Reading, Writing and Reviewing
As work becomes less intensive I feel I ought to contribute something to the blog. I have read and enjoyed several books of late. Unfortunately none of them inspired me with the burning need to write full length reviews. Instead I will gather them all in one post – into a mass reviewing of books.
Free Agent by J.C. Nelson was a fun, fast-paced romp through a fantastical urban setting drawing heavily on fairy tale imagery. The protagonist works for the local Fairy Godfather, who will help you find your Happily-Ever-After for a reasonable fee. When working on assignment, Marissa mistakes a blacksmith for a prince things start to unravel around her. She is suspended from the job she loves and hates. She causes her crush to be targeted by a dangerous curse. She ends up in the hospital on more than one occasion from near death experiences. But things turn really dangerous when her boss is targeted by a rival Fairy Godmother. Sorting out all the tangles and surviving to work another day is not an easy task. The writing is fun and imaginative. The story is high energy and fun. I will be adding the (yet unpublished) sequel to my book-list.
Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan is the third and conclusive book in the Lynburn Legacy novels. I really enjoy the character development in Brennan’s writing. Yes, it is a young adult novel. So yes, it follows around a bunch of hormonal teenagers. However, Brennan doesn’t write dialogue like teenagers speak. Her characters are far more engaging. They have distinct voices that are often filled with lively banter and cleverly crafted phrases. With the author’s awareness of classic tropes, she handily makes fun of many of the clichéd moments in the story. Even the main character is able to reflect on how easy life would be if she was an orphaned heroine, rather than burdened with a family she cares about. I really appreciate the variety of relationships built (or broken) in the story. The inclusion and prominent use of family in the story helps to build a world that is real. While we might not be facing an army of murderous wizards, we can all relate to family feuds that disrupt our lives. It is the characters that drive the story and create the interesting world of Sorry-in-the-Vale. I really did love this series.
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas is the third book in the Throne of Glass series. I have really enjoyed following the saga of Celeana – world’s best assassin. It is a richly developed world with multiple locations and people all interacting at various points. Though the story revolves around Adarlan and its recent abolishment of magic and all those associated with it. It is a kingdom set to conquer the world – seemingly at any cost. Despite the inclusion of the fey, the world is interesting. Celeana is a fascinating character. She is not the most verbose of leads, but her actions are loud and energetic. There is something engaging about her struggles in a world that has become increasingly grim. My biggest complaint of the book that followed not only Celeana, but Captain Westfall, Prince Dorian and the Heir of the Blackteeth clan was the lack of conclusion. For whatever reason, I had it in my mind this series was only three books in length. I was a little surprised and disappointed to reach the end of the book and not have a conclusion to the story. On the other hand I have another book to look forward to. It is a fun, if somewhat violent, young adult fantasy setting. Still I enjoyed it.
Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn is the sequel to Trubled Waters. The story is nice (if somewhat predictable), the characters are nice, and the pacing is a tad on the slow side. What draws me to this series is the world. I love the description of the capital city with its temples, plaza of women and men, the potentially dangerous river, and the mix of modern elements. There are a number of more ‘modern’ elements mixed with more traditional fantasy; from the trousers and tunics worn my most people to the automobiles clogging the city streets. Yet this is a world where the sword (or knife) is the deadliest weapon. Magic is both overt with the primes and their ability to move the elements and subtle when mixed with the spiritual religion. While I appreciate the author’s reorganization of the calendar into five seasons, each eight weeks long with a changeday between them. Each week is nine days. I like the neat organization of the calendar. But I love the religion and its focus on blessings. There are eight blessings (things like wealth, change, joy, etc) for each ‘element’ (wood, water, earth, air, and fire). At the temples you pull your blessings three at a time. They can offer guidance or reflection for where you are in life. I like that while you are typically born into an element it does not depend on your parents and is more a reflection of your personality. There is something about this setting that I find lovely. It is more for the setting that I read this series and will continue to read this series.
Tin Swift by Devon Monk is book two in her rough and tumble new world western frontier setting. It is an age of steam and mechanism, with rail lines crossing the land and airships sailing above. It is a land where the gods can curse a man. Where the fey are dark and hungry, the thing of shadows and nightmares. Witches are few and clustered together in covens. Man is restless as he seeks his fortune (whether that is power, safety or freedom). It is a rough world filled with violence, death and mysterious dark forces. But there are also glimmers of hope mingled in the mixing of magic and machine. There is something intriguing about the gritty world Monk has created. The writing itself is also well-constructed.