Book Review · Uncategorized

Book Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews

magic truimphs

3 out of 5 stars

You know how that saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” Well, that’s kinda of what happened here with the final book in Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series, Magic Triumphs. We all knew that the end was coming but I just didn’t think it would be such a let-down. The author(s) tied up every loose end from the series, and that’s the problem. It was all too convenient and the ending felt rushed. (This could just be my sour grapes that one of my favorite series is coming to an end but I don’t think so.)

From the book description:

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.

Despite my disappointment with this final installment, I am looking forward to Andrew’s new material.

Happy reading!

Anne

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Book Review · Uncategorized

Book Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

kill the queen

3 out of 5 stars

Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep was a solid, entertaining fantasy but it did not blow me away. The world building was fine, the magic system was believable, and the plot ticked all the boxes. That being said, the things that killed it for me were the usual fantasy tropes, the heroine who becomes an expert fighter in mere weeks, the villain (in this case, the Princess Vasilia) with zero redeeming qualities, the plucky band of supporting characters, add in a dash of romance and the whole thing felt lacking and a bit unoriginal.

From the cover description:

Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.
In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.
But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.
Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.
But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

It was a quick read and I was entertained which is why I gave it three stars but I probably won’t pick up the second book in the series. That’s all for today. Happy reading, everyone!

Kind regards,

Anne

Book Review · Uncategorized

Book Review: A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

4 out of 5 stars

history of dragons

I loved reading A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan and I couldn’t be more delighted to find out that this is the first in a series of five books, The Memoirs of Lady Trent.  The book is set in an alternate Victorian universe, one that stays true to the manners and rules imposed on the gentry during those times but populated by dragons. Lady Isabella Trent just wants to study dragons but is constrained by her family and society’s rules for ladies at that time.

Per the back cover description:

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.

Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

This book is no bodice-ripper, and some readers may be put off by the stilted language and exasperating choices made by Isabella throughout the story, but she lives in a time where (in our world), people covered up chair and table legs so as not to shock the ladies and possibly arouse the men with thoughts of uncovered ankles. I feel like author captured that feeling perfectly. The world-building was excellent and I enjoyed the characters immensely. The dragons were not as fleshed-out, but that is to be expected when the premise of the book hinges on the fact that they have not been studied extensively and that is what Isabella endeavors to do.

I highly recommend this book for young adult on up, and I will be looking for the next book in the series, The Tropic of Serpents.

Kind regards,

Anne

Book Review · Uncategorized

Book Review: The Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish

voodoo book 1

3 out of 5 stars

Let me just start by saying I enjoyed this book enough that now that I know there is a sequel, I’ll hate myself but I’ll probably still buy it. That said, it still drove me crazy. It was a slow start for me and the protagonist, Kincaid Strange felt like a very familiar character, a conglomeration of similar tough women leads you find in urban paranormal series (like a Jane Yellowrock or a Kate Daniels.) Leather jacket – check. Motorcycle – check. “Don’t give a shit” attitude – check. Kincaid is a quasi-voodoo practitioner who makes her living by raising zombies and communing with ghosts in Seattle. Despite the slow start, the middle parts flew but then you get toward the end and it just becomes a mess again. It made for a confusing, unsatisfying ending.

Per the back cover description:

For starters, she’s only twenty-seven. Then there’s the fact that she lives in rain-soaked Seattle, which is not exactly Haiti. And she’s broke. With raising zombies outlawed throughout the continental USA, Kincaid has to eke out a living running seances for university students with more money than brains who are desperate for guitar lessons with the ghost of a Seattle grunge rocker–who happens to be Kincaid’s on-again, off-again roommate.
Then a stray zombie turns up outside her neighborhood bar: Cameron Wight, an up-and-coming visual artist with no recollection of how he died or who raised him. Not only is it dangerous for Kincaid to be caught with an unauthorized zombie, she soon realizes he’s tied to a spate of murders: someone is targeting the zombies and voodoo practitioners in Seattle’s infamous Underground City, a paranormal hub. When the police refuse to investigate, the City’s oldest and foremost zombie asks Kincaid to help. Raising ghosts and zombies is one thing, but finding a murderer? She’s broke, but she’s not stupid.
And then she becomes the target… As the saying goes, when it rains it pours, especially in Seattle.

I suppose if you look at this book as more of a foundational, world-building story, then that would go a long way toward excusing the disorganized plot. I like it enough to stick with it and I have high hopes that the second book will be better than the first. I’ll let you know, once I get a chance to read it.

I’m not reading as much these days as I’m focusing on my writing for the next few months. I’ll also be working on setting up an Etsy shop for some of my handicrafts and vintage tea cups. My plate is full but that’s the way I like it.

Best wishes for the New Year!

Kind regards,

Anne

 

 

Book Review · Uncategorized

Book Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

4 out of 5 stars for Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Dread Nation

I wasn’t prepared to like this book as much as I did but the story concept and cover art definitely hooked me in the bookstore. I decided to give it a try. I am a big fan of Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies so I had high hopes for the Civil War undead and I was not disappointed, although the story had a few issues (as all zombie stories seem to have). The book is set in an alternate reality in which zombies rise up from the ground at Gettysburg and the United States is changed forever. Our protagonist, Jane McKeene, is finishing her schooling in combat and manners Miss Preston’s School of Combat.

Per the book description:

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.
In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.
But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.
But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.
And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

I like to have a character to root for in my stories and Dread Nation gave me several, including Jane and her rival-turned-friend Katherine. In addition, the author makes some timely social and political points within a story set during the Civil War. She hits on racism, both systematic and overt, as well as laws that on the surface are for the good of society as a whole but really bad for the disenfranchised.

My issue, as mentioned above, is as always why clumsy, slow-moving brainless dead can only be killed by certain characters, while everyone else is helpless zombie/story fodder.  It’s nitpicky but I’m gonna keep picking at it. The author does try to address this later in the story, hinting at a deeper plot but it was an unsatisfying explanation. It didn’t keep me from devouring this book though.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loved Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies. Dread Nation was fresh enough to keep me engaged. With violence and mild sexual references, I feel this book is suitable for teens and older.

I apologize for the long delay between blog posts. As always, I’ll try to do better. Thanks for sticking with me.

Kind regards,

Anne

 

 

 

 

Book Review · Uncategorized

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

3 1/2 out of 5 stars for Uprooted by Naomi Novik

20180908_092334 (1)

As everyone knows, I loves me a reimagined fairy tale, and that’s just what Naomi Novik has given us with Uprooted. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I loved this particular fairy tale but there was enough to like about it that I have gone on to buy her second book set in her magical world, Spinning Silver. The protagonist of Uprooted is a village girl named Agnieszka, who grows up on the outskirts of a deadly magical wood and the tower of the realm’s protector, a wizard everyone calls “The Dragon.”

Per the book description:

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I didn’t love this book, mainly because it would bog down in repetitive descriptions of Agnieszka’s torn and messy clothes and her country bumpkin upbringing. She didn’t really solidify as a coherent character for me until well past the half-way mark of the narrative. What saved this book for me? Well, the story kept giving me surprises just when it was feeling a bit predictable. The author then managed to pull out a hat trick for a very satisfying ending. I don’t want to spoil it for you.

As Uprooted was the first book set in this world, I think the author struggled a bit in the beginning with character development but I have high hopes that the next book. I would recommend Uprooted for a late teen to older reader as it does contain a few sexual situations.

It is back-to-school week here in my hometown and that means more time for my personal pursuits. Happy pumpkin spice to you all!

Kind regards,

Anne

Art Mosaics · Uncategorized

Summer 2018 Wrap-up

39878849_10156615648969181_4849174109050896384_o (1)My Glass-on-Glass Mosaic Project August 2018

I packed so much into this summer, the only thing I didn’t get to is this blog. I’m sorry about that. I had intended to be a much more frequent blogger than I turned out to be.
I packed in camping trips, family visits, cider pressing, final edits on our latest Renna Olsen manuscript, home improvements, and finished up with a four day glass-on-glass mosaic camping retreat with Kory Dollar of Marvelous Mosaics Fine Art. Now, it’s the final weekend before school starts, and I think we’re ready.

This coming week, I’m back on my head. I’ll be posting a review of the fantasy novel, Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. I’ll also be getting back to work on my current writing project. You can check out my writing wrap-up on our blog: http://litzophreniacs3.net

As for crafting, this week I’m working on tea cup pin cushions. My mom and I have booked our first craft bazaar for later this year and we’ll be working feverishly to get all our projects done before November.

Thanks for your patience. I promise to do better.

Kind regards,

Anne