Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: The Darkest Magic

The Darkest Magic The Darkest Magic by Morgan Rhodes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've enjoyed all the Morgan Rhodes books I've read to date, but this one, the middle entry in the Spirits and Thieves trilogy, suffers from a bit of Sophomore Slump. It's a surprisingly slow read, with a lot of POV switches that are sometimes hard to keep track of unless you go back to the headings at the start of each chapter, and a pretty convoluted story that leaves me scratching my head quite often. But the cast of characters in this book remains as compelling and complex as ever - well, maybe not so much Maddox, of whom I'm not terribly enamored, but Crys, Becca, and Farrell for sure. In addition, this book makes the timeline relative to the main series a little more clear - the Mytica scenes act as a prequel, with this book following the establishment of the three kingdoms, and the origins of their names being made clear.

At least now I know there's only one book left in each series, and I'll be waiting for both of them pretty impatiently.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: The Eternity Cure

The Eternity Cure The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My reread of Blood of Eden continues, and I'll be reading the third book very soon, because this time, not only did I finish The Eternity Cure, but I enjoyed it a lot more than I did the first time around. Sure, the book did have a bit of a disjointed, slapdash feel at times, but it keeps Allison Sekemoto's story going into some really weird and messed-up territory as a new, and of course, deadlier plague (the source of the book's title) arises and threatens to upend this apocalyptic world all over again.

Oh, and the ending. Without going into spoilers, let's just say that now, the ending of one of the Talon sequels makes a little more sense, and I should've seen it coming based on what happened here.

Coming soon: my first-time read and review of The Forever Song, and at last I'll be finished reading all of Kagawa's books to date.

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Review: Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*finally posting my old review to my blog, with some minor edits*

And so it begins, the prequel to Cassandra Clare's (deservingly) glorified fanfic story.

Tessa Gray (who thankfully has no relatives - that we know of! - named Christian), teenage American in the Victorian days, travels to London to see her brother - and ends up imprisoned by a pair of creepy old ladies. You know things are not what they seem when the globe in their house shows a completely nonexistent country in Europe between France and Germany (those who have read Clare's other books, especially City of Glass, will know that said country is Idris, home of the Shadowhunters.) Or when they insist that Tessa change into different people and creatures.

Clare has never shown a single shape-shifting Downworlder, Nephilim, or mundane before. So now you know, something is really up.

I enjoyed The Mortal Instruments immensely, but I think that this is when Clare started to improve to real auteur status. Despite the setting changing to the repressive Victorian age, there's still delightful comedy of the kind we remember from TMI to spare. And this is when Clare started setting the stage for her considerably more complicated multi-plots of City of Fallen Angels and beyond.

And, best of all, no ridiculous "incest" storylines! That was the one thing I hated about the original TMI trilogy. I mean really, what was Clare thinking?

To those readers who think Clare just wrote the expanded TMI universe for $$$, read this: Clare knows what the readers want, and she's more than able to deliver. As long as she puts out satisfactory literary creations, I will continue to count her among my favorite authors ever.

Also, after rereading, I've figured out that after seven years, I've been quoting the two sentences of "Bloodthirsty little beasts. Never trust a duck." backwards all this time. THE HORROR. XD

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Review: Silver Stars

Silver Stars Silver Stars by Michael Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I speak a lot of how I sometimes have trouble finding good YA historical fiction, mostly because last year, I read a couple of examples - Razorhurst and Salt To The Sea - that just didn't cut it for me. I keep forgetting, however, that Front Lines exists - and now, so does Silver Stars.

Michael Grant's series continues in its exploration of an alternate history where women got to fight in World War II...and make no mistake, this brick of a book gives readers a visceral blend of warfare both physical and psychological. Mostly psychological, because as I've said before (especially when I read Front Lines last year), that's Grant's specialty. And Grant really shows the darkness of the war, not only in the considerable toll taken in the fight to preserve Western civilization from the creeping evils of fascism, but also in the tension and strife within the Allied camps - which, given the presence of women in the military, only gets worse because there are those men who engage in frequent sexual harassment because they think this should be a boys' club. Not only that, but with Grant also including soldiers of color (such as Frangie), racial tension also flies thick and fast. Even outside the military settings - such as in Rainy's home in New York, or in the homes of Mafia dons in Sicily - you'll see people slinging every racial and/or ethnic slur you can think of, casually as you please (and the author's note at the end suggests that for those who think it's too much, the reality was even worse.) In-universe and out, just about everyone's uncomfortable with it. And then the three POV characters have their own personal issues to deal with - such as Frangie being the only one in her family talking to her Communist brother, Rainy's involvement with the Mafia, and Rio's worries after she sleeps with a guy she knows from back home, and how does that change their tenuous relationship, especially given the dreadful sexual politics of this time? (Not that any of the politics are any good, really.) Let's face it, Silver Stars brings up some armor-piercing questions that, naturally, don't have easy answers.

It's a tough, tough fight for Rio, Rainy, Frangie, Jenou, and all their comrades in arms. From Tunisia to Sicily to mainland Italy (and being half-Maltese, I'm just a little miffed that Malta doesn't appear at all, not when that island was quite the battleground in World War II), and the war's not over yet, not for these fine ladies with everything to prove even as they fight for a country that doesn't give them the respect they deserve. Grant's got one more book lined up - which I believe will be called Purple Hearts, a title which makes me scared for these Soldier Girls. But I'm most certainly up for reading it - I have to see this series through to its conclusion now.

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Review: Aftermath

Aftermath Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So I went into this first Aftermath book having read maybe...one Chuck Wendig book before, and having not really liked it. That said, this book, as Star Wars novels go, isn't half-bad, but I can see why it gets a lot of bad reviews. Wendig goes for a somewhat George R.R. Martin-esque storytelling approach - not in terms of killing your faves off, but in terms of short, choppy chapters that jump around between multiple POVs, many of which are brand-new characters you don't really know anything about, and don't really know if you should care about. But then, this book takes place in the immediate galactic aftermath of the Battle of Endor, so of course there's going to be a lot of confusion as the Rebellion really starts chasing out the last vestiges of the Empire. Vestiges that aren't going to go away without a fight.

It's not the best book ever written, but for what it's worth, it's a pretty decent read, and I'm pretty ready to read the two remaining Aftermath books soon.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review: A Conjuring of Light

A Conjuring of Light A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one was a little low on my current library-haul TBR pile, which has ballooned to a pretty massive size since I'm currently done with school, but thanks to Aimal Farooq's urging, I bumped it up and decided to read it before tackling Star Wars: Aftermath.

I think I made the right choice.

The first two books in this trilogy, I liked them but didn't love them. Compared to The Archived, The Unbound, and Vicious, I thought they were good Schwab books, but not her best. Hell, based on the first parts of this book, I thought A Conjuring of Light would be too long and slow and damaged by hype to properly appreciate.

I was wrong.

600 pages? No problem when you have a book as fast-paced and twisted as this one, with the stakes at their absolute highest. Our five core characters get their shares of time in the spotlight - and that includes Holland, whom I didn't really like before, but now I feel a lot of sympathy for him, especially given what happens in his flashback scenes. There are, in fact, a lot of flashbacks, not just for Holland, but also for Rhy as well, with more information about the development of his and Kell's brotherhood, and his always-tense relationship with Alucard. Only Lila, I feel, gets a less attention than she deserves, which is a shame, but then she's so integral to the story that she really doesn't need any flashbacks anyway.

But while the story does take its time building up to an explosive climax (reminiscent in many ways of Teen Wolf, actually) that's really only in terms of page count. The book flies through its short chapters, allowing it to be devoured in a surprisingly short amount of time. And while it's not perfect, A Conjuring of Light finally, for me, validates me as a passenger on this hype train.

Normally, when I come to the end of a series, I say ave atque vale. But for Schwab's unique four Londons, I'll instead have to say this.

Vas ir...

...anoshe.


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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Review: Mistborn

Mistborn Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been wanting to explore this section of Sanderson's Cosmere for a while, but it's been hard to get ahold of the books because my library has a way of losing them. After getting reminded by my friend Aimal (though she wasn't so impressed with the book herself), I finally ordered it from another library, and now I've read this first book and judged that maybe Aimal was right - the book's a little bit overrated, though not bad at all. The story's pretty hard to follow sometimes, even with what should be a fairly easy to keep track of story of rebellion and revolution, but at least there's a cool magic system (comprised of variously powered metals) to keep the reader engaged.

Hopefully, the remaining books in this series won't be so hard to find at the library, not like this book.

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