Posts Tagged ‘kate elliott’

Hello and welcome to another reading roundup.  Since my last roundup I have read two pretty good books which I’d like to share with you.

Reading roundup – November 12th 2016The Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott
Series: Court of Fives #2
Also in this series: Court of Fives
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Georgia Dolenz
Length: 13 hours and 2 minutes
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne’s rating:

four-stars

I received an Advance Reader Copy of The Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott at BEA.  It’s been on my TBR for a while, but it’s only recently I read it.  The Poisoned Blade is the second book in a planned trilogy (I believe) and continues the story of Jessamy, a young woman caught between two cultures whose passion in life is playing the game of Fives.  In this second book, Jes is drawn into court politics and has to deal with the fallout of her decisions in book one.  I listened to The Poisoned Blade in audiobook format and very much enjoyed Georgia Dolenz’s narration.

What I liked

The characters.  I really liked our protagonist, Jessamy.  Her conflicts between her love for the Fives, her need to protect her family, the limitations placed on her by her heritage and her affection for Kal were expertly written.  

The pacing.  The Poisoned Blade didn’t suffer from middle book syndrome at all.  There were enough conficts and resolutions to keep me well satisfied.  I will certainly be picking up the final book in the trilogy.  Personally, I’ve found Elliott’s series lose steam as they go on and for that reason I’ve not finished many of them.  This one I do intend to finish.

The worldbuilding.  Continuing on from Court of Fives, Elliott has created a wonderful world for our characters to live in.  

What I didn’t like

There was little I didn’t enjoy about The Poisoned Blade.  It is my favourite of Elliott’s series.  

I gave it four stars out of five.

My review of Heartless Reading roundup – November 12th 2016Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Format: eBook
Pages: 464 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne’s rating:

four-stars

Probably my most anticipated release of the year, Heartless is Lunar Chronicles author Marissa Meyer’s origin story of Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts.  I really wanted to listen to this in audiobook format, however technical issues meant that it wasn’t available to Canadians on Audible.com for several days after release.  This was rather disappointing as i loved Rebecca Soler’s narration of the Lunar Chronicles.  I ended up reading it on my Kindle.

What I liked

The writing style.  I really loved Meyer’s, fresh, immediate writing style from the Lunar Chronicles and Heartless is no different.  This time it’s spiced with Lewis Caroll whimsy and the blend is magical. As a note, it probably does help if you’re familiar with both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

What I didn’t like

Somewhat predictable.  Of course, as an origin story, it’s tricky to be completely unpredictable.  There’s no escaping the fact that Catherine becomes the cold hearted Queen of Hearts.  However, certain other plot points were more easily guessed than I would have liked them to be.

Character development.  I felt this was better done in Fairest.  There was a more logical progression in Levana’s transformation to the wicked Queen than Cath’s becoming the Queen of Hearts.  Cath is much more of a positive character at the beginning, so her transformation was always going to be more difficult to plot.  At times I felt each step in Cath’s journey was a little unexpected, unearned or not wholly justified by the steps before.

In summary, I did enjoy Heartless, but I prefer the Lunar Chronicles.  I gave Heartless four stars out of five.

In other news:

I am currently obsessed with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Yes, I know, it’s not released until next week, but everything I’ve seen and heard about it indicates it’s going to be absolutely magical.  Rowling’s Wizarding World in 1920s New York?  Sign me up!  I’m especially loving all the hints about Grindelwald and his rise to power in Europe.  There must be some wonderful stories to tell there. I can’t be the only bookworm who has planned a day off work around a book release, surely?  Not only is the movie released on November 18th, but we also get a book of the script and a LEGO Dimensions Story Pack!  I can’t wait!

Also this week I have been watching Netflix The Crown, the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne and the first few years of her reign.  I’m enjoying it very much; Clare Foy has taken the role of the Queen, with former Doctor Who Matt Smith as Prince Philip,  Both are giving excellent portrayals and I recommend this series.

That’s all for now folks.  Back soon!

four-stars

Reading roundup – November 12th 2016 was originally published on Canadian eReader

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott is a YA fantasy book and one that I found myself being sucked into even in the middle of a reading slump. I found the protagonists engaging and loved the world. I found it had a bit more substance than some YA fantasy novels.

What I liked

Cultural tensions. This is very much a tale of being caught between two cultures.  Our protagonist, Jessamy, is the child of a Saroese father and Efean mother and struggles to fit in with either culture.  Her father’s people, who are the conquerers of the Efeans, do not fully accept Jes as one of their own due to her mixed heritage yet her genteel upbringing closes her off from acceptance in her mother’s society.  Jes herself also struggles to find her place in her world.  The only time she can truly be herself is when she is training for the game the Court of Fives.  Although we do not live in a magical society, this theme may still strike a chord with many readers.

The Games.  I really enjoyed how the game of Court of Fives permeated the story to a great extent.  We see the games themselves a couple of times in the books, but it’s made clear that the skills Jes uses to become a successful Fives player are the same skills she and Kalliarkos will need to get out of certain situations and also to navigate Saroese politics.  I really loved that politics was hinted to be just a different version of the Court of Fives.

The magic and Jes’s journey.  The magic is very subtle in this book and is tied to the Efean culture.   At this point in her story Jes still struggles to accept her Efean heritage, so she has difficulty understanding the magic.  I expect that Jes’s journey in future books will be to embrace her cultural background, at which point the magic will become more and more prominent.  That I am excited to see. 

Little Women.  I read in the author’s notes that the characters of Jes and her sisters were based on those of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.  I didn’t notice that at first, but once you do see it, it is very clear.  It was fun seeing those personality types in a completely different setting.  I am curious about what it means for the sisters’ character arcs in upcoming books and whether they will mirror those of Alcott’s.

Moral dilemmas.  Certain of the characters, including Jes, face moral dilemmas at certain points in the book.  I felt these were very well written and engaged my sympathy for the characters.  I am very interested to see how the decisions made will impact future character development and relationships.  I’d like to think Jes will have more understanding for her father in future.

What I didn’t like

The romance.  I wouldn’t say I disliked the Kalliarkos/Jes romance; it’s more a case of I’m waiting to see how it plays out in future books.  I was concerned that it felt a little too much Instalovey, which I don’t like.  If the parallels with Little Women hold true, the future for the couple doesn’t look too rosy.

In the end I really enjoyed Court of Fives and gave it four and a half stars out of five.  I have an Advanced Reader Copy of the sequel, The Poisoned Blade, and I’m very excited to read it.  

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott – Review was originally published on Canadian eReader

ARC of Blood for BloodAs you will see from my picture, I got my hands on a copy of Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin!  This is the sequel to Wolf by Wolf which I adored.  You can read my review.  Those of you who follow my blog will know that I missed out on this one at BEA in Chicago, and that it was one of my most anticipated reads for 2016.  Hachette Canada was kind enough to send me an Advanced Reader Copy.  Thank you soooooo much.  Expect me to share my thoughts on it over the next week or two.  Blood for Blood will be released on November 1st 2016.

More exciting news, this time from the world of audiobooks.  Brent Weeks announced this week that Simon Vance has recorded The Black Prism, the first book in Weeks’ Lightbringer series.  It was originally recorded by Cristofer Jean, and Vance took over narration duties from book two, The Blinding Knife.  Now, no disrespect to Mr. Jean, but this is Simon Vance we’re talking about.  Winner of multiple Audies and other awards and a damn good narrator.  I personally credit Brent Weeks and Simon Vance for my love of audiobooks.  When listening to The Blinding Knife (first in the series narrated by Vance) I kept getting strange looks from my husband for snickering out loud at Vance’s narration of some of Kip’s quips.  

For those of you on the fence about audiobooks, I can’t recommend this series highly enough, especially now that Simon Vance is narrating the whole series.  His narration of The Black Prism is now available from Audible.  

This week I finished Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – you can check out my review if you’re interested.  I picked up the sequel, Ice Like Fire, from the library and it’s next on my reading stand.  Or, at least, it was until Blood for Blood arrived on my doorstep!

The second book I finished was Kate Elliott’s Court of Fives.  I found myself really drawn into this world – expect a full review next week – and I’m very happy I have the Advanced Reader copy of the sequel, The Poisoned Blade.  As I don’t have audiobook versions of Blood for Blood or Ice Like Fire, I am listening to Cold Fire, the second in Elliott’s Spiritwalker trilogy.

In non reading news, I have finally 100% completed Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens!  Yay!  Now I can finally get back to reading. 

That’s all for this week folks – see you again next week.

Reading roundup – July 22nd 2016 was originally published on Canadian eReader

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott is the first in the Spiritwalker trilogy and tells the story of Cat Hassi Barahal as she comes to terms with the strange new path her life is taking her and the new powers she acquires.  Cold Magic has been on my TBR list for some time.  I’d picked it up several months back when it was on special offer on Kindle for $1.99, but never got round to reading it.  It moved up the list a few weeks ago when I read an intriguing article on the magic system, yet it never quite made it to the top.  Finally  a couple of weeks ago, Audible released it as an audiobook.  This is the first of the books to be released on Audible, so I picked it up to listen to during my nightshifts and it finally made it to the top of the list.  I’m very glad it did!

What I liked

Interesting themes.  Elliott explores some interesting themes in this novel.  One of the major ones is magic vs technology.  The society in which Cat lives is beginning to make progress with industrialisation and this engenders conflict with the powerful Mage Houses, the magic wielders.  It is notable that the brunt of the Cold Mages’ destructive power is directed at symbols of industry and innovation – an airship and a factory.  I look forward to seeing where this goes in the subsequent books

Another interesting theme is that of family and betrayal.  Cat feels deeply betrayed by the actions of her uncle and aunt as does Andevai’s family to some extent by his changed attitude since his becoming a Cold Mage.

Identity is another interesting theme explored in the series.  Cat strongly identifies with the Hassi Barahals who raised her, but after what she perceives as their betrayal she is no longer certain about who she is, especially given the new powers she discovers. When she meets her half brother Rory, her identity is thrown into even more confusion.  This theme is even more apparent in the character of Andevai who is torn between his identity as a member of a poor but loving family and his status as a Cold Mage.  It appears he is struggling to fit in with either community.

The worldbuilding.  Ms Elliott’s blog is entitled “I make up worlds”  and it’s clear this is something she very much enjoys.  The worldbuilding in Cold Magic is excellent.  I enjoyed the alternative history variation of our world that she has created.  I especially enjoyed the intelligent trolls – one of whom is a solicitor!

I understand one of the lynchpins of the series is intended to be the relationship between Cat and her cousin Bee, whom she loves like a sister.  It’s clear that they are very close, and protecting each other is a major motivation for the two.  However, the cousins don’t spend much time together in this book so it doesn’t come across as strongly as it might.  I suspect this may be more prominent in the next two books.

The narration.  I listened to the audiobook narrated by Charlotte Parry.  A poor or mediocre narrator adds little to a book other than saving you the trouble of reading it for yourself, offering little more than the Kindle’s robotic text to speech.  A great narrator, on the other hand, really brings the characters to life.  Ms Parry is of the second variety.  It was easy to tell which character was speaking by the voice she used, and she picked up the stage directions perfectly (he said coldly, for example).  Here is a sample.

[mp3j track=”http://samples.audible.com/bk/reco/007080/bk_reco_007080_sample.mp3″ volslider=”y” title = “Cold Magic”]

What I didn’t like

The overall story arc.  At this point, I’m not entirely certain what our protagonist’s goals are other than self preservation and what the consequences might be if she fails to achieve them.  I hope this is clarified in the subsequent books.

All in all, I very much enjoyed Cold Magic and gave it four stars out of five

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Once again, dear readers, here is my weekly update in what I’ve been reading.

The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns is the second in Chris Colfer’s children’s book series.  However, it’s not nearly as enjoyable as the first one.  The setting and characters are still enchanting, but the plotline seems a little repetitious.  Once again our hero twins set off on a quest to gather magical objects that will allow them to cast magic to defeat the evil Enchantress.  Additionally, this book suffers from too much of a tendency to show rather than tell; too many stretches where characters explain about something that happened rather than being shown it.  Perhaps the novelty of the setting and characters carried the first book much further, and papered over inadequacies in writing style, but in this second installment it is not enough to cover up the recycled plotlines and the somewhat clunky narration.

I’m not saying it isn’t a fun read to pass a couple of hours – I do love the world Colfer has built – but I do feel that with better editing and perhaps a different emphasis on story lines it could have been so much better.  I gave it 2.5 stars out of five.

I’m not sure if it was the emotional impact of Emperor of Thorns or the fact that Amazon.de sent me an email offering a reduction on Das Gedächtnis des Lichts (A Memory of Light in German) but I was seized with a burning desire to reread (or, more specifically, re-listen to) the Wheel of Time.  I have picked up from Fires of Heaven which is where my pre-Memory of Light reread was interrupted.  I also picked up Leigh Butler’s reread books on Kindle.

Kate Elliott’s Cold Magic is a book I have been meaning to read for some time, so I was very excited when she tweeted that it has just been released in audiobook format.  I listened to the preview and it sounds excellent.  Disappointingly it’s not Whispersync for Voice enabled, but I will certainly purchase it when my new credits arrive. It appears this is the first of her works to be released in this medium, so I hope it is a positive experience for the publisher and will lead to more.

[mp3j track=”http://samples.audible.com/bk/reco/007080/bk_reco_007080_sample.mp3″ volslider=”y” title = “Listen to a sample”]

 

I also read Clockwork Angel and Codex Born, but these will be full reviews.  Watch for them coming soon to a device near you.

Added to my library this week

For all I’ve been trying to keep my out of control TBR list, I ended up adding some more items to my library.

Boomerang Bride by Fiona Lowe seemed an interesting read and it was only $2 on Kindle, which seemed too good a deal to pass up.

As I am about to enter a month of nightshift work, and will need something to listen to in order to stay awake, I’ve used Audible credits to complete my Wheel of Time collection.  I had been missing Path of Daggers and Crown of Swords.

I had been sure I’d bought Golem and the Jinni earlier but a quick call to Audible customer service (excellent as always) clarified my error.  I used another credit to add it to my library.

[mp3j track=”http://samples.audible.com/bk/harp/003349/bk_harp_003349_sample.mp3″ volslider=”y” title = “Listen to a sample”]

What books would you buy with your credits?  Let me know in the comments!