Well, as we cross into the New Year it is a time of reflection. So I thought I would look back on some of the books I read in December.
The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes
This was by far my favourite book of the season. It was different, new and high adventure. The story revolved around a thief out to procure a book from one of the heavily guarded vaults in the Republic. To accomplish this goal, she collects a varied group of individuals each with a unique skill set. But even that does not make the task much easier as her opponents are both crafty and ruthless.
It was reminiscent of Ocean’s Eleven, if the story was set in the most fantastical of fantasy worlds. This was a high fantasy landscape filled with floating cities, magic, monsters, fairies and gods – or at least their devoted and powerful worshipers.
It was exciting, engaging and so much fun. This is a story I would recommend for those in search of high adventure and some cleaver thieves. Yes, I do plan on reading any and all sequels to this book.
Dragon-Ridden by T.A. White
The dragon-ridden may be a fantasy blend of human and dragon souls, but what set this story apart was not the protagonist suffering from amnesia or the solidly crafted fantasy world. Rather, what has me reflecting back on this book was the surprising element of science-fiction; space travel and colonists from another world. There was just enough information shared with the audience for me to piece together the back story of the protagonist, who has woken from cryogenic sleep after a very long time. That she came from another planet, I don’t think is debatable. That she was part of the crew, a leader, who became the worshiped gods of old is rather intriguing.
While I approach the blending of space travel and a more historic fantasy world with caution, I do feel this author was able to pull off the blend of magic and genetic splicing. I would be interested to read a sequel if they were to write another. Though, I would not rate this book as high as The Palace Job, there were some character actions and words that seemed too forced or awkwardly presented, there was much to interest me in this story that I would give the author another chance.
Cast in Flight by Michelle Sagara
Cast in Flight is book 8 or 9 in the series by Michelle Sagara. I hadn’t really enjoyed the previous book and was figuring I had pretty much finished with the series, even if the author hasn’t. Certainly the first couple of chapters had me wondering if I would just return this book to the library. But I kept at it (I didn’t have anything else out at the time) and in the end I really enjoyed this one. There was more talking, more relationship building and much less fighting. For me it was far more interesting. Funny as I would also say it was far more political in story than many of the other books in the series. Politics is something I usually shy away from. This time I was delighted to spend a book following the lives of Kaylin and her various friends. That said, I am not committed to reading the next novel. And still feel the best series as those in the 4 book range. This one is certainly very, very long.
The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon
Fairy tale in feel the Bird and the Sword started out more interestingly than it ended. It was filled with just enough magic and mystery to make it interesting, but it did start to lag as we progressed through it. Not based on any one fairy tale the story had many familiar elements.
The magic system was sort of interesting in the manner in which it was tied into religion. However, the cliché of burning all witches as mostly boring. I was interested in the way that the protagonist was mute. However, I still question the explanation that she could not communicate telepathically until she could read. The reason being that she didn’t have the words. But she was not deaf, so she still had the words, just not in written form. This a felt was a very weak explanation. And reflective of the whole. Mostly good, an easy read, but not as solid as it could have been. I still enjoyed it, just a little lower on the rating scale.
Smoke and Mirrors by Jess Haines
Okay, it has been a while since I read this book. What I remember was enjoying the story as frivolous fun. I recall a story about a young woman just finishing college for mages in New York (or some other large city) who decides she needs to find a dragon.
Unfortunately, the story suffered from weak writing. My biggest complaint was character inconsistency. One woman is introduced as a terror who hates the protagonist and tries to kill her on first sight. This same violent individual devises a plan of sharing information that leads yet another character to again try and kill the female protagonist. Only, when this attack does go down the violent woman is immediately and inexplicably regretful. She didn’t mean for this to happen even though she set it up.
The author spent way too much time trying to set up very tried and tired scenes. Characters do things because the messy plot dictates this to be so. The main character is supposed to be proud, strong and independent while simultaneously being poor and desperate. She runs hot and cold, weak and strong with the male lead. The tone changes because the scene requires that change, even if it doesn’t fit with the character development.
The author also plotted as many clichéd moments and stereotypical events as possible into one story. Adding more tropes does not make your story better. Sure I appreciate the take on poverty and agree that being poor does not mean that you don’t work hard. But really, you don’t need to lecture me. And if you are so poor, can you really afford to be stupidly stubborn?
The story was light, mostly fun, but poorly written.
Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener
Of the books listed here, I think it was my most disappointing read. For a book that was taking a real event of political intrigue (a treaty between Britain and Russia if memory serves), the author did nothing with it. I loved the setup of a wealthy, well-traveled and unconventional woman hiding out as a chef in Regency London. It was different and the character’s background was devised in such a way to make this seem plausible. What followed after that was poor characterization and a pathetic attempt to play at spy. The characters were lackluster, the plot was rather silly in the end and overall it fell flat. Yes, I realize that it was categorized as a Regency Romance, but the romance was also very lame and poorly handled. Overall, this was a flop.