Friday, November 30, 2012

Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

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Maeve, daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, was badly burned as a child and carries the legacy of that fire in her crippled hands. After ten years she’s returning home as a courageous, forthright woman with a special gift for taming difficult animals. But while her body’s scars have healed, her spirit remains fragile, as she fears the shadows of her past.

Sevenwaters is in turmoil. The fey prince Mac Dara has become desperate to see his only son, who is married to Maeve’s sister, return to the Otherworld. To force Lord Sean’s hand, Mac Dara has caused a party of innocent travelers on the Sevenwaters border to vanish.

When Maeve finds one of the missing travelers murdered in the woods, she and her brother Finbar embark on a journey that may bring about the end of Mac Dara’s reign — or lead to a hideous death. But if she is successful, Maeve may open a door to a future she has not dared to believe possible...


Flame of Sevenwaters is the 6th (!) book in the Sevenwaters series. I must say the magic has somewhat worn off in the last few books. Not that they're not charming, enjoyable reads, but they're not mind-blowing, gut-wrenching love stories anymore like the first one was. There's been a clear formula for at least the last 2 or so books now. Girl has given up on men. Mystical hilarity ensues. Girl finds shmexy leading man after all.

I think what really got me was the abruptness of Maeve's love interest. Out of the blue...and they just KNOW and then they're engaged. And that's not really how love works...and those aren't the love stories I like to read.

All in all, as I said, this book was charming, but fluffy and read like YA. It was a quick, enjoyable, light read. While I probably won't read this one up again, I will pick up the next Sevenwaters book (if there is one).

Bottom Line
 To sum it up: The Sevenwaters legacy continues.
Overall Rating: 3 / 5
Buy or Try? Try
More? Standalone but 6 / 6 in series

Content
Plot: 3 / 5
Setting: 4 / 5
Characters: 2 / 5 (somewhat flat and cookie cutter compared to Marillier's other works)
Style
Pace: Fast
Descriptiveness: Prose
Fantasy factor: Magical Realism

Amazon.com link

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Oh Hey Guys...

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Long time no see.

I left off reviewing books due to sheer exhaustion at my job...you'll notice that one month after I started work, I stopped writing.

Nearly two years later I think I've at least gotten used to it (mostly). Either way I started jonesing for a space to review, and it's still here.

Hopefully I will finish my next book soon...I am reading Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier. Other reviews aren't all that great so far, but it's a quick read and worth a try, for nostalgia's sake if nothing else.

Either way, it's good to be back. :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

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Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. For instance, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? Why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life.

Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.
Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth and in the hope of bringing back the love she fears she’s lost forever. In Julia, Emily may have found a link to her mother’s past. But why is everyone trying to discourage Emily’s growing relationship with the handsome and mysterious son of Mullaby’s most prominent family? Emily came to Mullaby to get answers, but all she’s found so far are more questions.

Is there really a ghost dancing in her backyard? Can a cake really bring back a lost love? In this town of lovable misfits, maybe the right answer is the one that just feels…different.


I am a huge fan of Sarah Addison Allen's first two books. I am from the south, and her books are set in North Carolina small towns. Her descriptors make me nostalgic, and the magic in her books is a soft, domestic sort of magic. My favorite is still The Sugar Queen.

This book just didn't have that magic touch, I thought. It seems more like a YA book, so it may be exactly what some people like. Those amazing descriptors are still in this book, but it seems a more shallow story, and it just didn't touch my heart like the previous two did.

If you like southern fiction with a touch of down home magic, I definitely recommend Sarah Addison Allen's books. However, I would also recommend starting out with one of the others first, unless you're a fan of YA fiction also.

Bottom Line
 To sum it up: A magical southern to the core story about family and getting back to your roots.
Overall Rating: 3 / 5
Buy or Try? Try
More? Standalone

Content
Plot: 3 / 5
Setting: 4 / 5
Characters: 3 / 5
Style
Pace: Slow
Descriptiveness: Poetry
Fantasy factor: Magical Realism

Amazon.com link

Blackveil by Kristen Britain

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WARNING: I try to avoid spoilers, but they are possible (even probable), since this is the fourth book of the Green Rider series. Green Rider (review here) is the first. I recommend reading them in order.

This review actually has some spoilers (clearly marked). I appreciated the warning on the crazy shit that goes on in this book, so I imagine there are some others out there too that prefer to know what they're getting into before taking on a book like this.
Once a simple student, Karigan G'ladheon finds herself in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand when she becomes a legendary Green Rider-one of the magical messengers of the king. Forced by magic to accept a dangerous fate she would never have chosen, headstrong Karigan has become completely devoted to the king and her fellow Riders.

But now, an insurrection led by dark magicians threatens to break the boundaries of ancient, evil Blackveil Forest-releasing powerful dark magics that have been shut away for a millennium. 


I think the subtext "long-awaited sequel" has been on every Kristen Britain book since Green Rider. Here are the respective publication dates of each Green Rider book:

Green Rider (1998)
First Rider's Call (2003)
The High King's Tomb (2007)
Blackveil (2011)

To be a Kristen Britain fan, one must be very patient to wait 4-5 years between books. That said, though, it's easy to be patient generally. Britain has always made an effort to wrap up at least some plotlines and let the reader have a sense of closure, even if the story is still ongoing. No such luck with Blackveil. Ginormous cliffhanger at the end, so if you have a problem with that I'd hold out for the next one to come out first.

This book was a lot darker and more mature than previous books as well. Be prepared for travel into "ookey" territory more than the other books. Still on the PG-13 side though, imo. All in all, I enjoyed it immensely, more than the third book that's for sure. Aside from tying up some messy, random plotlines from #3, it was a cleanly written and a fast read (for such a long book that is.) I couldn't put it down. Very refreshing after #3.

Once again, the romance aspects and character interactions make the book feel sort of light, but the rest of the plot is very dark and lends some depth to the book.

THAR BE SPOILERS AHEAD

So there are some odd things about this book. First, Zachary gets shot in an assassination attempt, and for the good of the country (mostly), his advisers decide to conduct a sham marriage between him and Estora, with Colin saying "I do" for the king, since he's out cold. There's some sort of ritual where some people have to watch the king and queen do it for the first time, and this ritual still occurs even though Zachary is delerious. Estora and Zachary are both drugged, and they have sex...Zachary thinking Estora is Karigan, and Estora being blackmailed by her cousin. It's really weird, and I think that surely there was some way for the story to go the same general way that didn't involve this weirdness.

END SPOILERS

So other than some strange twists in the story, I really liked Blackveil a lot. It brought me back to the first two books, and there was never a dull moment, that's for sure. I could see hints of how the book series might end too, which was nice. I am hoping that the fifth will be the last. As much as I will miss new books, I think it's time for the series to conclude. Blackveil feels like the beginning of the end, and I hope not to get another "let's drag this out and make more money" book after this one being so much better than The High King's Tomb.

Bottom Line
 To sum it up: Exciting, dark, and memorable.
Overall Rating: 4 / 5
Buy or Try? Buy
More? 4 / 4 so far. Unsure of how many there will be total...it was initially to be a trilogy.

Content
Plot: 4 / 5
Setting: 4 / 5
Characters: 3.5 / 5
Style
Pace: Fast
Descriptiveness: Prose
Fantasy factor: High Fantasy

Amazon.com link

Challenges: 2011 Fantasy Reading Challenge

Thursday, March 10, 2011

High King's Tomb by Kristen Britain

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WARNING: I try to avoid spoilers, but they are possible (even probable), since this is the third book of the Green Rider series. Green Rider (review here) is the first. I recommend reading them in order.

A thousand years ago the armies of the Arcosian Empire, led by Mornhavon the Black, crossed the great sea and tried to conquer the land of Sacoridia —and during Karigan G'ladheon's early years as a Green Rider, Mornhavon's spirit, sensing weakness in his prison walls and seeking vengeance, began to wake. With the ghostly help of the First Rider, Karigan had managed to drive off the spirit of Mornhavon—but for how long, no one could know. And now, the descendants of those Arcosians are ready to strike, reaching out to claim the land their forebears had tried to conquer. Worse, these vengeful enemies had spent generations honing their powers of dark magic—a force against which the Sacoridians had no defense…

I love this series. Really. I do. But it should have been a trilogy. I think someone was trying to get their money's worth out of this author, so she was signed up for a 90 bazillion book deal instead of what she had originally planned to do, which simply wasn't making them enough money.  

The Green Rider series was supposed to be a trilogy, as far as I know, up until the second book. In my opinion it shows. First Rider's Call reads like a good second book...things are coming together, almost ready to be tied up and brought together in the final volume. 

However, The High King's Tomb takes all of that and spins off in another direction. I felt like the plot of this one was kind of out of left field, and now that I've read the fourth (review forthcoming), I think this book was just a way to extend the series. It didn't really move the plot along, and more served to introduce more characters and plotlines that couldn't be resolved in just one more book.

Godbeings were introduced as well, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. Again, it just did not seem like it went along with where the second book was going. That said, with the fourth book now out, the third book is a nice tie-in to the series, although it seemed to have more "filler" than the rest. Filler for this author, though, still makes for an entertaining read.


Bottom Line
 To sum it up: If you like this series so far, don't stop now. :)
Overall Rating: 3.5 / 5
Buy or Try? Buy
More? 3 / 4 so far. Unsure of how many there will be total...it was initially to be a trilogy.

Content
Plot: 2.5 / 5
Setting: 4 / 5
Characters: 3 / 5
Style
Pace: Middlin'
Descriptiveness: Prose
 
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