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Narilka reads in 2018 - Part 2

This is a continuation of the topic Narilka reads in 2018.

The Green Dragon

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1Narilka
Edited: Oct 11, 3:47pm Top

The old thread was getting long. It's time for a new one!

2018 reading log part 1: https://www.librarything.com/topic/279677

My Rating System
- Absolutely horrible, don't bother

- Meh, I finished the book somehow but would not recommend it

- An entertaining read

- Highly enjoyable, I would probably recommend this book

- Excellent! The book may not be perfect but it was perfect for me. Possibly a new favorite.

A half star is given for a book that falls between those categories.

Currently Reading


Listening To


Books Read in 2018
1. Demon Lord of Karanda by David Eddings
2. Sorceress of Darshiva by David Eddings
3. The Seeress of Kell by David Eddings
4. Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen
5. You Die When You Die by Angus West
6. Origin by Dan Brown
7. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
8. The King's Blood by Daniel Abraham
9. Glitches by Marissa Meyer
10. All Systems Red by Martha Wells
11. Hammered by Kevin Hearne
12. Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews
13. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
14. The Queen's Army by Marissa Meyer
15. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
16. Last Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron
17. Cress by Marissa Meyer
18. In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett
19. I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships by Michael S. Sorensen
20. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
21. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
22. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
23. The Fold by Peter Clines
24. Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
25. Fairest by Marissa Meyer
26. The Cat, the Mill and the Murder by Leann Sweeney
27. The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
28. The Tyrant's Law Daniel Abraham
29. I Can't Make This Up by Kevin Hart
30. Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews
31. The Widow's House by Daniel Abraham
32. On The Edge by Ilona Andrews
33. Tricked by Kevin Hearne
34. Goldenhand by Garth Nix
35. Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence
36. The Spider's War by Daniel Abraham
37. White Hot by Ilona Andrews
38. Chosen Forever by Susan Richards
39. Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel
40. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
41. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
42. Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews
43. Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
44. Wildfire by Ilona Andrews
45. The Dispatcher by John Scalzi
46. Ascend Online by Luke Chmilenko
47. Fate's Edge by Ilona Andrews
48. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
49. 14 by Peter Clines
50. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
51. Winter by Marissa Meyer
52. Awaken Online: Evolution by Travis Bagwell
53. Steel's Edge by Ilona Andrews
54. In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle
55. Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson
56. The Last Colony by John Scalzi
57. The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
58. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
59. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
60. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
61. Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames
62. Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
63. Revenger by Alastair Reynolds
64. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
65. Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews
66. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
67. The Land You Never Leave by Angus Watson
68. The Skull Throne by Peter V Brett
69. The Core by Peter V Brett

Fun Stats
Books Read: 69
Total Pages Read: 21295
Audio Book Hours: 195h 32m
Rereads: 5
TBR Challenge: 12/12
2018 Category Challenge: 22/50

2018 Series Stats
In progress: 15
Up to date: 7
Completed: 13
Abandoned: 3

2Narilka
Edited: Sep 1, 10:51am Top

TBR Challenge
This is a challenge to read more from my TBR pile this year. Pick 12 books that I've been meaning to read and add them to the list. Try to finish one a month. I've done Primary and Secondary lists in case something in the Primary list just isn't working for me. This year's primary theme is called "Let's clean up my desk!" I have a bad habit of putting books I want to read "soon" on the shelves of my desk and then choosing something else to read instead. My desk has a nice collection built up. I'm hoping this will motivate me to push through some of my desk stacks and then I can shelve them where they belong. My secondary list will be carry overs from previous challenges and anything else I feel like mixing in from my TBR.

12/12

Mission: Desk Cleanup
1. Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett (Discworld 23 of 41|Witches 6 of 6) Completed 4/5/18
2. The Cat, the Mill and the Murder by Leann Sweeney (Cats in Trouble 5 of 8) Completed 4/9/18
3. Hunter by Mercedes Lackey (Hunter 1 of 3)
4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles 1 of 4) Completed 2/1/18
5. Chosen Forever by Susan Richards Completed 5/31/18
6. Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen (The Shadow 1 of 4 planned) Completed 1/20/18
7. The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch* (Gentleman Bastards 3 of 7 planned)
8. Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels 4 of 10) Completed 2/17/18
9. The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman
10. A Cat Named Darwin by William Jordan
11. The Gunslinger by Stephen King (The Dark Tower 1 of 8)
12. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik (Temeraire 2 of 9)

Mission: Even More TBR
1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown* (Red Rising 1 of 3)
2. Wool by Hugh Howey* (Silo 1 of 3)
3. Foreigner by C. J. Cherryh* (Foreigner 1 of 19)
4. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown*
5. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson*
6. Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
7. In Calabria by Peter S Beagle Completed 8/11/18
8. Goldenhand by Garth Nix (Abhorsen 5 of 5) Completed 5/14/18
9. The Dispatcher by John Scalzi Completed 7/2/18
10. The Princess Bride by William Goldman Completed 9/1/18
11. In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett Completed 3/14/18
12. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows 1 of 2) Completed 3/21/18

*Carried over from a prior TBR challenge.

3Narilka
Edited: Sep 1, 10:51am Top

2018 Popsugar Category Reading Challenge
This is a challenge I'm participating in a group on Good Reads. Looks like it may be interesting. If anyone else thinks this would be fun feel free to copy/paste this into your own thread and see how you do! I'm going to see how close I can come this year to completing the list though do not expect to finish. Some of these will be challenging.

RULES
- Books must be started and finished in 2018
- One book can count for a maximum of two categories
- You can join in at any point in the year and the books you have already read can count towards the challenge
- Graphic novels count
- No minimum page count (unless the category states)

PROGRESS
22/50

CHALLENGE

1. A book made into a movie you've already seen The Princess Bride
2. True Crime
3. The next book in a series you started Sorceress of Darshiva Book 4 of The Malloreon
4. A book involving a heist Six of Crows
5. Nordic noir
6. A novel based on a real person In Such Good Company
7. A book set in a country that fascinates you Daughter of Smoke and Bone
8. A book with a time of day in the title
9. A book about a villain or antihero Fairest
10. A book about death or grief
11. A book with a female author who uses a male pseudonym
12. A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist Wake of Vultures
13. A book that is also a stage play or musical
14. A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you I Can't Make This Up
15. A book about feminism
16. A book about mental health
17. A book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift Magic Bleeds
18. A book by two authors
19. A book about or involving a sport
20. A book by a local author Last Dragon Standing
21. A book with your favorite color in the title The Blue Sword
22. A book with alliteration in the title
23. A book about time travel
24. A book with a weather element in the title
25. A book set at sea
26. A book with an animal in the title The Spider's War
27. A book set on a different planet All Systems Red
28. A book with song lyrics in the title
29. A book about or set on Halloween
30. A book with characters who are twins Tricked
31. A book mentioned in another book The Princess Bride
32. A book from a celebrity book club Burn For Me (Felicia Day's Vaginal Fantasy Book Club)
33. A childhood classic you've never read
34. A book that's published in 2018 Grey Sister
35. A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner
36. A book set in the decade you were born
37. A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn't get to Cinder
38. A book with an ugly cover Altered Carbon
39. A book that involves a bookstore or library
40. Your favorite prompt from the 2015, 2016, or 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenges Hammered for last year's audio book prompt

ADVANCED

1. A bestseller from the year you graduated high school
2. A cyberpunk book Altered Carbon
3. A book that was being read by a stranger in a public place
4. A book tied to your ancestry
5. A book with a fruit or vegetable in the title
6. An allegory
7. A book by an author with the same first or last name as you
8. A microhistory
9. A book about a problem facing society today Only Human (extreme prejudice)
10. A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

4Narilka
Edited: Oct 11, 1:58pm Top

My Personal Incomplete Series Challenge
I always knew I juggle a lot of series, primarily so I don't suffer series burnout and also partly because shiny new books keep being published :D I decided it was time to make it "official" and actually track all the series I have in progress for the year. The list is frightening! Maybe this will give me some incentive to finish a few more series off before I start even more new ones. Maybe ;)

Series Stats Summary
In progress: 15
Up to date: 7
Completed: 13
Abandoned: 3

In Progress
Discworld: Rincewind - 5/8
Discworld: City Watch - 5/8
Discworld: Tiffany Aching - 1/5
Discworld: Overall - 26/41
Kate Daniels - 4/10
Iron Druid Chronicles - 4/9
The Shadow - 1/3, 4 planned?
The Gentleman Bastards - 2/3, 7 planned?
The Dresden Files - 5/15, 17 planned?
Temeraire - 1/9
The Girl with All the Gifts - 1/2
The Witchlands - 2/2.5 - #3 expected in 2019
The Grisha - 1/3
A Year-Round Christmas Mystery - 1/3
Cats in Trouble - 5/8

Up to date and waiting
Murderbot Diaries - 1/2 - #3 & 4 expected end of 2018
Inkeeper Chronicles - 3/3 - #4 expected Dec 2018
The Book of the Ancestor - 2/2 - #3 expected 2019
The Hidden Legacy - 3/3 - #4 expected 2019
Awaken Online - 3/3 - #4 TBD
The Band - 2/2 - #3 TBD
West of West - 2/2 - #3 TBD

Deliberately On Hold
Waiting for future publication date(s) before continuing. Some authors have a bad habit of taking too long between books (yeah, I'm looking at you GRRM). I want the series completed before continuing my reading.
Lighbringer - 1/5
A Song of Ice and Fire - 3/7?

Completed in 2018
The Demon Cycle - 5/5
Daughter of Smoke and Bone - 3/3
Discworld: Death - 5/5
Damar - 2/2
The Edge - 4/4
The Lunar Chronicles - 4.5/4.5
The Themis Files - 3/3
The Dagger & The Coin - 5/5
Abhorsen - 5/5
Discworld: Witches - 6/6
Six of Crows - 2/2
Heartstrikers - 5/5
The Malloreon - 5/5

Abandoned in 2018
Old Man's War - 3/6
Ascend Online - 1/2
Takeshi Kovacs - 1/3

5Jim53
May 10, 11:35am Top

>4 Narilka: That's an interesting list. I hadn't thought of looking at series in that way, but it makes a lot of sense. I think I'll do something similar. Thanks for the idea!

6clamairy
May 10, 12:21pm Top

I'm replying to your Ghost Brigades review. This is another one I bought as soon as I finished the first, and I'm sad to hear that the humor is gone. Oh well... I'm sure I'll still enjoy it, as you did. But now I think I just kicked it back down toward the bottom half of my virtual stack.

7Narilka
May 10, 4:07pm Top

>5 Jim53: Yeah, it surprised me that my "in progress" number was so high. I'd like to get it under 15. Even better to be under 10.

8YouKneeK
May 10, 8:15pm Top

>4 Narilka: I like your idea of tracking series also, and it was fun to read your list. A lot of your In Progress series are really pretty close to caught up.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been keeping a half-hearted eye on the status of The Dresden Files. I've never read it, but I’m curious to try it if it’s ever completed. Not curious enough to jump into it now while it’s still ongoing, though. The last info I saw was on this FAQ (4th question down) which indicates 23 or 24 books total.

9Narilka
May 11, 8:33am Top

>8 YouKneeK: Oh wow, that's going to be a wait then. I already have #6 purchased so maybe that series will drop down to ON HOLD after I read it.

10Narilka
May 11, 10:51pm Top

33. Tricked by Kevin Hearne



Atticus, Oberon and Granuaile are back! Tricked is the fourth book in the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. Events pick up not long where book three left off. Spoilers will be for the previous book as some of this story deals with the fall out from Atticus's last adventure.

Having survived his trip to Asgard, Atticus knew there would be repercussions. With the rest of the Norse pantheon out hunting for him, Atticus makes a deal with the Navajo trickster-god Coyote, who agrees to help Atticus in return for a small favor. When one is dealing with a trickster-god it should come as no surprise when he plays his tricks on you and boy does Coyote pull one over on Atticus!

Coyote is fun and I'm glad Hearne decided to play with this myth. I like how his small request, while a little unusual, seems like a fairly harmless way to help his people right up until the "gotcha" catches up with Atticus. How does Atticus not expect something like this after all his encounters with gods over the last three books? As the title suggests, the idea of pulling a trick is a theme throughout the story. I think the winner of most surprising trick goes to Lief - I did not see that one coming!

Due to where the last three books have taken the story, many familiar characters no longer make an appearance. This allows Hearne to focus on our two primary characters, filling in a lot of background on Atticus and Granuaile. I like that we now have more motivation for why Granuaile wants to become a druid. Learning some of Atticus's ancient past was also quite interesting and for the first time the character starts to feel more like his 2000-year-old self and not just a young, modern guy. The relationship between the two of them also gets a lot of attention and I like how they've managed to keep the master/apprentice relationship instead of going straight into a romance. I'm sure the romance will still happen, but it's going to be another book or two away.

Oberon, as always, steals the show. Many of his observations are pure comedy gold and always make me laugh out loud. He even has his moment of true heroism and it made me a little teary eyed.

While over all things are still action packed and fun, the story suffers somewhat from middle book syndrome as it has a lot of work to do to set up the remainder of the series. I think I can see several potential plot threads to be worked out over the next five books and have several guesses as to which ones will become important.

I listened to the audio book narrated by Luke Daniels. I cannot say enough good things about his performance. This guy is amazing.

Rating:

11MrsLee
May 13, 10:03am Top

>8 YouKneeK: As one who has read the currently published Dresden Files series three times so far, this is great news to me! So long as he can keep the tone and spirit of the work going that is.

12Narilka
May 14, 12:07pm Top

34. Goldenhand by Garth Nix



Goldenhand is the fifth book in Garth Nix's Abhorsen series. I have mixed feelings about this book. It felt good to be back in the Old Kingdom again after being away for so long. This world and these characters are some of my favorites. Garth Nix's writing is great as always. Yet the story felt strangely flat.

Chlorr of the Mask had retreated to the far north after her defeat at the hands of Sabriel, seemingly disappeared and no longer a threat. Or that's what everyone wanted to believe. A young nomad woman named Ferin has been tasked with a mission to deliver a message to the Clayr: the Witch With No Face has gathered the clans together and is preparing to launch an attack on the Old Kingdom. Hunted by the witch's supporters and chased by her creatures Ferin must deliver the warning in time if the Kingdom is to survive the attack to come.

The story is told from two alternating points of view, Ferin's and Lireal's. The first half of the book is Ferin running from pursuers while Lireal worries over Nicholas Sayre. This throws the pacing of the story off. At around 60% the stories come together, the pacing evens out and the climax and final battles are satisfying, if rushed. Now that I think about it, most everything feels rushed. I think this would have been better being split into two full length books so Nix could explore ideas, new areas of the world and character relationships more.

I'm glad to have read it and to have closure for some loose ends from the previous four books. While enjoyable I don't see myself rereading this one where I definitely plan to reread (or relisten to) the original trilogy at some point.

Rating:

13ronincats
May 14, 3:25pm Top

Hi, Gale. Came by a few days ago but while I was still feeling lousy so didn't leave a message. You might want to put the link to this thread at the bottom of your first thread to help people find you, since the automatic continuation feature doesn't kick in until 150 messages.

I liked Goldenhand so much more than Clariel that I think I wasn't disposed to see the flaws. I've reread the trilogy and some of the shorter words numerous times. I won't read Clariel again but I will read Goldenhand at least one more time so that I can see the details. I tend to devour new books in series I love in gulps, rather than tasting the nuances.

14Karlstar
May 15, 5:43am Top

>10 Narilka: 5 more books! I hadn't realized there is supposed to be 5 more. Now that he's annoyed several major pantheons, how are they going to stay alive? I have a feeling that series is going to get to be more of the same old thing soon, though I did enjoy Tricked maybe more than I should.

15Narilka
May 15, 8:47am Top

>13 ronincats: I rated Clariel higher but that could be because I had higher expectations of Goldenhand and they weren't met. I doubt I'll reread either of them.

>14 Karlstar: The 9th and supposedly final book was published earlier this year. And I agree, seems like they're going to have a hard time staying alive with everyone that's after them.

16Narilka
May 16, 9:25am Top

I did it :) I found a new job!!! Gave my two week notice at the old place today. This is such a relief.

17Sakerfalcon
May 16, 9:31am Top

>16 Narilka: Hooray! Many congratulations to you! I hope your new colleagues will be friendly and good people to work with, and the general environment a healthy one in every way.

18clamairy
May 16, 12:54pm Top

>16 Narilka: Congrats!!! Hope it's a smooth transition.

19YouKneeK
May 16, 5:52pm Top

>16 Narilka: That’s wonderful, congrats! I hope you love the new job!

20quondame
May 16, 7:38pm Top

>16 Narilka: Congratulations on your new job!

21MrsLee
May 17, 9:16am Top

>16 Narilka: Wonderful! Happy new adventures to you!

22Narilka
May 17, 10:57am Top

Thanks everyone!

23Jim53
May 17, 8:39pm Top

>16 Narilka: Great news. Hope you'll really like your new situation.

24Narilka
May 20, 7:36pm Top

35. Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence



Grey Sister is the Second Book of the Ancestor by Mark Lawrence. The story brings us back to Sweet Mercy Convent two years after the spectacular events of Red Sister. Recently graduated to Mystic class, Nona Grey's life has resumed the relative normalcy of classes. Haunted by Hessa's death and her need to take revenge, Nona works to contain her emotions while she continues her education. Her plans to take the Red are interrupted with the Convent finds itself the target of the Inquisition and everyone's futures in question.

Firstly, big thanks to the author for including a short "what went on before" with the highlights from book one before the story. It was incredibly helpful and I learned something I didn't pick up on when I read Red Sister. I wish more authors would do this for their series.

The story follows a similar structure to the first book in that we get a sneak peek into Nona's future before continuing on her journey of how she gets there. Since we were already introduced to Nona's past in the previous book there are no more flashbacks which helps the story move along at a good pace. What's different this time around is we get a second point of view character with Abbess Glass. The Abbess is a master strategist and manipulator who, while not always knowing exactly how things will end, sees ways to set plans into motion that no one else expects. I liked this a lot as it provides nice counterbalance to Nona's more straightforward view of the world. The secondary characters are also given a chance to grow and the bonds of friendship tighten. As before, friendship is a big theme in the book.

I continue to be impressed at the world building. Abeth is such a unique idea and it's even more apparent the world is dying. As the sun continues to fail the ice inevitably creeps inward which causes the habitable parts of land to narrow. This is starting to strain the populace, the effects of which can be felt even at Sweet Mercy. Hinted at in the first book, it is fairly obvious that control over the moon and the ancient technology that was brought with the original settlers to this world will be important in the third installment if the planet and it's inhabitants are to survive. Combined with the abilities each of the four races brings and the magic of the Path I enjoy the touch of scifi with this mostly fantasy world. I am highly curious if we'll get to see anything that's under the ice or if the answers will all be found in the habitable regions.

Halfway through events take a surprising that turn that flips everything upside down. From this point on the book became very hard to put down! The action scenes are intense and so cinematic that I wish I could see them on the big screen some day. It all leads to one impossible climax that left me breathless and wanting more. Now the long wait for the final book starts.

Rating:

25Narilka
May 25, 11:19am Top

36. The Spider's War by Daniel Abraham



The Spider's War by Daniel Abraham is the final installment of The Dagger and the Coin series. This is a satisfying end to an fascinating and different type of epic fantasy series. The "dagger" (the might of armies) has it's final clash with the "coin" (the might of commerce) to see which will shape the future of their world. Here there be spoilers!

The Antean Empire has spread across the world, taking city after city. Yet even as the conquests continue the final victory over everything appears just out of reach. Revolt is brewing by those tired of war and oppression. Lord Regent Geder Palliako has a mess on his hands, not enough men to handle it all and the words of the Spider Priests urging him on. Even so, the Antean war nothing compared to the endless battle that will come if the Spider Priests are not stopped. Cithrin bel Sarcour, Marcus Wester, and Clara Kalliam are faced with the impossible task of bringing a lasting peace to the world. How do you put an end to an idea?

This series has done something different. It has explored a part of fantasy that is so overlooked: commerce. The way Abraham has explored the theme between the two types of power, traditional military might (the dagger) versus the power of money (the coin), has been fascinating. His commentary on both is thought provoking and reflects back aspects of modern society in a way that I should have expected but didn't.

All of these characters have become some of my favorites. I love the arcs each has taken, even the bad guy. I feel compassion for Geder even though he's a complete tyrant. Here was a guy who is socially awkward, used to hiding in behind books suddenly given the highest power in the land and with priests whispering bad advice into his ear. How could he have NOT ended up out of control? He makes decisions based on the emotions of the moment and then blames everyone else when things don't quite go right. I'm sure we've all known someone like this, though probably not to such an extreme degree. There is a small part of him that understands the horror he's become and his conscience is trying to talk to him but he's so far gone he completely incapable of understanding that it's his conscience recoiling from all the atrocities he's committed is what's making him feel bad and ruining his health. It's nice he had his noble moment at the end even if it was more for him to feel like a hero than because it was the right thing to do. Cithrin has really come into her own. She's gone from a totally naive young girl to someone wielding the wealth of the world. She has so much power at her fingertips and has completely changed the course of this world's history by trading gold for paper money. It's a good thing she opted to use her power for the greater good! Marcus and Yardem were so much fun. I wish I could buy these guys a drink (or 10) at the local pub. I'm so happy where they ended up at the end of the story. Man I'd love to read more about these guys and have Yardem as a POV character. It would be great to get inside his head. Clara was a complete surprise. The spoiled noble lady turned loyal traitor, working to betray her country in order to save it. It's a brilliant take on the theme of patriotism. I'm so happy she put stupid protocol aside so her and Vincen can be happy together. I feel slightly conflicted about Inys. I don't think we were given enough page time with him to truly understand dragonkind. It was funny having a melodramatic, depressed dragon but surely there is much more to his story.

It has been one long journey for these characters and this world. I'm glad I went along for the ride. If you're looking for something different in your epic fantasy I would highly recommend The Dagger and the Coin. Rich world building, complex characters that all go on wonderful arcs, war, politics, commerce, exploration of interesting themes and wonderful prose. The ending ties things up just enough that to be satisfying while leaving it apparent that this is just several years in these characters lives. There is so much more they could go on to accomplish. I hope Daniel Abraham writes more in this world at some point.

Rating:

26YouKneeK
May 25, 12:45pm Top

>25 Narilka: I’m so glad you enjoyed the series and its ending! I was laughing as I read your spoilers because I had a lot of similar reactions.

Although I never managed any compassion for Geder, I did think he was an amazingly-written character. I also thought he felt like a real person one might know, one who reacts to everything emotionally and never accepts responsibility for his or her own bad decisions and so never learns from them.

I’m also right there with you on wanting to read more about Yardem and Marcus, and especially Yardem as a POV character. The series needed more Yardem!

I was also really conflicted about Inys by the end, and I also thought his story could have used some more page time.

27Narilka
May 25, 2:03pm Top

>26 YouKneeK: :) It makes me wonder... if Geder had been left alone he'd have stayed the bookish nerd on the outside of high society. If he'd had a positive influence instead of the negativity of the Spiders, could he have truly become a good person? I truly don't remember the last time a bad guy has been so complex.

I'd love to read about Marcus and Yardem both past and future. Would love the origin story of how that friendship started and the old wars they fought together. Plus a continuation of their current hunt would be pretty damn awesome. Would they really kill Inys? Maybe :)

28Narilka
May 25, 2:24pm Top

>26 YouKneeK: Just read your review, it was great. We have a lot of similarities :) How about a series dedicated to Inys and Morade's battle? Including how the human races were made and the making of the spiders? Given how Abraham basically tells us to think for ourselves, there's a good chance that Inys's memories might be off after sleeping for eons. That would be pretty awesome too.

29YouKneeK
May 26, 7:47am Top

>27 Narilka:, >28 Narilka: I would love all of those story ideas you mention! :) I hadn’t thought about a prequel-type set of stories with Marcus and Yardem, but that would be especially awesome!

30Narilka
May 27, 8:15pm Top

Hit up my favorite used book store today. Bought way too much :) I got as many cataloged as I could. Some have been claimed.



I think she's sitting on 5 or 6 books lol and she hasn't moved off them in an hour :)

31YouKneeK
May 27, 10:13pm Top

>30 Narilka: LOL, that expression almost looks a little possessive. "My books! Don't even think about it."

32hfglen
May 28, 5:05am Top

I take it those are the ones that have been CATalogued.

33Narilka
May 28, 9:57am Top

>31 YouKneeK: I let her keep her pile for as long as she wanted :)

>32 hfglen: Ha!

34Narilka
May 28, 10:45am Top

37. White Hot by Ilona Andrews



White Hot is the second book in the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews. The action starts fast and furious with this installment as Nevada takes on a new client.

Private Investigator Nevada Baylor is a truthseeker, a rare talent and someone who can tell if a person is lying or telling the truth. She is approached by Cornelius Harrison of House Harrison for a job: investigate and solve his wife's murder. Nari Harrison was gunned down at the Hotel Sha Sha under suspicious circumstances. Normally the Baylor Investigative Agency refuses murder investigations due to the high risk nature of the job. Nevada finds she can't turn down someone who is obviously so upset over his wife's death. It also turns out that Connor Rogan is interested in this investigation as one of his employees was also killed in the crossfire at Hotel Sha Sha. As the pair begin digging into Nari's murder it's obvious this is just a small part of a much larger conspiracy.

I am loving this UF universe that the Andrews have created. With the basic world building handled in the first book, this book expands upon what we already know. We get to see more of everything: more magic powers, more action, more House politics, more romance, more about the Baylor's mysterious heritage. While Nevada and Connor are the stars of the show, the supporting characters are every bit as well-drawn and enjoyable to read about. Nevada's family is so much fun. Grandma Freida has to be the coolest 73-year old ever! I'm glad Nevada's sisters Catalina and Arabella provide more help with the investigation as it lets them show off their personalities and powers more. Cornelius Harrison and his daughter Matilda come from a House of animal mages so it was super neat to see that power in action. It is the basis of my favorite scene in the whole book, the ferret heist.

The romance kicks it up a notch as well. The chemistry between Nevada and Connor sizzles which leads to one hell of a sex scene. It is fairly explicit in nature reinforcing that this series not for younger audiences.

I am enjoying the hell out of this series. Can't wait to see what happens next.

Rating:

35Narilka
May 31, 8:54am Top

38. Chosen Forever by Susan Richards



I loved Chosen by a Horse when I read it a couple years ago, enough so that when I saw a second memoir by Susan Richards with horses on the cover I knew I had to pick it up. Unfortunately this is a case where I should have read the book blurb better. Instead of being about her horses this book is about the impact publishing her first book had on Susan's life and the book tour and life events that came after. It is a lovely little memoir, written with heart and a lot of self reflection, and provides a little insight into the life of a newly published author.

Rating:

36NorthernStar
May 31, 2:56pm Top

>34 Narilka: - I love that series too. So much fun!

37Narilka
May 31, 3:52pm Top

>36 NorthernStar: They announced 3 more books in the series :D It will feature Catalina instead of Nevada. Should still be a lot of fun.

38Narilka
May 31, 8:53pm Top

39. Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel



After the cliffhanger ending of Waking Gods, I couldn't wait for Only Human to release to see how The Themis Files wraps up. It's a mixed bag. Spoilers for the previous two books will not be marked. Spoilers for this book will be tagged.

Nine years have passed since the Ekt visited earth and wiped out millions with their biological weapon. Nine years since Rose, Vincent and Eva were accidentally transported to Ekt's home planet, Esat Ekt. Now they've managed to make it home and humanity has gone to hell in a hand basket. The heroes are just as shocked as us readers are.

"We’ve lost our collective mind! Scientists are ignoring their own findings. People are denying even the most basic … facts because it makes them feel better about hurting each other. Do you realize how horrifying that is? We’re talking about human beings making a conscious effort, going out of their way, to be ignorant. Willfully stupid. They’re proud of it. They take pride in their idiocy. There’s not even an attempt to rationalize things anymore. Muslims are bad because they are, that’s all. Why would you need a reason? It’s one thing to let your child go blind because you read on Facebook that the measles vaccine would make him autistic, it’s another to ship him off to a work camp because he inherited his Grandmother’s genes instead of Grandpa’s. Our entire race is trying to lobotomize itself. It’s as moronic and repulsive as someone cutting off their own legs."


The story is told in two timelines, one detailing the time spent on Esat Ekt and modern day happenings on Earth. Of the two I slightly preferred the story of Esat Ekt. Both story lines end up in a social commentary and prove that where there are intelligent beings there will be politics. And there is a LOT of political and social commentary in both stories. It is a very pessimistic view of humanity and perhaps an accurate view of human nature under extreme stress.

I am keenly missing the Mystery Man. His replacement of sorts is the new interviewer Captain Katherine Lebedev, Russian Intelligence. Her character grates. Her false cheerfulness, thinly veiled threats and attempts to be "friends" with everyone just got on my nerves. Rose, Vincent and Eva's relationships are all messy, as you'd expect given all that's happened and their sittuation. Eva is firmly in angsty teen territory and it shows. I continue to love Vincent as the fierce, goofball father so I'm glad that things generally work out for his and Eva's relationship in the end.

I listened to the audio book performed by a full cast. Someone made the decision to change Eva's voice and I don't like the change. Eva grew up in Puerto Rico and had a nice Spanish accent in the previous installment. This time around the voice actor gave her a Bronx accent that just did not make sense considering the character had never been to New York and spent half her life on an alien planet speaking a whole other language. That issue aside, the cast did an amazing job with the material.

The Themis Files was a fun series from the beginning, lots of mystery and action. This finale is dark with a pessimistic view of humanity, a reminder of better times in the past and a more political than my current preference. Perhaps it is that I am still worn down by the current political environment in our country that I did not enjoy this story as much as I may have at a different time. The last couple chapters were quite touching. Kara's note to her daughter and Mr. Berns added back a half star for me. I'm glad I read the series but I don't think it's one I'll revisit any time soon.

Rating:

39ronincats
May 31, 9:00pm Top

>38 Narilka: Sounds like a series I can afford to ignore! Your quote certainly reflects the current political environment. Depressing enough.

40quondame
May 31, 9:38pm Top

>38 Narilka: I'll have to check that out - I read the first two last year. Took me a while to locate as my first search was for Walking Gods. I read the strangest things sometimes.

41reading_fox
Jun 1, 5:58am Top

>38 Narilka: yet again, I thought that sounds interesting, only to find it's already on my wishlist, probably from when you added sleeping giants

42Narilka
Jun 1, 10:45am Top

>39 ronincats: Completely understandable.

>40 quondame: Hope you enjoy it :)

>41 reading_fox: hehehe

43Karlstar
Jun 3, 9:56pm Top

>25 Narilka: Thanks for recommending this series, I'll give it a try!

44Narilka
Jun 4, 5:37pm Top

>43 Karlstar: I hope you do! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

45Narilka
Jun 4, 5:40pm Top

I started my new job today and I'm exhausted. Best first day ever :) Not only are the people great but the office building is fantastic! So many benefits!!! I can't remember the last time I ever thought that about a job.

46Jim53
Jun 4, 6:55pm Top

>45 Narilka: wonderful news! I'm very glad to hear it.

47YouKneeK
Jun 4, 8:58pm Top

>45 Narilka: That sounds great! I’m glad the new job is off to such a good start.

48quondame
Jun 4, 9:09pm Top

>45 Narilka: Congratulations and best wishes for the new job!

49Karlstar
Jun 4, 9:42pm Top

>45 Narilka: Sounds like a dream job, I hope it stays that way!

50ronincats
Jun 4, 9:53pm Top

Congrats on having a great first day, Narilka! Sounds like a really good ambience.

51NorthernStar
Jun 5, 4:55pm Top

>45 Narilka: - congratulations!

52Narilka
Jun 5, 7:49pm Top

Thanks everyone :)

53Narilka
Edited: Jun 6, 8:52pm Top

40. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley



This is one of those books I wish teenage me would have read as I know I would have absolutely loved it back then. The story features a strong female protagonist who survives a kidnapping and turns her circumstances around when she learns she's the chosen one and proceeds to save the world. She gets a special horse, a magic sword, has a jaguar-type cat as a companion and in general kicks ass. Yeah, teenage me would have been in heaven. 30-something me was charmed and sees the foundation of what will become many modern YA fantasy tropes. 80s fantasy can have that feel sometimes.

This book is beautifully written. You do have to watch out though as the story sometimes switches POV mid-chapter without any warning. I wasn't expecting it the first time and had to reread the section. It is easy to get used to though. I enjoyed the descriptive passages quite a lot and the world building gave just enough detail without being overwhelming. I greatly enjoyed the action scenes, especially Harry's training.

While technically The Blue Sword is the first in the Damar duology it works just fine as a standalone book. The adventure is fully resolved by the end and all loose ends are wrapped up. This was a fun read.

Rating:

54clamairy
Edited: Jun 6, 8:48pm Top

>53 Narilka: I felt the same way about this one. I wish I'd read this when I was 12 or so. I would have been so obsessed with it!

Also some of your review is spoiler-ish. You might want to hide some of it. (Not the giant cat bit! LOL)

55Narilka
Jun 6, 8:54pm Top

>54 clamairy: Think I got the worst of the spoilers? I kind of think the two items before the cat are explained by the title and the cover.

I've been in training for 3 straight days with 2 to go. I think my brain is goo :)

56ronincats
Jun 6, 9:56pm Top

>53 Narilka: It hadn't been written yet when I was a teen, but this is still a favorite book of mine (perhaps because I read it in the early 80s when it came out before all these tropes were quite as prevalent?).

57Narilka
Jun 7, 5:30pm Top

>56 ronincats: Always a possibility :)

58Narilka
Jun 7, 9:33pm Top

41. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie



It's a race against time when an avalanche stops the Orient Express on it's tracks just as a murder has been committed. The world's greatest detective, Hercule Poirot, must search for clues, interrogate all the passengers and solve the mystery before the train starts back up and the murderer can escape.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you do a locked room mystery! There is a reason why this whodunit is such a classic. While I have read other Agatha Christie books in the past, this was my first Poirot book that I remember. His deductive style and this story in general is one of those that defined a genre. It's no wonder there have been so many homages over the years. The murder solution was both elegant and completely surprising. I did not expect that at all!

I listened to the audio book narrated by Kenneth Branagh. His performance is extraordinary and he does a wonderful job of bringing all the characters to life. If you're a fan of Branagh as an actor, you'll love him as a narrator.

Rating:

---------------------

Question for everyone: Is the movie that came out last year worth seeing? Does it do the book justice?

59NorthernStar
Jun 8, 1:53pm Top

>58 Narilka: - I thought the movie was very good. Worth seeing.

60clamairy
Jun 8, 2:02pm Top

>58 Narilka: Yes, absolutely. And Branagh plays Poirot.

61MrsLee
Jun 9, 10:36am Top

>58 Narilka: I loved the movie! Very much enjoyed Branagh as the great man.

62Narilka
Jun 9, 11:43am Top

Awesome :) I think I saw the movie in Prime video. I'll have to add it to the play list.

63Sakerfalcon
Jun 12, 7:50am Top

>45 Narilka: Belated congratulations on your new job - I'm glad your first day went well and hope things continue to be great.

I still love The blue sword, but then my dream is still to get a magical horse and cat :-)

64Narilka
Edited: Jun 19, 8:58pm Top

42. Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews



Bayou Moon is the second book of The Edge by Ilona Andrews. This installment takes a darker turn the first and is highly entertaining. We also get to see a new location in the Edge.

Carise Mar and her family live in the Mire, a large swamp in the Edge between the Kingdom of Louisiana in the Weird and the state of Louisiana in the Broken. They are money poor but land rich. An old feud with the Sheerile family reignites when Carise's parents go missing and the Sheerile brothers are found in her parent's house claiming Cerise's father sold it to them. William, a changeling soldier, has retired to a trailer in the Broken in an effort to escape the politics of the Weird. When several changeling children are found slaughtered in Adrianglia, William is recruited to track down the killer. When William and Cerise's paths cross, sparks fly and they will have to learn to work together if they want to make it through their missions alive.

I was so happy to see William again. He was a neat side character in the first book so it's great he gets his own story. I liked being inside his head and the struggle that goes on to keep the wild side of him under control. Carise is also great as the strong female lead. She's willing to go to great lengths to protect her family. I liked the unique fighting style that Andrews gave her for the use of her flash, very creative and quite powerful in the right situation. Their "Lord Bill" and "Hobo Queen" banter was so much fun to read. I love a book with good character banter! The two of them end up working very well together and I even enjoyed their romance story line for the most part. The rest of the Mar family makes a great supporting cast and there are a lot of them. Cerise's brother (cousin?) Kaldar's magical luck was pretty darn cool and boy would that come in handy in real life! As for the bad guys, they reminded me a bit of comic book villains, each with a particular strength and weakness.

The world building is fantastic! The Mire is one crazy place, a swamp on magical steroids. The descriptions bring everything to life. I felt like I was wading through the muck right along with our heroes, feeling the stifling humidity and avoiding the monsters. I don't think it's a place I'd ever care to visit!

The story has elements that toe the line with horror, especially regarding the bad guys and how they are "enhanced." There are a couple especially violent scenes that surprised me as well. Ilona Andrews doesn't pull any punches in this book.

My only disappointment was with the very end as the story is wrapping up. The last couple chapters and epilogue felt very rushed and were out of sync with the rest of the book. I wish there was another 50 pages or so to finish off that section properly. Also after everything they've gone through and where their characters ended up, that last little bit where Cerise thought William didn't like her any more just didn't fit at all. Otherwise this was quite an enjoyable read.

Rating:

Edit: Fixed the touchstone.

65stellarexplorer
Jun 16, 11:56am Top

I admire how many books you read. Reminds me of me when I had less on my plate!

66Narilka
Jun 16, 4:41pm Top

>65 stellarexplorer: Awww thanks :)

67Narilka
Jun 19, 8:53pm Top

43. Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty



Apparently locked room mysteries have become my June reading theme. This time the setting is in deep space on a ship crewed by six clones who wake up in their to their new lives in the midst of a scene of horror with no memories of what events caused them to be reborn. The only thing that's clear is someone is a murderer and they must be discovered before the cycle begins again.

This was a fun little scifi mystery. We have six characters and six points of view. Each character's back story is revealed as the story progresses which helps paint a complete picture exactly why each of these people are on this ship at this time.

The scifi aspects of the world building were fascinating. I really liked Lafferty's idea of cloning and how a person's mind/personality is able to be carried forward. Plus the fact that a person leaves their inheritance when they die to their clone instead of their children just struck me as hilarious! The impacts of the cloning technology on society are vast. It also sparks some interesting ethical questions, which is a theme that the characters consider throughout the story.

As to the mystery, I called it at about 40%. Not the exact solution, but fairly close. It was still a lot of fun to read and join the characters on their discovery of what actually happened before they woke up. This was a lot of fun and could appeal to both science fiction and mystery fans.

Rating:

68Narilka
Jun 24, 5:59pm Top

44. Wildfire by Ilona Andrews



Nevada's involvement in House politics has had an unforeseen effect: her evil grandmother, Victoria Tremaine, Head of House Tremaine, knows where her family is and has plans to bring them under her power whether they're willing or not. This is bad news for the Baylor family as they have no real protection against their invading relative aside what they can provide for themselves since law enforcement strictly stays out of magical Family matters. Unsure of the best way to protect her family and still figuring out her relationship with Rogan, Nevada's life is further complicated with Rynda Charles, Rogan's gorgeous ex-fiancee, shows up at the Balyor Agency with a case for them to solve. Rynda's husband has gone missing and the Baylor Agency is her last hope since all of Rynda's friends and family have turned her away.

Wildfire is the third book in the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews. This was one wild ride! It's 400 pages of action, mystery, crazy magical abilities, more layering of the world building, memorable characters and a hefty dose of romance. And I loved every minute of it.

These characters are just so much fun. Both main characters, Nevada and Rogan, are very well crafted. By this point we understand their motivations behind most of their actions. The whole ex-fiancee thing can be a sticky subject to attempt and I think it's handled very well. I hate when authors use the jealousy angle by making their characters deliberately do "ignorant" and obviously hurtful actions to cause tension. It feels cheap. It was really nice to see this handled with characters who were aware of their actions and what was going on instead of making Nevada into the "over reactive" female. Rogan's concern for Nevada over the whole Rynda situation is refreshing. Even the side characters are wonderful. Cornelius Harrison is back as is all of Nevada's family and I love each one of them. It was great to see more of Catalina and Arabella's powers. Also very cool to go through the discovery of a latent talent in one of the characters.

The world building continues as even more powers are explored. We're given some origins into the powers themselves and a little bit behind how the powers are passed from generation to generation, really emphasizing why it's so important for Primes to be genetically compatible. It's fascinating. Also great is watching the conspiracy between Houses unfold layer by layer.

As before, this book plants its feet firmly on the romance side of urban fantasy with a couple of explicit sex scenes. They are very steamy and well written. And I'm not normally a romance fan!

That was a satisfying end to Nevada's trilogy. I was excited to read that the author plans to continue the series from Catalina's point of view as the very end of the epilogue left a nice hook. Can't wait to see what they come up with.

Rating:

69Narilka
Jul 3, 9:05pm Top

45. The Dispatcher by John Scalzi



What would happen if murder could no longer be committed? What would that do to society? Sometime in the near future anyone who has been murdered reappears in their home, stark naked and very much alive. This is the setting for John Scalzi's novella The Dispatcher.

Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher, a licensed professional who humanely kills people when things go wrong so they can have a second chance to get things right. It's just another night at work when Valdez takes a job at a hospital for another Dispatcher who had a personal issue to take care of. That is until the other Dispatcher goes missing and suddenly Valdez finds himself in the middle of a missing persons investigation.

This is such a cool concept! Written in Scalzi's accessible style, the story follows Valdez as he helps a detective solve the missing person's case. The story twists and turns, exploring a few facets of just how people are able to exploit this phenomenon both for the betterment of society and from the criminal side. While there are not enough pages for the themes to be explored too deeply, nor are the characters very fleshed out, it made for an intriguing read.

Rating:

70Narilka
Jul 3, 9:58pm Top

46. Ascend Online by Luke Chmilenko



Seeking to escape the boredom of every day life, Marcus and his friends sign up to play the just released virtual reality MMO, Ascend Online. Promising to be the most advanced VR experience available, Marcus and friends log in to the game and enter a world beyond all expectations. From the moment he first creates his character, Marcus (game name Lyrian) finds himself separated from his friends, dropped into a small village being attacked by goblins. The battle is in full swing as he joins with the villagers to beat back the invaders and start rebuilding the town. It's not long before Lyrian discovers that attacking goblins are the least of his problems. This is truly turning into the most unique gaming experience of Lyrian's life.

This book is definitely something geared towards MMO gamers. It feels like a game designer created the world there is so much detail in the character creation and skills. While you can probably enjoy the story just being a fantasy fan, you may find that some of the technical gaming aspects cause the story to drag. I know I did. There were times while listening to the audio I wished I was reading it the traditional way so I could have more easily skimmed over the parts where they read through all the character statistics and skill up information so I could just get back to the adventure. Still, Luke Daniel's narration is a joy to listen to, even in the boring parts. He's definitely become one of my favorite audio book narrators.

The characters are a good mix. Marcus/Lyrian, being the hero of the story, is the most fleshed out. I enjoyed the supporting NPCs from the town quite a bit and absolutely loved Amaranth, Lyrian's familiar. Lyrian's friends don't get quite as much page time but that's OK. Once they finally join up the characters have a good range of skills to take them through most of what the game throws at them.

This is my second go at a LitRPG series. I find reading about other people playing games an interesting experience. While not overly unique, I enjoyed the game world. If you've played any fantasy MMOs in the last 10 years you'll recognize many familiar mechanics.

Overall, Ascend Online was an entertaining read. While the sequel is already released I'm not in any rush to continue the series.

Rating:

71YouKneeK
Edited: Jul 4, 3:42pm Top

>69 Narilka: Now that sounds really interesting. The funny thing is that I apparently got this from Audible, who knows when or why, but I never listened to it since I'm not much of an audiobook listener. It looks like it's short, though. Maybe I'll try it the next time I have to drive up to Tennessee to visit family; the length would be just about right.

Edited to correct post # reference.

72Narilka
Jul 4, 8:46pm Top

>71 YouKneeK: I saw the audio book in a recent sale. It's just over two hours and read by the actor Zachary Quinto (Spock). The sad thing was it was free for quite a while last year and I totally missed it :) I look forward to your thoughts if you end up giving it a try.

73clamairy
Edited: Jul 4, 9:38pm Top

>69 Narilka: & >71 YouKneeK: Oh, that sounds great. I'd be all over that as an audiobook. I listened to Agent to the Stars a few years ago and loved it.

74YouKneeK
Jul 5, 6:50am Top

>72 Narilka: That probably explains how I ended up with it. I imagine I'll be making the drive around Thanksgiving, if not sooner, so I'll probably get to it sometime this year.

75MrsLee
Jul 5, 9:10am Top

>71 YouKneeK: I loved the audio of that book. Zachary Quinto reads well, and the story was intriguing.

76YouKneeK
Jul 5, 6:02pm Top

>75 MrsLee: That’s good to hear! I’ll definitely have to fit it in. I liked Quinto in both Heroes and the newer Star Trek movies.

77Karlstar
Jul 5, 10:00pm Top

Thanks for the review on The Dispatcher, I'll add that to my Scalzi list.

78Narilka
Jul 10, 9:48pm Top

47. Fate's Edge by Ilona Andrews



Fate's Edge is the third book of The Edge by Ilona Andrews. This series is so much fun!

If helping her father with one final heist means he'll leave her alone forever, Audrey accepts the job. Their mission: to break into the Pyramid of Ptah and steal a highly valuable magical artifact. What could possibly go wrong? Kaldar Mar, a lair, a thief and an agent for the Mirror, has his latest assignment: retrieve a stolen magical artifact before the Dukedom of Louisiana can obtain it. Tracking down a stolen item shouldn't be much of a challenge - until Audrey shows up and gives him a lot more than he bargained for!

Kaldar Mar was a side character in Bayou Moon with some fun magical abilities so it was interesting to see him chosen as the main male lead for the third book. He and Audrey are perfect foils for each other. Since they both grew up with con men backgrounds it was a lot of fun to read how each tries to out maneuver the other. Their romance was a slower burn and it was great to read how they poked fun at each other, making fun of typical romance tropes in the process:

He hit her with his best smile. Her eyes widened. She took a deep breath. "Oh no, not that seductive face. I'm overcome with the need to take off these awful clothes. What is happening? I do not understand. Oooh. Ahhh." She touched her wrist to her forehead. "Somebody help me. I'm being drenched with my own fluids."


The kids George and Jack are back and they're fantastic. Andrews has a wonderful way of writing teenagers that feel authentic without being completely annoying. I know that sounds like an oxymoron but somehow they make it work! The brothers have their own story line and it adds a layer of tension as Jack learns to control his wild instincts while George copes with trying to fit in with Weird society.

I love the world building in this series. It keeps being added on to a piece at a time, filling in more areas of the Edge and the Weird. All without any convoluted info dumps.

There are some absolutely amazing action scenes! They kept me up reading far later than I normally would have. I can't stop reading in the middle of all the action!

This is a solid rustic fantasy series. I'm looking forward to book four.

Rating:

79Narilka
Jul 15, 8:09pm Top

48. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor



Seventeen year-old Karou is an art student living in Prague, has a necklace of wish granting beads and a sketch book full of frightening monsters. No one believes the monsters are real. The truth is they are chimaera and Karou's only family. As she runs mysterious errands for Brimstone, the chimaera that raised her, black hand prints begin to appear on doorways around the world, scorched there by winged strangers. A war that has been ongoing for a thousand years has spilled over into the human world and Karou is about to find herself caught in the middle.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first in a trilogy of the same name by Laini Taylor. The story unfolds slowly as we are introduced to Karou's life in Prague and her unusual family. Karou basically lives a double life: one of being a normal teen, going to school and regular teen problems; the other spent in a magic shop with the monsters who are her family. Taylor's imagination is vivid and highly detailed. The writing is lyrical, witty and mesmerizing in it's style. It feels like reading a fairy tale. I found myself hooked by the mystery that is Karou's world almost immediately. And now I kind of want to take a trip to Prague!

The story is not without it's faults. Being a YA romance, I ran into my most hated genre trope: insta-love. This is followed closely by all the characters being beautiful, which is basically explained as the cause for the insta-love. It's so annoying. Thankfully I found myself so caught up in the world that it didn't pull me out of the story too badly.

I was surprised at how many of the questions I had at the beginning ended up being explained. There were a few twists in the story and the book ends on a big bombshell reveal so I'm glad that the series is fully published. Hopefully the second book builds upon the great foundation that has been created.

Rating:

80quondame
Jul 15, 9:02pm Top

>79 Narilka: Well that goes on the BB list!

81Narilka
Jul 16, 7:54pm Top

>80 quondame: I hope you enjoy it if you try it :)

82Narilka
Edited: Jul 19, 8:04pm Top

49. 14 by Peter Clines



Nate needs to find a new apartment and fast. It's by sheer luck that an acquaintance mentions there is availability in the Kavach Building. The old building is close to Nate's job, has low rent and all utilities are included. It's not long after moving in, as Nate meets his neighbor, that he starts to notice there's something odd with Mandy's apartment. And Veek's. And Tim's. Pretty soon Nate and his neighbors are all curious about the mysteries they keep finding and they begin to investigate. Things are more strange than they ever imagined.

After reading The Fold earlier this year I have definitely been keeping Peter Clines in mind for when I had that science fiction/thriller itch. 14 hit the spot! 14 is set in the same world as The Fold, the stories are loosely linked while being distinctly separate and both books are written in the same style. 14 was published first so technically I read them out of order. It did not hurt the experience at all. In some ways I enjoyed reading them reverse as it made 14 feel like an origins story as it expanded on parts that were laid out in The Fold.

It was loads of fun going with Nate and his team as they unraveled the mysteries of the Kavach Building. Clines has a great way of slowly building the suspense. Things start off fairly normal and gradually get weirder and weirder the farther Nate goes in his investigations. The story is so engaging I found that I did not want to stop listening after I'd reached my destination. Once the action starts, hang on tight for a wild ride to the finale!

Nate and his neighbors are a fun group of characters. They are a diverse bunch including an ultra conservative church goer, a tattooed art student, an "ex-publisher" and an Indian computer hacker to name a few. Each one brings different and valuable skills to the team and all have great personalities. The characters have fun joking and bantering with each other and it all feels very natural. There are even a few pop culture references, like when they started comparing themselves to the Scooby Gang.

There are a few horror nods. If you're a Lovecraft fan, you'll be quite appreciative of certain sections of the book. Things never get too gory, it's more of the creepy type horror. The horror aspect is woven in well with the overall mystery.

I listened to the audio book narrated by Ray Porter. His performance is perfect as always. I love the character voices he uses.

Overall this was a highly satisfying read. I hope that Clines writes more in this world some day. I'd buy that book up in a heartbeat.

Rating:

-----

Edit: Fixed the touchstone.

83NorthernStar
Jul 18, 10:13pm Top

>82 Narilka: I think you got me with that one. I really enjoyed The Fold, too.

84YouKneeK
Jul 19, 7:43am Top

>82 Narilka: That does sound good! I haven’t tried anything by Peter Clines yet, but it sounds like he should be on my radar.

85Narilka
Jul 19, 8:06pm Top

>83 NorthernStar: Oh, you are going to enjoy it!

>84 YouKneeK: I hope you give him a try. I'd love to hear your thoughts. I plan to try his Ex-Heroes series at some point. They are supposed to be quite different.

86Narilka
Jul 29, 5:33pm Top

50. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell



North and South is the classic story by Elizabeth Gaskell exploring the theme of social problems during England's Industrial Revolution. The story is presented through the viewpoint from Miss Margaret Hale as she's forced to move with her family from rural southern England to the industrialized town of Milton in northern England. There she learns about labour relations between the workers and the mill-owners, witnessing a strike first hand, and meets a working class boy where, after much time and and many events, they admit that they do, in fact, love each other.

The heart of the story is compelling. The social commentary of the time feels fairly relevant in that there will always be a struggle for labor relations as long as there are laborers and bosses. Gaskell also writes what feels like an authentic representation of life during that time and doesn't pull her punches. People deal with the day to day highs and lows just like anyone else and it isn't always easy. In fact if you updated the prose to be more modern, with descriptions of today's fashion and technology, the story would be just as relevant. That's the part that makes this a classic.

Where my frustrations come in are with the main characters. Both main leads are very prideful and have prejudices to overcome, with a touch of Shakespearean misunderstandings, before they can admit they care for one another. That in itself is not a bad thing as it worked well for Austen. What bothered me is after the whole book of building up Margaret and Mr. Thornton's relationship, the final pay off is just given a couple of pages right at the end. It felt like a let down. Also, Margaret is a Mary Sue and it got annoying constantly reading about how perfect she is.

This was an interesting if frustrating read. I'm glad I gave Gaskell a try.

Rating:

87Narilka
Jul 31, 9:17pm Top

51. Winter by Marissa Meyer



Winter is the fourth and final book in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. This time the story is loosely based on the Snow White fairy tale.

Princess Winter is loved by the people of Luna for her grace and kindness. Her beauty, despite scars that mar her face, is said to be even greater than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana. Winter despises her stepmother for her cruelty and how she uses her Lunar gift to manipulate others. Wanting to be as unlike her stepmother as possible Winter refuses to use her Lunar gift, causing her to appear weak in Queen Levana's eyes. Winter is hardly as weak as appears and has been working to undermine the Queen's power for years. Now she's determined to help the cyborg mechanic launch a revolution and end the war between Earth and Luna one way or another.

Winter is such an interesting character! Her slow descent into insanity caused by not using her gift was fascinating to read. And yet she holds herself together and proves to be a pretty strong ally for Cinder and crew. It is unfortunate that while the book is named for her she didn't get more page time. I would definitely have loved to read more about Winter. All the other characters from previous books are back and each has a role to play. I liked where Scarlet and Wolf's story went. By the end they were almost bordering on Beauty and the Beast territory. I wonder if the author did that as a way to sneak in another fairy tale or if it was just to prove that love conquers all. Cress finally finds her courage. Thorne is, well, Thorne. He kind of has some character growth right at the end but I'm not sure I'm completely convinced. Kai was charmingly useless. And Cinder did her best. Ironically I think this story hurt Levana's character the most. After reading her backstory in Fairest it was disappointing that she was just evil for evil's sake. Yeah she's the evil queen, we all hate her, but all the depth the novella created for her seemed gone in this book. It's too bad. I feel like there's a wasted opportunity here.

Plot wise, there was a lot of repetition in the events. Character gets captured, almost dies and has a daring escape. Rinse and repeat. I'm not sure if this is because of wanting to give all of the characters a heroic moment or what. Luckily this was worked in with some genuinely great parts as well. I truly enjoyed what Meyer did with the Snow White story, even down working in the crystal coffin after the poisoned apple. It was truly inspired.

The ending was satisfactory. This being a fairy tale retelling, everyone gets their happy ending. Overall this was a highly creative series with a lot of action, fun characters, though not a whole lot of depth.

Rating:

88clamairy
Jul 31, 9:55pm Top

>86 Narilka: It sounds as though North and South is lacking the humor of Cranford. :o(

89Narilka
Aug 1, 8:20pm Top

>88 clamairy: It's a more serious book. It's also the only Gaskell I've read so far so I honestly can't say how they compare.

90Sakerfalcon
Aug 2, 6:35am Top

>88 clamairy:, >89 Narilka: The only Gaskell I've read is Wives and daughters, which I loved. There was a great BBC TV adaptation of it, which I highly recommend as well.

91Narilka
Aug 5, 9:41pm Top

52. Awaken Online: Evolution by Travis Bagwell



Awaken Online: Evolution is the third in the Awaken Online series by Travis Bagwell. Thankfully this entry picks up immediately with the cliff hanger ending of the previous book. Unfortunately that means I can't write a summary without spoilers for book two.

After exiting Awaken Online to find himself holding a knife and standing over two dead bodies, Jason is now being investigated for murder. To make matters worse, Clair has stumbled across evidence that Alfred is able to manipulate players minds and may have been directly involved in the event. Clair feels it is her duty to inform the CPSC under the premise of protecting the players safety even though she still doesn't have all the facts. With his real life in shambles, Jason heads back into Awaken Online to continue on the Old Man's quest and gain deeper power through the path of the Dark.

Things start off slowly as it deals with events in the real world. Jason is in a lot of trouble and it takes some time before he's able to get back to the game world. Once back in AO the pace of the story picks back up and we continue along the Path of the Dark. It's such a pity we don't have technology like this yet as I would play this game in a heart beat. Some of these quest descriptions are downright hilarious in their snarky and sarcastic wording. I love that the AI has a sense of humor! Given the weight of the real world impact on Jason's life, Bagwell balances in game and real world story lines nicely.

All of the characters are back and have gone on character arcs. It's great to see each of them become more confident in their abilities in game and how that confidence helps them in the real world. Riley has recently gone on a side quest, which I wish I'd read before starting this book as events are mentioned frequently, and now has a new class with new abilities. Frank's shapechanging is impressive. I like how he's able to "consume" creatures to gain new forms and abilities. Jason continues along the dark path, which is the core of the story and has a great payoff. The group is joined by a fourth party member along the way, Eliza. Eliza is a water mage who is being harassed by another one of the game's gods named the Hippy. The Hippy and his pet sheep Fluffy are hilarious! With these new additions we're given more insight into the game world and just how much impact the game's gods have on the realm. It's an interesting system and I look forward to seeing how it plays out. Alexion, the series antagonist, does have his own story thread. I had a hard time caring about it. It seems to be set up for the future as it doesn't have any direct impact on main story events. Again, something to see what happens with book four.

I listened to the audio book narrated by David Stifel. He gives the same performance as he does for the previous books. He has a little trouble varying his female voices though he was able to differentiate enough between Riley and Eliza so they weren't confusing. It was harder between Clair and the CPSC lady.

This was another fun entry into the series. While not quite as dramatic as the last book, this one also ends on a kind of cliff hanger which is kind of annoying. There are enough loose ends that I don't think it was strictly necessary - I already want to know what happens next! Hopefully book four will be out in another year.

Rating:

92Narilka
Aug 7, 8:41pm Top

I finished up Steel's Edge, which I'll probably review tomorrow. This finally brings my "in progress" series down under 20 :) This feels like a major accomplishment!

93YouKneeK
Aug 7, 9:30pm Top

>92 Narilka: Woo hoo, congrats! :)

94Jim53
Aug 8, 3:40pm Top

>92 Narilka: well done!

95Narilka
Aug 8, 8:11pm Top

53 Steel's Edge by Ilona Andrews



Steel's Edge is the fourth and final book of The Edge by Ilona Andrews. This has a darker undertone as the story tackles the topic of slavery and the darker side of magic.

Charlotte de Nay is a healer from the Weird, perhaps the best in her generation. Unfortunately life after providing 10 years of service to the realm did not go as planned. After her marriage fails, Charlotte flees to the Edge to build a new life for herself. Richard Mar is on a mission to wipe out the slaver organization that shattered his young neice's. When one of his plans go wrong, Richard accidentally draws the slavers into the Edge and turn's Charlotte's life upside down once again. Charlotte vows to help Richard wipe out the slavers once and for all. What neither of them realize is just how deep the slavers' operation goes.

This book has a slightly different structure and the previous books as this is the first time where the story has a focus on blueblood society. It's about what you'd imagine for a high society of magic users, very snobbish. As expected, Charlotte and Richard are solid characters. Charlotte's magical healing has a dark side and she's been taught her whole life to fight against the harming aspect of her magic. Naturally this plays a big role in the outcome of the story. Richard is a typical Ilona Andrews male lead in that he's incredibly handsome and an amazing swordsman. He's also had plenty of blueblood training so is noble and proper and fits in well with Charlotte. What happened to Sophie was heartbreaking so it's great to see someone trying to right that wrong. Speaking of Sophie, she's pretty great! She's had some growth since book two and tends to steal the scenes she's in. George and Jack are also back with roles to play, though to a lesser extent.

The ending is satisfying if unsurprising due to all the foreshadowing. Needless to say, both main characters make sacrifices that are quite touching and still get their happily ever after. About the only truly disappointing thing is that this story is set almost entirely in the Weird. Turns out the Weird is not nearly as interesting of a place as the Edge.

I am sad to be leaving the Edge behind. Perhaps the writers will decided to write in this world again some day.

Rating:

96Narilka
Aug 18, 12:03pm Top

54. In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle



A new unicorn story by Peter S. Beagle? Sign me up!

Claudio Bianchi has lived alone on his farm in Southern Italy for many years, writing poetry and tending his animals. Set in his ways and resistant to change, his life is turned upside down one morning when an impossible visitor arrives: a unicorn seems to have taken a fancy to his orchard.

This was not the kind of story I was expecting. The focus of the story is on Claudio and his isolated life in modern Italy. It's an interesting tale to see how the impact of having a unicorn on his property forces him back into the world and provides an unfortunately realistic view of a potential reaction from the world when others find out that unicorns are real. While the unicorn does have a part to play, she's more of a catalyst for Claudio's personal growth than the main focus. The writing is lyrical and lovely as always. I was just hoping for more unicorns!

Rating:

97Narilka
Aug 18, 12:24pm Top

55. Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson



The title and cover photo really says it all for this one. Scent of the Missing is a memoir by Susannah Charleson about her experiences doing search and rescue work with dogs. Search and rescue is a labor of love and you can tell from the writing that this is Charleson's passion. The story alternates between her experiences as a field assistant and her time training up her own puppy to become certified as a SAR dog and handler. The story is heartwarming and interesting as I learned about SAR in general, which I'd only had very basic knowledge of. I really admire the people who volunteer for this line of work - it's grueling and not for the faint of heart.

Rating:

98Narilka
Aug 18, 1:00pm Top

56. The Last Colony by John Scalzi



Finally! After missing out on John Perry in The Ghost Brigades, he and his sense of humor are back for the third installment in the Old Man's War series.

John Perry and Jane Sagan has settle down to the simple life with their adopted daughter on the distant planet Huckleberry. As Ombudsman for their settlement, John handles local disputes and the general administration of the village while Jane serves as the local law enforcement. Their peace and quiet is shattered when their past reaches out to haunt them - the Colonial Union was to create a new colony and install John as its leader. Things start going wrong almost immediately and Perry quickly realizes he and the new colony are the pawns of an interstellar game of politics. Perry and Sagan have only a short time to unravel all the lies and deceptions in order to save both the colony and the human race.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I'm very happy to be back with John and Jane. The humor that was missing in book two is back and I love both of these characters so it was great spending time with them again. The plot offers an interesting convergence of the story lines of the two previous books and it was also interesting to read about how colonizing works in this universe.

My biggest complaint is the lack of descriptions. There are all sorts of alien species and we are given very little to go on for how they look. Scalzi also takes some short cuts in the storytelling to save time, literally. There's a part where the book jumps several months and after the jump we're basically given bullet points of what happened during those months to catch us up. Those complaints aside, it's still an enjoyable, lite sci-fi read.

And here ends my time in the Old Man's War universe. I am mildly curious about Zoe's story which hopefully fills in the gap on how she talked General Gau into cooperating with John's plan but not enough that I feel the desire to pick up the book.

Rating:

99Karlstar
Aug 18, 1:16pm Top

>98 Narilka: Nice review, I had much the same feelings about it. Fun, but not as good as I wanted. I think I actually enjoyed Zoe's Tale more. There is another one after that in the same universe, but it wasn't very good.

100Narilka
Aug 18, 6:23pm Top

>99 Karlstar: I looked for your review and didn't find it if you wrote one. I saw there's a total of 6 books to the series though it looks like the last two are short story collections. If I find Zoe's Tale as a Kindle deal or something maybe I'll pick it up. Otherwise I feel good leaving it here.

101YouKneeK
Aug 18, 7:06pm Top

>98 Narilka: I’ve been interested in reading the Old Man’s War series, but I’ve held off because I saw something a year or two ago about Scalzi being contracted to write another book in the universe. After seeing some of your comments and those of >99 Karlstar: indicating some of the books aren’t that great, I might get around to it sooner with the expectation that I might not want to read the whole series anyway.

102Narilka
Aug 18, 7:17pm Top

>101 YouKneeK: The first one is definitely worth it and my favorite of the three. You can also read it stand alone as it wraps up enough that you don't feel left hanging.

103Karlstar
Aug 18, 10:03pm Top

>100 Narilka: There's 94 reviews, so its kind of hard to find, but it is there! Its not very exciting, basically what I said above, though I should point out that Zoe's point of view is a lot of fun.

>101 YouKneeK: The first three are definitely worth it!

104Narilka
Aug 23, 8:38pm Top

57. The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley



Technically speaking, The Hero and the Crown is the second book published in the Damar series though events are sent many years prior to The Blue Sword. The hero of legend, Aerin Firehair, wasn't always a hero. Once she was the shy, awkward only child of the King of Damar. This is her story about her coming of age and how her legend was made.

The story is a classic hero's quest though it has some unusual elements in the second half. I absolutely loved Aerin's character, how real she feels and how hard she works to earn her place. Arein is an unsatisfactory princess - she isn't beautiful, her mother was a "witch" and she yearns to become a dragon slayer, which in this world an unglamorous job since dragons are seen as vermin and their slaying as no more than a chore. The more effort she goes to in order to prove herself to her father's court, the more she's underappreciated, never mind that all her accomplishments are quite valued by the common people she helps. She even uses methodical persistence to work out a scientific problem, with much success and was pretty cool because it's not something you see often in this kind of story. Seeing as this is a hero journey, Aerin continues her struggles until she's ultimately successful, proving herself beyond all doubt by saving the day in the end.

And now for the unusual stuff. Spoilers ahead. There is a fight that requires Aerin to travel back and forth in time. It was very confusing to read. I'm really glad one of the other characters explains it afterwards because it felt more like a dream sequence than an actual battle. Also interesting is how the author made depression a plot point. Discussing mental illness was virtually unheard of in any of the 80's fiction I read, especially not in a YA adventure story. It's handled quite well, both caused and cured by magic, yet shows the hero's resilience as she doggedly continues on her quest regardless. Highly unusual is that our hero ends up with two love interests, has relationships with both and yet this isn't a love triangle. Aerin understands that after she's become immortal, she can marry and live with her mortal lover and then join her immortal one later. Yet there is never any romantic angst. She makes her decisions level headed and when she feels like she's ready.

This story resonated with me due to all the hardships Aerin endures and over comes. I can see myself rereading this one in the future. I also greatly enjoy McKinley's prose. I need to check out some of her adult books in the future.

Rating:

105Sakerfalcon
Aug 24, 5:00am Top

The hero and the crown and The blue sword are favourites of mine. I can never decide which one I like the best!

106Narilka
Aug 26, 11:16am Top

>105 Sakerfalcon: From my first read, mine is The Hero and the Crown :) It will be interesting to reread these and see how the experience is different now that I know both stories.

107Narilka
Aug 26, 11:16am Top

58. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor



Karou finally has all the answers she has been looking for. She knows who she is, what she is and is now living with the consequences of that knowledge. Heart heavy with guilt and feeling she owes a debt that can never be repaid, Karou has led what's left of her people to a hidden desert fortress so she can carry on with Brimstone's work. Survival alone is not a very good life. How do you end an unending war?

Days of Blood and Starlight is vastly different than the first book. Gone is the magical light heartedness and mystery as we were being first introduced to Karou and her family. This was a very dark book. Dealing with how an endless war affects people doesn't make for a happy story. The author did a very good job of presenting the horrors of war without being gratuitous. It makes for a slower paced, and in places, more difficult read, but was well worth it.

Karou ends up being dragged through the wringer, physically and emotionally. The effects of unending war are felt by everyone, with tons of resentment and blame to go around. Even as the chimera's only hope for survival, Karou is constantly treated like crap, which ends up being a pretty important plot point once we discover why this is so extreme. Also gone is the love story for which I'm extremely grateful. How could someone be expected to forgive and love a person who murdered her family and nearly wiped out her species? I'm glad Taylor treated this realistically instead of carrying on with the insta-love trope.

The story continues with wonderful world building. I loved seeing more of Eretz, as it was mostly left to our imaginations in the first book. We're also given an insight into Seraphim society and wow is that twisted. I'm happy to say that we have pretty solid hints that a second seraph society is not like this at all, which carries on the theme of hope that is one of the foundations of this series.

Zuzana and Mik are back and bring a much needed lightness to the story, a little levity to help us through the darkness. Karou is lucky to have them as friends.

The story leaves us with one hell of a set up for book three. I'm looking forward to it!

Rating:

108Peace2
Aug 27, 9:27am Top

>97 Narilka: That sounds like a fascinating read - if I thought there was even a remote chance of it being available at the local library I'd add it to my wishlist!

109Narilka
Aug 27, 9:02pm Top

>108 Peace2: That was one I caught in a Kindle sale. Usually if they happen once, they'll happen again.

110Narilka
Edited: Aug 28, 8:32pm Top

Oh dear lord. I joined a buddy read group on GoodReads and it has taken over my September reading LOL I'm in so much trouble. I am not that disciplined of a reader to keep to schedules, tending to be more a read based on mood type. This is going to be a test of will power :) For the record I've signed up for:

Bloody Rose - Nicholas Eames*
Thief of Time - Terry Pratchett*
Dreams of Gods & Monsters - Laini Taylor*
Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo
Clean Sweep - Ilona Andrews (reread)
The Skull Throne - Peter Brett*

*Helps me with series completion in post #4.

I'm cross posting here in hopes that seeing the list more frequently will help me stay on track. It's all completely doable...right...I got this...maybe...send help...

On a different note, went on vacation to the Colorado Rockies and loved it. I'll try to post some photos this coming weekend.

111YouKneeK
Aug 28, 9:30pm Top

>110 Narilka: LOL, good luck! Of that list, the only one I’ve read is Thief of Time.

I’m a member of a group on GR that does formal monthly group reads plus some additional, random buddy reads, but I’ve never participated too much. I'll participate sometimes if they pick a standalone that I already own or am already interested in, since that’s easier to fit into my own plans, and only then if it falls at a good time. I do use their group shelf as the primary influence for my reading selections though since it has a pretty diverse mix of SF&F, and picking books off a list makes it easier for me to go into them without knowing too much in advance.

I’m glad you had a great vacation!

112Narilka
Aug 29, 6:21pm Top

>111 YouKneeK: I belong to one like that too. They aren't active enough and keep picking only first books in series, never finishing any. I still join them at times but not as much lately.

In the buddy read group, we finish stuff though it can take some time. It's pick a series (or standalone), agree on a day of the month (like the 15th) and read one book starting on that date each month until you finish. So if you're going to read a trilogy it could be book 1 on Sept 15, book 2 on Oct 15, book 3 on Nov 15. It works out really well as it accommodates all reading speeds, everyone is great to spoiler marks their thoughts/updates and there are a lot of active members that there's always something interesting to join in on :) It fills my desire to chat with people about the books I'm reading when it's hard to find a SFF book club in RL. I've also been using them to give me the push I need to finish off some of the stuff I already have started, which is why I signed up for all those in Sept!

113YouKneeK
Aug 29, 6:43pm Top

>112 Narilka: That sounds like it could work out very well! Especially since you're able to use it to read books you already wanted to read.

The group I’m in is pretty active, but they also only pick first books except on special months set aside for voting on sequels. I’m not a great buddy reader in general, though. I’m so spoiler-paranoid that I avoid even the spoiler-free (or spoiler-marked) threads until after I’ve finished the book, only participating in the conversations after I’m completely done.

114Narilka
Sep 1, 9:48am Top

I attended my first book signing last night :)



Yep, I met Ilona and Gordon Andrews! They are super great people, so giving to their fans. It was a lot of fun!

115Narilka
Sep 1, 10:45am Top

59. The Princess Bride by William Goldman



Growing up The Princess Bride was one of my favorite movies. It still is easily in my top 10 favorites, maybe top 5. Even to this day I'll sometimes say movie quotes in conversation (usually "have fun storming the castle" to someone about to tackle a difficult task.) I remember trying to read the book as a kid and failing miserably to get past the introduction. I was too young to appreciate or understand the satire and ended up returning the book to the library choosing instead to stick with the movie. I really don't know why it took me so long to read this book as an adult.

For anyone who has no idea what this book is about, here it is described in it's own words:


"Has it got any sports in it?"

"Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles."

"Sounds okay," I said...


The framing of the book, a story within a story, is absolutely brilliant and the writing hilarious. The satirical tone reminds me of Pratchett at times. It plays on a lot of common tropes that were less common back when the book was written in 1973. At some point in the middle of the story the tone shifts, many of Morgenstern's asides that I was loving go away and the humor darkens. It's still enjoyable, just be ready.

I read the deluxe hardback version of the 30th Anniversary edition. The book is absolutely gorgeous. It's printed on parchment looking paper and illustrated. It also has an extra addition to the story at the end titled Buttercup's Baby. I'm not sure when this was added to the book but it's fun for fans to see what happens after everyone rides off into the sunset.

In the end I prefer the movie over the book. You can't beat nostalgia.

Rating:

116YouKneeK
Sep 1, 12:10pm Top

>114 Narilka: Very cool, I’m glad you had the chance to attend! I’ve never been to a book signing myself. I’m terrible at making small talk with strangers, so I consider such things more intimidating than appealing, but I might consider it also if I ever learn that a particular favorite is in the area.

>115 Narilka: I’m glad you enjoyed this so much! I read it a little over a year ago and enjoyed it quite a lot, but hadn’t seen the movie before. At the time, I noticed a lot of people who loved the movie seemed more likely to dislike the book because of its different tone, so I’m glad that wasn’t the case for you. Reading the book reminded me of Pratchett too. :)

117Karlstar
Sep 1, 3:35pm Top

>115 Narilka: Great book, glad to see you enjoyed it! I really, really like the movie, yes, it is the best movie ever! I really enjoyed the book too, but not in the same way. It was fun and funny and I look forward to reading it to my granddaughter someday, but the movie is in a class all by itself.

118Narilka
Sep 3, 10:37am Top

Some photos of Colorado in Rocky Mountain National Park.











While photos may capture the views, they just don't do justice to the grandeur of the place.

119Jim53
Sep 3, 11:08am Top

>118 Narilka: Nice shots! We felt the same way about our pictures of Zion and Bryce this summer--"you had to be there."

120hfglen
Sep 3, 11:33am Top

>118 Narilka: Ooh! Been there! I went to a conference in Boulder CO in 1973, and one of the outings stopped at almost the exact spot your third pikkie was taken. This young M student was most impressed by being shown Alpine Tundra (vegetation we don't get here) by the great Prof. Knut Faegri (top alpine / polar ecologist at the time) in person. The brown in your picture is a willow (!), Salix nivalis, that only ever grows about six inches tall, and we spent a long time looking at arctic endemics (candidly rather dull and weedy) that apparently only grow there in the whole continental US. Happy memories, thank you.

121Karlstar
Sep 3, 2:01pm Top

>118 Narilka: Awesome pictures, thank you!

122YouKneeK
Sep 3, 2:06pm Top

>118 Narilka: Beautiful pictures! I’ve been to Colorado a couple of times, but not to that particular area, and only in the winter.

123Narilka
Sep 3, 6:36pm Top

Thanks everyone! I have a few more to upload, probably tomorrow.

>119 Jim53: I'd like to hit up Zion, Bryce and Arches if I'm going to be in Utah. Maybe next year :)

>120 hfglen: This summer the park rangers say that there's a beetle eating the pine trees which is why that last photo you can see some dead looking trees. Apparently they only like that particular species of pine and there's not much they can do about it. I'd love to go back in late spring and see the park in bloom. I bet it's amazing.

124Peace2
Sep 3, 6:37pm Top

Wow! Amazing views, but I know what you mean about the real view being even better.

125Sakerfalcon
Sep 5, 7:21am Top

Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing!

126Narilka
Edited: Sep 6, 2:42pm Top

60. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson



What happens when you take two princesses from a foreign kingdom, a god who doesn't believe in his own religion, a pacifist warrior with a sentient sword, an all powerful king that's little more than a figurehead and some philosophizing mercenaries, put them in a tropical city and give it all a shake? If you're Brandon Sanderson you get Warbreaker.

Princess Vivenna of Idris has prepared all her life for the fate that awaits her: to become the bride of the God King of Halladren and, by marrying him, help her kingdom avoid war. Much to everyone's surprise the King of Idris decides instead to send his youngest, and unprepared, daughter Siri to be the God King's bride in Vivenna's place. Feeling robbed of the only purpose of her life, Vivenna follows her sister to Hallendren in hopes of rescuing Siri from her fate and hoping to somehow stop the war that everyone knows is inevitable. What neither of them expects are the webs of intrigue they both stumbled into - Siri in the Court of Gods and Vivenna in the city's underworld.

The story alternates between four different points of view: Siri, Vivenna, Vasher (pacifist warrior) and Lightsong (atheist god). The story is complex with many layers of intrigue that take their time being revealed. Almost nothing is as it seems. Both princesses are interesting, opposites yet similar in many ways, and go on significant character arcs. Vivenna, thinking she's worldy, learns just how little she knows about basically everything while Siri, terrified yet resilient, tries to remember some of her lessons as to how a princess is supposed to act. Vasher, introduced at the outset, has the biggest mystery around his character that lasts to the very end. Lightsong ended up being my favorite with his irreverent attitude, proclaiming himself lazy and useless, his quirky sense of humor and yet he's the only one asking the right questions when the time comes. They are supported by a secondary cast that's just as interesting and fleshed out as the main characters. I especially loved Lightsong's much suffering head priest Scoot and was surprised at how I came to care for Susebron.

We're introduced to yet another fascinating magic system based on colors and Breath. Breath is similar to life force, yet not exactly, and the more Breaths you have, the more powerful you are and various abilities manifest once you reach a certain amount of Breaths. It's a difficult system to explain and the book takes it time to reveal the concept slowly.

The book is slow a slow burn. Just as it starts to pick up it bogs down again in the middle and has a habit of repeating itself, especially around Vivenna's observations of Hallendren city. She is very opinionated! Things pick up again and then it's off to an amazing climax. While this is a self contained story, I was left with a lot of questions. I'd especially love a prequel to learn the history of this world and its magic.

I listened to the audio book narrated by Alyssa Bresnahan. She does an excellent job of narration. You can tell she's having fun bringing the characters and this world to life.

Rating:

127Karlstar
Edited: Sep 6, 12:31pm Top

>126 Narilka: You make this sound so much more interesting than I did! Nice review! When you say 'fascinating magic system', does that mean you actually enjoyed it, or it was neat but didn't matter much to you either way, or none of the above? What did you think about the 'head of pantheon' character, or his ideas on the pantheon in general?

128Narilka
Sep 6, 2:37pm Top

>127 Karlstar: Sanderson's creativity around magic systems in general puts almost everyone else to shame. Of the books of his I've read so far my favorite is still the one in Mistborn.

I like the concept in Warbreaker though it's still a little murky. They never really come out and say what Breath actually is. Is it a type of life force? People that give it away don't die, so maybe sort of? It's also hinted at being borrowed, maybe from a higher power? The whole idea of Returned is fascinating. And still somewhat mysterious! I like the explanation that Vasher gives Vivenna about them being spontaneous manifestations of Breath but at the same time it's also not entirely a satisfying explanation. Towards the end Lightsong, in remembering his old life, also remembers a little bit about the "other side" and being asked if he wanted to go back. So I think that's where the higher power/god/religion thing comes in to play, sort of. This ties in very neatly with what Scoot says about Returned being brought back to fulfill a higher purpose and it's their job to discover what that is, then get it done. There are also some interesting moral implications to the system too, especially around the Lifeless. In Vivenna's story line Clod shows some sparks of... something. Maybe not quite personality or actual life but he's not just an automaton either. Assuming that we can rely on Vivenna's impressions during this time. She's very wrong about a lot of things as we find out :) Which then begs a similar question around awakened items, which you'd think would be more straight forward but isn't when you take Nightblood into consideration.

The whole pantheon... what a refreshing take on "gods". And kind of morbid when you really think about it. So a person returns after death with a "divine" Breath yet they still have to consume regular Breaths to continue living. Or do they? Yet again, a big grey area. Vasher never consumes any breaths the way we see Lightsong do but Vasher's been around longer to experiment. And he's not being controlled by priests. No I never saw them as actual gods, more like second stage humans. If someone like Vivenna consumed enough Breaths theoretically she would be indistinguishable from Returned power-wise just not having died and come back. Whatever causes them to Return would be where the divinity is if there's a plan behind it and not just random chance. And I loved Lightsong's theory on how they are named: "Our names and titles are assigned randomly by a small monkey who has been fed an exceedingly large amount of gin." LOL By 'head of pantheon' did you mean Susebron? If so, I pity him. He's just a vessel to hold a wealth of Breaths should they ever be needed, though the knowledge of how to use them is either lost, not discovered or such a well guarded secret it's as good as not being known.

GAH! This might have actually been a 4.5 star book after all with how much it's making me think :) It is such a layered read. I also just realized I forgot to mention that I listened to this on audio. I need to update my review with a sentence or two about the narrator.

I'm also happy to see that there will be a sequel of sorts eventually. Another story in Warbreaker's world is on the master Cosmere plan though it appears to be many years out.

129quondame
Sep 6, 2:57pm Top

>128 Narilka: I enjoy Sanderson's books, but they feel somewhat mechanical. But then I strongly prefer some fantasy authors original 'murky' versions of stories, like Sword of Aldones and The Broken Sword (wonder what it is with sword books) Those were reworked to different degrees for re-publication and somehow lost the gut appeal for me.

130Sakerfalcon
Sep 7, 4:39am Top

>127 Karlstar:, >128 Narilka: I really liked Warbreaker when I read it a few years ago. Now you two are making me want to reread it!

131Darth-Heather
Sep 7, 11:14am Top

>130 Sakerfalcon: I will have to add this to my list also! the only Sanderson I've read so far is The Way of Kings, but I'm getting the impression that it is typical for his books to take a bit of time to build such intricate worlds.

132Narilka
Sep 8, 10:57am Top

>129 quondame: Sanderson definitely has his own style. Thankfully it's one I enjoy :)

>130 Sakerfalcon: :D

>131 Darth-Heather: After going through other reviews, apparently there is some link between Warbreaker and the Stormlight Archives. Since I've not read any of those yet (trying to hold out until book 5 is published, this is hard) I can't say for sure. If you give it a go you might see that link. I also highly recommend the original Mistborn trilogy.

133Narilka
Sep 8, 6:20pm Top

61. Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames



Every battle has a cost, Freecloud had told her once. Even the ones we win.

Even though it's a sequel, Bloody Rose was such a different reading experience than Kings of the Wyld. This installment takes a look at the ugly side of the arena, gets more real and in many ways is a tragedy. The book is set six years after events in Castia and Bloody Rose is on a mission to be something other than Golden Gabe's daughter. She wants to be famous for her own deeds.

To Tam Hashford, there was nothing worse than the prospect of never leaving home. Her Wyld Heart yearns to be more than just a waitress at the local pub. When Fable, the biggest mercenary band of all, rolls into town looking for a bard, Tam jumps at the chance. Looking for adventure and to make her place in the world, Tam joins the crew and sets off on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.

Tam was an interesting choice of narrator as the story is told exclusively from her point of view. I was initially surprised as I was expecting the story to be told from the title character's point of view. I think this ended up being a double edged sword. Tam lets us see the world through fresh eyes from someone who was still excited about the Bands, who offers just a bit of hero worship. As Tam experiences the world and starts to realize just how unglamorous the life of a band really is I too felt the shine wear off and the story started to lose it's charm. Fighting monsters that have been abused and tortured while in captivity, then drugged before they're sent into the arena to make sure the "heroes" win just made me feel depressed. I started to feel more for the monsters than any of the band mates I was supposed to be caring about.

Which probably brings me to my biggest problem of the book. I had a hard time connecting to the new characters. The old guys from Saga grew on me from the get go. I loved their banter and camaraderie. Though they're a pretty interesting group of characters, I just never felt that attached to anyone from Fable. Part of this may be because of Tam's point of view where she's on the outside looking in for a long time. The characters take a while before they start trusting her enough to let her into their inner circle. Also the humor just wasn't as laugh out loud funny for me this time around. Both of these combined lessened my overall fun factor.

That said, holy crap can Eames write action! From a tavern brawl to the final battle for the world, they are all amazing. His descriptions put me right there and give even the smaller fights a feeling of epicness without ever feeling over the top or gratuitous.

Rating:

134YouKneeK
Sep 8, 8:04pm Top

>133 Narilka: I love it when an author can write action well. It seems like a difficult balance. If it isn’t done well, action scenes can be the most boring parts of a book for me. If there’s too much detail, it can feel slow and boring. On the other hand, if there’s too little detail, or if that detail is written unclearly, then it’s difficult to visualize what’s happening and that also gets boring.

135Narilka
Sep 8, 10:57pm Top

136Karlstar
Edited: Sep 10, 1:38pm Top

>131 Darth-Heather: Sanderson's other books get right into things a lot faster. Elantris is actually a stand-alone book! He also got into things faster in Mistborn. You may want to start with one of those. For me, I thought Way of Kings was his attempt to be Robert Jordan and write a super long, many installment mega-epic.

137Darth-Heather
Sep 10, 3:49pm Top

>136 Karlstar: I got about 300 pages into Way of Kings before I started wondering when there would be a plot...

But like a lot of hefty tomes, (and a few that weren't so lengthy but required a lot of attention... ahem... Neal Stephenson I mean you...)
now that I've spent so much time and mind-space on this setting, I'm inclined to continue with the rest of the Stormlight books.

Mistborn is definitely on my wishlist too. I just have to be in the mood to settle in for the long haul...

maybe in winter, aka Reading Season.

138Karlstar
Sep 10, 9:25pm Top

>137 Darth-Heather: I just could not get through Quicksilver! I'm a big fan of Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash, those were easy to get into.

139reading_fox
Sep 12, 6:21am Top

Warbreaker is probably my least favourite Sanderson. While very inventive is colour magic breath thing never gets much explanation and at least when I last read it, didn't seem to be used as much as it could/should be - I think this was first published when Brandon used to visit us here in GD, I remember we had some input into the cover choice.

140littlegeek
Sep 12, 11:17am Top

>139 reading_fox: I remember that and also I apparently read a pdf of Warbreaker here at the office because I still have it on my local drive.

141clamairy
Sep 12, 8:02pm Top

>98 Narilka: Ah, I've been putting off reading #2 because I heard the humor from #1 was lacking. Happy to hear it's back in #3.

>104 Narilka: I loved listening to The Blue Sword last year, so I have this one on Mount Tooby. I'm very happy to hear you enjoyed it.

>126 Narilka: Yay! Glad you enjoyed it. I think this is my daughter's favorite Sanderson. This is another one that is languishing on my kindle.

142Narilka
Sep 12, 8:34pm Top

>139 reading_fox: That would've been cool to do an author chat with him back then :)

143MrsLee
Sep 13, 8:55am Top

>142 Narilka: You should look in the group archives, it was very cool. He chatted with us as we did a group read of Elantris as well. I have it on good authority of one of our members from NYC that he is quite friendly and open-hearted in person, as well. :)

144Darth-Heather
Edited: Sep 13, 10:59am Top

>138 Karlstar: I'm glad to hear that you recommend Cryptonomicon - its in my TBR stack and I hope to get to it sometime soon.

I loved Anathem once I got comfortable with the setting, which is right about when he changes everything.... ;)

145Karlstar
Sep 13, 4:02pm Top

>144 Darth-Heather: Cryptonomicon is awesome! That's the book that convinced my boss I can actually recommend good books, sometimes. :) I kind of enjoyed Anathem, somehow I think I'm still missing something in that book. There is indeed a lot of settings in that one.

146clamairy
Edited: Sep 13, 4:15pm Top

>142 Narilka: &>143 MrsLee: I've met Brandon twice and he was/is the nicest freaking guy. He swore that he remembered his experiences on LibraryThing fondly, and said that he was very sad that chatting with his readers in that way is one of the things he no longer has time for now that he's so successful.

Here's a link to a picture of him with my daughter from one of those occasions: https://pics.librarything.com/picsizes/01/9d/019d19cbd4dd493637641786841434b41716b42.jpg

147Narilka
Sep 13, 8:34pm Top

>143 MrsLee: >146 clamairy: If he ever comes to DragonCon, that just might get me to brave downtown traffic. I've heard nothing but great things about him.

148MrsLee
Sep 14, 8:50am Top

>148 MrsLee: Love that photo!

149Narilka
Sep 15, 6:58pm Top

62. Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett



EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS, STAYS HAPPENED.

"What kind of philosophy is that?"

THE ONLY ONE THAT WORKS.


Thief of Time is the fifth and final book in the Death sub-series and the 26th Discworld book in published order. I think I have found my favorite Death book though it really features Susan more than Death himself. This is also a hard plot to summarize. I'll do my best.

The world is scheduled to end next Wednesday. Humanity is messy and the Auditors of Reality hate messy. It's time to tidy things up again. To do this they've hired Jeremy Clockson to build the world's first truly accurate clock. Once it starts it will stop time, making life more predictable and the paperwork much easier. Death gets a sense their plot and, while he cannot interfere directly, he volunteers his granddaughter Susan to look into the issue. Meanwhile, something is up with the Mandala of the Monks of History. It's showing ripples in reality and the Procrastinators are starting to spin hot on their spindles. The monks send out Sweeper Lu-Tze and his apprentice to save time... if there's any time left.

I am truly impressed at how complicated this story was and how well it's pulled off. Part philosophical tract, part kung-fu epic, part apocalyptic crisis, a very subtle love story and a heavy dose of chocolate all wrapped in Pratchett's trademark style. There's even a supporting Igor! The storytelling is excellent. The three main story threads blend nicely into the greater narrative, something that wasn't always as successful in earlier books. It's a more serious entry, which may not be to the taste of those who prefer the sillier side of Discworld.

Rating:

150YouKneeK
Sep 15, 8:18pm Top

>149 Narilka: I’m glad you enjoyed this so much! Although I didn’t love it quite as much, it was my favorite in the Death subseries too. Susan was a fun character, and I always seemed to like Death best in smaller doses versus in the books that featured him more heavily.

151Narilka
Sep 16, 7:56pm Top

>150 YouKneeK: I can understand that. Sometimes it seems like Pratchett didn't quite know what to do with Death given the repetition of his earlier books (shirking his duty to do something else for a bit).

152Narilka
Sep 16, 7:56pm Top

63 Revenger by Alastair Reynolds



Talk about going into a book with the wrong expectations. I was in the mood for something space opera so when I stumbled across Revenger I thought I was in luck. It had a decent average rating and this was the synopsis:

Revenger is a science fiction adventure story set in the rubble of our solar system in the dark, distant future--a tale of space pirates, buried treasure, and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism and of vengeance...


I definitely should have scanned some reviews first. What the synopsis fails to mention is how incredibly YA this story is. Now I definitely like my share of YA books. Unfortunately Revenger just didn't do it for me. A big part of the problem I had was the juvenile vocabulary used by a society that was advanced enough to have figured out space travel. Lungstuff, the glowy, the grey, swirly, squaker... it took me half the book to not be taken out of the story each time those words were used, though I never really could get used to "lungstuff."

The characters also never grew on me. The story follows Fura Ness as she goes from a naive, privileged rich girl to a toughened, street-wise teen who will do anything to rescue her sister. While I can understand her motivation, the character growth never felt authentic. It's rushed through and suddenly she can plan strategy better than professionals who have been pirating for their whole lives. The most interesting character for me was the story's villain, Bosa Sennan. Bosa and her ship have a whole mythology built up around them that was fun if horrifying and made the final conflict intense.

What I did like, and wish there was more of, was the whole concept behind the baubles and the treasure to be found. Once we actually get to see one and start to get proper descriptions of the "loot" I started to enjoy the story. Too bad this didn't happen until the last 15% of the book. Also the final show down was action packed.

I listened to the audio book narrated by Clare Corbett. It took me a good half of the book to get used to her voice. She also had a bad habit of whispering, making the narration so quiet it was hard to understand the dialog. Unless it was just the recording and not the actress? I'm not sure.

Rating:

153Narilka
Sep 22, 11:54am Top

64. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo



Alina Starkov and her best friend Mal are two more orphans growing up in the once great nation of Ravka. Failing their tests for magical aptitude, Alina and Mal join the army when they come of age, Alina as a cartographer, Mal as a tracker. Their convoy has been sent to cross the Shadow Fold, a region of pure darkness populated flesh-eating creatures that splits Ravka in half. It's not long before the convoy is attacked by monsters and Mal is grievously injured. Reaching deep inside herself Alina unlocks a power long held dormant, causing the monsters to flee and saving the surviving members of the convoy. Without any warning, Alina is torn away from Mal and everything she knows, and is whisked away to the country's capital to train as a Grisha.

Shadow and Bone is the first book in The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. The first two thirds of the book reads like a standard YA fantasy with many typical genre tropes. The plot was fairly predictable right up until somewhere around the two thirds mark when we're given a pretty cool plot twist and things start to get interesting. This leads up to an exciting ending which sets the stage nicely for what's to come.

Fair warning: if you hate standard romance story threads in YA, this book will annoy you. There is a quasi-love triangle. I'm not entirely convinced it's a true love-triangle though. I think the Darkling is more in the "seduce the girl for her powers" camp than any real feelings behind it so we will see what happens in the next two books.

The story is told entirely from the first person point of view of Alina. She is your typical teenage girl, full of insecurities, lacking confidence and interested in boys. This is both highly annoying and also believable. She begins to come into her own as the book ends so I have hopes that she'll grow into a competent heroine by the final installment.

I've seen many reviews complaining about the misuse of Russian culture in the story. In many ways I'm glad I don't know much about Russian folklore or culture as this let me see the world as just another fantasy realm and didn't take me out of the story at all.

I'm really glad I read the author's Six of Crows duology first so I was already familiar with the world, it's termnology and have seen where Bardugo ends up as a writer. The world building in Shadow and Bone is on the light side though the pieces we do learn are interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing how Alina continues to grow and watching Bardugo grow as an author over the next two books. And I can't wait until the characters return to the Shadow Fold.

Rating:

154Narilka
Sep 22, 12:52pm Top

65. Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

This is a reread prepare for the release of the next book in December. It was just as enjoyable as the first time I read it. My previous review is below.

---------------------------------------------



Dina DeMille runs a quaint Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas. She's a great neighbor and everything seems normal from the outside. Her Inn, the Gertrude Hunt, caters to a very specific clientele: otherworldly visitors. As an Innkeeper Dina has one duty which is to protect her guests and stay neutral. With the gruesome death of yet another neighbor's pet, Dina can no longer stand passively by. She must get to the bottom of what's going on even if it means putting the Inn at risk.

Clean Sweep is the first in the Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews. The story was originally released in serial format on the author's website as they wrote it and has now been packaged up and released as a short book. It was quite a fun read! There is intricate world building, action, humor, great characters, fun dialog and all packed into less than 250 pages. Andrews has also managed to do something completely original with vampire and werewolf lore, a thing I didn't think possible. No small feat!

The story is told entirely from Dina's point of view. Dina is a capable heroine and is easily discounted by the other characters at first. It was fun reading as she proved just how powerful she is within her realm of the Inn. The Inn is also a quasi character. It definitely has it's own life force, quirks and a bit of personality. I hope more of these are shown in future installments. The inn has one guest, one who likes to be called Her Majesty and has paid for a lifetime stay. Rounding out the cast are the friendly neighborhood werewolf, Sean Evans, and a vampire Marshall from the Holy Cosmic Anocracy, Arland. I don't want to say too much for fear of spoilers. Just know that both guys are great fun. One of my favorite scenes is when the two of them are talking about vampires and Arland casually refutes the holy water and garlic myths as utter nonsense. I loved it! While the author does set up both men as potential love interests, the romance theme of the story is fairly minor and I have a feeling this will be plot thread in the next book or two.

Overall this is a short, fun story. It has good pacing that steadily picks up for an exciting ending. I will definitely be continuing this series.

Rating:

155Sakerfalcon
Sep 24, 5:07am Top

>154 Narilka: I love this series! Can't wait for the new one in December.

156Narilka
Sep 27, 10:37am Top

>155 Sakerfalcon: Tentative release date is 12/18 :D I definitely prefer to buy the ebook vs reading the weekly serials.

157Narilka
Sep 27, 7:47pm Top

66. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor



The war between angles and chimaera continues in Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the final book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor. Taylor took the final book in such a strange direction. It's like the author had so many ideas that she tried to shove everything in and it just didn't quite work for me. There are some truly wonderful moments with the characters that I've come to care about but those parts end up bogged down by all the extras. Clocking in at just over 600 pages I feel like I did not get near enough page time with our leads.

The story starts a few weeks before where book two ends. Taylor takes a good 100 pages to fill in details leading up to the epilogue from the previous book. While it was interesting, I felt it slowed the pacing of the story down since I already knew where everything was headed and I was just fine with where book two ended. I kept hoping the real story would just get started already.

A new character is introduced and a new faction of angels is given a major role in how the story ends. Combined they take up a lot of the page time. I felt they kind of came out of no where for having such an important role to play. Their whole story line could easily have been left out with minimal impact to resolution to the plot we've been following in the two previous books. This would have easily saved another 100 pages and helped greatly with the pacing. The whole thing felt more like a set up for another book than truly part of Karou and Akiva's dream of peace. I think this whole story thread would have worked a lot better had it been introduced in the first book and woven throughout the story as a whole.

The whole resolution to the war was fairly simplistic and happened with 150 pages left of the story to go. This felt very anticlimactic and a wasted opportunity. Jael had been set up as a great villain and all that prep felt like it was wasn't used as well as it could've been. I could have lived with this if if the remaining pages had been used as a huge epilogue to show the recovering of souls at Loramindi that was constantly talked about, the resurrections of their families and the start of a new nation. While there is some of this, the majority of the remaining story is given over to a whole new threat that the Stelians reveal and blame Akiva for. Then basically say along the lines of "Cool, we're allies now so we can fight the war against darkness another day. The end." Given that ending, I don't doubt at all that Taylor will be writing more stories in Eretz in the future.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this review, there are some truly great things in the story. I loved Zuzana, Mik and Liraz. It was great to see Ziri get his happy ending. I also thought that the solution Zuze and Mik came up with for Eliza was perfect. Karou and Akiva's romance was in turns annoying and sweet. I think they ended up in a good place. I've read plenty of reviews that mention the book's flaws but the reviewers didn't mind them as much as I did so your mileage may vary.

Rating:

158reading_fox
Sep 28, 12:36pm Top

>152 Narilka: I think he's planning to write more in this universe explaining some of the details. Have you read any of his other work? Everything else is quite hard SF and definitely not YA.

>153 Narilka: I was a little disappointed in this, it didn't have the same spark as six of crows.

159Narilka
Sep 28, 1:46pm Top

>158 reading_fox: That was my first Alastair Reynolds book. I may revisit him in the future, I'm not sure. About the Grisha, you can definitely tell it's her first book. It's neat to know just how much she will grow as an author. It helps keep my expectations where they should be.

160Narilka
Oct 4, 9:00pm Top

67. The Land You Never Leave by Angus Watson



Combine Viking mythology, the action of the tv series Spartacus, a touch of the absurd, alchemical magic and a healthy dose of humor and you'll come close to having the West of West series by Angus Watson. What can I say? I absolutely loved every second of this crazy journey.

The Land You Never Leave is the second book in the trilogy and the story picks up immediately where book one leaves off. The two tribes have formed an uneasy alliance as they set off across the Ocean of Grass to continue their quest to take Ottar the Moaner to a place called the Meadows. Between our heroes and their ultimate goal are the Badlands, home to the one of the most brutal tribes west of the Water Mother and a collection of terrifying monsters. As if the world wasn't dangerous enough as it was.

Each of the characters that took so long to grow on me in book one all have solidified their places in my heart. Their inner monologues combined with the back and forth banter between them is so much fun. I loved the insights into their motivations and even the one guy who enjoys pointing out phallic shaped rocks was quite funny. All the points of view, and there are a lot of them, are woven together well.

As to the plot, my summary above really doesn't do any justice to just how bizarrely wonderful and quirky the story is. Watson is so creative that after the first hour or so of listening I stopped trying to guess what was coming next and just enjoyed the ride. It was glorious.

I listened to the audio book narrated by Sean Barrett. I love his voice! His narration brings all the characters to life and his comedic timing is perfect. It was a joy to listen to.

I truly cannot express how much I loved this book. Can't wait for book 3!

Rating:

161Karlstar
Oct 5, 1:03pm Top

>67 Narilka: Thanks, sounds like a series I should start! Great review.

162Narilka
Oct 5, 8:48pm Top

>161 Karlstar: I hope you enjoy it if you give it a try :) As long as you aren't offended by foul language, crude jokes and violence you should be fine. The books will fail your travel requirement though as the characters spend a lot of time on the move, esp in the second book.

163Karlstar
Oct 5, 10:59pm Top

>162 Narilka: I'm not offended by foul language but its not my favorite writing style. Lots of books send the characters on trips, it all depends on whether they drag it out and whether it is actually useful that makes it mud slogging.

164Narilka
Oct 6, 8:37pm Top

>163 Karlstar: I think the travel will be relevant but won't know for sure until the final book releases. The foul language is mixed in and one character is called out for it. You will probably be ok :)

165Narilka
Edited: Oct 6, 8:40pm Top

68. The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett



The Skull Throne is the fourth book in The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett. It has been two years since I read the previous books and I was surprised at how easy it was to slide back into the story. Unfortunately I'm also remembering why I was starting to find this series so frustrating.

The story starts off strong, picking right up and resolving the cliffhanger from book 3. Immediately after, the two male leads FINALLY have the conversation I've been waiting three full books for! It was so great to have Arlen give voice to the atrocious behavior of the Krasian people and why everyone hates them, even if Jardir will never understand. Brett basically makes the argument that people are always the hero of their own story, even if their actions are atrocious when looking at them from the outside. And then we shift to a brand new POV character and a brand new backstory. I'm happy to say that this one does not take 200 pages and does not rehash the prior books. Once that's done it's back to the main story and oh boy do things get exciting quickly.

And then we hit the wall. The remainder of the story jumps to all the other characters and everything else going on in the world while completely ignoring the main story line. If you're into human politics, a lot of soap opera-ish antics, and have enjoyed the Krasian culture from the previous books, then you will enjoy this installment. Otherwise, expect to be annoyed as very little progress is made to what, in theory, is supposed to be the point of the series.

I think I'm going to start rooting for the demons.

Rating:

166YouKneeK
Oct 6, 9:03pm Top

>165 Narilka: “I think I'm going to start rooting for the demons.”

LOL, that doesn’t sound like a good thing! I have this series on my list, but as a lower priority. It sounds like I should be prepared for some frustration whenever I do get to it.

167Narilka
Oct 6, 10:45pm Top

>166 YouKneeK: It kind of depends on how much you end up liking the Krasian society. They are featured a lot more than my preference. And your tolerance for repetition.

I'm 8 chapters into The Core. Right now it's reading like Brett was on drugs when he wrote it. It starts off as "ok, that's weird but not completely out of the realm of possibility" and has quickly devolved into "WTF am I reading" lol I'm hoping it's just the early chapters and the story turns around soon.

168YouKneeK
Oct 7, 6:24am Top

>167 Narilka: I hope it does get better!

169Karlstar
Oct 7, 12:03pm Top

>167 Narilka: Skull Throne put me off that series so much I haven't really thought about picking up The Core and after your review so far, I think I definitely won't bother. It stated out as a neat series and just spun out of control.

170Narilka
Oct 7, 7:24pm Top

>169 Karlstar: I can definitely understand. I will say that the story has turned around some now that I'm farther in. I'll likely make a note of the truly odd stuff in my review with spoiler tags.

171Karlstar
Oct 8, 9:19pm Top

>170 Narilka: Don't tempt my compulsion for completeness!

172Narilka
Oct 11, 3:46pm Top

69. The Core by Peter V Brett



The Core is the fifth and final book in The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett. The story picks up immediately where book 4 leaves off and for once there is no flash back scene starting us off. No more messing around with the fate of humanity on the line! Well, sort of.

Arlen Bales and Ahmanan Jardir have set aside their rivalry and planned to do they impossible: take the fight to the home of the demons. They know it they must be quick as the demon queen is about to lay eggs that will start a swarm of hives across Thesa. Meanwhile, the people of Thesa and Krasia continue to their political squabbles. They must learn to unite or no one will survive the battle that is to come.

Holy plot lines, Batman! Every single character, important or not, is back in this final installment. This includes people from the novellas that I haven't read and was scratching my head about until I looked them up. It seems that Brett wants to wrap up as much as humanly possible in this last book. This is both satisfying and annoying. It is nice to be reminded of old side characters and to see everything going on across the land but it also bogs the main plot of the story down greatly as we have to read through several hundred pages before we join back up with Arlen and Jardir on their quest. It is with all these extra points of view that Brett kept the soap opera going, which is great if you're into that kind of thing and annoying if you'd gotten tired of them like I had. These books greatly need Arlin, Jardir and Leesha to keep the plot moving, hence making the story's pacing seem off as they're not featured near enough in the first half. So while it was nice enough to read what else is going on, it was also frustrating to be kept waiting so long.

It is some of these side plots where some truly bizarre story telling comes in. I really don't see the purpose of the Eunuch Army plot thread, going into graphic descriptions of how some of the eunuchs were made, as a point to prove that Hassik was a bad person and give someone for Ashia to fight? It seemed pointless, especially when men were volunteering to join. I didn't find that believable at all. It made all of Abban's chapters difficult to read. And truly, even after Inevera making such a point as to how important Abban was going to be, he really wasn't. I also have no idea why Brett felt the need to throw in a hermaphrodite baby along with full descriptions of the condition. Or a demon magic induced teen orgy. This was almost enough for me to set the book aside. I'm glad I pushed through.

The good news is the pacing picks up dramatically in the second half of the book when Sharak Ka finally starts. This is exactly what I'd been waiting for and what I'd hoped to read about. It was so good to see humanity FINALLY realize just how dire their situation was and set aside their petty squabbles to face the true enemy. And truly, if not for Arlen's actions in the core, the demons would have won. This leads to some intense fight scenes which reminds me of how well Brett writes battles. They are cinematic.

All in all, I think the book was a satisfactory end to the series. I just wish the story had been more focused instead of sprawling out to so many different characters and unnecessary plots.

Rating:

173YouKneeK
Oct 11, 5:33pm Top

>172 Narilka: Thanks for that note about the characters in novellas being referenced. That would annoy me to read a continuation of storylines I’d never read. I’ve made myself a note that I may want to read the novellas if I like the books enough to get that far, whenever I finally try them.

174Narilka
Oct 11, 6:12pm Top

>173 YouKneeK: I look forward to your reviews when you get there. I'm not planning to read the novellas, though I hear they are good.

175clamairy
Oct 11, 6:26pm Top

>153 Narilka: I'm glad you enjoyed it. You're going to keep going, right?

176Narilka
Oct 11, 9:08pm Top

>175 clamairy: Yep. Starting book 2 tonight in fact :)

177Karlstar
Oct 14, 4:58pm Top

>172 Narilka: Thanks for the review, I'll skip The Core until some far future time when I have nothing else to read or I'm compelled to finish the series because my brother tells me I should.

178Narilka
Oct 17, 7:24pm Top

I live with a moron who deletes the new episodes of Doctor Who I had recorded. That's grounds for divorce right? Right?? /facepalm

179YouKneeK
Oct 18, 6:20am Top

>178 Narilka: Oh no, what was he thinking?! If nothing else, it’s grounds for some very childish retaliation. :)

I don’t watch it, but Season 11 is the current season, right? And it looks like only two episodes have aired? I see the first two episodes on Amazon for $2.99 each. Surely your husband owes you $6 to catch up before the next episode records?

180brodiew2
Edited: Oct 18, 9:39pm Top

Hello Narilka!

>69 Narilka: The Dispatcher sounds really interesting. I will have to seek it out. When I heard the first part of your summary about murder no longer being possible, I was reminded of Alfred Bester' Demolished Man. It is more about telepathy and the inability to keep murder a secret. But, my if that book is not brilliant as well.

I've enjoyed a couple of Scalzi's books, most notably Redshirts narrated by Will Wheaton. This book is much more than once once might expect. It is a Star Trek homage/parody but a lot more than that. Check it out if you haven't already.

>82 Narilka: I loved 14 on audio as well. Ray Porter is brilliant. It's been a while since I read it. I wanted to listen to The Fold, but my library got an MP3 version and book on CD.

>118 Narilka: Beautiful pictures of Rocky Mountain National Park!

181Narilka
Oct 18, 9:20pm Top

>179 YouKneeK: I told him not to worry about all the sports he was planning to record this weekend, I'm sure they'll all be fine ;) Yes, I think Season 11 is the latest one. I'd have to go look.

>180 brodiew2: Redshirts is also one of my favorite Scalzi's. It's so well done and brilliant on audio. I have a review for The Fold as well I think in my previous thread. It is definitely worth a look since you enjoyed 14. I hope Peter Clines writes more in this world. I need to check out Demolished Man. Thanks for the tip!

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