Tag Archives: Fantasy

Song of the Beast by Carol Berg

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Aidan: the most talented bard of his generation, beloved of gods, follower of dragons and cousin to the king, is imprisoned and tortured for 17 years.

Why? Aidan is clueless.

Song of the Beast follows Aidan as he struggles to live after 17 years of torture and abuse. It also focuses on Aidan’s journey to learn why he was imprisoned.

I didn’t expect to like this book. When I read the blurb I thought, “Sounds sad, not for me.” (I’m a wussy. No dark and gritty for me) The only reason I read this one was because it was the Fantasy Aficionados book of the month pick. As a Mod…I’m sorta supposed to participate. 😉

After jumping through hoops galore to borrow this book from my library…I still put off reading it for a day or two. Finally, I sat down one day to thumb through it…and I looked up several hours later. Finished.

Carol Berg is a wonderful storyteller. The way she crafts her words are something to stand up and notice.

I was right…this is a sad story. Aidan is a ruined wreck of a body when he gets out of prison. His triumphs – for the most part – are far and very small. The story itself is rather bittersweet…and there’s some major betrayal going on. And that’s what makes Berg so powerful an author: I HATE everything I just mentioned in a book! Seriously, I am very much a wussy reader who hates sad stories. But I could not put this book down. I doubt that I’ll reread the entire book but I did reread a few sections and the end already (thus the 5 stars).

Spoiler Below. Highlight the words to read the spoiler – but be warned! This will spoil the entire book for you.

The way that Narim stalked and set up Aidan throughout his life was simply disgusting to me. Someone should done the world a favor and stuck a knife in his back.

Blood, Smoke and Mirrors by Robyn Bachar

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Even a bad witch deserves a second chance.

Wrongly accused of using her magic to harm, the closest Catherine Baker comes to helping others is serving their coffee. Life as an outcast is nothing new, thanks to her father’s reputation, but the injustice stings. Especially since the man she loved turned her in.

Now the man has the gall to show up and suggest she become the next Titania? She’d rather wipe that charming grin off his face with a pot of hot java to the groin.

Alexander Duquesne has never faltered in his duties as a guardian — until now. The lingering guilt over Cat’s exile and the recent death of his best friend have shaken his dedication. With the murder of the old Titania, the faerie realm teeters on the brink of chaos. His new orders: keep Cat alive at all costs.

Hunted by a powerful stranger intent on drawing her into an evil web, Cat reluctantly accepts Lex’s protection and the resurrected desire that comes along with it. Lex faces the fight of his life to keep her safe…and win her back. If they both survive.

Warning: This book contains one tough and snarky witch, one gorgeous guardian, explicit blood drinking, magician sex, gratuitous violence against vampires and troublemaking Shakespearean faeries.

Please Note: There are some small spoilers in this review. If you want no spoilers at all, please do not read this review.

This book went down the crapper so quickly after 40% that it damn near gave me whiplash. O_o The difference between the two parts of this book are SO VAST that I have separated them: Book I, Part I and Book I, Part II

Book I, Part I (the first 40%) of this book is pretty damn good. There are some points that I issue with, however:

Why is Cat qualified to become Tatiana?? Why is she one of the only few in the world eligible? The author never says.

Cat makes lots of decisions without thinking. She told Lex to screw himself about her becoming Tatiana…but then changes her mind a page later for no reason and runs to do it. No explanation given to the reader for the abrupt 180 change of heart.

WTF is up with Lex turning Cat in to be tried (before book starts)? That isn’t cool. And then for him to get back with her by only saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t think it would go down like that” was total BULLSHIT. Where was he for the last 3 years as she struggled to get by? There was NO GROVELLING. None at all!! Are you freaking SERIOUS?! She became an Outcast because her bf betrayed her and he didn’t even have to grovel?!?!? We had the ‘I love yous” happening by 40%. I call Shenanigans. I also do not buy their relationship. At all. And BTW, I actually kinda hated Lex.

This is the biggest issue I had with Book 1, part 1: Cat is the daughter of a witch and a necromancer. Her father killed her mother and tried to kill her. Her mother/guardian is killed when she was scheduled to be out all night. Her father wants world domination and is willing to go through her to get it. She is the only one able to stop her father. Cat has super strong powers that even she hasn’t explored the limits of.

Did that sound familiar to you? If you’ve ever read the Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews then it sounded really, really familiar. But don’t get your hopes up, it’s not in the same league.

Other than the items I listed above…book I, part I is actually a pretty good (and fast) read. I’d give it 3.5 stars.

Then we have Book I, Part II (insert ominous music here)

WTF happened here???! After Cat kills her father and becomes the Tatiana it feels like an entirely new and completely different book starts. The damn thing even changed plot points! WTF. The entire section with the vampire Zach Harrison holding Cat hostage was BS. Why the fuck was she there to begin with? She makes such STUPID decisions!! It is at this point that Cat goes from being a funny, snarky witch with a brain to a TSTL romance heroine without the sense God gave a Nat who finds herself in the middle of [something like] a love triangle with a vampire. Even though she and Lex ‘are in looove.’

*faceplam*

I’ll stop ranting about this section now because I’ll end up spoiling the entire thing…but let’s just say it was about 50% of the entire novel and it all SUCKED ASS. I was shocked and saddened by the way this great story wound up in WTFsville so quickly. I spent the rest of the book screaming and yelling at Cat to stop being TSTL.

And the ending. Can it get any more rushed than that??! The ending was so fast and rushed that I felt like I had whiplash.

I don’t think I’ll continue the series.

Shadow Blade by Seressia Glass

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I heard about this series and author via a recommendation at Dear Author. We were discussing the way [some] authors and [most] publishers are really screwing with the sub-genre “Urban Fantasy.” Urban Fantasy started as basically Sword & Sorcery but in a modern format and urban location. Somehow someway…Urban Fantasy became Romances with angry, sword wielding women who dressed in strings and had sex with paranormal creatures. Thank goodness someone in the comments section pointed me to this book.

This book…isn’t like that. I mean, it’s still an Urban Fantasy so it stays pretty close to the trope…but there is no emphasis on sex. The moment the heroine made a stupid decision…something bad happened to her. And there are POC characters!! Wow!

One of my favorite scenes in the book? When Khefar (hero) and Kira (heroine) are kissing and they stop. Because they have more important things to do…like planning for and killing the evil bad guy. 😀 There is no sex in this book.

This being an Urban Fantasy, Kira is the strongest Shadowchaser in quite a while. Kira is a bit of loner but it’s not because she’s angry with the world. She is gifted (or as she considers it, cursed) with a power that does not allow her to touch people in any way with her bare skin. If she touched them she would severely hurt them and possibly kill them. That puts a damper on interpersonal relationships, I’d say. She does have some really good “normal” friends but only a few – those she can trust. There is a relationship brewing in this book but it is not the focus of the story. Kira is fascinated with Khefar…but a huge portion of that comes from the fact the he is the only human she can touch.

Another thing I really liked about the book was its ethnicity and different focus. Kira is African American and Khefar is Nubian. Both Kira and Khefer worship Egyptian deities (Kira worships Ma’at and Khefar worships Isis). Egyptology is a large focus of this book (and I’m assuming the series). I haven’t ran across many (if all) fantasy books with this focus so kudos to the author!

While Kira is presented as very powerful, she is faced with a villain she cannot fight alone. She has to grow and learn teamwork during the course of the book. I appreciated the fact that Kira was shown as fallible and I hope that she will be forced into additional growth during the series. I do have a small concern: will she become too powerful? That becomes boring.

There is some info dumping at the beginning of the novel. Some of the terms are not really explained and the author leaves the reader to figure it out via context clues.

All in all, this is a fun book with great characters and a fresh background. I’m glad I ran across this author and I will be continuing this series.

Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

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What can I even say? It took me a while to get up the courage to even start this book. It’s long.. But that’s ok, I like bricks when they are done well. But it’s also part of a projected 10 book series. 9 more bricks… That’s just sort of intimidating. I love long series, but taking the leap to start one is always a little nerve wracking.

But based on my five star rating, you can probably tell that I’m so glad I finally took the plunge.

This is just so damn epic. Seriously. I have no idea where the the story is going to go in nine more volumes, but damn. I’m so there for the ride.

It’s definitely a little slowly paced.. There’s a lot going on and a lot of buildup, and not a lot of explosive edge of your seat action.. But as I was reading it, I didn’t mind. I savored it, amazed at the sheer epicosity of it all. Slowly getting to know the players, the world, the magic, the culture.. I love the amount of detail that goes into Sanderson’s world building. He doesn’t half ass anything, he’s fricken amazing.

Everything in this book.. Just everything.. It was so good. It laid a perfect foundation for what I know will be some truly epic fantasy. This is epic done right. I haven’t said epic enough yet. Epic epic epic.

EPIC.

5 stars.

Review: The Way of the Black Beast by Stuart Jaffe

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Disclaimer: This was read and reviewed at the request of the author, who provided me with a free digital copy of the book in order for me to do so.What can I say about this book? In short.. It wasn’t all that great. The plot was bland and repetitive, the bad guys were very stereotypical and weak, and the main character.. She wasn’t interesting at all. No personality, nothing to make me either like or dislike her. The side kicks all felt very interchangeable, you couldn’t really differentiate one character from another. They all felt the same; very one-note and boring.

As for the world building… It hit on one of my pet peeves. The story reads like it’s set on earth.. But it’s not earth, it’s some other place. I can’t even recall the name of this other planet/place, because it was only mentioned once. But for all intents and purposes, it was earth with a new name and a couple new words/terms thrown in along with a couple of invented creatures. This annoys the shit out of me. For the love of God, if you don’t want to invest some real time and energy into world building, just call it earth. It was supposed to be post-apocolyptic anyway, why does it need to be PA on another planet? It just feels lazy.

Back on the plot.. Bland. Repetitive. Yes, I used these words before, but I feel like they needed to be used again. It was just the same thing over and over.. Tracking down the bad guys, a plot point hurdle to jump, an anti-climatic battle scene, rinse and repeat. And talk about anti-climatic.. The final battle? Really lame. Just saying.

The only reason this is getting two stars instead of one is that it was actually written pretty well, all things considered. Any time I read a self published author, I go into it expecting typos galore and awkward writing.. I didn’t see much of that at all in here. There were a few typos here and there, and a couple of sections where the writing made me cringe, but overall it was much better than I expected.

Review: Sheepfarmer’s Daughter by Elizabeth Moon

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My oh my… Oh my oh my oh my.

When I started reading this, I thought I was going to love it. It had come with such high recommendations, and it sounded like it was right up my alley. I was so excited to finally have time to dive into it! Unfortunately, I was ultimately disappointed. It just didn’t work for me… Try as I might, I just couldn’t make myself like it.

It was just so boring. It literally put me to sleep whenever I tried to read it. Which was great for those late nights that I just couldn’t fall asleep… But not so great during my lunch break at work, or in the middle of a weekend afternoon. Seriously though.. It was beyond boring. Nothing happened! Thinking back now, I can’t tell you what the book was about, other than to say it was about a chick who joined a mercenary company, marched around a bunch, acted dense a lot, and fought from time to time. So basically, what the blurb says. That’s all. Just page after page of clinical descriptions of marching here and marching there. Half of the time I didn’t even realize a fight had started until it was halfway over.

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Review: The Baker’s Boy by J.V. Jones

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I went into this knowing that it was the first book in a trilogy, and that it would be mostly setup for the other two books in the series. I went into this knowing that it was very standard, crunchy granola fantasy. A coming of age story with a pretty girl met by chance on the road, stereotypical villains, a coming of age type quest, stuff like that. But… Come on. Nothing happened in this book! And when I say nothing, I mean nothing. Nothing was resolved in the end, and for that matter, I never really even figured out what there was to be resolved. All of the hurdles in this book were such trivial matters.. I never discovered any overarching story line, nothing bigger and badder out there that would come crashing into the story to help tie it together. I still kept holding out hope as I turned each page.. But it never happened.

So obviously this was a pretty big disappointment. I didn’t hate it, but I think “meh” is as good as it gets when it comes to finding a word to describe it. And that sucks! I really wanted a crunchy granola standard sort of fantasy. It’s been a long time since I read anything like that, I was hoping that reading it would feel sort of like coming home. And I guess it did.. If by “home” you mean some place super boring where nothing ever happens and there is a lot of sex and groping and slutty chicks.

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