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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized4 Comments

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Source: Publisher/Purchased
Publication Date: 01 April 2012
Series or Standalone: Series
ISBN: 054762834X
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Pages: 549
The Author on the Web:
Place(s) Traveled to: St Lyphard // Ile de Seine // Vannes // Guerande // Nantes – all in Brittany (1485)
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
First Line: I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb.
Related Posts: Teaser Tuesday // Read the first chapter here (Redirects to Robin LaFever’s website)
His Fair Assassin  Series Order
Book 1 – Grave Mercy
Book 2 – Dark Triumph (~Spring 2013)
Book 3 – Dark Hope (~Spring 2014)
I have to admit when I first saw Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers on Netgalley I was skeptical. There was nothing about it that called out to me that I must read it and so I never put in a request. Then it seemed like all these bloggers, whose opinions I really trust, were reading it and raving about it and I was bummed that I didn’t get my hands on a copy when I had a chance. The raving comments from my blogger friends just had me salivating for this one. So I was super when the opportunity for a review copy came up. 

I was drawn into Ismae’s world faster than I thought possible. Often with a historical novel the setting up of the history and the world can get in the way of the story with a dry regurgitation of facts. But LaFevers weaves in all that we need to know about the real history and what she invented in a seamless way that it never once gets in the way of the story. And Oh what a story this was!! I am very mad at myself that I ever doubted that this would be a good book because in the end it turned out to be one of the best books I’ve read all year. Seriously.


The whole idea of nun assassins is just genius and I love how blood thirsty that Ismae was…it made me giggle a bit when she’d ask Gavriel after every person they met if she could kill them. But I also loved how honorable she was – she wouldn’t kill if they didn’t have the mark and I loved how her character changed and grew over the novel. She starts off barely tolerating other people, with the exception of her sisters, but she learned to put her trust not only in others but also in herself. She learned how to think and rationalize and that the world is not always black and white but there are multiple shades of grey. 


I also loved the support cast – Gravriel, de Lorache, the Beast, Anne and even the more diabolical ones that so threatened Anne of Brittany’s reign. And oh how I loved that little tidbit of history! Anne, a 12 year old duchess ruling a nation at a time when women had so little rights….wonderful! But don’t let her young age fool you, the average life span in the middle ages was around 30-40 so a 12 year old then was far older/wiser than a 12 year old of today. I loved the setting as well, I’ve always had such a fondness for the Middle Ages and that alone should have sold me on the book when I first heard of it. I can only claim temporary insanity that I once tried to dismiss this book. I am deeply shamed at myself because it was just so utterly fantastic that I would have greatly missed out if I didn’t listen to the hype. 


That’s right…not only is there a lot of hype around this book but its also not misleading. Any regular reader of my blog knows that I tend to be severely disappointed in over-hyped books. But that was not the case with Grave Mercy. This is a book that I was bullying people in bookstores to read before I was even 1/2 way done. I even forced one of my co-workers, who is a reader but not a huge one, to pick it up. Everything about this book was solid. The plotting, the characters and the setting. There is humor, intrigue, romance, mystery, kick ass characters (of both genders) and murder. So essentially, there is something for everyone in this book. 


There is so much to love in this book that its impossible to capture it all in a review. So I highly recommend that you dash out to your nearest bookstore and grab a copy so that you can experience this one for yourself. Then you can join me in the long wait for Book 2, Dark Triumph, which just sounds fantastic! And before you start to fear cliff-hanger endings know that this is not the case with Grave Mercy. The story ARC is closed up in a very satisfactory way but you can see the seeds that are sown for the second book. I can’t say it enough, Grave Mercy is a fabulous read and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult18 Comments

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten MillerThe Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
Series: The Eternal Ones,
Published by Razorbill on 10 August 2010
Genres: Abduction, Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Friendship, Historical Romance, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Paranormal, People & Places, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled to: Snope City, Tennessee // New York, New York (2010, 1920s) // Rome, Italy (2010, 1920s)

First Line: Haven was back.

Related Posts: Fragment Friday

Eternal Ones Series Order
Book 1 – The Eternal Ones
Book 2 – All You Desire
Book 3 – No Plans (Talked to publicist and no plans at this time to continue the series)

When I first began to read the books that Penguin dubbed as Breathless Reads I put a call out onto Twitter to see which order I should them, The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller was the one everyone said should come last. After reading the four other books (Across the Universe, Nightshade, The Replacement & Matched) and not falling head over heels in love with them I was worried about The Eternal Ones. There was a part of me that said don’t read it but the other part of me that was determined to read them all before a book signing was louder. For which I am glad that it was because in the end I really ended up liking The Eternal Ones.For me it was the best book of the current Breathless Reads. The Eternal Ones isn’t like any other book that I’ve read. I really loved the whole reincarnation aspect of it and learning about Constance and Ethan through Haven’s memories. The story was fast paced and believable and the times that I find myself rolling my eyes or shouting at the book where kept to a minimum. I will admit that Haven’s flip-slopping attitude towards Iain did get annoying. One moment she was head of heels in love then some stranger would say something against him and she’d be all ‘Oh no I can’t trust you.’ *sighs* There there was the whole Adam thing, which for me, was a bit much and kind of out there. But I was able to move past those parts and allow myself to enjoy the story. Based on my recent reads you know that this means a lot.

The Eternal Ones isn’t a book for everyone, this story is more of a straight romance with a wee bit of mystery mixed in. There are no vampires or werewolves or any other paranormal creature and I found that to be very refreshing. The idea of reincarnation as set up in The Eternal Ones is believable and I loved the idea that why you might instantly connect with some people over others is because you knew them in a past life and your souls recognize each other. While reading the The Eternal Ones, I loved hearing the snippets of Haven’s past incarnations. Although the main focus was on her previous life, when she was Constance, and I would have liked to see more of those other lives. Yet, at the same time, I feel that this book was pretty well wrapped up at the end. I don’t see where a sequel will go. The ends were tied up, there was a HEA and most importantly, there was an EPILOGUE.

To me, an epilogue means done, there is no more. So I am a little disappointed that there will be 2 more books in the series. There is something to be said for leaving the reader wanting more and I fear that the next books will only hurt the overall story by dragging things out.I liked this book. I will recommend it to others. I loved Haven and Iain and Haven’s gay friend Beau (he was the snarky sidekick). I thought that Haven’s grandmother was evil (as all good  rich, old monied, opinionated southern grandma’s should be) and her mother could have done with more of a backbone. Though Haven seemed to have more than enough for her and her mother both. While most of me is against the idea of a sequel there is that small part of me that hopes to see all those these characters again. Although I can deal without the reincarnations of convenience – everyone seemed to know everyone else in their past and present lives and it just hurt my head a little that everyone kept bumping into each other like that. Though I am aware that it was needed for the story and there really wasn’t another way to do it.

I will also try to reserve my opinion on any potential sequels until I read one myself. But I am not sure that I can walk into it with an open mind. My brain is just all jaded like that. It won’t be the first time and it won’t be the last. Sometimes I am proven right and I have my “AHA!! I knew it moment!” and just as often I am proven wrong and am pleasantly surprised. Either way be on the look out for my thoughts sometime in August or there abouts as that is when All You Desire is released in stores.

irishdarkblue

four-stars
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Way of the Shadows by Brent Weeks

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized1 Comment

Publisher: Orbit Books

Source: Borrowed from a friend
Publication Date: 01 Oct 2008
Series or Standalone: Night Angel Trilogy, Book 1
ISBN: 0316033677
Format: Paperback
Pages: 688
Websites:
Brent Weeks – Blog
Place(s) Traveled to: Midcyru
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
First Line: Azoth squatted in the ally, cold mud squishing through his bare toes.

Those of you who don’t know me well probably don’t know that I have a thing for assassins in books and movies. I really can’t tell you what it is about them that I like. I am just drawn to the mystery and sheer power of them. So it should come as no surprise that The Way of the Shadows is a book that I’ve been drawn to for a long time. I was just instantly drawn to the cover and the tag line “The perfect killer has no friends – only targets”….I mean how awesome is that? I would find myself picking up this book on most trips I took through the fantasy section of the bookstore. I would pet it and sometimes even add it to my pile. 
But then I would look at the number of pages….all 688 of them….and I would get all anxious and put the book down. Which is kinda funny in a way because I used to DEVOUR books of this size like they were nothing back before college. College totally killed my reading and for years I read next to nothing. And even now that I am reading a lot more I don’t ever think I’ll return to the way my reading was back before college. Which makes me sad. And it also makes me afraid of books like The Way of the Shadows even though I was so clearly wanting to read it. But think about it…this one book is roughly the size of THREE other average sized books. I know….I know….that’s no real excuse but I was daunted by the page count and so put it down.
Then one day on twitter I was talking to a friend who also loves assassins and arguing a bit over one assassin in particular, Valek from Maria Snyder’s Study Series (who belongs to me just so y’all know). And in this conversation she mentioned Kyler Stern of the Night Angel Trilogy and how he was right up there with Valek in her eyes. Well this made me all the more intrigued….but then I remember 688 pages…so imagine my surprise when not too much longer later I received a package in the mail from my friend which contained The Way of the Shadows to borrow. I was elated. Really I was. Then I proceeded to put it on my night stand where it mocked me with its 688 pages for way longer then I should have let it. Until that is, I read Stolen by Lucy Christopher (my review) which was a book most extraordinary and one that I knew would make the book that I read next pale in comparison.
I was worried about how the next book may not live up and that I wouldn’t be giving it the honest attention that it deserved. When someone on Twitter suggested that I read a book so completely different from Stolen that it would be impossible for one book to taint the other. My eyes were then drawn to The Way of the Shadows. Here was a book that was different. Here was a book that I had to read before my friend sent out the ninjas to retrieve. Here was a book that I couldn’t let page count intimidate me anymore. So I put on my big girl pants and began to read. 
It wasn’t long before I became so lost in Kyler’s world that I forget everything else. I flew through the pages and couldn’t believe that I ever let the page count intimidate me. The Way of the Shadows is such a rich and complex story that’s filled with so many amazing layers. Just when you think you have something figured out new plots and secrets are reveled that set your mind spinning. Kyler is such a wonderful character who grows before your eyes. He begins as a boy who makes tough choices for those he loves. He accepts his fate but doesn’t succumb to it. Throughout the story he remains strong and true to himself. He stumbles on his journey and makes some poor choices. But he picks himself up, dusts himself off and moves on. Which just makes him all the more real.
The Way of the Shadows is filled with so many wonderful and rich characters. Ones that you both love and hate at the same time. No one is perfect. Everyone has flaws. And most importantly everyone keeps you interested in their story. For while the bulk of the story is told through Kyler’s eyes the point of view does bounce into several other characters to help give the reader a more complete picture of all that is going on. I am such a total fan girl for this book and before I even finished I downloaded the second and third books onto my ereader. (They each top the 600+ page mark and its my hope that being electronic the size won’t intimidate me as much.) The Way of the Shadows has something in it for everyone. There is magic, mystery, political intrigue, romance…and have I mentioned that there are assassins?? Bottom line is I think that this is a book that will appeal to fantasy and non-fantasy readers alike. Its just filled of awesome and I can’t wait to see what happens in the rest of the series.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Magic Study by Maria V Snyder

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized4 Comments

Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: 01 Dec 2008
ISBN: 0778327124
Format: Paperback
Pages: 448
Websites:
Maria V Snyder – Official Site
Maria V Snyder – MySpace Blog

Place(s) Traveled to: Sitia

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

**Caution: this review my contain spoilers as it is the second book in a series. Proceed at your own risk**

Synopsis:
Yelena is a survivor. Kidnapped as a child, held prisoner as a teen, then released to act as a poison taster, she is now a student of magic. But these magic skills place her in imminent danger, and with an execution order on her head, she has no choice but to escape to Sitia, the land of her birth.

But nothing in Sitia is familiar. As she struggles to understand where she belongs and how to control her powers, a rogue magician emerges—;and Yelena catches his eye. Suddenly she is embroiled in a situation not of her making. And once again her magical abilities will either save her life…or be her downfall.

With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be reunited with the family she’d been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But though she has gained her freedom, she can’t help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways—and her new-found friends and relatives don’t think it’s for the better.

Despite the turmoil, she’s eager to start her magic training—especially as she’s been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia’s throne for a lost prince—and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians. If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with all her new enemies.

**Caution: this review my contain spoilers as it is the second book in a series. Proceed at your own risk**

Magic Study by Maria V Snyder is the second book in her Study Trilogy, the first being Poison Study (my review). I really won’t say too much about this book as it is the middle of a trilogy and I don’t want to give anything away. Magic Study takes place in the lands south of Ixia known as Sitia and picks up a few weeks after Poison Study concludes. With the change in setting comes a whole new batch of characters and some old friends are left behind. These new characters were all introduced seamlessly into Yelena’s story although I found that I couldn’t attach myself to them as I did in Ixia. Maybe in part because Snyder has chosen to transplant her lead character and in some ways making the strong secondary cast disposable. And because of this thought in the back of my head I didn’t want to form any attachments in case she does the same in Fire Study – which is the final book in this series.

I know. I know. I’m a petty and fickle reader but I can’t help it! I loved the rich tapestry that Snyder wove in Poison Study and that same care and blend of colors seemed to be missing in Magic Study. The secondary characters didn’t shine as bright. Nor did the central story come across as clear as in Poison Study. In Poison Study I was on the edge of my seat, practically biting my knuckles as Yelena got into one scrape or another….all the while dealing with being the Commander’s food taster and dealing with being poisoned. That nail-biting edge was missing in Magic Study. There was no overall threat to Yelena and so while her character continued to grow and expanded that tension was missing. Also missing were some of my favorite characters, Janco and Ari….and most importantly….VALEK! When they did appear they weren’t in the story as much and I missed their wit and presence on the stage. They were often regulated to the background and didn’t really add much to the overall plot and I think that was a horrible misuse of them. Its almost as they were there just to be there so the reader wouldn’t be upset that they weren’t included. At least that is the impression I got but I think I would have rather if they weren’t there at all. After reading Poison Study I couldn’t wait for this book. Now that I am done with Magic Study I have no deep seeded need to run out and read Fire Study. Which is disappointing as the story is very well written but I would hate to see my favorite characters used so poorly again.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Poison Study by Maria V Snyder

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized8 Comments

Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: 01 Dec 2008
ISBN: 0778327116
Format: Paperback
Pages: 416
Websites:
Maria V Snyder – Official Site
Maria V Snyder – MySpace Blog

Place(s) Traveled to: Ixia

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis:

Choose: A quick death and hell or slow poison and hell.

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear.

I recently had the privilege of reading an advanced reading copy (ARC) of Julie Kagawa’s debut book The Iron King. I really enjoyed this new twist on faerie and fell in love with 3 of the main characters – Ash, Puck and Grimalkin, each for different reasons. Of the three Ash is the Bad Boy of the group. He’s dark and mysterious and has a bit of an edge that only the younger son of the Winter Queen can have. During one night of fangirl gushing Julie mentioned that part of her inspiration for Ash was a character named Valek who is featured in Maria V Snyder’s Study series. Well, color me curious and I immediately made a note to look for the first book Poison Study, which was lost somewhere on Mt TBR. Things then began to heat up when Julie began to argue (re: fight) fellow blogger Steph Su for Valek. You can only imagine how this made my curiosity grew in leaps and bounds.

I then went to my shelves, found Poison Study and began to read it that night. It wasn’t long before I was sucked so completely into the world that Snyder created. Yelena is such a complex and wonderfully drawn character. Just when you think you know all her secrets she goes and surprises you. And just when you think that there isn’t anything else she can bear she surprises you again. Her story keeps you on the edge of your seat with anticipation wondering where it all will lead. She starts off as a criminal and soon becomes the food taster for the Commander. During her training she comes into contact with Valek – the Commander’s right hand. He is the Commander’s aide, advisor, and assassin. He is, in short, the ultimate Bad Boy and totally swoon-worthy character.

Poison Study is further fleshed out with the amazing secondary characters that fill its pages. All work together to weave a story that is filled with intrigue, mystery, compassion and so much more. I love Yelena because she is so strong and despite all the odds against her she never gives up. She is a powerful force and yet she is also vulnerable. She makes mistakes, she learns from them and she goes on to make new ones. She is a delightful character to watch and the way that Snyder writes her, makes Yelena seem so very real. Snyder does the same with all her other characters. They all have flaws but you love them because of their short fallings since a too perfect character only comes across as false. Snyder also builds this complex world that the reader can almost see out of the corner of their eye as they read the words that she writes. I fell in love with the land of Ixia and only wanted to know more about it. Snyder built her world and gave it a rich history but she weaved in all the threads of it seamlessly into the story so that they never bogged it down or created a dry patch. Poison Study was a wonderful story and its one that I highly recommend to all. And when you buy it, be sure to pick up the rest of the trilogy because if you are anything like me you won’t want to wait to see what adventures Yelena and the rest will encounter next.

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