Tag: fantasy

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin ChupecoThe Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
on March 7, 2017
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Pages: 432
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
one-star

Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there's anything I've learned from him in the years since, it's that the dead hide truths as well as the living.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she's a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles...and make a powerful choice.

Image result for stares into space gif

This freaking book.

Just to get this out of the way, this was not a good book. As many reviewers at Booklikes noted, this YA fantasy novel hit every trope that many of us readers are tired of reading.

Main character is the best (insert name of thing) ever.

There is purple prose galore.

World-building is all over the place and more often than not, author contradicts themselves regarding the rules they have put in place.

There is a love triangle (STOP IT!)

People (usually women) are jealous of main character for reasons unknown. That don’t make sense to you as a reader, but at that point you just go with it since you want it to end.

Development of characters seems to be an afterthought.

Book ends on freaking cliffhanger so you know as a reader that the author/publisher is going to stretch this thing out to at least 3 books. Looking at you “Dorothy Must Die” series which managed to push out 4 books.

I really loved the cover for “The Bone Witch” and when I read the synopsis a few months ago I thought this book would be right up my alley. I was wrong.

Told in alternating points of view, “The Bone Witch” has a character who is a bard (no, not looking up his name) who comes across Tea, who is a dark asha (think witch, it’s easier) also called bone witches.

This bard has come from (don’t recall kingdom) in order to find Tea.

Tea agrees to tell her life story after the bard witnesses her slaying a daeva in order to get its bezoar. Just think of a daeva as an undead thing that looks like a dragon. I don’t know. The bezoar is a jeweled remnant left behind that a dark asha like Tea can use in her spells. Seriously, after that the book just jumps into a free for all regarding this world that we find ourselves reading about.

When the POV switches to Tea, we find out what incident occurred in order for Tea to be declared a dark asha. We get to read about how she raised her dead brother (Fox) from the grave. And this is what kills me. The book has promise when you read about that. You are instantly fascinated. Then you are drowned in minutiae and you just don’t care anymore.

The book goes back and forth between the bard’s POV and Tea’s. I really wish that Chupeco had not decided to tell the bard’s POV in italic. I know that they want to visually show the different points of view. But it was hard to read. I don’t think people realize that when you have an e-reader or heck even a hardcover or paperback having someone’s eyes having to constantly adjust to different fonts can cause a headache. I know I had one yesterday.

Tea was not exciting at all. If you want to read about her crush on Prince Kance enjoy that. Also read about how angry she is at having to deal with chores and the food she eats. For pages and pages. I am not kidding about this. A good 3/4 of this book was just descriptions of what she was wearing, what was in her hair (jeweled things that somehow give ashas power), how she felt when Prince Kance was near her, what she was eating, how she sang, danced, and fought. This book borrowed heavily from “Memoirs of a Geisha” to the point that a few times I felt like I was experiencing deja-vu because a scene would sounds so similar to one from that book.

Image result for memoirs of a geisha gifs

There were a few things in here that I think that Chupeco wanted to include for a very special after school moment, but it fell flat to me. She includes a character (named Likh) that wants to be an asha (he has a silver heart) but in this world, since he is a male, he has to be a deathseeker. Likh doesn’t want to be one, and Tea and her dead brother Fox try their best to be behind his efforts to become an asha. At one point he makes a speech that he doesn’t seem himself as a boy, that since he was a boy he liked girl things (dolls and dresses) and I just cringed inside.

Image result for stop it gif

I think Chupeco is trying to portray him as gay. But that does not equal only liking girl things and not liking swords or rough play. Heck I was a tomboy and fought my mother tooth and nail to not be in a dress outside of church (boy did she despair) and yet I was not gay. I just think she should be careful with generalizations like this when writing.

We have other characters like Lady Mykaela, Lady Zoya, Mother Parmina and others who I wish we had been able to visit with more. They had more going on then Tea that was for sure. But honestly after a while, it was hard to keep track of so many people. Every few pages it felt like someone new was being included in this book.

The writing was purple prose run amok.

And honestly what really kills me about this book is that I still don’t get the world building that Chupeco has in this book. We have ashas who can control fire, water, wind, and earth (I think). And then we have dark ashas who can control the dead. How the heck does that even link up to the other four elements? Even Captain Planet decided to go with “heart” for crying out loud as a fifth element.

Don’t get me started why ashas who can control the elements are even being taught about dancing, flower arrangement, how to sing, how to perform, etc. Chupeco even has the ashas going to tea houses to have conversations with men. Once again there is a whole what in the world thought running through my mind. When Chupeco goes into Tea having to work off her debt to the “Mother” of her house I just started to laugh. This fantasy world is definitely not for me.

Chupeco tries to describe the runes that Tea is learning about, but man oh man my eyes just glazed over. We really only get two fight scenes in this book, and those were the only interesting parts of this book. Everything else was a big meh to me.

Chupeco has “The World of the Bone Witch” section that she included at the end of the book. It would have been better to put that up front after she showcased the maps of this world. I also really wish that Chupeco had thought to include a dictionary for the terms in this book. You have to guess a lot at what certain words mean or what she means when talking about somethings. For example, the clothes that the ashas wear are referred to as huas. Guess what I could not find that word anywhere in the dictionary. I ended up having to Google and found out that hua means China. I don’t know if that is true or not since it popped up via Wikipedia. I imagine that Chupeco means that this outfits (based on the endless pages of descriptions) are similar somewhat to kimonos though. Same thing when I tried to look up daesha which turned up some interesting results.

The setting of this world that Chupeco creates at first glance sounds interesting. Everyone has an actual physical representation of their heart that they wear for all to see in a heartglass. People (ashas mostly) can see the colors in the heartglass and can tell if you are happy, anxious, sad, sick, etc. But if you give your heart away (cue danger) you can slowly start to die. But sometimes not. And sometimes you can get a new heart. I am sure this is all going to reveal about love or something in book #2 or #3.

Chupeco also shows the kingdom includes people with blonde hair and blue eyes, dark haired people with dark eyes, and golden skinned people with I can’t even remember what eyes they had, I think she refers to their shape. But then people pop up who are dark skinned and I just didn’t have the energy to figure out what kingdom they even come from.

The ending was a freaking cliffhanger. There are enough clues here and there that you can imagine what happened to put Tea on this path, which is why having a cliffhanger really doesn’t work. There was one reveal that I think will surprise some readers if they manage to finish this book. I know that I don’t really care what caused Tea to take the measures that she is about to do.

I read this for booklikes-oply. The Kindle Edition is 432 pages.

one-star

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette KowalShades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories, #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Series: Glamourist Histories #1
Published by Tor Books on August 3rd 2010
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 208
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
two-half-stars

The fantasy novel you’ve always wished Jane Austen had written
Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.

Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

Overall, I found this book to be a disappointment.

I started out listening to the audiobook, and kept getting distracted because it moved so slowly that I decided to read it instead. I did finish it last night, rather quickly, so this is one of those rare occasions where my initial chosen format didn’t work for the story.

When I decided to read the book, I expected to like it a lot, because Jane Austen + magic sounds like the bomb. The problem that I had with the book was that the magic seemed incredibly weak and pointless to me. All anyone seems to be able to do with it is make their drawing rooms look extra pretty.

I also hated, hated, hated Jane’s sister Melody. She’s all of the worst parts of Lydia Bennett with none of the madcap charm. She was a total snot to Jane and I wanted someone to slap her into next Tuesday. I did not buy her whiny explanation that she was just jealous of all of Jane’s accomplishments for one minute. She was an unredeemably shallow, self-centered bitch, and it totally marred my enjoyment of the story. And Jane’s constant woe-is-meeeeeeing about her plainness was also pretty annoying. I kept wanting to tell her to buck the fuck up.

I also found all of the love interests to be unconvincing. We’ve got an obvious Mr. Wickham/Mr. Willoughby/Mr. Churchill stand-in who was even more obviously rotten than the other three. There’s also the romance between Jane and her suitor(s), which I again found pretty difficult to buy. The wrap-up of the romance was so quick that I couldn’t figure out how the two of them (and I’m not going to say who the ultimate winner of Jane’s hand was, since that’s a primary plot point that shouldn’t be divulged) actually ended up together. It was emphatically not as convincing as the Darcy/Lizzie pairing or the Emma/Mr. Knightly pairing. I couldn’t see it.

A lot of my bookish friends read and enjoyed this book much more than I did, and they saw depths to the book that I frankly missed, so I wouldn’t take my review as the final word on the subject. I also found the writing to be quite lovely. In addition, I’ve read that the series improves significantly after the first book, but they remain pretty expensive, so unless I can grab one on sale, I doubt I will be continuing. I may give the series one more chance with Glamour and Glass, but I’ve not decided yet.

two-half-stars

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani ChokshiA Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on March 28, 2017
Genres: YA - Fantasy
Pages: 352
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
five-stars

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

I needed a fantastic book and I savored this one for two days though I wanted to swallow it whole at times. It lingered with me in my sleep and I smiled when I woke up because I was so happy to just keep reading this book. Chokshi includes Indian myths and also just really great characters that you want to keep reading about. We also get appearances from characters from the last book that I was sad to see go when we finished. I often worry when authors start writing a YA book and write a sequel or decide it will be a trilogy. That’s only because not many have held up. This one holds up. I highly recommend.
Spoilers for those who have not read “The Star-Touched Queen.”
Readers were introduced to Gauri in the last book. Sister to Maya, we find out that Guari ended up becoming a soldier. We know that Maya was worried about what would become of her sister due to their awful brother Skanda. When “A Crown of Wishes” starts we have Gauri captured by a rival kingdom (Ujijain). She doesn’t know what is to become of her, but she is determined to escape and rule her own kingdom, Bharata even if it means killing the Prince of Ujijain. And the Prince of Ujijain (Vikram) longs to be seen as the rightful ruler of his people. He is obviously intelligent and wise, but without the council’s blessing, he knows that he would only be a puppet king, and he wants more.
Due to both of them having wishes in their hearts they are afraid to say out loud, these two end up being thrown into a magical journey together, that if they survive, will end up with them winning two wishes if they participate and win the Tournament of Wishes.
Gauri is headstrong but loyal. I loved her from beginning to end. Based on what we find out about her upbringing and what her brother did to those she cared about, it’s natural that she is cautious and not trusting with Vikram. But slowly but surely, Vikram warms her heart and she warms his as well. I loved seeing the growth between the two of them and actually laughed out lout at their back and forth with each other, think of Carey Grant and Rosalind Russell in “His Girl Friday” if you want an apt comparison.
Image result for his girl friday gifs
Vikram was so good. I was having a book boyfriend crush. And that has not happened in a long time. He was cautious, but ultimately optimistic about everything, Vikram more than Gauri had a lot of hope in him for the future. I did love how in certain ways he was strong and in others Gauri was stronger. I loved that Chokshi made the female character in this book a warrior and the man a philosopher. There is a moment when he says as you wish and I maybe squealed out loud.
Image result for as you wish gif
There are too many characters to name in this book, but the most important is Aasha. I loved her and at first didn’t get why we were being introduced to her, but slowly that gets revealed. I would love a short story with her in the future, hint hint.
The writing was lyrical and also flowed wonderfully. I honestly have no complaints. I loved the myths that were wrapped in this story and enjoyed looking up all of the words that I didn’t understand. My only complaint, my Kindle dictionary did not recognize any of the Indian terms so I had to often go Google on my cell phone and look things up in Wikipedia. In the back of the book is a glossary, that was not as extensive as it should have been. Since I bought an e-book it would have been awesome if the words that were in the glossary were connected to the first time they were used in the text so I could click and go and read and click and go back to my place in the book. Just something for next time for the publisher to think about.
The setting of this book was great. Think of an India that exists in myth and legends. The descriptions of everything made my long for this book in a visceral way. I know that a lot of people were oohing and ahhing over the cover, I would have loved it if this book had included illustrations, I would have probably lost my mind in a good way if we had gotten that. For now, my imagination was enough and I daydreamed about forests that dripped with golden fruit and diamonds, women who wear rivers as dresses, people who when they tell a story a bird flies out of their mouths, and a garden of swords.
The ending was fantastic. No spoilers, except I leave you with this:
“i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is youhere is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”

five-stars

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10) by Patricia Briggs

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10) by Patricia BriggsSilence Fallen by Patricia Briggs
Published by Ace Books on March 7th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 371
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
five-stars

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe...

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise...

Well I’ll be honest. The main reason why this book is five stars for me is because of the awesome awesome reveal that we get about a character that I was ultimately dismissive of while reading. I ended up having to go back and reread parts of the book though after that reveal and just chuckle to myself. I think long-time readers are going to love it, no spoilers.

Until that reveal I was probably firmly in the four-star range territory just because we have read previous books about either Adam or Mercy being abducted and being away from each other and how they do without being able to feel one another.

I think I’m just getting a little bit bored with the series because at this point with Mercy and Adam declaring themselves protectors of everybody in their territory it just kind of means we’re going to get some monster of the week type shenanigans happening. I don’t know how Briggs will keep topping herself, but it will be interesting. Since series like Kate Daniels have an obvious endpoint, I guess I’m curious to see what will be that point for Mercy. Them taking over more Packs, Mercy having a child?

In “Silence Fallen”we now have Mercy abducted and taken into Europe with Adam and their allies following. Mercy has been taken to The Court of the Lord of the Night. We’ve been hearing about this vampire for many books and long-time readers know that he is who banished Marsilia from Europe. We also get to see more on how seethes work. And we get a look at a European Pack as well.

There’s not too much to say about Mercy. She’s the same as she has been since book #1. Loving, loyal, and determined to figure out why she’s been kidnapped and could it mean someone is going to hurt her Pack. We get to also see her vulnerable and dealing with some lingering PTSD due to the rape she suffered in “Iron Kissed.” Can I also applaud Briggs again for how she set up that storyline and the healing that Mercy has undergone since? I loved we were told that Mercy had gone into counseling and even though it had been a while she still at odd times thinks of Kyle and gets angry at how he made her into a victim. But Briggs doesn’t allow this moment to make Mercy weak and I like that it’s not brought up every five seconds (looking at Eve Dallas in the In Death series) and is something that she seeks to deal with everyday, but doesn’t discuss in every book.

Adam we see is still dealing with the affects of when Mercy almost died in “Night Broken”. In “Fire Touched” we know that he still woke up night to make sure Mercy was breathing and cried. So having Mercy away from him is messing with his control. I also loved his relationship with witch Elizaveta. And we get to see how Adam deals with having vampires, werewolves, and even goblins around him in this one.

We also get some development of characters like Honey, Marsilia, and Stefan. I definitely enjoyed the more in depth look we get at Honey. She’s a rock star in this one. She’s also, besides Warren, and Ben been nothing but 100 percent loyal to Mercy.

And for once I loved Marsilia. She was fantastic. She’s always seemed power mad and just crazy. We get to see how smart and ultimately good she is in this one.

We also get an inkling we may see a Pack member leave soon to start their own Pack.

I really wish we had gotten more than just phone calls with Charles though. I would love him and Anna to put in more than a token appearance in the Mercy Thompson books.

I liked the writing in this one. Each chapter begins with some commentary by Mercy which made me laugh a few times. And since we shift from Mercy to Adam’s POV I really enjoyed this. We haven’t had an Adam POV since “Frost Burned” and I’m glad we got one here. We get to see Mercy get herself in and out of trouble. And we also get to see how Adam does when he can’t feel Mercy through their mate bond. I can see why some vampires think to control a pack through the mate bond, but we get to see more in this book why it won’t work on Mercy and Adam.

The flow was about tricky though. The story is told in a nonlinear way that would not have given me pains if I wasn’t home drugged up on cold medicine. I had to go back a few times to make sure I had the days right.

The setting of Italy and Prague were actually pretty cool in his book. Reading about the Golem of Prague and Rabbi Loew was pretty cool. I always forget that the character of Mercy is fascinated by religion and myths. And who can blame her, knowing whose daughter she is.

The ending was a bit weird though to me. It was kind of anticlimactic. I guess I wanted a bigger hint at what the next book would be about.

five-stars

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology by Neil GaimanNorse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Published by W. W. Norton & Company on February 7th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
four-stars

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, son of a giant, blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman, difficult with his beard and huge appetite, to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir, the most sagacious of gods, is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.

Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

I think the biggest take away for me for this book is that not everything is American Gods. I thought that this book would be Gaiman’s take on Norse myths. And for the most part besides some humor and dialogue here and there, Gaiman plays this pretty straight from beginning to end. There are some passages here and there that moved me and some that made me smile. I am happy to have read this, but this is not going to be something that I re-read again and again like The Graveyard Book though.

There is an introduction by Gaiman and then the book proceeds. Pretty much we start at the beginning (as one does) and go the whole way from the beginning showcasing the Norse gods and goddesses, giants, etc. that inhabit this world. Eventually everything leads to Ragnarok, the end of these same gods and goddesses. But as we all know, every ending leads to a new beginning.

Gaiman tells the creation story of the Norse gods and goddesses and focuses on Odin (or Wednesday). We get to hear a bit about these figures that some of us may be familiar with. I have read various books about the Norse gods and goddesses so this made a breezy read for me. I was familiar with most of the stories that were included except for “Mimir’s Head and Odin’s Eye,” “The Master Builder,” “The Mead of Poets,” and “Hymir and Thor’s Fishing Expedition.”

My favorites chapters/stories in this one were: “The Master Builder,” “Freya’s Unusual Wedding,” “Thor’s Journey to the Land of the Giants,” “The Death of Balder,” and “Ragnarok: The Final Destiny of the Gods.”

I thought Gaiman did a good job of developing the characters. Though I can say that for the most part, the giants did not seem to be that smart. I did have to laugh at Gaiman’s take of Thor. He made him seem like not the brightest star in the sky. This Thor was all about eating, drinking, and throwing his hammer and smashing things.

Freya was my favorite of the goddesses because she didn’t allow herself to be bullied by even Odin in being forced to marry someone because of whatever madness had happened due to Loki.

Loki sucks. Frankly one wonders why in the world it took the gods and goddesses so long to just take that guy and exact the punishment they eventually get around to. Though the whole Loki horse thing gave me pause. That is not a story I recall reading when I read about the Norse gods before.

I think Odin could give Zeus a run for the money on who is the worse father there too. The chapter involving Balder was pretty messed up when you see how Odin went about punishing the one who was to blame for his death. (view spoiler)

Image result for odin gifs
I do wish we had gotten into other female characters a bit more in this though.

I thought the writing was quite poetic at times. And part of me could see certain scenes in my head acted out.

“I can see further than you can, Loki. I can see all the way to the world-tree,” Heimdall will tell him with his last breath. “Surtr’s fire cannot touch the world-tree, and two people have hidden themselves safely in the trunk of Yggdrasil. The woman is called Life, the man is called Life’s Yearning. Their descendants will populate the earth. It is not the end. There is no end. It is simply the end of the old times, Loki, and the beginning of the new times. Rebirth always follows death. You have failed.”

The flow of course works because Gaiman just follows along for the most part with how most Norse myths are told.

The setting of the Norse gods and goddesses seems like a colder and more brutal one than the Greek/Roman gods and goddesses inhabit.

I did love the ending and how we get to see that there is no true end. Just a continuation of a never ending dance.

four-stars

The Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart

The Last Enchantment by Mary StewartThe Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart
Series: Arthurian Saga #3
on May 6th 2003
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 513
Source: Borrowed: print book
Goodreads
two-stars

Arthur Pendragon is King! Unchallenged on the battlefield, he melds the country together in a time of promise. But sinister powers plot to destroy Camelot, and when the witch-queen Morgause -- Arthur's own half sister -- ensnares him in an incestuous liaison, a fatal web of love, betrayal, and bloody vengeance is woven.

I tried very hard to get into this book. It was so hard. I think that it ended up ending in a weird place and after going forward and reading “The Wicked Day” I really wish that Stewart had ended this book better to just stay away from continuing the Arthurian saga.

There is really not much to say that I haven’t said in the other books. I like Merlin as a narrator, but everyone else is given very little development. The book starts to feel repetitive after a while. The only new thing in this one is that Stewart throws Merlin a curve ball by having him fall in love. Now this character, Nimue ends up being very important to the story, and I do applaud Stewart for having her be a heck of a lot wiser and even stronger than Merlin. But other than that, it’s same old same old. Merlin rides around a lot looking out for Arthur while Arthur is elsewhere doing kingly things. I am being facetious but honestly I was so bored while reading this book. There is very little action.

I was ultimately bored while reading this unfortunately. I think because Stewart didn’t really show me anything new here. We know that Morgause is evil (I say that while twirling my invisible mustache) but I honestly felt more bored by her than anything. I think it’s because Stewart does a lot of telling to the readers about what Morgause is up to so you feel like you are hearing this story from a random guy who tries to chat you up at the bar. You just smile politely hoping he moves on soon so you can go back to drinking your wine/beer/shot.

Since I am really familiar with the legend of King Arthur, his queen, Guinevere, Lancelot, Camelot, etc. I didn’t see anything new under the sun here. I think this book paints Arthur more naive than anything rather than some paragon of virtue.

The last part of the book is seriously Merlin just being told everything while he was “absent” from the story. I think it could have been interesting showing how Merlin’s ability to communicate with the gods was waning and how that left him feeling adrift. Instead this whole book was really about him

I think the ending was abrupt and was lacking some oomph that for all it’s faults that I had with “The Hollow Hills” at least delivered on by having Arthur crowned king. Maybe Stewart should have just ended the book with the end of Camelot instead of trying to stretch that out into a fourth book.

two-stars

The Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter

The Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William RitterBeastly Bones (Jackaby, #2) by William Ritter
Series: Jackaby
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on September 22nd 2015
Genres: YA, YA - Fantasy
Pages: 296
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
four-half-stars

I've found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I've known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality . . .

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural. First, members of a particularly vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens. A day later, their owner is found murdered, with a single mysterious puncture wound to her neck. Then, in nearby Gad's Valley, dinosaur bones from a recent dig go missing, and an unidentifiable beast attacks animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Policeman Charlie Cane, exiled from New Fiddleham to the valley, calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

Book 2 does a nice job of continuing the story from Book 1 – starting mere days/weeks after the climactic events at the end of Jackaby. The adorable Charlie Cane has been relocated to Gads Valley, a small community nearby and Jackaby and Abigail continue with their investigating. Soon, local law enforcement asks them to get involved in some shenanigans that are happening in Gad’s Valley.

What we need is a thorough, discreet report from somebody accustomed to working outside the usual parameters of the law.”

“What a coincidence,” Jackaby said. “I’ve been thinking of putting that very thing on my business cards. So you’re sending us on assignment?”

Things get kind of crazy, there might be dinosaurs involved, and Abigail gets to put her archeological skills to good use, finally having something significant to offer to the investigation. A Nellie-Bly’esque reporter shows up, two mediocre white men with superiority complexes yell at each other (a lot) and all hell breaks loose. It’s a lot of fun. In my opinion, as much fun as Jackaby.

Jackaby shook his head. “Miss Rook,” he said, “the greatest figures in history are never the ones who avoid failure, but those who march chin-up through countless failures, one after the next, until they come upon the occasional victory.” He put a hand on my shoulder. “Failure is not the opposite of success—it’s a part of it. And as failures go,” he added with a lopsided grin, “this one was really spectacular, wasn’t it?” The firelight bobbed merrily in my employer’s eyes, and behind him the roof of the farmhouse collapsed into a smoldering heap. I sighed, and in spite of myself I managed a weak smile. “It really was, sir.”

four-half-stars

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria SchwabThis Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Published by Greenwillow Books on July 5th 2016
Genres: YA - Fantasy
Pages: 464
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
dnf

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

This is going to be short and sweet because I DNFed this book at 10 percent.

Image result for white flag of surrender

I just was not in the mood for this book after the opening scene showed one of our two main characters (I don’t know if there are anymore POVs or not) name Kate Harker setting fire to a church. We find out she is such a badass because she’s been kicked out of 5 schools and she’s hoping her arson will cause her to be kicked out of this school as well. And oh she broke some other girl’s nose. We don’t know what other girl did besides breathe air, but you know, Kate is somehow in the right. The book then transitions over to a teen boy named August Flynn  and I just mentally checked right out. I don’t know how many young adult novels had a guy with the name of August or starting with an A, but it’s starting to feel like a lot.

I know, you are all wondering why in the world did I read this. Well I got sucked in by the synopsis which sounded kick ass and when I realized I had been duped decided the heck with this and moved onto another book. Also this has led me to enact the following policy with books starting in 2017. When I am getting the book from the library, first go find it on Amazon, read sample, and then decided to pass on it. Or if it is at the library when I get there, read a few pages, and then scuttle the thing if it is not grabbing in the first few pages.

My impressions so far at 10 percent is that Kate seems like a psychopath with huge daddy issues. August is all over the place and all I kept thinking when the Schwab transitioned over to him was some emo guy with bad hair.

Everyone else in this book looks like a caricature, Kate’s father is the leader of one half of a divided city and goes around saying things like here there are monsters. I may have snorted laugh at that.

The writing seemed just okay, but I was really not in the mood to try to get into some young adult dystopian book that sounded like all of the worst parts of every young adult novel combined. The flow was off too since for every POV that featured Kate, we seemed to stay with August much longer. Maybe even Schwab was tired of writing about her.

I am going to say that the world building in this type of novels has to make sense right away. I am over info being provided at the pace of a snail going uphill. We know right away this is not our world, and when Kate is being driven back to the city and acting like a jerk once again we get some minor details about things that lurk in the dark (here there be monsters). I don’t know, I just finished with the Monstrologist trilogy so I just rolled my eyes at deep and dark monsters going around.

dnf

Rapid Reflections: October 5, 2012

Rapid Reflections: The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, Ten by Gretchen Neil, The Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan by Gretchen MacNeil, Libba Bray, Maggie Stiefvater, Sarah Rees Brennan
Genres: YA, YA - Fantasy
Source: Purchased: ebook

I just finished this book by Libba Bray. Set in during the time of Prohibition, the main character, Evie, is a flapper who is banished from Ohio to the care of her uncle in New York City as a punishment for some misfeasance at home. Evie is also a “diviner” or a person with some supernatural attributes. She is able to hold an object belonging to a person and sense secrets about them. This is the skill that gets her in trouble, but which comes in tremendously handy when she ends up in the middle of a murder investigation in New York City.

The Diviners is an ambitious book. Libba Bray mined the American tradition of religious zealotry and bigotry to great effect, using temperance, speaking in tongues, cult behavior, mass suicide, and eugenics. This is combined with a cast of characters that is very interesting, from Evie (who is frankly, not a terribly endearing character being reckless, self-absorbed and often immature) to Mabel, Uncle Will, Jericho, a Ziegfield girl and a young black poet, two very creepy old ladies who live upstairs, and a murderous ghost named Naughty John. The main conflict is nicely resolved in this book, but it is clear that there is a much bigger story to be told in future installments. I will definitely read the next installments.

I love Maggie Stiefvater. The Scorpio Races was absolutely one of my favorite books last year, and I was really excited about the release of The Raven Boys. This book did NOT disappoint.

If Maggie Stiefvater isn’t the most lyrical wordsmith writing in the YA genre right now, then I don’t know who is. Her prose is frequently gorgeous. The Raven Boys of the title are a group of 4 young men who attend a prep school. They become involved with Blue, the main female character, who is a townie and a local girl, and who is fated to kill the boy who kisses her first. She is quite adamant that she will never fall in love.

This is also the beginning of the series. It involves a quest for a dead Welsh prince, ley lines, and an old murder. There are a lot of twists and turns, and the ending is a little bit unsatisfying because it is so clearly the first in a series. Along with The Diviners, this was one of my most anticipated releases this year and it was worth the wait.

This is a retelling of the classic Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None. Gretchen McNeil is no Agatha Christie, but this was a fun read nonetheless, and was quite true to the original.

The book begins with the main character, Meg, and her best friend Minnie, being dropped off on an island for a weekend house party of boys, booze and fun. Things rapidly deteriorate, and the other eight teens on the island begin dying in rapid succession. The first two deaths are chalked up to, first, suicide, and second, accident. By the third death, however, it is clear that someone is killing the teens, and things rapidly descend into chaos, as suspicion and fear take over. Characters who have known each other for years cannot overcome their distrust and truths better left hidden start to be revealed.

The last book that I’ve read since my last round-up post is Unspoken by Sarah Rees. This book has an absolutely gorgeous cover, and I have to confess that one of the reasons that I bought it was because of that cover.

I did like this book, but it is fourth out of the four books discussed in this post. I think that it suffered by comparison with the other three books that I read in the last couple of weeks. I’m not sure if I will continue with the series.

The writing was good, but not as beautiful as Stiefvater’s. The story isn’t nearly as complex as Bray’s book. And I am a sucker for a good mystery, so it just didn’t grab me the way that Ten did. There’s nothing wrong with it – but having just read three other really fun books, this one wasn’t all that special.

© 2017 Bookish Pursuits

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑