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Posts Tagged ‘2011’

Runelight

In Book Reviews on November 9, 2014 at 4:25 pm
Doubleday 2011

Doubleday 2011

‘Loki,’ said Frey with conviction. ‘He’s the child of demons, and everybody hates him. Plus, he was the one who opened the gate to Netherworld in the first place. Who else could it possibly be?’

‘I’m not sure I like the term demons,’ said Angie, interrupting. ‘Some people might find it offensive.’

‘So what would you rather?’ Heimdall said.

‘Persons of chaotic origin?’

Gods!‘ exploded Heimdall. ‘Maddy’s lost, Loki’s escaped, the End of the bloody Worlds is at hand, and you’re lecturing me about political correctness?’

Nutshell blurb: The old regime is gone, but there is nothing in its place. The old gods are trying to rebuild the sky citadel and reclaim their place, but an old enemy and a new one will thwart their attempts.

This is the second book in this series. If you would like to read my thoughts on the first one you should go ahead and do that first.

Like the first one, I really enjoyed this book. I probably enjoyed it even more. I’ve found that sometimes the first book in a series will serve to set up the characters and world whilst being short on story and plot. I didn’t think that too much of of Runemarks, however I felt much closer to the characters in the second book and by this time knew a bit more about how the world in these stories works. I think that the characters were much more interesting in this book. (They are the same characters, by they way.) I really liked the characters in the first one, but I guess it’s that thing where you finally get to know who they are and what they’re all about and then the book ends. Then you pick up the second book and they are much more like old friends. I suppose it’s the nature of the beast rather than anything to do with Ms. Harris’s writing.

It’s given me a lot to think about in terms of my own writing. I’m world-building as well so I’ve been trying to figure out how to go about making it a place that a reader can understand without too much exposition whilst seamlessly merging it with the story.

One thing that was confusing for me was that there are two girls in this book and the view point shifts between them. One is Maggie and the other is Maddy. (Maddy is from the first book.) I didn’t really realise this because, again, I didn’t read the back of the book. So the prologue starts in Maggie’s PoV which didn’t make sense to me because I was thinking that it was in Maddy’s point of view. I read the whole thing and was like ‘wat?’. And then I realised my mistake and had to reread it with the correct person in mind. It absolutely makes sense the more you read the story and realise their origins, but it was confusing from time to time.

This was also helpful to me for my writing purposes. You see, I have sisters in my story and they have very similar names. I’ve now decided to change them as I’m thinking about having the story told from both PoVs. I don’t want to confuse people. Please don’t think that I’m criticising Joanne Harris for this, however. She’s written a few more novels than I have. (And by ‘a few’ I mean ‘oh so many’!) Once I twigged what she was doing, I was ok with keeping the two straight throughout the rest of the book.

I consider it a good thing any time a book leaves me thinking about it long after I’ve finished it. She’s given me a lot to think about with regards to my own writing, which can only be a good thing. She’s also given me a charming and delightful story that I may decide to read again one day.

The Drowning Pool

In Book Reviews on September 28, 2014 at 11:07 am
The Drowning Pool

HarperCollins 2011

Nutshell blurb: Sarah Grey and her son, Alfie, have moved to a small coastal town in Essex after she lost her husband in a traffic accident. She starts seeing visions of a ghost who has the same name as her as well as a dark past.

This book was pretty good. I had one of those baffling experiences whilst reading it where I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next, however, I didn’t think that it was an amazing story.

Upon further reflection, I realised that I didn’t really connect with the main character. She is quite the ladette who likes being in a constant state of drunkenness. That’s not really something that I can identify with and it began to annoy me that she was constantly reaching for a drink during the story. No wonder she was seeing ghosts!

To be fair to her, she was still grieving over the loss of her husband and she had a little boy to take care of.

Before you think that I’m being all judgmental towards people who like to get drunk for recreational purposes, I want to say that I love cocktails but I just don’t like being drunk. I don’t enjoy going out and ending up being the only sober person in the room. I think that’s why I didn’t really connect with her. I couldn’t identify with her motivation much of the time.

The things that I liked about her: she’s highly intelligent and seems to always have Latin American music in the background.

The story was pretty interesting. The author seems to be well versed in the witch-hunting history of Essex, which I know pretty much nothing about. If that makes you wonder why I think that she’s well-versed in the history, it’s because I read the first chapter of another book that she’s written which is at the end of this book. It’s a completely different story, but also focuses on witches in Essex, so I’m guessing that this is a passion of hers.

That kind of passion seeps into the story and I really enjoyed that aspect of it.

The other problem that I had with this story is the unbelievable romantic entanglement that happens mid-way through. (Perhaps this part is a bit spoilerific, just in case you planned on reading the book…) I think that my problem from that stemmed from a lack of description of what the male character actually looked like. I remember him being described as being attractive, but maybe my mind tacked on ‘back in his day’ to that descriptor. So I pictured him as a craggy and thoroughly unlikable guy in his mid-sixties and all of a sudden she fancies the pants off of him. My reaction:

Which is not to say that it’s improbable that a 30-something woman would be attracted to a 60-something man. This man in particular was described in a way that I pictured him as a grumpy old git, so it totally threw me off that he turned out to be a few decades younger than I thought and that he was all of a sudden super dreamy and that they became involved with each other.

I feel like I’m really stepping in it here so I’ll just leave it at that.

I’ll just sum up by saying that this book has quite a few good points and that I was really sucked into the story. I thoroughly enjoyed it even though there were a few things that niggled at me.

Fuzzy Nation

In Book Reviews on July 27, 2014 at 6:00 am
Tor 2011

Tor 2011

Nutshell blurb: Jack Holloway works as an independent contractor for a company called ZaraCorp. He accidentally found some really valuable jewels which he may only claim if the planet isn’t inhabited by sentient species. But then he meets some little fuzzy creatures and there’s a huge debate about whether or not they are people.

Before I talk about this book, I’d just like to say that this is my 100th post. I can’t believe that I’ve written so many! I feel like I should be celebrating or something. Like, with cake. I really want some cake now…

Anyway.

I’m sure I’ve told you many times how much I love John Scalzi. If you don’t remember, then I’ll say it again. I love John Scalzi!

This book had me hooked in the first few pages where the main character taught his dog, Carl, to detonate some charges that he used in his work as an independent contractor. I love the amount of whimsy that exists within his books and I like that his characters feel like real people. There are times when the banter between the characters seems a bit forced, but it only happens occasionally and I can overlook it because the story is so good. Jack Holloway isn’t the best person in the world. I certainly couldn’t imagine myself being friends with him. I think that I would describe him as a lovable douche-nozzle. He does and says stupid things and he doesn’t really consider other people’s feelings when he makes his life decisions. He’s not loathsome, however, and I think that it takes quite a lot of skill to create a character like that.

There were only a couple of problems I had with this book. I felt like the main character was made out to be cleverer than he actually was. He had a lot of things up his sleeves and there were a couple of times when I had to force myself to suspend my disbelief. One of those times was at an integral turning point in the story.

(Don’t worry; there aren’t any spoilers!)

This turning point was hinted at in an earlier chapter so it didn’t come completely out of right field, but I had a moment when I was jolted out of the story (during a pivotal scene) and I was like ‘wait a minute…wuuut?’.  That’s never a good thing.

However, I was able to shrug it off and go with it. Because I love him so much.

I love the worlds he creates and Zarathustra is no exception. I feel that I have to say here that I’ve never read Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper which is the book that this one was based on. This book is a reboot of Piper’s 1968 novel and I don’t know how much of his world was used in this retelling. It’s quite a scary world as it is inhabited by scary creatures (like dinosaurs) called zararaptors which means that our protagonist lives in a treehouse. And valuable gems were the result of millions of jellyfish-like creatures being crushed under rock for centuries. I like it.

If you’ve never read any of John Scalzi’s work, I would suggest reading a different one first such as Old Man’s War. I really enjoyed this book, but I don’t know if I would be as much of a fan girl if I had read this one before any of his others.

 

The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness

In Book Reviews on July 20, 2014 at 6:00 am
Vermilion 2011

Vermilion 2011

Nutshell blurb: This book deals with three parts of the brain that Dr. Peters terms the chimp, the human and the computer. The chimp is the part of the brain that deals with emotion and instinct. This book contains instructions to dealing with emotions that can hamper our happiness and success.

Ok, I’ve gotta tell you…this book made me giggle. It is broken down into super easy to understand terms. Maybe a bit oversimplified. There are chimps, planets, gremlins, goblins, a stone of life and many more things. I was a bit skeptical when I first started reading this and then I flat out got the giggles because there are some crazy stick figure drawings all through this book. And, yes, I read it during my commute. Surrounded by witnesses.

However, once I got over my skepticism and embraced my stone of life, I really got into it and learned a few things about myself. I learned a few things that I can (and actually have) applied to my life in an effort to control my inner chimp.

So, I’ll break it down for you. The chimp is the part of the brain that controls our emotions and instincts. It’s sometimes irrational and unreasonable yet can be responsible for our personal safety. This is the part of the brain that takes over when I experience tube rage pretty much every morning. The human part of our brain is the logical part. It is the part that says “Hey, who cares if the guy next to you hogs the arm rest? You’re not using it anyway.” The computer is the part that stores in the information and allows us to make decisions. (If you want the scientific equivalents they are thus: Chimp = limbic, Human = frontal and the Computer = parietal.)

This books offers insight as to why we sometimes allow our emotions to take over and how to fix it. I have to say, that I’ve been able to apply some of these things to my life. I’ve been able to look rationally at why I feel the way I do and therefore distance myself from emotion and act accordingly. Things that I usually get worked up about don’t bother me much now. Not everything, obviously. I mean, I’ve only just finished this book and it will take a lot of practice for some of this stuff to sink in. It’s definitely worth having a look at if you tend to be an emotional type of person. You will have to look past the silliness of it and just run with it. I was a bit surprised by my ability to go with it.

I even named my chimp.

Yep, you read that right.

You might wish to give your Chimp a name and introduce yourself because it plays one of the biggest parts in your life. Throughout your life, you (the Human) and your Chimp (your emotional thinking machine) will often do battle.

I would like to introduce you to Sanchez. My emotions tend to be angry ones and so I visualise my chimp as being large and muscley. He might even be a gorilla. I’m not sure why I’ve made him Latin American, but I wanted to give him a badass name and I think that Sanchez is pretty tough.

My husband has become worried that I might develop a split-personality. I don’t think that will happen but I’m pretty sure that there’s a different book on that subject.

Anyway, it was a really entertaining and interesting read. It definitely wasn’t dry as some self-help books can be. It’s worth reading if you can get past the initial “What the hell…?” reaction.

Chico & Rita

In Book Reviews on May 11, 2014 at 6:00 am
SelfMadeHero 2011

SelfMadeHero 2011

Nutshell blurb: Chico is a piano player and Rita is a singer. The meet in Havana and this story chronicles their journey through life, love and music.

I saw this book standing up on a shelf in the Barbican library and right away I was taken by the cover. I was also drawn to the fact that it’s a Latin American graphic novel. I have never read one before and I have a keen interest in the subject matter. I love Latin American music. Salsa, merengue and bachata. My Latino playlist is frequently pumping through my headphones as I walk through the city. It makes complete sense that this book would pull me into its pages.

I really loved this book, however I had a difficult time relating to it on a personal level. I must tell you that I’m not the biggest fan of love stories. I don’t mind if it’s part of the story but I don’t really like it when it’s the whole story.

I felt like these two people were terrible for each other. They were so mean to one another and all I could think of through the entire story was that they just needed to leave each other alone. He was overly jealous and she was fickle. It seemed like they loved each other yet it was entirely too easy for them to wind up in someone else’s arms. When they were with each other, they would say horrible things that would hurt the other.

I suppose that my views on this subject reflect the way I am in life. I’ve never been the kind of person who could forgive infidelity in a relationship. Basically, if you hook up with someone else, you can kiss me goodbye. So it made me really sad to see two people who are supposedly in love treat each other so poorly. I guess that love stories have to be dramatic in order to be interesting, but it still made me a bit sad.

Even though I couldn’t relate to the story, I was still drawn into it. The artwork is stunning. I would love to have a print of some of the panels for my walls. I would also be interested to see the film that inspired this book.

Overall, it was gorgeous and engaging. I’m really glad that I happened upon it.

The Fall

In Book Reviews on April 20, 2014 at 6:00 am
The Fall

Harper 2011

This is the second book in this series. Here are my thoughts on the first book, Strain. I’ll try to give you my opinion of this book without spoilers.

Nutshell blurb: A deadly virus was let loose in NYC and has spread throughout the world. The characters from the last book are now trying to stop it in this book.

Most of the books I’ve been reading lately are part of series. It’s strange how that happens sometimes. It isn’t intentional. What I’m finding is this strange thing where the first book is good, but barely. Then the second one comes along and it is sooooo much better. Such is the case with this book. As well as the book I’ll be talking about next week and the one the week after. You might start seeing a bit of a trend in these next few posts.

I would like to take a moment to let you know how much it annoys me. I’m very unforgiving when it comes to books. There are so many books out there and I’ll never get to all of the ones I want to read in my lifetime. So if something doesn’t grab my attention, I let it go and move on to the next one. I don’t feel the need to invest my time in something that doesn’t hold my interest just because I started it. Strain kind of held my attention. I was able to finish it but it didn’t inspire me and it took me quite a bit longer to read than it should have. I felt that the pacing was painfully slow and there seemed to be a constant build-up that resulted in not much happening. In fact, I wasn’t going to pick up the second book but ended up doing so since I saw it in the library.

As it turns out, the second book is where all of the action is and I really enjoyed this one.

It made me think, though, because I’m reading these other books that are part of series and the first books are a bit slow. Why does it have to be that way??? If I pick up a book about vampires or military clones (next week) or zombies (the week after next) I want it to be full of peril and to be fast paced. In places these first books seem to drag. I understand the need to set the scene and to make us understand the world that we’re visiting and how things work in it, but surely there is a way to do that while stuff is blowing up/being eaten or exsanguinated. It’s not that I have a short attention span but I’ve found in these books that the character development is pretty slow as well. We don’t get to know the people very well in the first one and I found that I cared very little about them to begin with. I need something to latch on to and to care about!

Cut to the second book. This is where it’s all at. The characters are much more developed and now I’m starting to care about them. There’s a really cool character that I like in The Fall called Vasiliy Fet who’s an exterminator. He really comes into his own now that he has to fight vampires. I also feel more sympathetic towards the main character. I’ll definitely pick up the next one.

It’s also making me think twice about my policy of not picking up the second book in a series if I find that the first one is a bit lacklustre. Perhaps I need to try to be a bit more forgiving.

 

 

Rot and Ruin

In Book Reviews on April 5, 2014 at 6:00 am
Simon and Schuster UK Ltd 2011

Simon and Schuster UK Ltd 2011

Nutshell blurb: An infection has swept the globe that turns people into zombies when they die. People can also get infected when zombies bite them. Benny Imura was rescued by his older brother, Tom, when he was 18 months old and their parents turned. Now he’s all grown up and must find his place in this world.

I liked this book for the most part. It’s a young adult book so it feels a bit more sanitised than some of the other zombie literature I’ve read, but I enjoyed it.

This book took a somewhat sympathetic look at zombies and emphasised the fact that they were once people. I liked that approach because most of the zombie stories I’ve read portray zombies as monsters who feed on human flesh. They do that in this story too but some of the characters see the zombie apocalypse as a tragedy rather than a cause for panic.

The result of this approach, however, is that at times the story was somewhat sentimental and shmaltzy. There were scenes in the book that were clearly meant to provoke an emotional response from me but which actually left me felling perplexed. I mean, yes, zombies have families too, however they usually want to eat those family members and therefore should be terminated immediately. I would be horrified beyond belief if any of my family or friends became zombified and I would be really sad and mourn for the people they were, however, I would protect myself and any other living person from those former friends or family members.

As a side note, if you are one of my friends or family members and you’re reading this, please don’t be offended. It’s not that I actually want to chop your head off or in any other way destroy what’s left of your zombified brain but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to survive. Let’s not make things awkward by discussing this in too much detail. Be advised, however, that if you die and come back to life…I will mess you up.

Another problem that I had with this book is that the people in it were pretty much good or evil. I have a big problem with that. Is anyone ever completely good or evil? I know that there are plenty of people where one side outweighs the other, but in this the baddies were super evil and the goodies were beyond angelic. I have a difficult time identifying with those types of characters.

The zombies didn’t feel like a constant threat which was another strike against it for me. When I read a book or watch a film about zombies, I want the peril to be palpable. Going outside should feel terrifying. A zombie could shamble out of the shadows at any time! Not so in this book. They just kind of stood around until they saw someone to eat.

Despite these flaws, I still felt that it was a good story. It was fast-paced and had good action scenes (always a plus for me). I think that the YA tag is very appropriate for this and would be more suitable for a younger audience. Readers who have had more exposure to heavier zombie stories might find that it lacks intensity. I’m glad that I read it though.

Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2013 at 6:00 am
Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

Gallery Books 2011

The choice is yours, and if you don’t survive, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself.

So, I was waltzing around town last weekend and decided to wander into the bookshop. Just for giggles. I wasn’t really planning on buying anything. (Yeah, right.) Anyway, I looked through the stuff that’s on sale but nothing really jumped out at me.  I went upstairs to the sci-fi/fantasy section and that’s where I found this gem. As you may know, I’m in a zombie kind of place in my life at the moment so I picked it up and had a closer look and this was my reaction: Omigod-it’s-a-choose-your-own-novel-for-ADULTS!!

And then I was really embarrassed because I was shopping by myself and I got a couple of looks.

Anyway, I bought it right away and took it home to tell my husband about it. He was out of town for the week so we were on skype and I had to show it to him. He was suitably pleased for me, but not quite as excited as I had hoped. Then he perked up because I suggested that I read it to him.

I’d like to take this moment to explain something. I’m no showboat, but I looooooove reading aloud. Personally, I think that my voice sounds ridiculous. When I hear it recorded, I cringe because I think that I sound like a cartoon character. My husband, however, thinks it’s sexy and he likes it when I read to him at night. (I’m trying not to read too much into the fact that my voice puts him right to sleep after a few pages…) Anyway, I love reading aloud because I like the way the words from a really good book roll off my tongue. There’s a rhythm to it and it’s much different hearing a book read than just reading it silently.

I thought that this one would be fun for us to read together because then we can see whether or not we make the same choices. I’m happy to report that, so far, we do. This is an important thing to find out about your partner. I feel confident that should the zombie apocalypse come to pass, we’ll be ok. We make a good team.

Anyway, we’ve started reading this book and it turns out that I was right. It’s really fun to read together. I get into it and start emoting. By the way, if you are the woman who lives above us, I would like to extend my sincerest apologies for the time I got a bit too excited and yelled “ZOMBIES! THE LIVING EFFING DEAD!” (Ok, ‘effing’ wasn’t actually the word used in the book, but I’m trying to keep it clean. Work with me, people.) I was also really proud of my newscaster impersonation. We haven’t made it through an entire story yet (apparently there are 50 different endings) but what we’ve read so far has been a lot of fun.

I actually don’t know how this book would stand up if I was reading it on my own. There are so many fragmented sentences, which is obviously used to create a sense of urgency and suspense, but I’m not a fan of that particular device. I don’t mind if there’s a sentence fragment here and there, but there are paragraphs full of them. So, I recommend that if you’re going to read this book, do so with a friend, family member or partner who will really get into it with you.

Since we’ve not made it through an entire story yet, I’m not sure how our choices affect the story. I used to read choose your own adventure stories when I was younger, but with some of them I noticed that if you consistently chose a certain option, you would get the same kind of ending. I’m not sure what the author has in store for us, but I’m looking forward to seeing whether or not we can survive.

On a completely different note, I found a very pleasant surprise the other day. In my Library Day posts I mentioned that I frequently walk to the Barbican Library during my lunch hour which is a 15 – 20 minute walk. Well, our office has moved to a different location. Luckily, I think that it might be a minute or two closer. That’s not the pleasant surprise, though.

I decided to go get some cash from the atm  during my lunch hour one day (which is right behind my building) and as I stood in the queue  I looked to my right and saw this:

Artizan Street Library 1

I didn’t take this picture, btw.

My reaction: Wuuuuuuuuuuuut???

Yes, folks. This is the mythical branch of the Barbican Library that I knew existed, but didn’t know where the heck it was. And it’s RIGHT BEHIND MY BUILDING!!! Here’s the view onto the street from inside:

Artizan Street Library 2

Nor did I take this one.

The atm is on the right where the dude in the business suit is standing. I’ll still shlep over to the Barbican from time to time, but if I’m having a really tough day at work, I can just take a short break and browse the shelves until I feel refreshed.This is truly exciting stuff.

No, really. This made my day ridiculously better.

On that note, I shall leave you. Let me know if you decide to read this book and whether or not you’re reading it with someone else. Ta ta for now!

Moon Over Soho

In Book Reviews on October 9, 2013 at 6:00 am
Moon Over Soho

Gollancz 2011

For a terrifying moment I thought he was going to hug me, but fortunately we both remembered we were English just in time. Still, it was a close call.

I would like to start off this post by saying that if you haven’t read Rivers of London (aka Midnight Riot in the US, the first book in this series), do that before you read my thoughts on this book.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Great, you’re back. Here’s my Nutshell Blurb: London is recovering from Peter Grant’s last case as he starts into the next one. Someone has been going around London killing jazz musicians and leaving traces of magic behind. Obviously, this is a job for a PC who also happens to be a wizard.

Can I just say, I looooooooove me some Peter Grant. He’s intelligent, funny (in a dry, self-effacing way), resourceful and a bit of a smart-ass. He’s perhaps a bit bloke-ish, but it’s more endearing than caveman-esque.

The book is written in 1st person, so I don’t really remember reading much about the way he looks.

But that’s ok. Ladies, you know I’ve got this covered. I remember reading in the first book that he’s of a mixed background and there was a line in this book about his preference for the villain not being called a black magician because he (Grant) could technically be considered one. So my brain has filled in the blanks and this is what I’ve come up with.

This...

This…

...with a dash of this.

…with a dash of this.

OH. YES. PLEASE. I actually don’t care what anyone says after this point. This is what’s in my head and no one can change it for me. Apparently, Rivers of London will be made into a tv show but I don’t know who will be in the cast. All I can say is that they’d better get it right.

Ok, I’ll stop fan-girling now and get on with what I thought about this book.

It’s amazing. Obviously, Ben Aaronovitch is a genius. (Sorry, just a bit more fan-girling, but I’ll stop now. Promise.)

There are river spirits, jazz vampires, cat girls, wizards and spell casting. All in modern day London. I love how much Mr. Aaronovitch loves London. It seems as if he’s familiar with every part of it. As a Londoner, it’s especially fun to recognise the places he describes. Also, this quote from the book:

My dad says that being a Londoner has nothing to do with where you’re born. He says that there are people who get off a jumbo jet at Heathrow, go through immigration waving any kind of passport, hop on the tube and by the time the train’s pulled into Piccadilly Circus they’ve become a Londoner.

Indeed.

The thing I like most about this book (besides the characters, which are always my favourite part of any book) is the author’s whimsical writing style. It seems so effortless and there were so many lines that gave me a giggle throughout the story.

There were a few things that I didn’t think were explained in this book, like who the heck the Pale Lady was. There are two more books after this one so hopefully there will be some explanation. I tore through this book, so it’s altogether possible that I missed something in my speed reading. That’s ok, though, because I didn’t get this one from the library. I treated myself to it (it’s all MINE! Mwahahaha!) so I’ll read it again sometime. These books definitely have a high re-readability factor to them.

I’ve got nothin’ but love for this book and am really looking forward to reading the next two.

A Blight of Mages

In Book Reviews on September 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm

A Blight of Mages

Orbit 2011

Or perhaps what I’m hearing is the rest of my life ticking into oblivion, into obscurity, into nothing but eventual, echoing silence.

Nutshell blurb: Barl Lindin is an unranked mage who longs to be more than society will allow her to be. She wants to attend the College of Mages but is denied entry due to the low standing of her family. Thus thwarted, she sets into motion a series of events that will rip apart her country and create a new one.

I would like to start by saying that if you are interested in this book, you should probably start with the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series. (The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage. I originally bought these books because I liked the covers and thought that they would look good on my shelves. I don’t know why that’s relevant. Anyway, they’re awesome.) This book is the prequel to those and you might get a bit confused at the end which would be pretty annoying.

So, back to what I thought about it.

This book left me breathless and did not disappoint.

The characters are so well written. The main character, Barl, was insufferably arrogant and self-assured, but she was written in such a way that I wanted her to succeed. I loathe arrogance, so it is a testament to Ms. Miller’s writing skill that she was able to make me feel sympathetic toward this person that I probably would have hated if I knew her in real life. In the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series (which takes place several hundred years after this story, and no, this isn’t going to be spoilerific) Barl is worshipped as a deity, so it was interesting to read her story and find out how un-goddess-like she actually is.

One thing that makes Ms. Miller’s writing so appealing (at least to me) is that she isn’t protective or precious about her characters. She puts them through hell. ALL OF THEM. No one is safe in her books. She’ll let you spend time with a character and get to know him or her. You’ll read a bit of back story and think, Oh cool. A new character that is going to be integral to the conflict resolution. And then she’ll kill them off or have them transmuted into some kind of monster and you’ll never hear from or about them again. At first you’ll be angry and scream “Why Karen? Why did you do it?” but then you’ll realise that it’s for the greater good and that the story is better because of it.

My one criticism of this book is that I think that it should have been split up into two books. This book was an eyebrow-raising 660 pages and I felt that some of the details were left out. For example, two of the central characters fall out with each other, as in ‘I never want to see your stupid face again’ falling out, but then we flash forward a couple of weeks and their friendship is semi-mended with no explanation of how that came to be or who caved. There’s also a really harrowing journey through some mountains where people get mauled by bears, bitten by snakes and fall off steep ledges but we’re told about it in flashbacks. It’s a pretty important journey and I felt that more attention should have been given to it. Given Ms. Miller’s love of the two book series, this would have been perfectly acceptable.

At any rate, I loved it and will eventually buy this book. I also plan to read her Fisherman’s Children series (The Prodigal Mage and The Reluctant Mage) that is a sequel series to her Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series (that I also plan to reread).

As an aside, I’ve also read the first book of her Godspeaker series, Empress, and well…hated it. I’m only saying this because if you’ve read and disliked any of the books in that series, don’t let that deter you from reading her Mage books. They are written in a completely different style. If I had read Empress before the Mage books, I would never have picked up anything else by her and would have missed out on some really great stories.

As always, I would love to know what you thought of any of her books.

Take care and see you next time!

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