Blood Red

Blood Red

I think I’m just going to have to resign myself to super inconsistent posts, since I haven’t had too much time or energy for reading fiction.

I did get quite excited when I realized that Mercedes Lackey had a new Elemental Master’s novel, Blood Red.  I really love this series.

As you might surmise from the cover, this is a twist on the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale.  It deviates from the other Elemental Masters novels a little I think, but I really enjoyed it.  For one, it’s set in Europe – Germany and Transylvania instead of England. It also introduced supernatural creatures – werewolves and vampires, that have been distinctly missing from other books I’ve read.  I had a little more trouble buying in to those depictions to be honest, although it does tie in to the elemental world by explaining at least one of the kinds of werewolf.

Rosamund (the “Little Red Riding Hood” character) is an Earth Master.   She was rescued by her adoptive father, a Hunt Master and Earth Magician of the Schwarzwald Foresters, when her original teacher (the “grandmother”) was murdered by a werewolf.   Rosamund has now grown up to be a Hunt Master herself, as her Earth powers tend more toward protection than healing.

While visiting with a friend of her adoptive father, Rosa meets a pair of Elemental Magicians from Hungry who have come seeking help.  She must set aside her prejudice – as one of these magicians is also a hereditary werewolf. Her mentor insists that the hereditary werewolves are not to be feared – for they are on the path of the protectors, but Rosa is not so sure.  As she travels into dangerous territory, can she trust those who are guarding her back?

A few thoughts:

  • I liked the different setting.  Most of the other books are set in England, with a few elsewhere.  This felt like an entirely different flavour, taking place mostly in Europe and Transylvania.
  • The book was more violent than others in the series – which I guess is to be expected when it’s about a evil-fighting Hunt Master who is tracking down werewolves.  There were lots of fighting, and the werewolves in Transylvania are particularly unsavory characters!
  • It’s pretty predictable and clichéd, but since I love that kind of structure I appreciated that part of things.
  • Rosamund is pretty kick-ass.  It’s nice that she has to address some of her deep-seated prejudices, but I feel she’s just a little bit too… goo to be realistic.  Good not in the nice/pious sense, but more in the “I can of course take on any monster that comes my way and with a lot of self-confidence because I’m simply awesome” kind of way.  She has a few moments of self-doubt but they didn’t feel congruent with the way she acts for most of the book.  Maybe I was less sold on Rosamund because you meet her as a young girl, but then AFTER she’s done all her training and has become this crazy, skilled Hunter.  She goes from a young girl to a fearsome predator of evil things, and it’s a harsh transition.
  • There is a LOT of description and despite what you’d expect, relatively little action.

I did enjoy it overall, and would probably say a 4/5 (although if you’re a huge fan of other Mercedes Lackey Elemental Masters books, this might be a disappointment).

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Emperor’s Edge (#4, #5, #6, #7)

You get a mass post!! Mostly because after Book #3 of the Emperor’s Edge series by Lindsay Buroker (Deadly Games), I read the remaining books all together in a mass consumption/must finish the series madness.  That was due to the abundance of cliffhangers – thank goodness the series was all out and I didn’t have to WAIT between books because that would have driven me crazy. I hate cliffhangers when I have to wait, and when I DON’T have to wait I treat a series like this as one really really long book.  So that completely taints this review, just FYI.

If you’ve not read any of the series, you can find my reviews of the first three books here (#1), here (#2) and here (#3).

I feel like there are too many spoilers to really plot summarize anything, but let me at least briefly outline maybe one focus of each book:

Consipracy

Conspiracy (#4)

Let’s see… recall that each book features one member of the ‘gang’ more prominently, so this book is centered around Akstyr – the skinny practitioner of the “mental sciences” (magic) who has a bad attitude and the least amount of buy-in to the group. 

The group is set to complete their most dangerous mission yet – kidnapping the Emperor.  What could go wrong?

Then comes…

Blood and Betrayal

Blood and Betrayal (#5)

Maldynado is probably my favourite character other than Amaranthe, and this book is his spotlight! Finally!  It was especially timely as I feel that his character was cast into shadow / doubt during the Conspiracy and it would have been torture to wait longer without having that explained.

Maldynado is sort of put in charge, which is a position he’s been actively trying to avoid most of his life. Too bad that there are plenty of obstacles in his way, including the fact that Sespian (the Emperor) doesn’t trust him.

Next is …

Forged in Blood I

Forged in Blood I (#6)

The group is still fighting Forge, the country is in upheaval, and things are of course dangerous and full of action! BUT – finally (wooo-hoo!!!!) you get a view inside Sicarius’s head!!  He’s pretty inscrutable normally so this is a treat!

And finally…

Forged in Blood II

Forged in Blood II (#7)

Wrapping up the series, you move between Amaranthe and Sicarius’s points of view.  It was mostly tying up all those loose ends, and admittedly the best part of it was figuring out just WHAT was going to happen with the two of them!

Fini!

Except that I JUST discovered there is a book #8 (The Republic) which I shall be reading as soon as I get my hands on it!

Anyway,  for all the books as above, I will give a collective 5/5 because:

  • I loved the action
  • I couldn’t put them down
  • I loved that each character got his or her own time to shine
  • I highly enjoyed the background – steampunk, aliens (which normally I hate, but it was not actual aliens just their leftover dooh-dads), and old-fashioned sword fights.  With lots of train heists.
  • I LOVED that Amaranthe was a strong female character, and also Yana who takes on more of a role.
  • I loved the character development
  • I loved the slowly revealed love story (i.e. Amaranthe and Sicarius)
  • I didn’t have to wait between books!

I would highly recommend this series as a fun fantasy/adventure – and if you want to learn more about what happens in the books and the pros and cons of each, I would just look them up on Goodreads lol.

:)

 

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Filed under Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Steampunk

Big News

I’m back!  Sorry for the hiatus – I was very glad for my break which ended up being longer than I anticipated but much needed.

I can finally reveal the reason I felt the need for a hiatus – and explain that I HAVE been reading (a bit), just not books that I wanted to post about.

Alishia + Eric | September 2014_040

If you can’t read any of the titles, perhaps this makes things clearer:

Alishia + Eric | September 2014_030

Yes!  We’re expecting a brand-new addition to our little family! I’ve been so impatient to share the news!

Alishia + Eric | September 2014_011

Our new arrival is expected in early March, 2015.

So it might make sense when I explain that I haven’t been reaching much fiction because:

  • Pregnancy sickness – it’s a thing.  It’s been a longer-lasting-than-anticipated thing which has made me lethargic and less able to concentrate than normal.
  • I’ve been reading mostly pregnancy and baby-related books – for obvious reasons.
  • I was EXHAUSTED the first three months – and going to bed at abnormally ridiculously early hours.  I’m gaining energy finally, and have only recently found I have both the energy AND the brain power to devote to books.

Since this is a big life change that has ALREADY impacted my blogging, I am unfortunately going to switch to a once-a-week schedule and see how that goes.

Thanks very much to Tara Lilly Photography for our amazing anniversary shoot, which included the above images!

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Holiday Hiatus

Hello readers!

I meant to post this earlier, but I am on holidays this week and mean to have a holiday from blogging as well. I have no posts stored up as I haven’t been reading as much in recent weeks due to life circumstances!

I’ll be back in September, and in the meantime Happy Reading!

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The Cracks in the Kingdom (The Colors of Madeleine #2)

The Cracks In the Kingdom

The Cracks in the Kingdom  by Jaclyn Moriarty is the second book in the Colors of Madeleine series.  I read the first book, A Corner of White, ages ago and I was super excited to find out the second was out.  I’m a little late on the draw – I guess it was released in March.  Better late then never, right?

Elliot Baranski is still determined to find his father – especially now that it seems that Abel was working for the Loyalists and not just running away with the physics teacher. Unfortunately for Elliot, he’s committed to helping Princess Ko find the rest of the royal family.  Ko’s under a strict deadline – she needs the King back in precisely three months to avoid a catastrophic war.  She pulls together the Royal Youth Alliance – which includes Elliot, a boy from Old Quaint, a girl from the Jagged Edge, and her best friend the Stable boy.  Elliot’s value is clear -his contact in the World.

Enter Madeleine, a girl from Cambridge, England who still struggles with her absent father and recovered-but-still-odd mother and finding her place among friends.

Elliot and Madeleine continue their correspondence through the Crack, and must find a way to travel across worlds and rescue the royal family.

Some thoughts:

  • I’m glad I re-read A Corner of White  before delving into this one. It was good to brush up on the events of the first book. I loved it just as much the second time!
  • I love the developing relationship between Elliot and Madeleine.  You’re slowly getting to know each of them more and more. They still have flaws and personality, and are still growing which I just adore. Plus they are still very much teens.
  • This book felt much more about Elliot, and was very much driven by Princess Ko’s need to return her family.
  • There are lots of dips into Newton and random musings about physics and light and such.  I did feel like it tried a little too hard to make sense from a real-world perspective… and I admittedly glossed over those bits.
  • There’s plenty of action and suspense, particularly near the end.
  • You know that feeling when you are SO excited to read a book you can hardly stand it?  I’m feeling that way about getting my hands on the NEXT book! This book ended on a more suspenseful note – curse it!

I’m very happy to have picked this one up!  It was perhaps not AS good as the first, but I still really enjoyed it.

4/5

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Filed under Fantasy, Young Adult Books

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making

Finally!!! I have had The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making  by Catherynne M. Valante on my to-read list for so long – for a while they had the audiobook available through the library but not the ebook. I just discovered that they did get the ebook after all – and I devoured it!

With a narrator who swoops in and out with comments on the story, this book is the tale of an intrepid little girl and her adventures in fairyland.

September is twelve years old.  She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, and lives a dull, ordinary life.  Her father is off at war and her mother works as a machinist fixing engines. While September washes teacups (yet again) by the window in her kitchen, the Green Wind invites her on an adventure.  September jumps so quickly at the chance she leaves one of her shoes behind!

The Green Wind takes September to Fairyland, where September discovers there is much adventure but also many who need her help.  Before long, she encounters the Marquess, the fickle and cruel ruler of Fairyland.  September is coerced into retrieving a valuable item in order to save her new-found friends, a literary Wyvern and a mysterious blue boy named Saturday.

This was a charming read, with enough magic and adventure to satisfy.  The characters are delightful, especially A-through-L, the Wvyern.  The story suits and adventure, but dips into heartache, loss, and growth.  It’s whimsical and fancy, with lots of delicious vocabulary (e.g. widdershins).

I thought it was a delightful story and I am so glad there are more to follow!

4/5

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Filed under Adventure, Fantasy, Tween Fiction

The Mark of the Dragonfly

The Mark Of The Dragonfly

The Mark of the Dragonfly  by Jaleigh Johnson was a random read for me – I was browsing the “available now” section of the library’s ebook collection under “young adult + fantasy” and I liked the look of the cover.

Piper is a scrapper – eking out her living by salvaging the remnants left over from the mysterious Meteor showers (that rain both meteors and strange goods). She supplements this meager living with her skills as a Machinist – she has learned to fix mechanics and her skills with machines put food on her table.

Piper’s life changes with one meteor shower.  Among the wreckage of a caravan, Piper finds a girl, Anna.  Anna can’t remember anything about her life but she wears the intricate Mark of the Dragonfly – a special tattoo that means that she is both from the Dragonfly Territories and under the protection of it’s king.

Piper decides to help this strange girl – even if it means leaving her home and everything (and everyone) she knows.

She and Anna must catch the 401 – a massive old train that weaves its way south, to the Dragonfly Territories.  Getting on (without a ticket) is just the first hurdle – and the start of a magical, dangerous, and life-changing adventure.

Piper is a great character.  She shows just enough change and growth, and just enough flaws to be realistic.  She’s stubborn (VERY stubborn), quick to anger, but a fierce protector of her friends and family.  She may be young but she’s a pretty strong character.

Anna is a mystery – a naive but brilliant girl whose memory seems to be returning in odd snatches.  She’s bubbly and friendly and super chatty – it’s no mystery why Piper feels so protective about her.

The three main characters from the train (Gee, Trimble and Jeyne) also add flavour and depth to the story.  I love the similarities between Gee and Piper – both so prickly on the outside but fiercely loyal and protective once they’ve claimed something as their own.  I would love to read more about the whole crew – I hope that more books are forthcoming.

This is probably more of a middle-grade / tween book than a teen / young adult book, but for it’s genre I thought it was a fantastic mix of steampunk, magic, and science fiction all rolled into one.  It’s a fast read and pretty light – but still enjoyable.  It moves fast but there’s enough background that it doesn’t just skip from action scene to action scene with no plot or glue to hold it together.

I’ll give it a 4/5 – quite a pleasant book to pick up and just what I was looking for!

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Filed under Fantasy, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Tween Fiction, Young Adult Books