A Light in the Darkness: A Review of Shadow and Bone


As my reading frenzy continues, I devoured yet another novel: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardvgo.

Final thoughts: Great story, weak ending.

I had the same problem with A Court of Thorns and Roses, I know there are second novels to come and unanswered questions but it ends in too much of a happy ending. Granted, you can’t really call the end of Shadow and Bone happy, but our main character prevailed and there is no immediate danger. I know this is just a personal preference, but at the end of the first novel there should be more problems than resolutions and more questions than answers. I have a very bittersweet relationship with cliffhanger endings, but I find I’m usually disappointed when they aren’t there.

Bradvgo does a good job of skirting that line between good and evil, but I wish the Darkling had a bit more of a human edge. I understand that it’s important to the story that he doesn’t and that the character itself has developed to be less humanly, but I think it would have been harder to dislike him, which would have made the read all the more thrilling.

My favourite character has to be Mal. No, not just because he has the same name as one of my all time favourite space captains, but he is the unwavering tree that you take shelter under during the storm. He seems like a real guy to me, which I don’t find very often in novels, as usually I find male characters the embodiment of what women expect, which is not even close to what they are. Mal, actually falters with his feelings, he’s slow to realize them and quick to act on his impulses. He’s actually a dude! He even develops like I expect a boy would in a circumstance like his. It’s safe to say I like Mal more than I like Alina.

I did really enjoy reading this novel. While, I didn’t order the next two novels just yet, you can rest accused that they are definitely on my to-buy list. If my other half has to keep his gaming purchases in check, it’s only fair I do the same with my book-buying obsession. But I digress…

Bardvgo has a great handle on character development and I find myself eager to find out how Alina develops further. Her handle on the psychological edge that Alina teetered along the whole book was spectacular. I do love it when main characters are damaged and have a fragile human core just like the rest of us…

(Cat interruptions – U////////////…..)
I love my furry baby, but she can’t keep her paws off my keyboard!

Excuse the interruption, I will now valiantly press on with the looming siege of kitty paw’s close at hand.

As I was saying, we all love when protagonists seem so bitterly human that we can relate, I mean that’s why we read don’t we? As Alina we want to feel less alone, no matter the amount of loneliness that holds it’s place within us.

This has evolved into more of review of the reader than the novel. Oops.

Anyhow, I do indeed recommend Shadow and Bone. It’s a good quick read. I look forward to seeing Alina’s progression, as well as Bardvgo’s.

Top of the Charts: A Review of A Court of Thorns and Roses


Literally, moments ago I read the last few pages of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and I’ve got to say, Maas has done it again. I’ve loved every single one of her Throne of Glass novels and now she’s got a new series I’m so excited about I pre-ordered the second book, A Court of Mist and Fury before I even finished reading the first book.

I’m sorry Snyder, just Maas has just beat you to the top of my favourites list.

A Court of Thorns and Roses seems to start off slow, building your understanding of the main character, Feyre. Also, I have to appreciate that within the first ten pages, Maas actually explains the pronunciation of Feyre so that I stupidly wasn’t reading it wrong through the whole book. It was very subtle and perfectly placed.

Some of the later plot points are kind of obvious and you can tell from which stories Maas has used these incidences, but we’re all guilty of that. I believe someone said there are only a finite amount of stories in the world and they’re all re-told in different ways.

Maas’ prose keep you captivated throughout the novel and her descriptive talents are intimidating to say the least. Rarely was I reading, but rather watching the story unfold in my mind’s eye.

The story flows very well, and while I sometimes struggled with the rather “quaint” intelligence of Feyre I really loved the novel. To be fair, her character is a minimally educated, young and impoverished girl so I can’t really blame her lack of knowledge on anything but her situation.

I highly recommend this to those looking for a great fantasy read. Especially if you’re into faerie lore. I absolutely devoured this book.

I don’t really recommended it to the guys though, despite some really great “steamy” scenes, this novel is really geared towards a female reader.

Back in the Saddle: A Review of Night Study by Maria V. Snyder


Last night, I did that thing we all do. I stayed up late, sitting up in my bed to finish an enticing novel.

I know I mentioned a review of Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins, but I finished that and felt like it was a lesson I’m going to need to mull over for a while.

Any who, I finished  Night Study by Maria V. Snyder, one of my favourite fantasy authors. Now, when I read Shadow Study, Snyder’s first attempt to revive the Study Series I was not impressed. Shadow Study felt forced. It was as if I was being spoon-fed one “oh shit!” scenario after another without much plot in between. Snyder relied too heavily on her reader’s former investment in the majority of her characters to really have them rounded out this time around. The only character in Shadow Study I thought had any real plot to handle was Valek, and that’s only because he had multiple flash-backs.

Night Study is a completely different experience.

The best way I can describe the two novels is that moment when you stumble over your own feet while walking and you break into a run so no one notices. Shadow Study is the stumble and the panic, Night Study is the lurch forward and the run that exhilarates and redeems you.

Snyder, to quote a 90’s cliche, got her groove back with Night Study. My favourite characters felt rich and alive again, the plot ran a twisted course which kept me going, and the “Eureka!” moments I had about the plot before the characters just made me feel that much more satisfied.

All in all, Snyder has found her way back into my heart. When I started reading yesterday I was on page 140, the novel ends on page 444. I feel like that says it all. My only two pet peeves are that the new Study Series titles don’t feel anywhere as relevant to the plot as the first three did. Also, the covers of my first three don’t match my fourth and fifth novels because they stopped making the covers I have! Which really pisses me off because they are the best looking covers, in my opinion, and my bookshelf OCD is now going insane. Also Shadow Study has different cover measurements than Night Study. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ABOUT MIRA NOVELS?!?!? I feel as if the publishers are trolling me.

If you haven’t yet read all of Snyder’s Study Series, I suggest you get to it! Poison Study, the first in the series is still one of my favourite reads and I blew through Magic Study, the second in the series, in 48 hours and I was going to school then. Go, go dear readers and experience the heart-breaks and the triumphs of the Study Series. I can’t wait for Dawn Study, which I have to wait another year for!

Holiday Swag – The Wordiest Kind


I thought you’d all want to check out my Holiday Haul!

My family knows me oh-so well and decided that instead of guessing at what I’d like to read they’d just give me Indigo gift cards. Well done family!

Boxing Day Sale = so many lovely books.

Here’s what I got:

Baltasar and Blimunda  by Jose Saramago
The Night Circus  by Erin Morgentern
The Passion of New Eve  by Angela Carter
Night at the Circus by Angela Carter
Maddam by Margaret Atwood
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardvgo
Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Now, I know it’s quite the mixed bag, but so is the inside of my head.

This brings my total of unread books I own up to 38. It’s an addition, okay. I should really join a support group for book buyers… I mean really.

Anyways, some of these titles with be reviewed, hopefully soon.

(We’re getting a new system at work which I need to be an expert on by February 1st, so a lot of studying/reading will be devoted to that, but I’m determined not to let work take over my life this year.)

I raise my books to you and all book lovers, let’s hit that 50 books read goal this year and finish a novel! Okay, I might be getting ahead of myself here. To as many as humanly possible without burning out!

Grave Mercy… Pun Intended?


So I finished Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers today. The title is clearly a pun on the work, which normally I would like, but I didn’t like the book all that much.

Sorry LaFevers, I realize that a lot of research must have poured into this book to get dates and historical accuracy all balanced out, but I had no real feel for the main character Ismae Rienne. She just seemed so feeble to me. She was a novice assassin and all, but she still feared men after all of it.

And her kills! Seriously, could you make death less scary and justified and just plain bland? I felt like being an assassin and killing people would be more exciting less… well there’s no better word than bland.

I didn’t care for the writing style either, but that is just a personal preference. If I’m reading first person and I don’t feel for the main character then something is definitely wrong. But the archaic style in which it was written is relevant to the plot’s setting but I had so much trouble getting into it. Not to mention the plot only picked up in the last 30 or so pages.

Also, the subterfuge amongst the nobles and counts and what have you was just boring to me. I never felt a sense of urgency or danger reading this book. The whole thing was just too polite for backstabbing nobility. I guess I’m used to Game of Thrones where everyone is ruthless when it comes to achieving their plans, I feel like that is true human nature. It’s not so black and white as this novel puts it. (Something I’m trying desperately to incorporate in my own works, it’s all a grey area people!)

The book was well researched and well executed for sure, but it really isn’t my thing. It’s far too harlequin romance for my taste. I feel like it needs a shirtless man baring his nipples on the cover with a woman draped over him touching his taut muscles.

I can see how some may like it and if you do, then good on yah. Either way, I’m not going to continue with the series, just not for me.

Romance? I Don’t Think So


So, as I’m procrastinating my own writing, yet again, I came across this post on my Facebook feed. Now, I usually glance over this kind of over advertised article, but I wanted to see what this blogger had to say about Romance.

15 of the Most Passionate Lines in Romance Novels

Granted, some of these are very famous, but their not particularly “romantic” in my eyes, really they’re just about love and not necessarily passionate either. A lot of the quotes posted I found were more like revelations regarding what love is. Some were corny of course. 

But, these quotes got me thinking about the quotes I keep. Every time I read a book and there’s a passage I want to remember I have a little journal where I write it down. So, I thought I’d share my favourite quotes about love, to keep with the theme here. I think they’re a touch better than what mindopenerz had found. Sorry, mindopenerz, but that’s just my opinion.

“For love is by definition an unmerited gift; being loved without meriting it is the very proof of real love.”

Slowness, Milan Kundera

 

“I realized then the truth about all love: that it is an absolute which takes all or forfeits all. The other feelings, compassion, tenderness, and so on, exist only on the periphery and belong to the constructions of society and habit. But she herself – austere and merciless Aphrodite – is a pagan. It is not our brains or instincts which she picks – but our very bones.”

Justine, Lawrence Durrell

 

“Unfortunately, little darlings, there is no such thing as a simple love story. The most transitory puppy crush is complex to the extent of lying beyond the far reaches of the brain’s understanding. (The brain has a dangerous habit of messing around with stuff it cannot or will not comprehend.) Your author has found love to be the full trip, emotionally speaking; the grand tour: fall in love, visit both Heaven and Hell for the price of one. And that doesn’t begin to cover it. If realism can be decoration, then how can we hope for a realistic assessment of love?”

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Tom Robbins

These are three of my favourite quotes about love. I personally have only been truly in love once in my life, but I have loved so many people. It’s a tricky concept that we will never fully understand, and I think that’s why I love these quotes so much, they don’t flat out say “this is love.” They reveal to you an accept of understanding of love, but not the whole thing, we can never understand the whole thing. That’s why these are my favourites, because love is something you can never define. You can explain accepts of it, the sensations, emotions, realizations, but you can never explain what that pull to another person really is. It can take so many forms in so many ways in so many different scenarios.

My little thought for the day. Cheers and keep reading!

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht… Que?


Yes, I finally finished a book. I feel like it’s taken me a very long time to finish The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht. This was her debut novel. That being said, all of my opinions to come have that in mind, so keep that in mind.

What can I really say about this novel? Well, the praise from all those magazines and such that led me to believe I was going to enjoy myself where wrong, sorry Obreht. Whomever did your marketing deserves great praise.

While, there were moments that I enjoyed I had a few too many issues while reading to say I actually enjoyed the book as a whole. Obreht has great potential as a writer, but the “great story-teller” that the cover of her book claims she is, she is not. She goes into way too much description about the surrounding in which her characters reside. There’s a time and place in writing for in depth description and it’s not every page.

Many of the stories in the novel felt misplaced or irrelevant to the storyline. I honestly still don’t understand who the book is about. Is it about Natalia’s grandfather? Natalia? The tiger’s wife? The deathless man? Ok, so all the characters are associated to one degree or another, but apparently I’m six degrees away from Kevin Bacon, that doesn’t make his life’s story relevant to mine. The stories felt scattered, more like a book of short stories than a novel. I got lost between all the stories and how they connected. I kept waiting for the big connection at the end, that piece that I was missing that most author’s reveal in the end bringing about both a revelation in the main character and the reader. There was no such revelation. I found myself thinking, “Huh? That’s the end? That’s it? Wha?”

I liked the stories with the deathless man, but I feel like they lacked some deeper insight into the truth about death. Don’t ask me what that truth is, I couldn’t tell you but I felt like something was missing. Some stories I found completely unnecessary, like the story of the apothecary, his history was not relevant in ANY way to any of the other characters, not that I could tell anyways.

I felt like Obreht was trying too hard to be profound beyond her years. She’s still young and doesn’t understand a lot of the world. (I’m not saying I do. I know I understand so little of the world at my age that I need desperately to experience more of it.) The book wasn’t all bad, but it was difficult to get through. Maybe her next attempt will be better, who knows!