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The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel
The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel
by Brandon Sanderson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.60
114 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable, quality 'light' fantasy read, July 12, 2012
This book is set several hundred years after the events of the Mistborn Trilogy, and the world has changed. The events/characters from Mistborn have now become hazy legends, or religions. Technology has advanced to a level reminiscent of old western movies (guns, trains etc), but the technology is also intertwined with the unique magic system of this world (where people can have the ability to 'burn' different metals that confer specific abilities).

You could read this book as a standalone, although if you haven't read the Mistborn Trilogy you will probably find yourself frequently referring to the back of the book to check the properties of the different metals. The plot is relatively self-contained, although a few threads are left for potential sequels at the end.

This book is a western/fantasy detective mystery. The main character is an ex-lawman who has had to give up his old life to take on his responsibilities as a Lord. Despite vowing to put his past profession behind him, he is drawn into a mysterious kidnapping/burglary case. The story drags a little to start with, but quickly gathers momentum. The characterisation in this book is better than in Mistborn (though still Sanderson's weak point), perhaps because there is a relatively small cast. The world-building is, of course, meticulous, creative and fascinating. It's a much lighter read than any of his other books (in the sense of having a much more streamlined plot, smaller cast, and narrower set of themes), but still a very enjoyable one.

The Slap: A Novel
The Slap: A Novel
by Christos Tsiolkas
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.86
224 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A strange mixture of easy and uncomfortable reading, March 7, 2012
This review is from: The Slap: A Novel (Paperback)
The Slap follows the repercussions and ripples of one man slapping a misbehaving child (not his own) at a family BBQ. The story is told in chronological sections, each from a different character's point of view. The Slap is a gripping book, a strange mixture of easy and uncomfortable reading.

Things I liked:

- the different perspectives. I found my opinions of characters changing as the novel progressed. I have to mention that I found none of the characters particularly likeable, but they were all interesting and well- realised. The character I enjoyed most was actually one of the most unlikeable - Rosie, the deluded, over-protective, wannabe hippie mother of the slapped child.

-I felt that most of the 'serious issues' such as multiculturalism were handled with refreshing frankness.

Things I did not like:

- the numerous loving descriptions of bodily functions.

- the frequent use and ready availability of drugs. Almost every character is on drugs at some point in the novel, which seemed unrealistic to me.

- the high level of infidelity among couples and the clunky, aggressive sex scenes.

Cloud Atlas: A Novel
Cloud Atlas: A Novel
by David Mitchell
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.48
300 used & new from $0.86

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written set of interlinked short stories - NOT a novel!, February 10, 2012
This review is from: Cloud Atlas: A Novel (Paperback)
Last night I finally finished `Cloud Atlas'. I say finally, because I started it over a month ago. My progress was initially good, whipping through nearly half of it over the course of a few days. Then my interest started to wane, Christmas and all its trappings arrived, and the book got put on hold. Once I settled down to finish it, nearly a month later, the pages turned easily enough, but I can see why my interest started to sputter out when it did.

Oh, that's not to say `Cloud Atlas' isn't a good book. It is; the writing is brilliant, the characters and settings and style are all vivid and engaging, the multiple genres are all well executed (although sometimes it seems an exercise in look-how-talented-I-am by the author. What can I say? He is very talented). I am entirely unsurprised to see it's been nominated for awards left, right, and centre. What this book lacks is an overarching plot. Call me old-fashioned, but I like a good plot in my books.

It makes me a little uneasy, confessing to this opinion. After all, who am I to criticise? If I'm insanely lucky I might one day write a book half as good as `Cloud Atlas'. And criticising something so obviously `literary' and `deep' probably marks me as someone too thick to `get it'.

Maybe there was a plot, maybe I just missed it. I probably would have felt less unsatisfied by this book if there'd been a description on it somewhere that read something like this:

"This book is a collection of loosely connected short-stories with common themes. The first half of the book comprises the first half of each short story, moving forward in chronological order. At the mid-point the second-half of the stories starts to unfold, moving backwards in time."

If I had known this was a book of short stories when I started it, I wouldn't have wasted so much time and energy waiting and searching for the overarching plot.

I did like the device of having to wait for the second half of the book to get the finale of each short story - it certainly heightened the suspense and anticipation. However, as I was convinced that the short stories would all converge in the second half of the book into one glorious climax, hopefully involving time-travel and reincarnation, I was a little taken aback when each story stayed distinct and the book thus ended with a fizzle rather than a bang.

My favourite short story would have to be the penultimate sci-fi flavoured one, featuring a world of 'fabricants' (human clones) who are slaves designed to fill menial service roles. I wish there had been a whole book about that world, rather than a single glimpse.

Overall, this is a very well-written book. If you like 'puzzles', good writing, 'literary' books and don't mind switching genres willy-nilly then this is probably one for you. If you're a fan of the more conventional tale, it may not be your cup of tea.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 24, 2012 9:45 PM PST

Shadowfever (Fever Series Book 5)
Shadowfever (Fever Series Book 5)
by Karen Marie Moning
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19
119 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent urban fantasy....horrible romance, February 10, 2012
This is really a review for the series as a whole, as I read all the books over a five day period and can no longer distinguish them from each other in my mind.

First off, let me be clear that I think this series is a very good urban fantasy and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys that genre. The series is very well thought out; the world, the mythology, the twists and turns basically meant I got very little sleep over that five day period. I HAD to know how it all ended! I particularly like all the celtic faerie mythology woven into it, and the focus on the dark aspects of faerie (beauty does not equal goodness).

However, I have to have a wee side rant here:

(1) I HATE Jericho Barrons as a love interest! I love him as a character (he's got so many facets it's hard not to be intrigued by him) but I think he's rubbish as a romantic hero. I was hoping against hope that the "happily ever after" for Mac would be her becoming a strong, independent woman. Strong enough to realise that even though she might be sexually attracted to Barrons, he's ultimately a b*stard that would make very bad partner material.

(2) My GOD can Mac be irritating! This is both a good and a bad thing. Good because she feels like a realistic character (she has deep flaws and she grows as a character over the course of the books). Bad because her flaws sometimes make her stupid, judgemental, and frustrating to deal with.

The Rogue (The Traitor Spy Trilogy)
The Rogue (The Traitor Spy Trilogy)
by Trudi Canavan
Edition: Hardcover
85 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A solid middle book in the trilogy, January 5, 2012
'The Rogue' picks up where 'The Ambassador's Mission' left off. This book is a solid 'middle' book - a few questions are answered, more questions are raised, everyone progresses a little bit and a few sub-plots are resolved, but the majority of plot-thread resolution is left for the final book.

I've really enjoyed all of Trudy Canavan's books set in this world - they're not the most complex fantasy books out there, but they are very readable, there are many likeable characters, and the societies and systems of magic are interesting. This book fits that mould nicely. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of the final book 'The Traitor Queen'.

by Richelle Mead
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.05
183 used & new from $0.08

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just Vampire Academy 2.0, September 9, 2011
This review is from: Bloodlines (Hardcover)
For those worried Bloodlines is simply Vampire Academy 2.0 have no fear; Bloodlines is as different from Vampire Academy as Sydney is from Rose. And what a breath of fresh air Sydney is! Whilst I loved Rose for her own traits, Sydney makes this book so much more than just another vampires-at-high-school novel.

Things to love:
- Sydney. Sydney is mature, subtle and less 'bullish' than Rose with a core of inner strength that shines through.
-The alchemists. They have a fascinating mythos that is fleshed out somewhat in Bloodlines.
- Adrian. Mead does an excellent job of portraying the tragedy and selfishness of someone with an addictive personality. I will enjoy (hopefully) seeing him grow up and take responsibility for himself (because let's face it, he acts like an immature 15 year old even though he's in his twenties).

Things to love not-so-much:
- Adrian (yes he is appears on both lists). Alcoholic, unreliable and immature don't equal romantic in my book. Whilst nothing substantial happens in this book, there are hints that Adrian will play a major romantic role in the series. This reminds me of those sad relationships where the girlfriend goes out with a no-hoper thinking she can 'save' the boy from himself. Please don't let this series be about Adrian being 'saved' through The Power of Love!!! He has a lot of growing up to do before he'll be ready for a relationship of equals.

That said, Bloodlines is an enjoyable addition to the Vampire Academy world and I recommend it to fans of that series. Eagerly awaiting the next one.

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive)
The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive)
by Brandon Sanderson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $5.44
91 used & new from $3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Full of win, August 26, 2011
I love all of Brandon Sanderson's previous works, but he reaches new heights of sheer awesomesomeness with The Way of Kings. The world is stunningly well-realised, the magic original, the plot gripping and unexpected, and the characters tug at your heart-strings. Loved it. It has taken its place on my list of favourite books ever. If you love fantasy you simply must read this book.

The Bone Doll's Twin (Tamir Trilogy, Book 1)
The Bone Doll's Twin (Tamir Trilogy, Book 1)
by Lynn Flewelling
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19
141 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and gripping, May 27, 2011
Long ago a prophecy was made; as long as a Queen of the royal line sits on the throne the kingdom will prosper. Unfortunately, when the last Queen died her adult son took the crown for himself, rather than letting it pass to his three-year-old sister according to custom. His reign has been plagued by war, plague, famine etc (the gender bias of the Gods has not so far been explained - currently I'm left with the rather unfortunate implication that the Gods are semi-sadistic man-haters. Oh well, it's not the characters' fault that this is the reality they have to deal with).

The wizard Iya recieves a vision that promises peace and prosperity if the throne is returned to the female line. To prevent such a thing from happening, the King has been busily killing off his female relatives with the exception of his sister, who he retains an affection for. His forbearance does not extend to any female offspring she might have. So when the King's sister bears twins - a boy and a girl - the wizards delve into dark magic to diguise the girl's sex. This requires the death of the boy child. The binding between the dead and living results in an unquiet ghost, understandably angry at his murder.

The Bone Doll's Twin is the story of Tobin growing up, unaware of her true sex and the dark secret of her birth, and haunted by the "demon" - the ghost of her dead brother. The story is dark and gripping and you can't help rooting for Toby whilst pitying the malevolent ghost of her brother. The characters are beautifully drawn and the book explores interesting questions of gender identity and 'does the end justify the means?'. I read the book in one sitting and intend to put my hands on the next two in the trilogy as quickly as I can!

Dragongirl (The Dragonriders of Pern)
Dragongirl (The Dragonriders of Pern)
by Todd J. McCaffrey
Edition: Hardcover
115 used & new from $0.01

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacking in substance, March 3, 2011
This book was disappointing. After suffering through the first few of Todd's solo books I felt that he was finally beginning to get it together with the last one(Dragonheart?). I hoped to see him improve further with Dragongirl. Not so. This book was...well...meh.

Nothing really happens in it. Fiona, now three turns older, returns to the present time.

Dragons are still dying of plague but of course we already know how that's solved so there's no real tension there. We just rehash a plotline from a previous book from a new point of view.

We get a bit of oddly forced romance with Fiona, Kindan and Lorana, but there's no real conflict or plot there either. And is it just me or are the three of them starting to seem like exactly the same character?

Once the plague is solved there is still the problem of too many dragons dying from thread. At least this adds some tension to the book [though I object to the inconsistency with Anne's books; yes thread killed and maimed riders and dragons, but not the degree that it happens in this one. Why are these dragons/riders so much more fail than the ones in say, Dragonflight?]. However, this plotline [is it a plotline? Can it be a plotline if nothing happens?] goes roughly like this:

Thread happens: multiple dragon/rider pairs die
There is much wringing of hands and "We're losing dragons at a faster rate than we're replacing them! Woe is us!"
Thread happens: multiple dragon/rider pairs die
There is much wringing of hands and "We're losing dragons at a faster rate than we're replacing them! Woe is us!"
Rinse & repeat

This is honestly all that happens, along with some heavy-handed foreshadowing of what the ultimate solution will be.

Do we get to see that solution? Nope. The book ends on a cliffhanger just when something FINALLY happens.

Not impressed. Not impressed at all. I see no reason why this book needed to be as long as it did [seriously, it could have been condensed into like 5 chapters. At most.] and even less reason to leave the rest of the story to another book. If I were a more cynical soul I would suspect this was a blatant attempt to force readers to buy the next book in order to find out how this one ends. I feel cheated. I have received only half a book. Not even half a book. A quarter of a book. A rough outline draft. At hardback price.

The only positive comment I can think to make is that Todd's writing is still improving [though he has a long way to go yet] and it does make this book more readable than some of its predecessors. The writing's improved enough that I am actually interested to see how it ends but I'm so pissed off about Dragongirl's lack of substance that I don't know if I can bring myself to buy the next one. Maybe if I see it in the library I'll read it [which should be about 5 years after it gets published, knowing my library].

So in terms of recommendations: If you're still hanging in there on this series and really want to read it I'd wait till the next one comes out and tape them together to make a complete book.

Lady of Light and Shadows (Tairen Soul)
Lady of Light and Shadows (Tairen Soul)
by C. L. Wilson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19
111 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant fantasy romance, January 10, 2011
I very nearly didn't continue this series after reading the first one. The first one was a tad dull for me - too much focus on romance and world building and not enough "action" for lack of a better term. I like a good dash of romance in my books but I quickly get bored if there's nothing else. I prefer a heavier focus on the fantasy than the romance, and fortunately this one delivered.

Unlike the first one, 'Lady of Light and Shadows' never feels like it's dragging and the fantasy elements of the story are given more weight than in the previous installment. Of course, it is still primarily romance rather than fantasy - but I felt like this book found a happier balance between the two.

'Lady of Light and Shadows' continues Ellysetta's journey towards her wedding day. Intertwined with the romance between Ellysetta and Rain are many interesting subplots; Queen Annoura's growing distrust of her husband exacerbated by the machinations of the Eld; growing suspicion of the Fey people by the Celerians; escalating tensions between Elysetta and her mother; political pressure to open the borders to Eld; and further revelations regarding Ellysetta's origins. We also meet one of the exiled fey. So there's a lot of "action" in this book, and whilst it comes to a satisfying conclusion it left me very eager to read the next one

Criticisms that comes to mind:

- Overuse of certain words such as "fey" and "tairen". The author has a tendency to use these words at least once in every sentence during scenes where a fey is present, as if concerned the reader might forget that this is a non-human race. Hopefully this lessens in further books.

- Be warned that the heroine is a Mary Sue, so if you strongly dislike Mary Sues in your books this series is not for you. For me the book had enough good qualities to outweigh this factor.

Overall, a very enjoyable read that I would recommend to readers of fantasy who like a good dose of romance in their books and don't mind something "brain candy-ish".

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