Tag Archives: Fantasy

Written in Red – Anne Bishop

cs759 escaped.  Her flight lands her at Lakeside Courtyard inside Other territory.  It’s the safest place she might find.  The Courtyard is not subject to human law and may be able to keep her away from The Controller’s “benevolent ownership.”  She entered Howling Good Reads in the middle of a snow storm – hypothermic.  She is fed out of  basic kindness.  Knowing she needs to stay, she asks for a job.  The Others decision to make her Human Liaison is to avoid giving it to the distrusted human campaigning for it. She is the best option because she is the only other option. cs759 names herself Meg Corbyn.  Bishop’s story about her is addictive.  I do think it might be crack.  I read through the first three books, one after another, without break.  I’d read the fourth but it’s not available yet.

Bishop’s world is separated into land governed by The Others and Human’s, but human’s are not generally in control.  They are clever meat. Their value lies in what they create – their technology and devices of use.  Other’s are Shifters, Elementals, and Sanguinatti connected to the majority of land. Human land, that is theirs solely, lies  where their species orginated, but they have outgrown it.  They bleed over into Other territory.  This happen at Other’s allowance.  It should never be forgotten that it is not theirs.  They are renters, interlopers, tolerated only as long as they are useful.

Meg changes the dynamics in Lakeside.  The relationships she builds with Elementals, Shifters, and the Sanguinatti is something new.  It changes the way they see humans – that they can be more than useful or edible. This is something to protect, and a small group of humans on the police force realize this.  They see her as their best chance at survival.   A portion of humans resent Others, those who don’t live close enough to them to respect the danger the can invoke, and eventually/inevitably someone will make a mistake.   They hope Meg’s influence can protect them from being decimated.  Unfortunately, the human’s seeking Meg could easily be the ones to endanger them all.

Meg is Cassandra Sangue, a human seer.  They speak prophecy when they bleed.  Meg and her like have been committed to organizations, originally for their protection, becoming ‘benevolent ownership. ‘  Cutting creates a euphoria that develops into an addiction, causing themselves harm, requiring others to intercede.   Benevolent care transformed into exploitation over time.  The cut on their skin gives the observer to prophecy invaluable knowledge – an expensive commodity.  Meg’s escape brings powerful desire for her capture.   Many seek her for personal gain.

I listened to a portion of the audible book and found I preferred to read the book.  I didn’t find the maturity I was looking for in the voice of Alexandra Harris’s narration.  Meg is a young woman, and naive in many ways.  I understand why Harris’s was chosen and why she interpreted Meg the way she did.

Bishop’s Thasia isn’t a new piece of world building.  The Others aren’t unique.  She populates her book with Shifters, Vampires, and Elemental’s.  Recognizing this, I questioned why I am so attached to the book. Why it feels so comfortable?  While it’s not original, the world is a solid combination of familiar ideas and it also has developed/complete characters.   Her world feels natural and the threats realistic.  It’s compelling, well-written, and built with smart/complex characters.

I recommend this.  It is addictive – read at your own risk.

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Book Review: Updraft – Fran Wilde

Fran Wilde’s debut novel left me wishing for a sequel even though I knew her story was complete with this book.  Wilde’s novel is a great stand alone.  She created a world that could be a futuristic dystopia, but I saw it as a fantasy with its own world.  In Wilde’s sky towers she has a young woman preparing for her skytest.  If she passes she can become a trader, like her mother, and fly among the towers, bringing good luck, and visiting the spire.   As teenagers will do from time to time, she chose not listen to her mother, she stayed outside to watch her mother’s departure and skymouths attacked.  She was locked out, unable to get in, and to everyone’s shock was able to shout down the attacking skymouth.  The good luck is she saved her life, the bad luck is it brought her to the attention of the Singers.  The Singers keep Tower law, live in the Spire, and separate from the rest of tower society.  Singers, once identified, learn the secrets of their culture and must break from their families . Wilde’s story centers on Kirit’s journey once the Singers decide they want her to be one of them.   ‘Updraft’ is good Young Adult fiction.  I applaud its lack of romance.  I enjoy love and romance but it’s nice to see young adult fiction centered on a girl whose focus is solely about the situation and task at hand.  Not every story needs a love interest.

Kirit wants to be like her mother, a famous trader and a credit to her tower, but her mistake took her irrevocably off course.  Her skill at flying and her desires became irrelevant.  Singers have the power to change not only her life but the lives of everyone a person cares about.   Many lessons are learned.  Kirit learns that some choices can not be unmade; that your actions effect not only you, and when/what battles to fight and which ones you should leave alone.

Wilde’s writing is good.  Her story, while is definitely a coming of age story, has some unique attributes.  Her world is interesting, set in the clouds her towers grow from bone. Her people are a society created from the aftermath of war.  They are a remnant of a people who struggled to create their society heavily reliant on law, tradition, and the Singer’s.   Wilde doesn’t give into utilizing trends or obvious cliché’s  when the plot became tricky.  I applaud Wilde for sticking to her guns and relying on her solid plot to move the story along.  It made me cheer to see youth having bigger things to worry about than a love interest.  I enjoy love stories.  Love is an integral part of who we are as people – how we react to it when we get it and when we lose it. It is a driving force, but I like recognizing teenagers/children are more complex.  Multiple forces and concerns grow people into adults.  It’s nice to see others highlighted.

Khristine Hvam narrated the audible version.  She does a great job.  She’s well-known and has narrated ‘The Chronicles of Elantra’ series by Michelle Sagara, ‘The Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ by Laini Taylor, ‘Conversion’ by Katherine Howe, and ‘Ex-Patriots by Peter Clines amongst several others.  Hvam didn’t disappoint with ‘Updraft’ she handled several characters and the emotion of the story with ease.

This is a strong book with solid world building.  If you are in the mood for a good coming of age story, that does not rely heavily on romance, this is one of the few books that falls in that category with a female protagonist.  I hope Wilde continues writing.  I was surprised this was her debut.  Her writing reminded me of a seasoned author.  I have high hopes for her writing career, and look forward to reading more of her novels in the future.  I would definitely recommend this to teenagers but I am an adult and I enjoyed it.  I expect other adults to enjoy it as well.

I received this from Audible in return for an honest review.  If you would like to go to audible and sample a snippet of Hvam’s narration take the link below.


Strangeness and Charm (The Courts of the Feyre#3) – Mike Shevdon

Strangeness and Charm (Courts of the Feyre, #3)

This is the third installment of Mike Shevdon’s ‘The Courts of Feyre’ series.  I took a small break from this series.  After I finished the second book I couldn’t wait to read it but when I picked it up it wasn’t grabbing my attention.  I thought I may have overdosed on Shevdon’s particular charm.  I did.  I acknowledge I can be fickle.  If I am over a genre or style I’m over it for a while. I will want to eat nothing but spaghetti for a month and then I won’t want to eat it at all for six months.  It has nothing to do with the quality of the book or the spaghetti.  If I had forced myself to read this at the time it would have gone badly.  I would have ruined a book that I would normally love. Over time I have learned to recognize the warning signs. Luckily, I made the right choice and shelved it.  When I revisited ‘Strangeness and Charm’ I loved it. It picked up where ‘The Road to Bedlam’ left off.  Dogstar has a new baby, he’s a warder, a distraught ex-wife, and more importantly his daughter back.  She is a mess, but she is a teenager that is dealing with trying to control her powers and her recent captivity.  Sure,  she was rescued by her dad, but it’s not like she gets to go back to her normal life, see her mom, or go to school. She currently has to be protected but protection doesn’t feel much different from a cell.  Dogstar is dealing with this along with getting to know his daughter as a young woman.  He can’t win.  Caught between Blackbird, his partner’s, wishes; Garvin, head of the Warders, wishes; and his daughter’s needs he upsets everyone.

Dogstar, previously known as Rabbit, has had his own rocky relationship with the Courts of Feyre.  He doesn’t fit being of Feyre and human descent.  The Feyre don’t know what to do with their mongrel Feyre/human experiment.  They don’t fit with the Feyre and they have ended up being test subjects for science with the humans.  They aren’t particularly happy and why should they be?  This book is about determining where this group belongs.  Few get admitted to the Feyre courts and the only way Dogstar was saved was by becoming a warder.  They swear allegiance to all and to none.  These few exceptions aren’t a standard and when Garvin asks Dogstar to hunt down the hybrids he doesn’t know what to do.  As a warder his responsibility is to put them down for the safety of the Feyre and human contract but he doesn’t agree with it.  How can he hunt down those people he just saved from the humans?  His daughter wades in to this disaster making Dogstar’s position even harder.

I found Shevdon through Ben Aaronovitch’s recommendations on Goodreads.  The Courts of the Feyre is a mature urban fantasy set in England.  When I say mature I am not speaking code for erotica.  This is not sexually explicit.  It deals with adult issues such as raising teenagers, and the complexity of having several people’s needs pulling on you at the same time.  Some teenagers might enjoy it but it is not YA.  The series centers on Dogstar who is an adult man whose upper middle class, divorced, life gets hijacked during book one when his Feyre powers activated.  He was forced to abandon his old life but it didn’t release from responsibilities to his ex-wife or his daughter.  It only made his relationship to them more complicated.

I recommend this series to anyone who likes mature urban fantasy, Feyre/fey/faerie, and strong world building.

If you like this you might also like:

  • Midnight Riot (The Rivers of London series) – Ben Aaronovitch
  • Of Blood and Honey (The Fey and the Fallen series) – Stina Leicht
  • The Rook (The Checquy Files) – Daniel O’Malley

 


Curse Breaker: Guild Assassin – Berley Kerr

Curse Breaker: Guild Assassin (Curse Breaker, #1)

This is a steampunk fantasy.  Wendy Magdalena Braca was born into wealth in Jupiter city on one of the 500.  The 500 are habitable planets that for a fee you can jump to and are controlled by various countries of the mother realm earth. There are more than the 500 planets but The 500 are civilized while The Outlands, are wild, less habitable, and lawless.  At the age of twelve Wendy gets convicted for killing her mother.  She is innocent, but that fact was irrelevant.  She is deemed insane, convicted, and locked in Greenleaf Asylum for Troubled Girls to be forgotten.

Greenleaf fits a Gothic description of an insane asylum.  Patients are placed in cells, forced medication to keep them docile, food is limited and lacks nutrition, and treatment is questionable.  Thompson, the doctor, who for all intents and purposes is God and ruler of the asylum, regularly offends against patients with the help and participation of  male orderlies.  There is no one to protect the girls, they have no family,  Nurses and staff are fired if they say anything, and they can’t protect themselves.  Their word means little against the doctor’s; he’s a pillar of the community.

During a particularly gruesome interaction with Thompson, Wendy has a break .  All her senses are heightened and her strength is increased.  She kills the doctor and orderlies.  Since she is a fourteen year old girl, without the physical ability to mount the ferocity of attack and brutality found, she is not suspected .  An orderly knows she was there, but to vocalize his concerns would force him to admit knowledge of lascivious, despicable acts of abuse.  He has no intention of incriminating himself.  For the moment she is safe, but despite her fear, and Wendy’s best efforts, she can’t replicate what happened to her during her break.  Disease breaks out at Greenleaf causing it to be quarantined. The asylum, considered a hazard, is set to burn to dispose of the diseased bodies  As it goes up in flames, Wendy, remarkably untouched by the illness, is saved by a stranger.

Wendy’s rescuers are a guild of Validus Assassins and believe she is one of them.  Validus are people with powers beyond those of normal human beings.  Her new family believes Wendy exhibits signs of being the fabled Curse Breaker, a special kind Validus of extraordinary power, and the reason other Validus located and targeted her when her powers activated at the asylum.  They think the illness and asylum fire was created to dispose of her because any guild would rather kill her than let her fall into the wrong hands.  Every guild but her guild, that is, they do things differently.  Does this mean they always do the right thing?  It depends on your definition.  They are assassins, but they use their skills for the betterment of humanity.  She will have to learn if she agrees with their tactics as she becomes an adult and one of them.  It’s one thing to believe and do something as a child without power, options, or control.  It’s another to believe it when you are an independent, educated, adult.

Wendy is twelve when she is introduced to us, but this isn’t Young Adult.  It explores sex, drugs, and violence on a New Adult level. This is not a romance.  It also isn’t overly graphic.  Wendy’s experiences, guild characters sexual interactions, and drug use are used for the purpose of coming of age.  It marks different levels of growth and coping mechanisms.  I applaud the concept that sex is not solely a device for instant love, gratification, or moral purposes. My one frustration, however, is some situations and character reaction did not always ring true.   I felt the gravity of some experiences, if they were going to be introduced, needed more depth.  While Kerr was purposeful about with situations for character development, the character reaction seemed to be abrupt and lacking.

It is steampunk and I enjoyed it.  Kerr built a world where people are able to jump to planets both civilized and uncivilized.  It’s an interesting hybrid of science fiction  and alternate history with its own version of the internet, airships, and portals.  For Kerr’s purposes, being able to jump to other civilizations was developed in the 1800’s.  He provides us with enough historical and scientific explanation for plausibility without detracting from the pace of the plot.  Suffice it to say, I found Kerr balanced the needs of world building with most readers attention spans.  There is a class divide between the Validus and regular humans, although this is kept secret, but also a divide between the elite and the poor.  The elite only live on “The 500,” planets better suited to human civilization and are structured by a Victorian standard.  Men wear top hats and suits: the women are in dresses covering them from head to toe.  The dominant population in The Outlands are poor, dress code is in the style of the Wild West, in rough homespun garments worn repeatedly with patches.  Clothing is worn for comfort and use rather than cultural morality standards.  The poor also populate The 500. A noticeable difference between the elite and everyone else is a lot more skin is shown. Clothing, machinery, and airships are described  in detail to honor the genre.  That being said, a large amount of attention is devoted to describing merry widow corsets and the length of a skirt.

This is an enjoyable novel.  I have every intention of picking up the next installment in this series.  I need some of you to read it so Kerr can go about the business of getting the second book published.  I hope you took that as a hint as it was meant as one.  I need to know what happens next. While I mentioned a few things that felt off to me the writing is very good.   I recommend this for anyone who likes Steampunk, alternate history fantasy, and older teens and above.

I received this from NetGalley and Curiosity Quills Press in return for an honest review.


The Magicians – Lev Grossman

The Magicians

Hmmmm…  This book is a quandary for me.  I adored the beginning.  Up to about three-fourths of the way through there was no way I would not give this book less than a five-star review.  My issue came towards the end and had a lot to do with a level of entitlement in the magic community Grossman created.  These are the brightest people in the world and they can do anything they want.  The response is to work on ridiculous concepts of magic that have no application or float off into the real world to drown their depression and disappointment in alcohol in drugs.  Why?  The world wasn’t what they hoped for.  When they achieve something they want there is a brief fleeting moment of happiness but it goes away and they are left wanting.  I do understand this is a key theme to the book.  That doesn’t mean it did not frustrate me.

Quinten has aced every test he has ever taken, he has won every competition he has been in, he is in an elite school, and he is getting ready to interview for Colleges.  While waiting for tan interview his friends Julia and James are waiting with him.  James and Julia are an item and Quintin is in love with Julia.  He would never come between James and Julia but he’s tired of being the sidekick.  When they arrive at their interview the door is open with no response.  Quinten in a moment of not wanting to be the perfect James enters without invitation and a dead body is found.  After waiting several hours the paramedic let’s them know they can go but offers James and Quinten envelopes found on the desk with their names on it.  James being James refuses, but Quintin fighting his sidekick jealousy takes it trying to prove something to himself.  This envelope leads him on a journey to a school he’s never heard of, Brakebills.  They assume he is there to interview, explain why he should test, and ignore the fact that he’s never heard of this prestigious academy.

The test is the strangest thing he’s ever seen, but he makes it in.  They told him he would have to start before the end of his senior year, and without a thought for his parents of friends he agrees.  He even opts to stay the two weeks so he didn’t have to go back home to Brooklyn.  Since Brakebill’s is a school for magicians they can arrange it so his parents don’t worry.  You may be wondering at this point, was Quintin abused? Were his parent evil? Did they lock him in a cupboard?  The answer is no to all of the above, they are just normal and he couldn’t bear to return to normalcy.

His training is strenuous, the challenges are endless, and yes they have to study very hard.  He still gets advance a year with the smartest girl in the class that intrigues every one.  This being said even when they get sent to Brakebills South, an extremely stressful and harrowing experience, Quinten succeeds where most of his peers do not.  He is a powerful magician.  So what does this mean?  He and Alice figure their situation out,  but there seems to be no direction after University and that is all Quinten wants.  What he really learns is there is no next test, there is no next expectation, there is only life.  He is purposeless and what he has doesn’t make him happy.  He lives with his friends from school in New York but he doesn’t study, there are funds available for magicians so he doesn’t have to work.  So, he parties.  He sees no consequence and feels no pull to do anything.  This frustrates Alice.  She wants to be the type of magician that changes things, makes them better.

Quinten, takes what he has for granted, he makes decisions that are disastrous, but doesn’t take accountability.  It does make him take advantage of a “quest” to Fillory, a fictional magical world that bears remarkable resemblance to Narnia.  Many things happen and I would hate to spoil it for you but even finding his dream of Fillory doesn’t make him happy.  It has been stated that “ignorance is bliss” and that there is a remarkable correlation to Depression and high IQ’s.  To take it further several sociological studies have shown that the more individualistic a society is like America or Britain, etc. there is increased levels of anxiety in people compared to collectivist societies that have more choices decided for you.  Grossman seems to be making a strong commentary on the fact that getting everything you ever wanted, whether you worked for it or not, does not make people happy.

I was okay with Quinten having a crisis of depression because he didn’t know how to be happy.  I understand it in high school and even in university.  That being said Quinten had a lot to be happy about.  He chose not to be and it became frustrating to read his infantile whining.  I had no pity for him once he set for a path of destruction after University.  Even when he is supposed to see the light at the end of the book I would argue is in essence ‘wearing a hair shirt” to atone without changing his behaviors.  It allowed him to believe himself a martyr and drown in self-pity.

This is a well written New Adult novel.  I can see why people have been impressed with it.  I can appreciate the book, but I do not believe I liked it.  I hope it gets better in the books that follow.  I have not decided if I am willing to read them yet.


City of Stairs – Robert Jackson Bennett

 City of Stairs

(Publish date September 9, 2014)

‘City of Stairs’ has had very good reviews.  I was excited to receive it. Frankly, during the first quarter of the book I didn’t see why there was so much excitement.  It was good, but I wasn’t seeing the extraordinary.  That changed.  I’m telling you that if you choose to read this you will not be disappointed.  The first half is enjoyable but the second half is what makes it special.  This is my first Bennett novel.  If they are all like this he is an author to be reckoned with.  The character development is fabulous but it’s the plot complexity and detail that makes this so intriguing especially because the development is subtle.

A famed Saypuri historian dies under suspicious circumstances in the primitive Bukilov. Over seventy-five years ago a terrible war was waged between the Saypuri and Bukilov.  The Saypuri used to be slaves to Bukilov.  They were  godless  while the Bukilov people were blessed with miracles and six Gods.  The war was one where the oppressed overthrew Bukilov and killed their gods.  Bukilov has chosen to remain in squalor and disease. The Saypuri goal is to guide them until they can care for themselves, but despite their efforts Bukilov only wants to be restored and maintain tradition despite their not having access to study their own histories.  This is why the famed  historian was such a threat, a Saypuri who could study Bukilov history was an insult when its own people legally could not.

Shara Komayd, descendant of the Kaj, God conqueror himself, arrives.  She is there to investigate the murder.  No one knows who she is, she’s been on the continent for 16 years as an intelligence operative investigating and “dealing with” the miracles that are outlawed.  Sigrud is her companion and brute force operative, but he is known as her Secretary.  He characteristics similar to a Norseman, he is a large man accustomed to sailing.  Shara found him in a prison. They are devoted to one another, as those who have worked together for years, only can be.

The world building is unique despite clear correlations to groups of people in our own world.  Despite that the creation of miracles and gods are not traditional.  It’s fascinating to watch broken miracles and how they interact with the people in Bukilov.  The City of Stairs is full of mysteries both hidden and obvious.

‘City of Stairs’ delves into the creation of God’s, religion, and the relation to its followers.  In this book Shara must discover if the gods are truly dead, and are all the miracles gone? Their creation seems possible in Bukilov.  Much is happening.  Shara and her companions must look past the surface to save Bukilov, Saypuri, and avoid a magnitude off bloodshed.

I developed a strong attachment for Bennett’s characters, especially Sigrud, he is a tremendous character of depth.  The key to the book is the second half.  We may want a quick payoff, but the background in the beginning is necessary.  Don’t assume that the entire book is like the beginning or you may decide that the book had too much hype.  Please don’t misunderstand me, however, the first half is good it’s just the second half is truly amazing. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so, I’m telling you that you must read this.  It is intelligent and insightful .  It is worth every minute of your time.

I received this book from Netgalley and Crown Publishing  in return for an honest review.


The Girl – Madhuri Blaylock

The Girl (The Sanctum, #1)Well, Madhuri Blaylock sure knows how to start a book off with a bang and end with a doozie of a cliffhanger.  ‘The Girl’ is about several young paranormals running amok in New York.  These teenagers, however, are not young.  They have been running from or for the all-powerful Sanctum.  At 16 you are already a warrior, and the characters reflect the maturity that goes with dispensing justice on behalf of the governing body.  I would classify this as New Adult except the characters are technically in their teens.

The Sanctum is the governing force that controls the population of magicals be it angel, vampire, troll, werewolf, faerie, etc.  It also ensures humankind isn’t let in on the secret.  If magicals step out of line, a warrior is sent to take it out for the common good.  This started happening a bit more freely once the ranking Sanctum family became the Breslin’s.  One must question if the motives of The Sanctum are as pure and just as they should be.

When Carter Breslin sends out a decree to exterminate a hybrid, half Angel/half Demon, everyone is sent searching for a holy terror the likes of which no one has seen before.  Wyatt Clayworth and his best friend Ryker, class A Sanctum warriors, are the ones who find her, specifically Wyatt.  Until this point, Wyatt had been the perfect warrior and Sanctum member.  He follows orders, but when he finds the hybrid is broken girl rather than an apocalyptic monster, he becomes uncertain.  She turns his life, and the lives of those he cares about upside down.  In the process they may alter the entire Sanctum.  The definition of a holy terror may have to be redefined.

The book is fun.  It sucked me in from the beginning.  It was nice to decide I wanted to finish the book after 5 pages instead of needing to wait fifty.  There is romance, romance that is categorized better as fated rather than instant love.  It is a device rather than a failure of the author’s capability to develop a believable love story.  First and foremost, this is the story of warriors bent on revenge.

Every character is good-looking, and I do mean every character. I rolled my eyes for a minute, in my head telling myself this isn’t believable, and then I remembered I was reading a fantasy about creatures that don’t exist.   I decided I could suspend my disbelief and started to enjoy myself again.  My only other concern came in when I realized these teenagers acted like thirty year olds.  For the most part their interactions are far to mature.   In my head, I once again said this isn’t believable, remembered its fantasy,  stopped being ridiculous, and went back to enjoying a good story.  It certainly isn’t going to hurt anyone to have a little maturity role modeled.  It is good fun light urban fantasy, and provided some much needed escapism for me.

The next book, ‘The Boy,’ is out and I purchased it about 10 seconds after I finished ‘The Girl.’  Ms. Blaylock leaves you with a serious cliffhanger, and anyone who reads my blog knows I’m not known for literary patience.

 


“Fool’s Assassin” – Robin Hobb

Robin hobb1

Publish Date August, 12, 2014

FitzChivalry earned his just reward and is living the quiet and simple life he always wanted.  He pulled himself out of the politics of the Farseer dynasty.  Being born a recognized bastard to the Farseer family forced Fitz into war, the role of assassin, and death despite his love for the family.  He is now allowed to take care of his immediate family in a removed area called Withywoods.  It is his rightful home. Patience willed it to him.  There are several trilogy’s that Robin Hobb has created surrounding her world of the Six Duchies.   This is the newest and the first book of the ‘Fitz and the Fool’ trilogy. If this is the first book you have picked up by Hobb – STOP.  I recommend you put the book down and start at the true beginning of the story, “Assassin’s Apprentice.’

I was ecstatic to see ‘Fools Assassin,’ and lucky to get it early through Netgalley.  Robin Hobb did a beautiful job.  It is worthy of her and she has done justice to FitzChivalry’s story.   As reader’s we either have patience for epics or we don’t.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t authors out there that will draw a story out simply to capitalize on a successful franchise, when in reality, some books could be left out or the editor should have cut out 200 pages.  There is nothing I would cut out of this book.  The beauty of Hobbs’ writing is every seemingly insignificant detail comes back to have a purpose.

Fitz settled into Withywoods with his family after the Fool left.  The Fool, as the White Prophet, notified Fitz they could not remain together since Fitz, the Catalyst, had succeeded.  The Fool was afraid they could undo their success and accidentally cause damage if they remained together. So, the Fool left, and Fitz mourned the loss of his most trusted and best friend.  Over years he becomes comfortable and loves his quiet and simple life in a place no one knows him as the witted Farseer Bastard.  Chade and Dutiful will still consult him and push for him to return to Buckeep but he always refuses.

We know Hobb couldn’t leave him in peace for long.  Strange messengers show up at Withywoods and in the bustle of the holidays he misses the message and death comes to Fitz’s home.  It has been 11 years away from the business of intrigue and death.  Slowly, Fitz gets pulled back in.  Chade makes a request he can’t refuse.  He must educate and keep safe new Farseer bastards.  He must instruct them in what being a bastard to royalty means.  They must accept they are a danger to the succession and learn their roles to the family. Add to this that he receives a cryptic message that the Fool is in danger after years of hearing nothing.  He also has  responsibilities to a new character and new narrator.  All these challenges and expectations leave Fitz pulled in so many directions he can’t help but fail at something.  We are left with a monstrous cliffhanger that has left me on pins and needles.

It is amazing.   Robin Hobb wrote a fabulous book.  I’m impatient for the next book and you will be too once you’ve read this.  If you’ve read all her books get this as soon as you can.  You won’t be sorry.  If you haven’t read Robin Hobbs, go get ‘Assassin’s Apprentice’ and savor every moment of her fabulous trilogy’s. On a side note, ‘The Liveship Traders’ and ‘The Rainwild Chronicles’ are set between the trilogy’s concerning Fitz.  They are related and part of Hobbs Six Duchies world but if you can’t wait to find out about Fitz you can skip them, in my opinion.  Make sure you read them at some point, however.

For another opinion check out another review at  tenaciousreader.

I received ‘Fools Assassin’ from Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group – Del Ray Spectra in return for an honest review.


“The Book of Life” – Deborah Harkness

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(Release Date July 15, 2017)

Where to start, where to start, where to start….well, let’s start at the beginning.  This is the third and final installment of the ‘All Souls Trilogy’ by Deborah Harkness.  If you have not read ‘Discovery of Witches’ that is where this beautiful group of books begins.  If you have read it, you may have loved it, or possibly came away a little lukewarm due to the hype surrounding it.  I enjoyed ‘s Discovery of Witches’ and badgered quite a few like-minded people until they read it.  I was impatient for the second book and picked it up the minute I could.  I felt a bit let down, I blame my expectations partially , then waited a couple of months and read it again. I figured out what bothered me.  You can read my review here, (Shadow of Night) if you are curious, and I think it has more to do with it being a second book in a trilogy than being a lesser book.  The first book sets up the story, the second takes you to the depths of the problem/conflict, and the third is  resolution.  Harkness delivers with ‘The Book of Life.  I am content.  When I reached the end I wanted go back to the beginning and read it again.

Diana and Matthew return to the present day after their sojourn to 15th century Europe in search of ‘The Book of Life.’  Their return , while desired, is bittersweet.  The present day did not stop and they are greeted with news of death, and challenges the ‘Knights of Lazarus’ faced from The Congregation in their absence.  Harkness ties in the genetic studies of Matthew, Miriam, and Marcus with Diana’s study of alchemy and ‘The Book of Life.’ The why of the witches power lessening,  vampire’s lessening ability to make children, and daemon increased descent into madness is all answered.   Harkness ties up the loose ends into a well thought out pay off.

The trilogy has received criticism of gender roles and dynamics of gender in relationships.  It has been stated that Diana defers and accepts the aggressive protective tendencies of a traditional male all to quickly.  This dynamic does exist in the books, and is an issue dealt with by not only Diana and Matthew, but also other creatures in the book. Vampires exhibit a strong protective instinct that is animalistic.   They have  lived for centuries and bring with them the traditional values of when they were made.  Daemons and witches have a human life span and embrace modern notions.   The three books challenge sexism, segregation and the basis of a traditional belief structure.   A nice aspect of the books is it deals not only with the romance of happily ever after, but complexity of marriage.  Day to day issues, compromise and growth in a relationship all exist in the book.  It makes it clear that relationships romantic and otherwise are not static and involve compromise and challenge.  I believe people who were irritated or aggravated by Diana’s perceived lack of power and willingness to acquiesce will enjoy this book.  They will see her and others come into their own.  It delves into balance and costs of power.

If you enjoyed ‘Discovery of Witches’ I do not hesitate to guarantee you that you will adore this book.  To those on the fence or those that questioned ‘A Discovery of Witches,’ if you are willing read the second and get the third book I think you will find was worth your time.

I received ‘The Book of Life’ by Deborah Harkness from  Penguin Group – Viking in return for an honest review.


“Books on Tap for the Month of July”

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It’s not quite July 1st  but its closer than last month.  It’s all about progress my friends.  For the past two month I’ve been giving you an idea of what books I will review.  If you are following this I am sure you have noticed that you do get a review on the three or four I post here, but I always sneak in other reads, guilty pleasures and the like.  I try to set expectations I know I can  achieve, maybe I set them a little low, but when I surpass expectation I am a golden child (at least in my eyes.)  I recommend adopting this in your own life.  It creates less sensations of guilt, disappointed looks and lectures.  For me, I would rather you hit me than tell me you are disappointed in me, so, I avoid it as much as possible.  Below is the list of reviews I am committing to supplying you this month.  I hope you enjoy them.

Fool's Assassin (The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy, #1)

‘Fools Assassin” by Robin Hobb published by Random House Publishing Group – Del Rey Spectra    (Publish Date 8/12/14)

WHY AM I INTERESTED?

I started reading Robin Hobb books last year starting with Assassin’s Apprentice.  It is important to know that while this the first of  ‘The Fitz and The Fool’ trilogy it is not the first in this story.  There are two other trilogy’s that deal with Fitz Chivalry Farseer and additional trilogies tied to the Fool.  I say this so you do not start here.  I would also say what are you waiting on?  Robin Hobb’s Farseer books are amazing and if you say you are a true fantasy reader you have to read at least one them.  I am throwing my down the gauntlet and recommend starting with ‘Assassin’s Apprentice’ in the Farseer trilogy.

Okay, all logistics aside, I love Fitz Chivalry and the Fool.  I was ecstatic to hear Robin Hobb was writing another series about the Farseers and delving back into the lives of characters that are beloved to me.  The story is another world similar to our middle ages with magic and dragons.  Dragons are not always handled well,  but Robin Hobb treats them respectfully and creates a strong mythology for them.  ‘The Fitz and The Fool’ starts with Fitz living at Withywood with Molly and Patience in a nice settled life until pale strangers turn up in his life and bring with them death.   Just when Fitz pulled  himself out they found a way to pull him back into the Farseer drama. 😉 I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!

‘The Book of Life’ by Deborah Harkness published by Penguin Group Viking   (Publish Date 7/15/14)

WHY I AM INTERESTED ?

This is the third installment of ‘The All Souls Trilogy’ that started with ‘A Discovery of Witches’  ‘A Discovery of Witches’ has been termed Twilight for adults.  I take issue with that comment despite the fact there are overbearing protective vampires in the book and there is a romance.  The story starts with a reluctant witch, Diana, who while doing historical research on alchemy finds herself embroiled in a centuries long search for ‘The Book of Life.’  No one knows for sure what the book is but the mythos is that it is the first grimoire, it is the genetic history of all creatures, etc.  Vampires, witches, and daemons are all searching for this book and Diana found it in her hands out of sheer chance.  This takes Diana into a search for the book, who she is, and her capabilities as a witch.  She is an intelligent and strong woman.  She and Matthew, a vampire, find themselves traveling back to the 15th century in search to find ‘The Book of Life’ before it was damaged.  I have to say I was not as impressed with the second book  as the first but I still enjoyed it.  The final installment, ‘The Book of Life’ is wrapping everything up.  I’ve already started it.  The minute I was approved to receive the ARC from Netgalley I dived in.  I say with a sigh of relief and contentment  it is full of action, favorite characters, and intrigue! I’m loving every minute of it and am not disappointed at all .  I’m about 80% done and the review will be here before you know it.

The Girl (The Sanctum, #1)

‘The Girl’ – Madhuri Blaylock published by Lucy Publishing

WHY AM I INTERESTED?

The book is the first in a series set in New York city  but with Magicals living in the midst of unknowing humans.  Sounds like my type of book.  The Sanctum is the all-powerful governing body founded by ten families  The Sanctum ensures the peace amongst Magicals and the ignorance of the humans.  The question is after generations of power is The Sanctum truly well-meaning or has it been corrupted over time? Wyatt Clayworth is sent out to extinguish the life of a prophesied hybrid destined to destroy The Sanctum and the world.  Instead of finding a terror of gargantuan proportions he finds a broken, haunted girl.  The questions begin of what the truth is and where will it lead.  An alternate New York City?  A corrupt governing institution? Prophesies of the end of the world?  – Well, of course I want to read it, it sound like bit of good old earth ending fun.

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)

‘Angelfall’ – Susan Ee published by Feral Dream

WHY AM I INTERESTED?

This has been in my ‘to be read’ list for some time and every time I read the summary I wonder why I haven’t gotten to it yet.  It is about angels coming to earth and engaging in a war with humans.  Penryn is a female teenage protagonist that is trying to keep her schizophrenic mother and her wheel chair bound seven-year old sister from dying of starvation.  The realities of surviving when water and food are scarce is one hazard but so are strangers looking for the same resources, and the angels.  One day Penryn finds herself in the midst of angels trying to kill one of their own kind.  As a distraction, while her mother and sister are to run away, Penryn throws the angel in distress his sword.  He survives but the other angels take Penryn’s sister, her mother is gone, and Penryn and this angel make an uneasy alliance.

I’m looking forward to this.  I like the concept of angels in fantasy, but haven’t found a series I think lives up to the potential.  I am hoping this one does.

 


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