Archive for August, 2015

OK confession time;  I couldn’t wait to start reading Queen of Shadows before writing my Heir of Fire review, so this is going to be a joint review of both books.

For those of you unaware, Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows are the third and fourth books respectively in Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series. It is  YA fantasy series with a kickass heroine and great worldbuilding.  If you’ve not yet started it, I highly recommend checking it out.

I listened to both books within a fairly short space of time and loved both of them.  Because Queen of Shadows builds upon and develops characters and plot points raised in Heir of Fire, they are excellent to read together.  Many of the cliffhangers in Heir of Fire are also resolved, which is very satisfying.

What I liked

Character development.  We see lots of wonderful character development in our main character, Celaena. When we rejoin Celaena at the beginning of Heir of Fire, she is in a pretty dark place emotionally, reeling from the events of previous book Crown of Midnight.  Throughout Heir she along with new character Rowan works to get her mojo back.  This is a significant chunk of the book.  Such a wonderful character arc.

Her success is expressed in the change of name from Celaena to Aelin in Queen – she has accepted her identity, her past and her powers and is going to use them to kick ass.  Incidentally, I had no issue whatsoever with the name change – Maas has written the character consistently and her “voice” remains the same whether she is “Celaena” or “Aelin.”

Given how much she has progressed in Heir, Aelin’s character development does stall a lot in Queen – the focus is more on kickassedness and achieving the goals she set for herself at the end of Heir.  Personally, I was actually far less engaged in Aelin’s story in Queen because of this.

In Queen, the character development is expressed far more through the character of Manon, and I absolutely LOVED her chapters.  Given the choice between reading about Manon or Aelin in Queen I was far more involved in Manon’s struggles.  I loved how her relationship with her wyvern, Abraxos and with her Thirteen and Elide, caused her to rethink the values and attitudes with which she has been raised.  The Manon we leave at the end of Queen is not the Manon we meet at the beginning of Heir and it was beautiful.  I fully expect to see Manon work to bring down the Matron in the next book.  

Strong female friendships.  There are some pretty cool female characters in the Throne of Glass world; Aelin, Manon, Lysandra, Elide, Asterin to name a few.  Each of these are strong women in their own right, but when they get together thrones will fall, names will be taken and asses will be kicked.  Our characters are stronger and are changed for the better (cue Wicked medley) because they knew each other.  Things would have turned out very differently if it weren’t for the bonds between these women and Maas writes these friendships beautifully.  

Promises delivered.  In Heir, Maas set out some very clear expectations about what was going to happen in Queen and she delivered.  What we expected to happen did happen, which adds up to a very satisfying book.  It didn’t always happen the way we expected, and often there were many unexpected obstacles in our protagonists’ path, but the expected confrontations took place, goals were achieved and people were saved.  

Intriguing minor characters.  We met some new and interesting minor characters.  I was particularly touched by Asterin’s story and I’m really interested to see where Elide’s path takes her.  I have very strong suspicions about young Evangeline and her “citrine” eyes.  It appears yellow eyes have some power over the Valg, so I’m curious to see what part she plays.

What I didn’t like

Promises delivered.  Yes, I know I had this in my what I liked list.  In some ways though, I felt too many loose ends were tied up.  Our characters, other than Dorian, are in pretty good shape.  I was almost left with the feeling that, if the series were to end here, I’d be quite content.  Certainly there are a few open plots for the next book, but nothing that had me thinking I have to have book five NOW.  I’m not certain that that’s altogether a good thing given there are two more books to go.

The Aelin/Manon confrontation.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved that Aelin and Manon finally met, and I loved the developments that came out of their confrontation, but I just didn’t buy how it ended.  Aelin’s thought processes just didn’t ring true. Sorry.

Despite these slight misgivings, I loved both Heir and Queen.  I gave them both 4.5 stars out of five.

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Oh my poor wallet.  September seems to be one of the busiest months for new book releases and there are seven upcoming books about which I am super excited.  Without further ado, here’s the list.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Having just finished Heir of Fire, I am impatient for Queen of Shadows, the next volume in the Throne of Glass series. Heir of Fire was for me the strongest so far in the series and left some very interesting storylines to be followed in the next book.  I look forward to the confrontation between Celaena and Arobynn and to see how Dorian is affected by the events of Heir of Fire.

Queen of Shadows is released on September 1st and I have preordered it on both Kindle and Audible formats.

The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Also released on September 1st is Holly Black’s and Cassandra Clare’s The Copper Gauntlet.  This is the second in the Magisterium series, which, like Harry Potter, is set in a school for magic.  Despite the comparison with Harry Potter, it’s the contrasts with that series that make the Magisterium so interesting.  I did enjoy the Iron Trial, the first book in the series, so I’m interested to see what book two has in store for Calum and his friends.

I have preordered this in Kindle format.

William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge by Ian Doescher

This is the third and final book in Ian Doescher’s retelling of George Lucas’ epic Star Wars prequels in Shakespearean format.  While I have not enjoyed the prequel trilogy as much as the original one – like the films – they are very cleverly written.  I do wish there would be audiobooks produced for the prequel trilogy as the ones for the original Star Wars were wonderful.  As Doescher himself said, Shakespeare is meant to be listened to, not read.

The Sith take their Revenge starting on September 8th and I have preordered it in Kindle format.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

The Scorpion Rules is a young adult dystopian novel in which a superpower maintains peace on Earth by holding prisoner the children of world leaders.  If their country starts a war, the children die.  We follow the story of one such prisoner of peace, Greta and how her life and world view is altered by a new arrival.  I actually don’t know a great deal about this one, however, the premise seems intriguing and reviews are positive.

I’ve preordered this in Kindle format – I may add the Audible one before the book is released on September 22nd.

The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet by Kate Rorick and Rachel Kiley

Following on from the success of the web series adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, the writers are continuing the story in novel form in The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet.  This will continue the story of Lydia, the youngest sister after the events of the LBD.  Lydia was one of my favourite characters and her character development was so beautifully written and portrayed by actress Mary Kate Wiles.  I see that Mary Kate will be narrating the audiobook.

Although I have a Kindle preorder, I will likely cancel that and preorder the Audible version if it becomes available before release date of September 28th.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher. Author of The Dresden Files.  Steampunk.  Aerial shenanigans.  Talking cats.  I’m convinced.

My preorder is placed to download to my Kindle on September 29th.  

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is the author of the Grisha trilogy.  While I did have a few issues with that series, one of its key strengths was the worldbuilding.  Bardugo created a wonderful Russianeque fantasy world with a fascinating magic system.  Six of Crows is a new series set in the same world, involving some kind of heist.  It sounds very promising.  The first couple of chapters are up on Amazon for free if you want to check it out. 

My preorder should hit my Kindle on September 29th.

So there you have it.  Those are the books about which I’m most excited in the coming month.  Which of these will you be picking up?

One of the books I was most anticipating this year was Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Quest, which was released on August 11th and it certainly didn’t disappoint.  I found it impossible to review this book without mentioning some minor spoilers, so I will hide the spoiler part of the review.

To summarise though I loved this book.  Fitz and the Fool are one of my favourite literary partnerships and I loved reading the continuation of the story.  This is the second in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy, following on from Fool’s Assassin.  The first book was a slow burner, if still very enjoyable, focussing more on character development than action.  This followup is more action oriented and is a wonderful read.

I gave Fool’s Quest five stars out of five and would thoroughly recommend it to any Hobbs fan.  For those new to Hobbs, start with Assassin’s Apprentice (but be aware it’s a slow starter but well worth it)

The rest of the review may contain spoilers and my speculation for book three, so click through only if you have read the book and/or want to be spoiled.

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Hello, yes I know it’s been a while since I blogged – work and life keep getting in the way!

This last couple of weeks has involved routine doctor’s visits for both me and my cat, Isis.  Now, most cats don’t enjoy going to the vet, but Isis takes it to the extreme psycho-cat-going-to-shred-your-hands-and-tear-your-face-off mode complete with screaming, hissing, yowling and hyperventilating (that last, all three of us, the cat the vet and me).  My normally quiet, reserved kitty became so upset the vet had to fit her with a Hannibal Lecter Silence of the Lambs mask, which she STILL managed to remove to sink her teeth into the vet. 

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Poor kitty.  She’s now on meds which fortunately are a little easier to give!

Anyway, onto reading-related matters.

This week I’ve been rather obsessed with the upcoming release of Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Quest, the second in her Fitz and the Fool trilogy.  I enjoyed book one, and more importantly, I’m heavily emotionally invested in the characters of Fitz and the Fool and their unconventional relationship.  Some of the early non-spoiler reviews I’ve read have said that it’s a fantastic return to form by Hobbs, and to my mind she was never off form.  I really can’t wait for release day.  I’m on nightshift on August 11th so I’ll anxiously await the audiobook to hit my Audible download queue at around 3am and start immediately.  From where we left book one, I’m anticipating Fitz going all Liam Neeson in Taken on the Servants of the Archive:

During my nightshift I made excellent progress on some of the series I need to complete, thanks to audiobooks.

Reading roundup – August 8th 2015Magician’s End by Raymond E. Feist
Series: Chaoswar #3
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: John Meagher
Length: 17 hrs and 4 mins
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne’s rating:

three-half-stars

Since my last post I’ve read/listened to books one and two and am half way through the third book in Raymond E. Feist’s Chaoswar saga.  I must admit I’ve been somewhat less than excited about this series.  Although we have Pug and Magnus, I don’t feel as connected to the newer characters as I have in previous Feist series.  I’m also not wild about the whole religious angels/devils Fall from Heaven storyline that seems to be creeping in.

Despite my love for some of the unexpectedly returning characters, I am not too impressed that Feist chose to bring them back.  Their previous plotlines, to my mind, gave good closure to their character arcs and wonderful character development for others.  To bring them back now seems to negate all of that.  Admittedly though, in Feist’s hands, it’s handled in a much better way than a lesser storyteller might have been able to achieve.

I’ve still not completed the entire series, so I will reserve full judgement for when I do.

Reading roundup – August 8th 2015Trapped by Kevin Hearne
Series: The Iron Druid #5
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Length: 9 hrs and 2 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne’s rating:

five-stars

The next book I listened to on my nightshift was Trapped, book five in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles.  As I’ve said before on this blog, I adore this series.  The characters, (Oberon!) worldbuilding and plot are all wonderful.  This is a series best enjoyed in audiobook format thanks to Luke Daniels’ wonderful audio narration.  I can’t say enough good things about this series, so I’ll strongly urge you to go check it out for yourselves. I gave Trapped five stars out of five.

Reading roundup – August 8th 2015Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Amy Poehler
Length: 7 hrs and 31 mins
Genres: Autobiographies/Biographies, Humorous
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne’s rating:

four-stars

I was looking for something a bit different to listen to during a recent nightshift, something funny, so I decided to listen to Yes Please written and narrated by Amy Poehler (with guests.)  In terms of audiobook production Yes Please is pitch perfect.  The producers have chosen to go for a less “polished” version leaving in snorts and giggles so that it really does feel as if you’re hanging out with Amy and friends.  I believe the text has been adapted slightly to fit the audiobook version.  I also did get a chuckle out of her guest stars.  Hearing Sir Patrick Stewart deliver some of Poehler’s down-to-earth and earthy words in his cultured British accent did give me a few giggles.

That being said, I didn’t necessarily always appreciate some of the language and the jokes, but I can honour Poehler’s commitment to get her laughs from making fun of circumstances or herself not other people’s misfortune.  

I gave Yes Please four stars out of five.

That’s all for today folks.  Expect a review of Fool’s Quest as soon as I have finished it!

Have a  good week.

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