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Alissa

Alissa

Ninth City Burning

Ninth City Burning - J. Patrick Black

I admit I didn't even read the blurb of this book, I chose it purely out of Justine's review and recommendation. It simply panned out great! I'm not even a sci-fi reader, I usually prefer my fantasy technology-free, thank you very much. But the idea of "military science fantasy, no alpha tendencies and a slight romance element" sealed the deal for me. So, this is an interesting and ambitious debut book, a diamond in the rough as the saying goes; for example the mijmere are really exciting! The pacing instead needs some work and a trimming of the perspectives wouldn’t hurt, either, while the Valentines could use some fleshing-out. Also, I feel I'm familiar with most of the specifics here, but hey, the result is engaging. I’ll be watching out for this author!

 

Molded into one edge of the fountain is a gigantic chair, known as Macduff

How could I not love this book?

 

There are several viewpoints. At first I was confused, I was just warming to Jax's (which reminded my of Marie Lu's Legend) when I was catapulted into Naomi's totally different reality and when I was starting to settle, then bam! It’s Torro's turn, a factory laborer with yet another lifestyle. Then again comes a PoV from Jax's entourage. So mhhh okay, I can follow, even if -shifts asides- every narrator has different knowledge, beliefs, background and style. That’s actually one of the strengths of the tale. I quickly got caught up in it, feeling the injustice of what happens to the protagonists, the dread even. No time to get accustomed though, another PoV come unexpectedly, I had my theories, but anyway, I was compelled to go on and then some because I got truly hooked.

Maybe it’s just me, but some situations and devices reminded me of the anime Evangelion, assorted studio Ghibli movies and Upside Down. And a game of chess :). I like the contradiction of the world the author depicts, without giving the plot away, I can say it's a mix of modern and ancient and both elements are jealous about their secrets. The training parts are cool, too. All the characters are interesting and besides the protagonists, the cast is pretty wide. I liked the way the characters' assumptions played against them, and I loved the worldbuilding. There are twists after twists, some unfortunately are not easy to follow and made me wonder (the Force uh? Why not Yoda too?), but it was nonetheless a satisfying ride.

 

3.5 rounded up to a large 4 because the second half of the book builds great momentum and the battle scenes are truly immersive.

 

Had there been time to bicker and scheme and maneuver, it’s likely anyone with a remotely reasonable claim to the IMEC would still be bickering and scheming and maneuvering, but fortunately—for the purposes of expediency, anyway—the world was about to end, and so the debate only lasted about three hours.

The Summer Palace: A Captive Prince Short Story (Captive Prince Short Stories Book 2)

The Summer Palace: A Captive Prince Short Story (Captive Prince Short Stories Book 2) - C.S. Pacat Short, but what I wanted to read :)

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect - Julie James 3.5 stars. There's something to be said for humorous romance (at least until the Alpha male is brought to his knees, and I don't mean physically--that's actually part of the fun), when I need a light and quick palate-cleanser it's a guaranteed choice.

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, Book 4)

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, Book 4) - Maggie Stiefvater He was a book, and he was holding his final pages, and he wanted to get to the end to find out how it went, and he didn’t want it to be over.
He kept walking.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Blue Lily, Lily Blue - Maggie Stiefvater This is a good study in characters. And linguistics. Slower than its predecessor, I enjoyed it. The last 30% makes up for the lack of action of the first 70%, and it predictably ends with a cliffhanger. No worries though, because the tetralogy is complete.

More that I would expect from YA. The story is indeed complex enough to straddle the line between adult and YA, though the protagonists are teenagers and many of their anxieties relate to coming of age issues. Also, this is not a romance book. Kudos to the author.


Humans were so circular; they lived the same slow cycles of joy and misery over and over, never learning. Every lesson in the universe had to be taught billions of times, and it never stuck.

The Dream Thieves

The Dream Thieves  - Maggie Stiefvater Blue's household is a masterpiece. The writing is beautiful and the storytelling is worth every page of this book. This is fast becoming one of the best YA series I've read in a while.


A secret is a strange thing.

There are three kinds of secrets. One is the sort everyone knows about, the sort you need at least two people for. One to keep it. One to never know. The second is a harder kind of secret: one you keep from yourself. Every day, thousands of confessions are kept from their would-be confessors, none of these people knowing that their never-admitted secrets all boil down to the same three words: I am afraid.

And then there is the third kind of secret, the most hidden kind. A secret no one knows about. Perhaps it was known once, but was taken to the grave. Or maybe it is a useless mystery, arcane and lonely, unfound because no one ever looked for it.

Sometimes, some rare times, a secret stays undiscovered because it is something too big for the mind to hold. It is too strange, too vast, too terrifying to contemplate.

All of us have secrets in our lives. We’re keepers or kept-from, players or played. Secrets and cockroaches —that’s what will be left at the end of it all.

Certain Dark Things

Certain Dark Things - Silvia Moreno-Garcia I'm not widely read on vampires but I think this is an original book, I particularly liked that there are different breeds of vampires and that the romance is just a subplot (thankfully, because it’s plain boring). The Mexico City setting, the Aztec mythology and the whole narcos-vampire combo also worked well for me, as did the nicely dark tones and the spot-on worldbuilding.

The vampires are organized in rival gangs and have unique skills; they have different societal customs, some embrace modernity, some breathe by tradition and they frequently engage in both infighting and expansion efforts. They also clash or make alliances with human gangs. Drug trafficking, organized crime and the police are a fundamental part of this novel, which is another element of novelty.

The other best feature of the book is the characters: they are not Mary Sues or Gary Stues, (vampires or otherwise), they all have a background and feel realistic so I became invested in them very smoothly. There are several effective and well-handled third-person PoVs: a spoiled vampire heiress which saw her world collapsing, a slum boy with an earnest heart, a middle-aged cop working in a hostile environment who needs to make ends meet, a narcissistic vampire scion with an obsession, a despondent vampire servant, an embittered Revenant lost in his past and a biomodified doberman (okay, not really a viewpoint) are just the main players of this all-out war.

The tale is straightforward and spans a few days, it was a quick read and I liked its engaging details, the vivid setting and the intriguing characters on both sides of the argument.
The main drawback is the ending because it is rushed. It wasn't disappointing in itself but it felt neglected after the previous careful building up of tension and the character-development. There is no cliffhanger and this book is a standalone, but the story is completely open to potential sequels.


Sacrifice. The face of all earthly things at one point is sacrifice.

Scarlet Stone

Scarlet Stone - Jewel E. Ann, Maxann Dobson Mhm, this is kind of...off. I mean, it's totally off. Characterization? Plot? Development? Coherency? Aaaand yes, I'm sure every girl is helplessly attracted to an aggressive and antisocial Thor look-alike (because good looks). Basically, the titular protagonist is hell-bent on a round of The Masochism Tango.

“You’re fucking driving me insane,” he growls into my neck.
No. He was insane before me. However, I’ll wait a bit to make that case.


No matter her reasons, or the interesting premise of two (and more, because exaggeration) very dysfunctional, broken and flawed characters confronting lies and truths. The author is also very vocal about her opinions on certain topics. I respect those, not the heavy-handedness of the message.

"Does it matter? No. It’s just my opinion and it only should matter to me".
Talk about forewarning.

At least there are a few humorous situations and the book does provide some thought-provoking themes; unfortunately I wasn't particularly inspired by Scarlet's answers and the focus is too wide, in fact, there are so many things going on in the story, including a mystery, that you can plainly see the hand of the author orchestrating and steering them all (because miracles). I understand it was either that or completely lose the plot, but it’s aggravating.

I thought this was a contemporary romance with dark undertones, not a neurotic contemporary romance which takes itself too seriously and strives to fit in the Biography, Business, Chick Lit, Cookbooks, Crime, Medical, Mystery, Nonfiction, Paranormal, Philosophy, Psychology, Self Help and Spirituality shelves.

The ending was okay, thought it was predictably neat and contrived. Undeniably, the book has its moments, but not enough to get me over the fuzzy storytelling, the food-for-thought overload and the flat characters.


Not all necessary things in life reside on the right side of the law.

Untitled

To Tame A Highland Warrior - Karen Marie Moning My favorite sentient, "homicidal, psychopathic, starved, and power-hungry" book is back! :)

Actually, when I first started reading I didn't know this novel was going to deliver the (partial) finale of the series; it became clear as I progressed and the thought alone put me in a cheerful mood, because the series was still spiraling downhill and I didn’t think it was ever going to regain its luster. In addition, I loved the improving narrative and the many quotable paragraphs of this installment, which is my favorite of the post-Shadowfever Arc.
I particularly enjoyed the middle part and on the whole, this novel was a nice read (thus my rating of 3.5 stars rounded up to 4, even taking into consideration the frustration at what follows).

So, a conclusion! A satisfying denouement! The nature of the Nine finally revealed!

Not.

I don’t have any issues with the ending itself, it was high-time, I just feel the tale rushed to the finish line and some confusion ensued (ceiling, I'm looking at you), but mine is a minor gripe.
As things stand, the author wrapped-up some plot threads with a bow; others she resolved with the time-honored plot device of the guillotine and some she left hanging in the air.

SO, this is not truly “the end end”. Moning signed to do two more books set in the Fever World.

Well, I’m sure she can write an impressive follow-up to Dani’s story, possibly reveal the nature of the Nine, too (a girl can dream), there’s room for development but no matter the direction, I truly hope she’ll take her time finding some interesting ideas and planning the duology.


I understand something now: that which we fear, we somehow beckon near and engage in a dance, as toxically intimate as a pair of suspicious lovers.

Perhaps it’s because deep down we want to face it. Perhaps it’s just the way the universe works; we’re magnetized waltzers and our hopes and fears emit some kind of electrical impulses that attract all that we dream, and all that we dread.

We live and die on a dance floor of our own making.

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me - Mariana Zapata It's always satisfying to be pleasantly surprised by a book whose primary genre is romance. The characters are not the usual stereotypes and the the romance is slow-burning. Slow-brewing even. No insta-love&lust. No Too Stupid to Live. No particular conflicts or precipitous events but a steady unfurling, which made the characters, their pasts, their emotions and flaws feel real and interesting.
There are a few redundancies and editing issues in the narrative, but for the most part it's fluid and enjoyable.
Mhm, probably more than enjoyable considering my alarm clock was screaming blue murder and I still kept on turning the pages.


Did I love sexy lateral muscles? Of course. I had ovaries. But I also had a brain, a heart, and some pride, and huge, brawny arms on someone who left me hanging weren’t going to make me forget a single thing.

The Unsung Hero

The Unsung Hero - Suzanne Brockmann This is an unusual romance book because the secondary characters and their stories are engaging, while the attraction between the main leads is cliché and a bit boring.
I ended up liking this more than I thought at the outset.

Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel)

Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel) - Josiah Bancroft “If the law is malleable, Mr. Senlin, if it bends and conforms to man, then man will become resolute in his flaws. The law exists to give shape to man’s ideals. When you think about it, doesn’t mercy serve the wicked at the expense of the law?”

While Angels Slept

While Angels Slept - Kathryn Le Veque 2.5 stars

Good Omens

Good Omens - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death, JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.

An angel who collects antiques and runs a bookstore religiously devoid of customers? A demon (“an Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards”) whose car turns every single cassette ('90s here) into a Queen album? Two representatives of Heaven and Hell who are both perfectly fine living on Earth thank you very much but the Armageddon is coming? The same two who lost the Antichrist?

“The Kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance.”

Add to the mix a creepy gang of normal teenagers, a satanic lapdog, a professional descendant & witch with a New Age upbringing, the integrated and respectable four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (REVELATIONS, CHAPTER SIX. “Verses two to eight”. More properly, bikers. Because, modernity), the backup Bikers of the Apocalypse, Tibetan sappers, Witchfinders with a Cause, a motherly medium, dolphins and a cast of various&sundry personalities. Throw in some alcohol, give a shake, keep something to smoke handy and enjoy hot or cold.

You can't really connect with any of the characters (if you can, I don't want to know), but it is clever, ironic, terrifically humorous, superbly written, sadly contemporary and full of references.

"A relentlefs blockbufter of a boke; heartily recommended".

Territory

Territory - Emma Bull Emma Bulls weaves an enchanting fantasy story mixed in with some recognizable figures of the American Frontier.

I rarely read Weird/Historical Westerns (if at all) but the genre is part of the r/Fantasy 2016 Book Bingo Challenge and this novel came well-recommended, so I trusted the other readers opinions and it paid off in spades. It's nice to step out of my comfort zone and actually discover a good book.

The beginning grabbed my attention even if little is laid out for the reader and things get a bit confused at times; throughout, it was satisfying having to piece the puzzle together from the natural interactions of the characters as the story progressed.

The main leads are adult and fascinating: a working woman who seeks her path in life; a cynical dentist embroiled in treachery; a traveling horse-trainer who befriends the Chinese in the XIX century American West. Their lives intertwine with personal drama, county politics, law enforcement, violence, a mystery (not easy to unravel) and subtle, pervasive magic.

This is a complex, slowly unfurling story, with beautiful storytelling and spot-on pacing. It’s more about atmospheres, nuances and the intersections of the characters' lives than action, but it’s still a Western of course, and the setting is vividly described.

Although this book is a standalone, there are a few open ends and I would be very interested in a sequel.

Underlying every philosophy was the inevitability of death. The moral and ethical questions, the search for right living, the weighing of the evidence of one’s senses—it all came down to how fast, how far, and which way you could run before you hit the end of the rope.

Spindle

Spindle - E.K. Johnston 4.5 stars.

My kind do not spend their days at craft or art. Our deepest desire is not for the making of a thing, nor for the thing itself. Rather, we thrive on the skills of those who make. We steal that time and that power, and we turn it to our own souls, and that is how we grow.