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

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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

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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

 

 

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Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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

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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

Book Review · Uncategorized

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

4 out of 5 starsA Darker

Contrary to what my lack of posting implies, I’ve actually been reading books and watching movies these last few weeks. What I haven’t been doing is sitting my butt down at the computer and getting my reviews written down.  I promise to do better. And so this week, I present to you the fantasy novel, A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab. This book is the first in her Shades of Magic series, and it introduces us to a world in which four alternate Londons exist in separate magical realities. Travelling between these realities is a skill only possessed by people born with special magical abilities, and Kell is one such person. Kell is a messenger and ambassador for Red London and he moves between three of the four Londons.

Per the book description:

Kell is one of the last Antari―magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes―Red London―and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

I really enjoyed this book and I definitely have the next book in the series on my to-read list. I think Schwab does a decent job of world building but, as the story revolves more around the magic systems in each London, as opposed to the locales, I didn’t feel fully invested in the Londons. She does, however, present the reader with a fully fleshed and well-thought out magic system, that varies with each one of the Londons and with the people wielding them. It looks as if the next book in the series will delve more deeply into the actual worlds outside of the Londons and will focus on the character of Delilah Bard.

I’m looking forward to the next installment. This week, I’m reading Mr. Flood’s Last Resort by Jess Kidd. I hope you all are having a good summer. It’s been busy around here, what with a family camping trip and a new puppy, but I hope to be more active online in the coming weeks.

Kind regards,

Anne