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Friday, October 30, 2015

Nightbird - Alice Hoffman

After moving out of the big city and leaving their father behind, Twig and her family move to their mother's hometown of Sidwell. A small town should make for closer relationships, but their mother insists they keep to themselves; in fact, because of her brother's wings, her mother insists he stay inside to avoid being mistaken for the Sidwell monster.

When another family moves in across the street, Twig befriends the younger sister and James falls in love with the older sister. With help from these new friends maybe they can break the curse and save Sidwell from the monster.

In this heartfelt novel, Hoffman expresses the pain of secrets, the harm of prejudice, and the importance of friendship. While the plot lines are all woven together nicely, I was dissatisfied with neatly the plot with her family came together in the end. All-in-all it's a good read that children will enjoy this novel.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb

Just barely surviving his first mission as an assassin, the disillusioned Fitz hides himself away in the mountains. He's determined to stay there until a fit of empathy alerts him to the Red Ships attacking the coast, including the woman he loves. Still wrecked by fits upon his return, he does his best to continue performing his duties as a stable hand.

Fitz continues to flirt with the wit, despite Burrich's warnings and finds himself entangled with a wolf he rescued from an abusive seller. He also has to hide his relationship with his beloved Molly from the entire castle and most especially Prince Verity, his father, who skills within his mind. And along with his training with Verity, he must continue his studies under Chade and add raw fighting to his daily stress.

As King Shrewd grows sicker and the Red Ships attacks become worse, King-in-Waiting Verity decides it's time to seek help elsewhere. And while Verity is away, Queen-in-Waiting Kettricken's authority is undermined by Prince Regal, who's determined to become the heir of the kingdom. While Fitz is his obvious opposition and becomes a prisoner, Regal discovers more and unexpected opposition in the court. If Fitz can somehow find a way to escape the prison cell, he can hope to dethrone Regal, if not, he and the revolution will surely die.

As always, Hobb amazed me with her skill. Fitz's conflicting loyalties and his complex relationships with multiple characters make it believable. The way details come together in multiple plot lines impressed me, as always. I look forward to completing this series soon..

Books in the Series
Assassin's Apprentice
Assassin's Quest

Recommended Reads:
The Last Herald's Mage

Friday, October 9, 2015

Queen of Song and Souls - C.L. Wilson

Ellysetta's life has changed from being a simple farm girl to being the reigning queen of the fae with the Tairen Soul, Rain. While she has healed many, she still suffers from fits. No healer mundane or magical can explain them.

There are other dangers besides, though. The Eld are preparing to attack and they don't know where to find them. The king of the neighboring kingdom is reluctant to join forces. The fact that one of the elves has found his soulmate in the crown princess isn't helping matters. Elysetta is under attack in her dreams, being infected with mage mark, and if she gets too many she will become under the influence of the enemy. Even Rain is fighting the madness brought on by not being bound to his mate.

Mystery, violence, and joy all await within the pages. And there is still one more novel left before the final conclusion to this wild journey into the Fading Lands.

The first novel started somewhat light, but the series has gotten increasing dark with each book, including torture, battles, and war. While I like the way she's done it, it's something for readers to be aware of before starting the series.

While this is a fantasy romance, Elysetta's perfection is over the top. Elysetta's optimism influences her to the point of stupidity. A lot of circumstances throughout the book seem contrived. Elysetta's actual decisions, no matter how poor, never land her in any real trouble, while random events brought about by her unknowingly wielding her power result in bad results. Rain's possessiveness and that of her advisers is a huge turn off for me, as well.

Despite its flaws, there are also some great features in this book. The relationships between Elysetta, Rain, their entourage, and all of the characters in general are believable. The magic system is well-developed and the politics are messy. The battles and torture are detailed and often difficult to read.

Overall, this was a good read and I plan to finish the last book in the series.

Books in the Series:
Lord of the Fading Lands
Lady of Light and Shadows
King of Sword and Sky

Recommended Reads:
Warprize - Elizabeth Vaughan
Archangel - Sharon Shinn
Singer from the Sea - Sheri S. Tepper

Friday, October 2, 2015

Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas

Celaena Sardothien has been stuck in the salt mines of Endovier, suffering under hard labor, little food, and the lash for an entire year for her crimes as an assassin. She's saved when the crown prince comes with an offer she can't refuse. Compete to become the King's Champion and be set free in four years or continue to suffer until death in the mines.

After so long outside of her trade, she'll need to get back in shape to win with the help of a soldier. But the competition won't even be the hardest part of her stay within palace walls. She'll have to make herself presentable for court, make nice with the prince who hired her, and figure out what mysterious powers are killing her competition. If she can find time, maybe she'll even get involved in a little romance.

While the blurb focused on the competition and political intrigue, I found the novel itself focused far more on a forced romance between the main character and the obsessed prince who hired blackmailed the former assassin into a competition to the death. Celaena is supposed to have a past full of grief and hard training, but aside from a few times when the author brings it up pointedly, you wouldn't know it with her ditsy and clueless behavior. She's supposed to be one of the greatest assassins and claims throughout the novel that she's holding back, yet when it's finally time for her to show her prowess she fails. The author mistakes sarcasm for wit in her characters, which often makes the dialogue tiresome and irritating. While I realize this is a young adult novel, the political intrigue is hardly worth mentioning.

This genre is one of my favorites and even I couldn't stomach this mess. I was so glad I was only listening to this during my commute and didn't waste the time actually reading it.