable evil.

Tom and the Spook set out to stop the witches before they unleash the demon. But when Tom finds himself on his own, he wonders if he has the courage and cunning to defeat the most powerful enemy he has ever encountered.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Tom, Alice, and the Spook have many trials ahead of themselves when they travel to Pendle to take care of a very serious problem there. Tom also has another reason to go as his family's gone missing and it seems as if Pendle witches are to blame. In an earlier installment I thought I might have just been reading too much into things when I thought Tom was being a bit too prideful and while he may be the Spook's best apprentice he still has a lot to learn, but I felt there was no real pay off or even confirmation that Tom's pride was a bad thing, however it's brought up here and since things are getting much more dangerous Tom needs to learn now more than ever to not get cocky. Again, I love Tom's character and his growth throughout the series so far, and while I know a lot of what happens later on, I can't wait to see him grow even more.

Romance: Wow, haven't seen this section in a review for this book in a while, well that's because it's finally time. As this series progresses Tom will get older, and thus want to find companionship with someone. Now while Alice is the obvious choice for Tom's inevitable love interest, seeing as she's the only girl around his age that we've seen in this world ths far, there is someone else who becomes attracted to Tom. Now, the romance in this installment is very light. It more just begins to introduce the idea of Tom being romantically attached.

World Building: The Dark is growing and for some reason I don't seem to realize that there's an entire story before the final climax because in my previous review for this series I said that things would really start to kick up, and they do, but that's not til much later in this tale. No, this story serves as a fantastic way to explore more of Tom's family, particularly his Mam, though another of his brothers does appear in this book. Tom's Mam is a bit of an enigma and while I want to say here's where we get all our answers about her, I can't, we learn SO much more though and it's done is such a spectacular way. We also learn more abot witches in this installment as well as learn what they're up to and who the Big Bad of this series is. Finally, we meet my all time favorite character of this series, but beware, her scissors are sharp.

Foreshadowing: Much like with the previous installments in this series I cannot comment on the predictability of this book as it's a reread, but there is foreshadowing galore to be found within this book. There are so many things that relate to future installments as well as this one. Looking back I don't think much of it was that obvios though. There were a few things, which I probably shouldn't mention because they're pretty obvious.

Ending: Gah, the ending is fantastic! It's full of tension and anticipation. I can't give too much away but while it isn't something that's scary in the traditional sense and while there are more books in this series narrated by Tom I knew he wasn't going to die yet, but I forgot just how narrowly he escapes danger in this series sometimes. The final climax is fairly different than others I've seen in most books. It's hard to explain bt it's very emotional and tense in the moment. Anyway, once again we are also treated to an epilogue from Tom setting the stage for the next book, the world is changing, the Dark is rising, what's next?

Rating:


I'll be the first to admit my ratings are this series might be a little skewed as I've reread a few Middle Grade favorites and they haven't held up all that well, but this series does. It's by no means the best series ever but the story is fantastic and the characters are amazing and I love traveling through this story again.

POST SIGNATURE

Monday, April 2, 2018

Book Review: Night of the Soul Stealer (The Last Apprentice #3)

Release Date: August 28, 2007
Author: Joseph Delaney
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Length: 489 pages
Source: Purchased Book

It's going to be a long, hard, cruel winter. And there couldn't be a worse place to spend it than up on Anglezarke.

Thomas Ward is the apprentice for the local Spook, who captures witches and drives away ghosts. As the weather gets colder and the nights draw in, the Spook receives an unexpected visitor. Tom doesn't know who the stranger is or what he wants, but the Spook suddenly decides it's time to travel to his winter house, Anglezarke. Tom has heard it will be a bleak, forbidding place, and that menacing creatures are starting to stir somewhere on the moors nearby.

Can anything prepare Tom for what he finds there? What if the rumors about the evil beast called the Golgoth are true? And how much danger will Tom be in if the secrets the Spook has been trying to hide from the world are revealed?

    

Review:

Protagonist: As the first year of Tom's apprenticeship is coming to an end, he and the Spook head to the Spook's Winter House. There more about the Spook's past comes to light as Tom meets a former apprentice of the Spook, a man with dark ambitions. Again, this story shows that while Tom is the main character, he's still the apprentice and, for the moment, his character's purpose is in many ways to give us a look into Mr. Gregory's past. That isn't to say that Tom doesn't have his fair share of troubles as his loyalties are tested and his skills as a Spook in training are put to a great test. Again, Tom doesn't have too much of a lesson to learn or bit of character to adjust, he's still learning what it means to be a Spook, and that sometimes the job can be very hard indeed.

World Building: Once again we're treated to a look into the past of John Gregory as we travel to his winter home in Anglezarke. This book does a good job to flesh out the Spook's backstory quite a bit more as we learn just how he's been dealing with the witch he fell in love with, as well as what happened to the woman who was engaged to his brother but ran away with him. Again, our main story feels very "Monster of the Week," although this week's "monster" is so much more. I love seeing this series get set up, and set up it gets as the Dark grows more powerful. Tom's family once again comes into play in the main story and I honestly forgot how much Tom's family (more than just his Mam) featured in the first few books. Now, this is the final book before stuff really hits the fan, and it's near the end of the first year of Tom's apprenticeship, there's a lot still yet to be discovered.

Foreshadowing: Once again it wasn't all that easy to see foreshadowing for this particular installment, it's been quite a few years since I read this book, and while I know the gist of what happens in this book, I was still taken by surprise from time to time. In fact, I've almost noticed a pattern in these books, a certain element to the story structure that I found very interesting. As for the larger series foreshadowing, while there isn't as much in here as the previous installment, I still saw small bits and pieces that point to future events in this series, things that won't happen for a while yet.

Ending: As this story reached its final climax things were getting very tense, but I do have to say that while I understand that these books are for a younger audience, it's hard for things to be too tense when Tom, our first-person protagonist, is the only one we care about in danger and there are a great deal more books in this series. Don't get me wrong, I really like the end of this book and the final climax was really interesting, but in the end, fell a bit flat. The cooldown period really shows that this series is getting darker and there are more adventures to be had ahead.

Rating:


Once again I'm surprised to be giving an early book in this series five stars. I honestly thought I'd give them less, as I love the later installments a whole lot more, as that's where the main plot will be in full swing, and yet, for an early book in a Middle-Grade series, this story is very compelling and while it doesn't go into as many complex topics as a YA or Adult book would, it does go into some rather complicated moral places and I can't wait to continue my journey in this series.

POST SIGNATURE

Friday, March 30, 2018

Book Review: Defiance (The Courier's Daughter #1)

Release Date: August 28, 2012
Author: C. J. Redwine
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Length: 403 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Defiance by C. J. Redwine is rich postapocalyptic YA fantasy perfect for fans of Graceling and Tamora Pierce.

While the other girls in the walled city-state of Baalboden learn to sew and dance, Rachel Adams learns to track and hunt. While they bend like reeds to the will of their male Protectors, she uses hers for sparring practice.

When Rachel's father fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the city's brutal Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector: her father's apprentice, Logan—the boy she declared her love to and who turned her down two years before. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father's survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can't be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

    

Review:

Protagonists: Rachel and Logan are, at their core, fairly by the book protagonists for this genre. Rachel is a fierce and impulsive girl who knows how to hold her own in a fight, while Logan is her foil, he's more of a planner, who takes time to run through variables before charging in guns blazing. At first, I wasn't all that impressed with these characters, that is until I saw how these characters reacted to certain events that transpire in this book. How they react, and how their choices affect them in this story and bring about real consequences, was really interesting to see. As the story goes on these characters' flaws come out and we see them grow into well fleshed out characters with real issues and having to deal with that on top of this post-apocalyptic mess.

Romance: So, I wasn't too taken with this romance. Maybe it's that Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill has a very similar romantic premise, even though that story came out after this one, but there wasn't anything about that romance that hooked me. I mean, there is chemistry between the two characters, but their emotional connection doesn't feel developed past, they'll die for the other, and I really wish there were flashbacks, things to really drive home the connection between these two characters, also it was a tad annoying to have the male romantic lead not have feelings for our female lead, only to develop them when the plot called for it. Overall, I felt it was underdeveloped as a who and could have been fleshed out more.

World Building: Going into this book I was expecting more of a fantasy than a post-apocalyptic world. There are a couple of fantasy elements to the story, but that doesn't quite come through. It's not that there's anything wrong with post-apocalyptic books, in fact, if I read this around the time it came out I probably would have loved the story and this world but I wasn't a huge fan of the post-apocalyptic setting, that mixed with the extremely sexist city-state our characters lived in, which for the record is meant to be terrible, it just wasn't something I was prepared for, I almost threw the book because of the horrific villain in this book. On the whole, I really enjoyed the premise, but at this point, it's not exactly my cup of tea.

Predictability: Looking over this story, I don't really know if there was anything I was able to predict. I mean, I was able to see where the story was going to go more or less, though there were a few twists I didn't see coming, I had a vague idea how the plot would progress, it just sort of progressed rather slowly, so there wasn't all that much that ultimately happens in this story, I mean I feel like we didn't get to the main meat of story until over halfway through the book. As things got to the end, well there were quite a few things I did not see coming.

Ending: The final climax of this book is intense, although, I was listening to this book on audio from my local library, and I would recommend just actually reading the book because I didn't really feel the urgency in the final climax, but I know I would have if I just read the ending. Anyway, the final climax is really interesting because it's very game-changing and again I was happy to see real consequences for characters' actions, whether that's a protagonist or antagonist I'm talking about you'll just have to read and see. THe cooldown period as the dust settles seems to just wrap up this installment's story and begin setting things up for the sequel.

Rating:


I would say this is a pretty middle of the road book, I didn't hate it, but it just wasn't my cup of tea at the moment. I'm sure I'll continue with this series and maybe by then, I'll be in a more post-apocalyptic mood. Regardless, this is an interesting adventure and if you're looking for a post-apocalyptic tale with a touch of fantasy, give this book a try.

POST SIGNATURE

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Book Review: Curse of the Bane (The Last Apprentice #2)

Release Date: August 29, 2006
Author: Joseph Delaney
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Length: 480 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Now it's the dark's turn to be afraid

The Spook and his apprentice, Thomas Ward, deal with the dark. Together they rid the county of witches, ghosts, and boggarts. But now there's some unfinished business to attend to in Priestown. Deep in the catacombs of the cathedral lurks a creature the Spook has never been able to defeat; a force so evil that the whole county is in danger of being corrupted by its powers. The Bane!

As Thomas and the Spook prepare for the battle of their lives, it becomes clear that the Bane isn't their only enemy. The Quisitor has arrived, searching for those who meddle with the dark so he can imprison them—or worse.

Can Thomas defeat the Bane on his own? Is his friend Alice guilty of witchcraft? And will the Spook be able to escape the Quisitor's clutches?

    

Review:

Protagonist: Tom Ward has been very successful in his apprenticeship to the Spook, in fact, the first chapter of this book is a testament to how far he's come in such little time, but with success comes a bit of a big head for the lad. Ironically, while Tom is our protagonist and the entire book is told from his point of view, he's definitely more or less along the ride for the Spook's tale as Joh Gregory's past is brought up quite a bit in this book and there are some interesting parallels between him and Tom. I wouldn't say that Tom had any sort of overt character arc in this story, he's still learning from his master and listening to his instincts. He's a great character, he's flawed in a lot of ways, he has a long way to go, but his journey in this book was a great look into his journey overall.

World Building: As I said this story is more focused on the Spook's past, and the Spook is a very interesting character as he has a lot of viewpoints that I don't agree with at all and what I love is that Tom will also point that out, but at the same time there's still valuable knowledge to learn from the Spook, and getting to learn more about his past it becomes almost obvious where some of his biases come from. In addition to learning more about the Spook, this book almost acts more like a "Monster of the Week" episode of a supernatural show, in this adventure the monster they're up against is fierce and deadly, and he's just the tip of the iceberg as the world gets fleshed out even more by introducing the Quisitor, a man who believes the Spook to be a warlock worthy of a fiery death. There was a whole lot more to rediscover in this book and I forgot how dense with world building it could get at times.

Foreshadowing: As this book is a reread for me, I knew mostly what happened in this book, but as I said before I forgot a good deal of things and sort of spread them into the rest of the series. There's a good deal of foreshadowing in this book, though not necessarily for the story being told. While I did see certain things pop up that hinted toward this story's conclusion, what was interesting was seeing just how many things that don't appear until much later in the books are mentioned in some way in this book. Sometimes when I read long series, it seems that the authors don't quite know where their story is going but after rereading this book it's obvious Delaney had a very good idea where he was taking this story.

Ending: The final climax of this story is very intense and while the tension does sort of dissipate at one point, it's still a really pulse-pounding ending. The end really serves to preview what's to come up with the next installment and show that we aren't quite done with a few things. I love the almost diary style writing of this series because there's always room for the small epilogue that sort of catches the reader up with how things are faring between books and set up what's to come.

Rating:


While this isn't my favorite installment of this series, I honestly haven't found anything wrong with it, in fact, it holds up really well after it's been so long since I first read it. The characters are fantastic, the world is slowly growing, the writing is phenomenal and I can't help but want to continue the series right now.

POST SIGNATURE

Monday, March 26, 2018

Book Review: The Case for Jamie (Charlotte Holmes #3)

Release Date: March 6, 2018
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Length: 368 pages
Source: Purchased Book

The hotly anticipated and explosive third book in the New York Times bestselling Charlotte Holmes series.

It’s been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven’t spoken.

Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for.

Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex—and Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows her Watson can’t forgive her.

Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but when strange things start happening, it’s clear that someone wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time.

Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead.

    

Review:

Protagonists: Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are very broken people, and after the tragic and unexpected death of August Moriarty, everything has fallen apart. It's weird not seeing these characters together for a rather large portion of this book, but what I found interesting is that we really get to see Jamie try and figure himself out. After August's death he's been a mess and while having Charlotte there might have made things better in the short run, in the long run, things might never have evolved in Jamie's character. Charlotte remains her ever enigmatic self, but I really appreciated the range in her character that we get to see from this book.

Romance: When it comes to the main romance of this series, I understand that the relationship between Jamie and Charlotte isn't the healthiest, but the great part is that it's still a relationship that can be developed. I want to see them happy and I want a happy ending for them, but their, for lack of a better term, complicated relationship is not exactly the softest nut to crack... is that even a saying. Anyway, their complex relationship is fantastic and I loved seeing it evolve and change over the course of this book. I'm completely obsessed with this atypical relationship and I really love where the author takes their relationship in this book.

World Building: So, whereas the first installment in this series put a large focus on the mystery element and the boarding school, and the second book was all about diversifying the relationships as well as solving the mystery of Leander Holmes' disappearance, this story really just felt more character driven than anything. I enjoyed the book and the story the author provides, I just wish there was more of a mystery element here, however, Lucien Moriarty has always been the big bad of this series and a mystery wouldn't exactly be compelling if we already knew for a fact who was behind it all. This story still has some shocking moments which I'll get to in a bit and I appreciated how we got to see Sherringford again, as it's where this story began, still, this story has a very large scope and it's interesting to see how far this series has come.

Predictability: Looking back on this book, other than the obvious, I couldn't really see where this story was going. I mean there were some pretty dramatic reveals in this book despite not having a central mystery. Lucien's plan for Jamie and Charlotte is extreme and there are some very unsettling things he's done in this book.

Ending: The final climax of this story went quite a bit faster than I expected, in fact, I remember going into the cooldown period feeling like I was missing some closure to the story, something that I didn't expect to get from the climax cooldown. The final climax itself, while quick, was still very tense and I wasn't 100% sure where the author was going to take the ending. Oh, and that little bit of closure I felt I didn't get, well the epilogue to this book is pretty spectacular.

Rating:


Going into this review I thought about giving this story a lower rating because I missed that central mystery to this story, but in the end, there's no way a central mystery could have compellingly worked out, and I have to say the story is freaking incredible!

POST SIGNATURE

Friday, March 23, 2018

Book Review: The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events #9)

Release Date: October 17, 2002
Author: Lemony Snicket
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 286 pages
Source: Purchased Book/Library Audiobook

Dear Reader,

The word "carnivorous," which appears in the title of this book, means "meat-eating," and once you have read such a bloodthirsty word, there is no reason to read any further. This carnivorous volume contains such a distressing story that consuming any of its contents would be far more stomach-turning than even the most imbalanced meal.
To avoid causing discomfort, it would be best if I didn't mention any of the unnerving ingredients of this story, particularly a confusing map, an ambidextrous person, an unruly crowd, a wooden plank, and Chabo the Wolf Baby.
Sadly for me, my time is filled with researching and recording the displeasing and disenchanting lives of the Baudelaire orphans. But your time might be better filled with something more palatable, such as eating your vegetables, or feeding them to someone else.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket.

    

Review:

Protagonists: So, for a while there I was really doubting if I actually read any character development with the three Baudelaire children later in the series. I mean, I know that Sunny has a bit of development in the later books, first foreshadowed in this one actually, but I wasn't sure if as I child I had just filled in the blanks in my head or not. Luckily, when I reread the previous installment, I was happy to finally find some internal conflict with these characters, though part of me doubted if it would continue, and luckily again, it does. In this story, the Baudelaires face a lot of internal conflict as they've sort of turned the tables on Count Olaf, and are now the ones following him and dressing up in disguises. However, the parallels are not lost on them and they are forced to make many difficult decisions, which, unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for me, forces them to look at their own morality and wonder if they've crossed a line. I was happy to get more internal conflict with these characters, and while I do wish there was more individuality among them, other than their personal talents, I did enjoy seeing some real character development with them.

World Building: So, while I gave the series a lot of flack for its underdeveloped world in previous reviews, and that is sort of true here, I did feel we got a bit more world-building in this story, a lot more actually, now that I think about it. In the past things would just sort of feel vague and hand waved and just a bit too simplistic, however in this book we do learn more about the world, or I guess we learn more about VFD and a lot of the mysteries that have been building up for some time, we learn answers to questions that I'm sure many a reader has had since as early as The Wide Window or  The Miserable Mill. That all being said, I wish I understood better how this world worked, I wish we knew where this story takes place, if it even takes place in our world, or just one like it lost to time. I just feel like the world itself could have been handled a bit better.

Foreshadowing: So, I didn't really notice that much foreshadowing for future books in this installment. I mean sure there are questions brought up that I know will be answered later, but I couldn't pick up on any Easter Eggs for future books like I could with The Hostile Hospital. As for foreshadowing for this specific book, well Lemony Snicket does a fantastic job once again of telling just enough of the story ahead of time to give you fair warning, but at the same time keep enough suspense to drive you further along in the series.

Ending: Once again things are shaken up a bit here at the end. With a rather riotous finale that I was excited to see had callbacks to previous events in the series, followed by more and more unfortunate events, the climax really ended with a bang. There is a small cooldown period where things look a bit dicey but mostly safe, only to find the Baudelaires in their most unfortunate ending yet. This ends the arc that Season 2 of the Netflix series will cover, and with it, and based on the end of the first season, I have an idea about how it will end using my knowledge of the rest of the series, and if it ends how I think it will, it'll have those not in the know freaking out!

Rating:


I thought about giving this story 5, or even 4.5 stars, and while I really enjoyed this installment upon a reread, I just can't help but feel like we aren't getting enough. I mean, we finally get more character development and more world-building, but after looking it over we don't get that much, it only felt like a lot at the time because there wasn't that much in the beginning of the series, and it didn't feel right giving this book a higher star rating, on par with a lot better books, just because it's incrementally getting better.

POST SIGNATURE

Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1)

Release Date: March 6, 2018
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Length: 525 pages
Source: Purchased Book/Audio Book

Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

    

Review:

Protagonists: In the land of Orïsha, magic used to be everywhere and exist in everything, that is until the day of the Raid when soldiers with majacite weapons slaughtered the maji, those who could wield magical gifts from the gods, and magic died. Zélie is a diviner, someone who was supposed to be a maji before magic went away. Now she's treated like trash by the monarchy and she wants to fight back. Incidentally, she bumps into a rogue princess named Amari who just so happens may know how to bring magic back. However, their quest will be perilous as they're being tracked by the crown prince of Orïsha, Inan, who wants to eradicate magic just as much as his twisted father. All three of these main characters were so brilliantly complex. There were a couple of times, specifically with Inan, that I thought his character development was moving along too fast, only to realize what the author was really doing which took me by surprise for a minute before everything sunk in, and I really enjoyed what she did with his character. I love Zélie, she's a bit hotheaded and impulsive, but she fights for the freedom of her people and over the course of the book she really comes into her own, and while character development is all about getting stronger, what I really like is that Zélie's strength and character arc doesn't always come from good moments, in fact, there are many horrific moments that define who Zélie becomes. Finally, there's Amari, who I also grew to love, though I felt she wasn't featured as much as Zélie and Inan, she probably grows the most in this story and while I don't want to talk too much more here, I will say that Amari's character arc pretty much blew me away.

Romance: Honestly, I'm not too sure what to write here, mainly because even though it's been a while since I finished this book, I'm still trying to figure out not only my feelings on things but what feelings are still applicable going into future installments. On the whole I really enjoyed the romances in this book, they don't distract from the main plotline, and instead really help to elevate the story being told here. First, there's the obvious romance, since it's heavily hinted at in the synopsis, and that is the romance between Zélie and Inan. I'm a huge fan of the hate to love trope and I really fell in love with these two characters, basically because of how realistic their romance eventually seems. At first, there's a lot about a "connection" between the two, but when their romance really starts to be tested, that's when I really found myself in awe of just how real the romance started to feel, warts and all. There is another romance in this book, though not as obvious and while it doesn't get nearly as much time in the spotlight as Zélie and Inan's romance, I'm definitely looking forward to how it develops in the future.

World Building: This book is dense. I mean, there's so much story packed into this book and while it's over 500 pages, there's still so much that happens in this story and so much about the world that we learn. I've been on something of a Fantasy kick lately and while I find myself enjoying most of them, I've become aware that most fantasy worlds share a lot of similarities that make it hard for certain fantasy worlds to stand out among the crowd, but not this world. This world is so rich and vibrant that it sticks out easily. I loved how everything in this world is described because I truly felt the world come to life before me, well after I did a bit of Googling so I could form a better mental picture because there were a few things I wasn't familiar with. The wildlife of this world is incredible and terrifying and every city in this world felt a unique from the last. I love the world of Orïsha, from the vibrant culture, the entrancing folklore, and fearsome fauna that roam the landscape, and that's not even getting into the fantastic magic system in this world. In this world there are, or were, ten maji clans, each boasting a different gift from the gods, some were elementalists, some healers, and others could connect with the souls of the living or dead. Each type of maji that we see in this world is fantastic and the powers they can wield are mighty, while I think there's still more to learn about magic, the story of where it went, which is the focus, more or less, of this book, was an interesting one to learn. Then there's the political intrigue as we have a very punishing monarchy that oppresses diviners who literally have no way to fight back. A monarchy that places taxes on diviners just because of who they are and who will put you into the stocks, a death sentence essentially, if you can't pay your taxes. This is a world that has a lot of faults, but I do like that the author really explores the complexities of this world and doesn't just have a right and wrong side.

Predictability: Reading this book was almost like taking a breath of fresh air. While I do like to see how authors will approach different tropes, such as the heir reclaims their kingdom trope, It was exhilarating to read this book, that, while it does have a few tropes, really comes off as something unique, while still feeling a bit familiar. I'm trying to figure out how many things I was able to figure out ahead of time in this book, and aside from the very obvious, there wasn't anything I was able to figure out. In fact, this story has some really phenomenal twists that utterly blew me away, and one that nearly made my heart stop.

Ending: How is it that this ending was so epic? Well, honestly I know how it was. The author shows a phenomenal final climax from multiple perspectives to really fill out the scope of what this final clash means for not only these characters but the world as a whole. What I'm personally annoyed about though is that there's a gigantic cliffhanger at the end of this book and there's so much left up in the air and I just need to know what happens right this second and I can't wait to see how our heroes move forward in the next installment.

Rating:


Okay, I'll say it, this is hands down the BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ. No joke, the fantasy world is rich and dense, the characters are phenomenal and flawed, and the story is just so unbelievably epic and I can't wait to see what happens after that climactic ending.

POST SIGNATURE