Review: Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold (The Sharing Knife #1)

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“There are a lot of senseless things in the world, but not all of them are sorrows. Sometimes—I find—it helps to remember the other kind. Everybody knows some light, even if they forget when they’re down in the dark. Something”—he groped for a term that would work for her—“everyone else thinks is stupid, but you know is wonderful.”

I’m not quite sure what to think about this book. I got it recommended on the promise of a loving, respectful relationship that works in spite of how strange it is…and it kind of does have that. And I did enjoy it, and it was the kind of slow, peaceful comfort read I needed during a difficult time. But at the same time, I wanted to take the absolute piss out of how cliché-ridden and cheesy and ridiculous it was constantly.

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Review: The Binding by Bridget Collins

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I won’t lie, the cover was the main factor in my decision to read it. Of course I found the premise interesting too, and the positive reviews helped, but look at it. Besides, the promise of romance with magic based on books…how could I not?

“Memories,” she said, at last. “Not people, Emmett. We take memories and bind them. Whatever people can’t bear to remember. Whatever they can’t live with. We take those memories and put them where they can’t do any more harm. That’s all books are.”

Did it live up to it? Well, that depends.

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Review: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (Tess of the Road #1)

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There are many, many stories about roads and journeys in fantasy, and just as many sayings. Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker? Journey before destination. The Road goes ever on and on. So in a way, Tess of the Road is a story in the oldest of fantasy traditions.

The road was possibility, the kind she’d thought her life would never hold again, and Tess herself was motion. Motion had no past, only future. Any direction you walked was forward, and that was as must be.

Walk on became her credo; she repeated it to herself every morning upon deciding to get up and exist for one more day.

At the same time, it’s also a fresh take. There’s no grand objective to work towards. And instead of the world, Tess saves herself.

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Review: Witchmark by C.L. Polk (The Kingston Cycle #1)

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Witchmark ended up being the book that finally got me out of my March reading slump. It’s a charming, easy read, that hit precisely the right spot.

The plot is one third murder mystery, one third romance, and one third historical fantasy, which makes for a lovely mix. In a world where lower-class witches are persecuted and shut into asylums or enslaved, Miles only wants to lie low, be free, and work as a doctor in a run-down veterans’ hospital…until a mysterious stranger brings in a dying patient who knows who and what he is. Then, of course, things get complicated.

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Reread: Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer (The Harp and Ring Sequence #1)

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I’ve been in a bit of a slump, so I went for another quick re-read. There’s a whole pile of books waiting to be read, a reading challenge to finish…and ended up grabbing and devouring this book again instead. Oops.

This is classic epic fantasy in modern clothes. It’s the living proof how much do complex characters and atmospheric writing improve a seemingly simple, stale story concept – deceptively simple as you read it, then you try to describe it and stumble upon all the little intricacies. And the best thing, it doesn’t take hundreds of pages and multiple books to get to the point as is usual for the subgenre.

All her life, music was a secret. It was what you stole to the cellar at midnight or the deep pine woods to play, or sing. Verse was composed in greater secrecy still, by light of a single candle after dark. Even then, Lin had to hide the burned-out candle the next day, smuggle it out to the midden heap under the cover of the night.

But now music was a drinking song in a tavern performed to  crowds of rough men, or more recently, a stately ballad sung to lords at their firesides.

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Review: One of Us by Craig DiLouie

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Wow. I don’t even know how to approach reviewing this. It’s an exploration of “us vs. them” mentality through a SFF lens and, while well-written, in no way a pleasant read. I could only read it a few pages at a time before I had to put it down again. The petty, everyday evil, the worst aspects of humanity laid bare. It was almost too much. But. It felt powerful and important and viscerally realistic in its own brutally unflinching way. Necessary.

He learned what he was, what they were, and that monsters and men were not meant to exist in the same world. If your own mother hates you and drives you away, why should total strangers love you? From the beginning, the masters understood this fundamental truth. They created separate worlds, one for themselves, another for monsters. The system would not end when the mutagenic reached adulthood. The children would grow up to become free folk living in an invisible cage, with no rights or opportunities. Which meant no real freedom at all.

The basic premise is that a sexually-transmitted disease caused a generation of children to be born with pretty significant mutations. Abortion, safe sex education, discussions on rape, medical testing have become a necessity. The plague children have mostly been taken away at birth and shut into Homes, institutions where the employees are mostly ex-cons and other sorts of desperate people that shouldn’t be let near children. They are used for slave labour on farms. As the children become teenagers, they start developing superpowers and tensions are rising.

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Review: Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke (The Coraidic Sagas #1)

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The ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Blood of Heirs was a very pleasant surprise. I needed a quick read, something that wouldn’t take me weeks to finish and boy has this book delivered.

He was no different to the rabbit, no different to any game animal pursued through the woods, whether for sustenance or pleasure. He was as hunted as that rabbit, and he’d turned his power on it, despite his already superior strength. What might he do if his pursuer cornered him the way he’d cornered the rabbit? Was it only a matter of time before the walls closed in and the escape routes vanished, only a matter of time before his father’s men tracked him to a dark corner and he too stared at his death without the power to run?

The book follows two characters. Lidan is the heir of a clan chief (or daari, as they’re called) without any sons. She wants nothing more than to be trained as a ranger, ride horses, learn to fight, but her mother won’t let her, saying it’s too dangerous for a heir…then things get a lot more complicated. Ran is the son and heir of a duke. He saves his city from disaster, but in the process, his magic is discovered and he is forced to run for his life.

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