Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Daughter of the Forest  (Sevenwaters, #1)Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale
Content: A rather intense rape scene

Lord Colum of Sevenwaters is blessed with six sons: Liam, a natural leader; Diarmid, with his passion for adventure; twins Cormack and Conor, each with a different calling; rebellious Finbar, grown old before his time by his gift of the Sight; and the young, compassionate Padriac.

But it is Sorcha, the seventh child and only daughter, who alone is destined to defend her family and protect her land from the Britons and the clan known as Northwoods. For her father has been bewitched, and her brothers bound by a spell that only Sorcha can lift.

Daughter of the Forest has been on my to-read list for ages. I kept putting off reading it for one reason or another, so when the Fantasy Buddy Reads group on Goodreads decided to buddy read it, I joined in on the read. I love Juliet Marillier's writing so much. I know probably I say that every time I read a book written by her, but she is truly one of my favorite fantasy authors. That being said, this book was not an easy read. It's heartbreakingly grim at times and at one point I put it down for something lighter. I honestly considered not continuing on for a minute there, but knew I would regret that. There is always a huge pay-off in the end for readers of Marillier's books. Ultimately this is a beautiful story about love and sacrifice. One of the most beautiful I've read.

“For indeed you have a choice. You can flee and hide, and wait to be found. You can live out your days in terror, without meaning. Or you can take the harder choice, and you can save them.”

I fell in love with the characters in this book, in particular Sorcha, who had to be so strong for the ones she loved, and Red, who treated her with such love and care, even when he didn't understand the reasons behind the things she was doing. And then when he did come to understand a bit of why she was doing what she was doing when no one else could see it, I loved him even more.

"Each of you was put through many trials; each of you proved strong, strong enough for their purpose. So strong, indeed, that you came close to thwarting them, for each of you chose to give up what was loved best, in the hope that the other would find happiness."

Then there were Sorcha's brothers. Finbar holds a special place in my heart above the others with Conor a close second. There were times when her brothers were very inconsiderate of what Sorcha might want, and there was a point when I thought they did not deserve the sacrifices that she had made for them, but most of them redeemed themselves in my eyes by the end of the story.

“The end of the story is of your making, nobody else's. You can do with it as you choose. There are as many paths open to your hero as branches on a great tree. They are wonderful and terrible, and plain and twisted. They touch and part and intermingle, and you can follow them whatever way you will.”

I recommend this book if you like fairy tale retellings, historical fantasy, or enjoy Marillier's other books. This one is based on The Swan Princes (princes not princess). There are companion books that span more than one generation, and I'm looking forward to eventually reading them.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

The View from Rainshadow Bay (Lavender Tides #1)The View from Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult, Christian
Genre: Mystery, Romance
Content: Clean

The View From Rainshadow Bay is a mystery with some romance thrown in. There are Christian undertones to it as well. I had some issues with the consistency of the characters, the story, and some things that seemed pretty far-fetched.

As for the characters, I felt like the killer was not consistent. The killer goes from gleefully killing certain people to not wanting to kill others, and uses a different method for every single killing. Also one of the staged accidents would have been near impossible to stage. How would the killer have known exactly where they would be or exactly when to lie in wait?

There are other things like one person tying three men up while holding them at gunpoint with a rifle. There is no way one person could do that and still keep the rifle on the men. The three men could have overpowered that person and gotten away pretty easily.

As for the inconsistencies in the story, one example would be this: there is a package that has something in it that the killer wants, but the killer did not know the sheriff had the items that were in the package, so the killer goes after two different people in the book believed to have those items. But later on suddenly the killer knows the sheriff has these items, but gave one of them back to the main character? That doesn't make sense. Things like this just really annoyed me about this book. And don't get me started on guns being able to shoot off locks and silencers making guns completely noiseless, which is also included in the book. There were just too many inconsistencies and implausibilities in this book for me to completely enjoy it.

This is the second Colleen Coble book I've read. The other was Haven of Swans. I liked it better than this one, and I did not catch the same types of inconsistencies and implausibilities in that one. Other than those issues, so far I feel like her books are a little slow and just not compelling enough for me, especially for a series. Plus this one was very predictable and it was very easy to figure out who the killer was. This is the first book in a series, but I don't see a need for this to be a series, since everything is wrapped up in the end, and it works fine as a stand-alone, so I'm going to leave it at that.

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher Thomas Nelson for giving me a copy of this book for review.

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Renegades (Renegades, #1)Renegades by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Content: Clean

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

I was delighted to be gifted an advance copy of Renegades by the publisher through Netgalley. I'm a huge fan of Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series, so I had been looking forward to reading this book since I first heard about it, and Renegades was not a disappointment. I loved this book! I especially liked the themes of self-reliance and personal liberty that are sprinkled throughout the book from the point of view of Nova. Sure she is one if the villains, but it isn't exactly that simple. There's good and bad on both sides. I also really liked the discussions of what makes a hero, and how anyone can be one, because super powers do not make a person a hero, what's in one's heart and what one decides to do makes a person a hero.

This was similar to Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, so if you liked that series you will probably like this one. I personally liked this book more. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Ice Kissed (Kanin Chronicles #2)Ice Kissed by Amanda Hocking

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Content: A sex scene

In the majestic halls of a crystal palace lies a secret that could destroy an entire kingdom…

Bryn Aven refuses to give up on her dream of serving the kingdom she loves. It's a dream that brings her to a whole new realm…the glittering palace of the Skojare.

Ice Kissed starts off pretty much where Frostfire ended. Brynn and Ridley are reporting to the King and later Brynn has a vision sent to her from Queen Linnea telling her to find her. So off they go to find Queen Linnea, and that eventually leads Brynn right back to the Skojare palace. A huge complaint I have here is that it doesn't make any sense that they would bring her back to the place where she felt her life was threatened. It seemed like her disappearance happened for no good reason, even after we get the explanation as to why it still didn't make much sense. It just felt like a wild goose chase, and I mainly found the whole part of the novel spent in Storvatten pretty dull. Plus Queen Linnea is incredibly immature and kind of annoying.

Honestly nothing really happened in this book to advance the overall plot of the series. We get answers as to where Linnea is and why she disappeared and who was behind it, although as I said already it doesn't make much sense; the romantic aspect of the plot advances somewhat, however the love scene was something close to what you would find in a NA book and didn't belong in a YA book; Brynn grows a bit as a person and isn't a selfish jerk, but everything pertaining to the main plot line was pretty much already told to us in book one. It was obvious by things Konstantin Black had said to Brynn in book one, how things would end up in this book. And there were some pretty obvious clues as to who is behind everything, at least some of the who. And speaking of Konstantin Black, he was the most interesting character in book one and I was hoping to get more about him in this book. Unfortunately we get even less of him here. Mostly we just follow Brynn from place to place as she tries to get answers and she never really does until the end and it's nothing I didn't see coming, so it just felt like a waste of time.

I do find it impressive that the author was so successful as a self-published author which is what I guess led to a publisher picking up this series and another one that she wrote. I've never read any of her other works but I will say, compared to most YA fantasy I've read, this series is kind of shallow. I probably will not read the rest of the books in this series, because I think there is much better out there and I would rather spend my time on those.

I received I free copy of this from the publisher through a Goodreads giveaway.

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Frostfire (The Kanin Chronicles, #1)Frostfire by Amanda Hocking

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Content: Clean

Bryn Aven is an outcast among the Kanin, the most powerful of the troll tribes. Set apart by her heritage and her past, Bryn is a tracker who's determined to become a respected part of her world. She has just one goal: become a member of the elite King’s Guard to protect the royalty.

Frostfire starts out with Bryn, the main character in a modern day city tracking a changeling. Once Bryn returns to the city where the "trolls" live it feels like we are in a old world fantasy type setting. This is mainly due to the fact that they care little about technology there and still run around using swords instead of guns. In my opinion an old world time period would have suited the book better.

At times I didn't find Bryn all that likeable. She seemed a bit selfish and couldn't seem to look at things from any perspective but her own. There were a couple of times that she was so rude to her friends that I wondered why they were friends with her. One of those times was when her friend Ember gets a mission and all Bryn can think about is herself and why she wasn't sent on it. The second time was even worse when Bryn finds out a secret (which to avoid spoilers I will not mention here) her friend Tilda has been keeping about herself. To Tilda it was something good, but Bryn was so horrible to her about it. The things she said to Tilda made me angry with her.

The villain of the book, Konstantin Black was the most interesting character because the reader is kept wondering what his motivation is. He definitely is more than he seems to be. But he is hardly in the book at all. One issue I did have with his character was that if he is supposed to be good enough to have been on the King's guard then why is he beaten so easily by a teenage girl who has no special Fae...I mean troll powers, more than once?

All of that said I think the biggest problem I had with the book was the whole changeling thing and the "Troll" society in general. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to root for a whole race of people who steal human babies and then dump them in orphanages so they can replace them with their own, only to steal that child too once it's a teen. And it's all done in the name of money. For me this was not a real plausible explanation. Money isn't good enough. That just made them seem greedy and too lazy to work for what they get. Am I supposed to believe that the "trolls" can't come up with a way to earn money in the world? They can blend in well enough with humans that they aren't noticed when they go out on missions so there is no excuse for stealing babies. And how do these humans not notice what is going on? Nothing is mentioned about that at all. And doesn't it ever bother the changelings that they have left the parents who raised them and their lives behind?

I'm not sure why the characters in this book are called trolls when there is nothing troll-like about them. Do they live underground? No. Are any of them ugly? No. They most definitely seem a lot more like the Fae. Overall Frostfire was a lackluster read. Not a lot really happens in the book and I found myself bored with it on more than one occasion. It also didn't feel like there was enough thought or planning put into the whys and hows of the "troll" society. Even though I wasn't crazy about this book I read the next book in the series too, because I won a free copy of it.

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

YesternightYesternight by Cat Winters

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery
Content: Language, sex and talk of sex

In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.

Yesternight starts off when Alice Lind arrives at a small coastal town in Oregon to administer IQ tests to the students at the local school, but she is soon swept up in the mystery surrounding one of the students, Janie O'Daire. Janie's father is convinced she lived a past life as someone else. There is all kinds of evidence to support it, but Alice, a trained psychologist believes there must be some other explanation. As she delves into the mystery surrounding Janie, Alice begins to believe that her past may be similar and maybe even related to Janie's. Meanwhile there is a growing attraction between Alice and Janie's father, Michael. That's all I'm going to say about the plot so that I don't spoil anything.

I thought this book started off really good, but the more I read the less I liked it. I ended up not liking any of the characters. Alice never learned from her past mistakes. She just kept making unwise choices and lamenting that certain things were unfair for women. Well that may be, but don't be an idiot about it. As for Michael, on one hand I felt like he was a nice guy who really cared about her, then on the other hand he seemed manipulative. I was never really sure which he was, maybe a little of both. He was certainly selfish, and in the end he ended up being not likable.

The thing that ruined this book for me the most was the ending. I couldn't stop thinking about how horribly this book ended, and how terrible the characters ended up being in the end. In all honesty, the last quarter of the book had a completely different feel than the rest of the book and it just didn't fit well with the rest of the story. The thing that bothered me the most I'm going to put under a spoiler here so skip the next paragraph if you don't want to read the spoiler.

***Spoiler*** In the end when Alice hears her son John say "remember when you hit me in the head with your shoe, Alice?" and it becomes obvious that John is Michael reincarnated - yes, that's right, he is his dad reincarnated - all I could think of was that if her son remembers that, then surely he must also remember them having sex right before that too. And that just got way too weird for me, not to mention gross! I really wonder if the author even thought of that when she made things end up that way. ***End of spoiler***

Yesternight is the first book I've read by Cat Winters. I have two other books by this author on my to-read list, but after reading this, I'm wondering if I really want to read them. I'll probably give the YA book a try, but I'm not sure about the other one.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Rolling StonesThe Rolling Stones by Robert A. Heinlein

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Sci-fi, Space opera
Content: Clean
It doesn’t seem likely for twins to have the same middle name. Even so, it’s clear that Castor and Pollux Stone both have “Trouble” written in that spot on their birth certificates. Of course, anyone who’s met their grandmother Hazel would know they came by it honestly.

Join the Stone twins as they connive, cajole, and bamboozle their way across the solar system in the company of the most high-spirited and hilarious family in all of science fiction.

The Rolling Stones was our fantasy book club pick for October and I thought it was a fun, light sci-fi read. The twins Castor and Pollux reminded me a little bit of Fred and George Weasley from Harry Potter. They, and their grandma Hazel were the best things about this book.

One thing I was slightly disappointed in was that the daughter kind of faded into the background, and her father didn't seem to have enough faith in her abilities. But then there is the very positive portrayal of the mother, who is a doctor and the grandmother, who is an engineer and very independent and I liked that.

A couple of things to note are that the "Trouble with Tribbles" episode of the original Star Trek series was a complete rip-off of the flat cats in this book, and there are numerous ideas from this book that seem to have influenced other sci-fi stories and books over the years. The Expanse series came to mind with its Belters and Martian colonies.

While there were some enjoyably funny moments, I did feel like the book was a bit dull at times. I did like that it was short and easy to get through even through the parts that dragged. This was written way back in the 50s so some of it feels a bit dated. Clearly Heinlein did not predict digital technology, but I'm not sure anyone would have at that point. If you want to try some classic sci-fi, then I say give this a try.

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