Tag Archives: 5/5

Son of the Shadows by Juliet Mariller

Son of the Shadows (Sevenwaters #2) by Juliet Marillier
Published in 2000 (this edition 2011) by HarperCollins.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: historical fantasy.

My rating:

Son of the Shadows takes up the story of the children of Sorcha, who saved her enchanted brothers, and Hugh, the Briton she married. Sorcha’s daughter Liadan is a gifted seer and healer who thinks, in spite of her visions, that she knows what the future has in store for her–caring for her dying mother and then an alliance marriage to Eamonn. A chance meeting on the road carries her off to care for a dying man–one of the mercenaries of the sinister Painted Man, Eamonn’s archenemy and a killer for hire. Liadan discovers that she cannot choose whom she loves and that she and the Painted Man are as bound up in destiny as her mother and father were before her.

zmaj-desnoThis is the review for the second part of the Sevenwaters trilogy, so there are sure to be SERIOUS SPOILERS for book one. If you’re new to this series, I highly recommend clicking over to my review of Daughter of the Forest, then going out and buying the damn book, because it’s beautiful. And then we’ll chat! :) For those of you who’ve already read the first book, this review should be quite safe.

Well, I’ve been waiting to write this review for two weeks now – because I can’t exactly put my words into order. I’ll try my best but if I gush excessively, please be gentle. ;)

I LOVED Son of the Shadows. Marillier is absolutely the best author I’ve discovered in the last six months and it doesn’t even bother me that her books are pretty long. I chewed through this one in about four days, which is incredible for my current reading schedule, which consists of stolen moments here and there because my life is crazy.

Daughter of the Forest was a wonderful tale but it was also tragical – so it was interesting to see that Son of the Shadows had a different tone. I liked Sorcha as a narrator a lot, her story was moving and heartbreaking and I rooted for her from the beginning. But Liadan was maybe more to my taste in that she is such a decisive young woman. She makes no apologies for her actions, she stands her ground even against the rules of patriarchy, and is very good at what she does.

I did feel like maybe she was too mature at times for a seventeen-year-old, but then the times were different and girls got married at that age and had babies and everything, so it’s not surprising Marillier chose to make her protagonist as young as her mother was when her story began in the first book.

The love story in this book was as gripping as the romance between Red and Sorcha – and I fell for this guy (I’m not saying who he is because it would spoil everything) along with Liadan. But I loved seeing Red as well, he is such a fantastic character – loyal and loving but also flawed. Ahh.

I like that Marillier isn’t afraid to touch on the dark side of the era – the wars, the mistreatment of women, the treachery, and political intrigue. Of course there is some romanticizing of the past but she really brings the setting to life. And now I want to travel to Ireland as soon as possible.

The mythology – and the magic – is very interesting, too. The old Irish druidic lore is nature based, which I love, and I like the fact that Marillier treats gifted individuals much like she does the “ordinary” folk: they make mistakes, they’re flawed, they’re never all-knowing or all-seeing. Their gifts are unpredictable and though there are prophecies and lots of talk about fate, people get to choose their own path (this is another reason I loved Liadan – she just follows her own gut!).

In any case, you should really give this series a try if you can. I will be reading the last part of the original trilogy, Child of the Prophecy, very soon, I think. I want to know what happens! And Marillier has gained a place among my favourite authors for sure. I really want to give her other series a try.

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Have you read Son of the Shadows? What did you think?

Do you have any good historical fantasy recommendations for me? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard #2) by Scott Lynch
Published in 2007 by Gollanz.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: high fantasy.

My rating:

Thief and con-man extraordinaire, Locke Lamora, and the ever lethal Jean Tannen have fled their home city and the wreckage of their lives. But they can’t run forever and when they stop they decide to head for the richest, and most difficult, target on the horizon. The city state of Tal Verarr. And the Sinspire.

The Sinspire is the ultimate gambling house. No-one has stolen so much as a single coin from it and lived. It’s the sort of challenge Locke simply can’t resist … but Locke’s perfect crime is going to have to wait.

Someone else in Tal Verarr wants the Gentleman Bastards’ expertise and is quite prepared to kill them to get it. Before long, Locke and Jean find themselves engaged in piracy. Fine work for thieves who don’t know one end of a galley from another.

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This is the review for the second book in the series, so it will UNDOUBTEDLY contain SERIOUS spoilers for book one. If you haven’t read The Lies of Locke Lamora yet, you can check out my review here! This is a part of the Bastard read-along, which is taking us way more time than is seemly (mostly because it took me four months to finish re-reading this book!). I strongly urge you to go check out DJ’s review – he’s the other side of this adventure, reading the books for the first time (unlike me), so he’s bound to have a different perspective!

The first half of this re-read was really slow for me. I had other interesting books to read and I remembered just enough of the story to be disinterested – I think that if I’d forgotten more of it, it would have been better. I’m not sure whether this was my second or third time reading the book – did I re-read it before I read The Republic of Thieves? Who knows. Goodreads still doesn’t have a “currently re-reading” option, which is a pity, because I re-read a lot.

I found the lack of other Gentleman Bastards to be a serious flaw of this first half of the book. I love Locke, I really do (he’s one of my all-time favourite characters), and Jean is a fantastic sidekick, but Calo, Galdo, and Bug offered comic relief, filled in the dialogue, made everything better, in short. So I was really glad when the second half of the story – the pirate part! – began, as Locke and Jean finally got a crew, even though it was vastly different from what they were used to.

I have to say this: knowing that I’ll probably be translating this book at some point, I was horrified by the amount of nautical lingo in the story. I saw Lynch’s note at the end, saying he bluffed through half of it, so I suppose I’ll have to do the same and not worry too much, but I’m already planning on kidnapping someone with nautical knowledge and keeping them captive until they explain all the sea stuff to me. Because I know nothing about ships. I get seasick, people.

Locke’s schemes are as elaborate as ever but I liked that there was always something to take him down a notch (like being poisoned, huh), he can be a cocky bastard. Jean’s development in this second book is also great, he’s no longer content to just follow Locke blindly around. Oh, I wish him well, he’s such a marshmallow, my heart broke for him. *sob*

The ladies of Red Seas were a breath of fresh air compared to The Lies, which only had one female character (I think Nazca was the only one? Okay, there were the Berangias sisters, but still.). Captain Zamira Drakasha and Lieutenant Ezri Delmastro were fantastic. PIRATES! Lady pirates! Lady pirates with small kids! I do hope we get to see The Poison Orchid again at some point in the series.

The story ends with a bang, that’s for sure, and though I know what’s coming next, I’m excited to read The Republic of Thieves, which I have definitely only read once. DJ and I will be reading it during the summer, I think, and posting our reviews sometime before The Thorn of Emberlain is published on September 22. Though when exactly that will be, I can’t say for sure: DJ is starting med school during the summer and my baby is due on August 25. :D Lots of things happening!

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Have you read Red Seas under Red Skies? What did you think?

Do you like stories about outlaws like pirates and thieves? Why do you think such morally ambiguous characters are so appealing?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song (Mosters of Verity #1) by Victoria (V. E.) Schwab
Published June 7 by Titan Books.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: paperback via publisher. Thank you Titan Books for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: YA urban fantasy.

My rating:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But secrets are fragile and Kate and August might have a common enemy after all.

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First of all, if you hate spoilers, don’t read the Goodreads synopsis. It’s not huge or anything (and I edited some of it out of the text up there) but I went into this book completely blind (my favourite lately) and I’m really glad I did.

I was extremely lucky and received a finished paperback copy from Titan Books, which is the edition I would order in any case as I usually order UK editions whenever possible. It’s gorgeous – and it comes out a full month earlier than its US counterpart. So if you live in the US, you’ll have to wait a bit longer, sorry. Also, indicate if you comments contain spoilers if you’ve read it already! :)

Victoria Schwab has now firmly rooted herself as one of my all-time favourite authors. Not just fantasy authors, either. Her books are auto-buy for me and if I have complaints (which you know I invariably do), they’re always superficial. Her writing, her imagination, her characters – they shine, people. I always have crazy high expectations, too, which is really unfair, but she delivers every single time. And as much as I love light-hearted books with happy endings, she makes me crave more of the heavy stuff because I can tell you, the dark side is looking pretty damn fine when she’s waving from over there.

This Savage Song is the first part of a duology, which I like a lot since the story will be much tighter this way. It’s action-packed and very intriguing, but Schwab also takes a moment to ponder the questions of good and evil, of monsters and humans, which seem to be present in most of her work (if you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend Vicious). As I said earlier, the writing is beautiful and the inclusion of music as a magical component is brilliant. I’m not much of a musician myself (*cough* understatement) but I do appreciate it as an art form.

The world she builds is a very interesting one. It’s a sort of a post-apocalyptic society based in North America, with super-cities and strange zones where no sensible human ever ventures unless enclosed in an armoured vehicle. The monsters are created in a unique fashion: they are the products of violent acts that humans commit. I enjoyed her world-building immensely, especially as there seem to be no large info dumps which can often be a problem when an entirely new society is being introduced.

Kate and August are great characters. I liked them a lot but perhaps felt more of a connection with August than with Kate. The only complaint I have about this book would be about Kate, actually, since Schwab seems to be veering towards writing a type of a girl character: Kate reminded me of both Lila and Mac at times. They are all fiercely independent – so fiercely, in fact, that they wear their self-sufficiency like armor and refuse to let anyone in. Kate does make some decisions that give me hope, though, and I can’t wait to see how she’ll develop in the sequel. August, however, is one of those “I want to hug you and feed you cake” characters, I love them when they’re a bit damaged – what that says about me is a discussion for another time.

Even the villains of the story are fantastic. Can they be called villains, really? Yeah, some of them, definitely, but others are so, so different. I’m not going to name any names because I want you to have an unspoiled experience of this book. You really should just buy/borrow/get your hands on it any way you can and then we’ll chat, okay? 

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Have you read This Savage Song? What did you think?

Do you prefer your villains to be all bad or are you all for morally grey characters?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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An Ode to The Accident Season

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I know some of you will remember my review of Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s The Accident Season from last year. I read the ARC during a summer heat wave, while we were spending an unreasonably hot day by this little river in the forest. It seemed to me at the time that I must have found the perfect moment to read it because I felt it pull me in and hook its claws.

But now I won a paperback in a giveaway and decided to give it a re-read before lending it to a friend, despite the fact that I rarely re-read books so soon (especially if I’m not re-reading because there’s a sequel coming up). And you know what?

It’s still one of the best books I’ve read in the last couple of years.

I don’t even know why I rated it with 4.5 instead of 5 stars (hearts) when I read it, I just know it’s one of the books I’ve been recommending to everyone and if you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favour and get a copy because it’s fantastic. It made my “best of” list of 2015 and I’ve been thinking about it ever since I read it, which is always a good sign for me. As some of you are well aware, I have terrible book amnesia and forget some books almost instantly. This one stuck with me and it won’t let go.

On the surface (or rather in the beginning), The Accident Season sounds like a teenage paranormal romance but it’s much more complex than that. I love that it’s a standalone and yet manages to have well-developed characters, a heart-breaking plot, and stunning language.

Have I mentioned that it’s also Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s debut novel? I think I have only read one other debut novel that I liked this much – The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab. It was the first book of hers that I read and I can only hope that I’ll continue falling in love with Fowley-Doyle’s books like I did with Schwab’s.

Anyway. I can now safely say that my mood (though otherwise very important when it comes to book choices) had little to do with my loving this book. It’s just a very good young adult novel and I am very glad that I got to read the ARC. I’m also happy I decided on this re-read because I like returning to characters and stories that speak to me.

Moïra’s next novel, which now has a title (!!!!!), Spellbook of the Lost and Found, is supposed to be similar in vibe but completely different in other aspects. I can’t wait to read it! You can find Moïra here: websitetwitterinstagramtumblr.

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Have you read The Accident Season? What did you think?

What was the last book that stayed with you like this?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Saga (Vol 1-4) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Saga (Saga Volumes 1-4) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Published in 2012-2015 by Image Comics.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: sci-fi graphic novel.

My rating:

Saga is an epic space opera/fantasy comic book series created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples. The series is heavily influenced by Star Wars, and based on ideas Vaughan conceived both as a child and as a parent. It depicts two lovers from long-warring extraterrestrial races, Alana and Marko, fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to care for their newborn daughter, Hazel, who occasionally narrates the series.

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saga22015 was the year of trying out new things (sort of), which included graphic novels. I hit jackpot with my first choice (Nimona was fantastic) and continued to have good luck with Saga. This is an ongoing series with five currently published “volumes” (each includes six chapters which are also published separately, as far as I can tell) while the sixth is scheduled to appear this year. I have read four of them and will be buying the sequel soon. 

I gave five stars/hearts to the first three parts and four to the fourth; I thought the story is getting a bit too fragmented – and batshit crazy, if you’ll forgive me for saying so. Space is a vast playground and it’s easy to get lost if you don’t take care – and it just looks like the authors are opening some doors that will require a lot of energy to close. I’m not sure how many parts there will be or if the authors even know that (I did no research on the matter, sorry), but they seem to be pushing ahead at full steam with no end in sight.

saga3This is the story of a family where the mother and father are from opposite sides of a decades-long war. Their baby, Hazel, who is the narrator of the story, is probably the first child of mixed race (ever? in a while? who knows?) and very dangerous because of it. So people are out to get them, assassins are hired, and there are some ex-lovers thrown into the mix so it gets more fun. And while I do understand why the authors wish to give the side characters their separate stories, their lives sometimes take up valuable page time (I find that in comics, economy is key. Everything just takes such a long time to say! Pictures take up way more page space than words.).

But I love the main story. I mean, both Marko and Alana make some spectacularly bad decisions in part 4, but their lives are hardly easy. Hazel is an interesting narrator, she reports on everything, including her parents’ sex lives, which is kind of weird. I do wonder how far into her life the story will go – she’s currently still a toddler! :) And space toddlers aren’t that different from human, Earth-born toddlers, let me tell you that.

saga4The story is hilarious. It’s also really gruesome sometimes (seriously, there is a lot of gore, you’ve been warned) and very, very explicit when it comes to sex. I think this might be a part of its attraction? Most of the characters have really unusual sexual lives, I liked this exploration into non-heterosexual territories, especially when it came to couples who belong to completely different species (though why anyone would want to get involved with a sexy spider is beyond me). I do think a lot of these scenes are there to shock and amuse and hardly contribute to the main story, but they have this pulpy quality to them that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

I like the artwork, it’s crazy imaginative and very expressive. I haven’t read enough graphic novels to really form a personal taste in comic book illustrators, but I can say that it’s very different from Nimona, for example, which has a much cleaner style. Both are great and I think they serve their genres well. 

I’ll definitely be continuing with the series though I should really check out how many parts it’s supposed to have, just so I have some timeframe in mind. 

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Have you read Saga? Did you enjoy it?

Do you have other graphic novel recommendations that I might enjoy?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V. E. Schwab
Published February 2016 by Titan Books.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: historical fantasy.

My rating:

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

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It’s no secret that Victoria Schwab is one of my all-time favourite authors. Becky and I even did an Author Addiction post on her and I gushed about her writing. So A Gathering of Shadows was, without a doubt, my most anticipated book of early 2016 (rivalled, perhaps, only by The Thorn of Emberlain, which is supposedly being published in July). 

I’m going to do a two-part review here, mostly because I want all of you to be able to read at least a part of it. The first part is spoiler free, but it does contain spoilers for A Darker Shade of Magic (you can read my review for the first part). The second part – clearly marked – contains spoilers because I want to discuss some specific plot points with those who have already finished it (I guess a lot of you have, anyway). I was SO SCARED of reading a spoiler myself, I nearly stopped following some people and thought about blocking some hashtags (this is why I was so eager to read the book as soon as possible). But I made it! And I’d never spoil things for you, but you have to promise me you won’t read the second part of the review if you haven’t read AGOS yet, okay? 

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THE SPOILER-FREE PART

Victoria Schwab has managed to keep me on my toes for the entire novel. It’s rare that a book entirely lives up to its hype (at least for me), but she made it work. I re-read A Darker Shade of Magic prior to starting the sequel, which was a good idea as it put me in just the right mood. Her style is still fantastic and she’s a master (mistress?) of pacing – the tempo of the story is just great and makes it really hard to put the book down. 

The story picks up four months after Lila left London – and Kell. She has almost fulfilled her goal of becoming a pirate captain and is sailing the seas with a cool crew, already building a reputation of her own. She’s the Lila we know and love – sharp, guarded, and lethal – but she’s learned some new skills and is trying to figure out whether belonging to a crew is a good thing or a hindrance.

Kell has twined his life with Rhy’s when he saved his brother from dying. But neither of them knew they would be feeling each other’s pain and other feelings, too, not just sharing a life force. The encounter with the dark magic has left him with a restless energy that seems to be searching for a way out – and then Rhy provides him with a perfect solution (which turns out to be less than perfect, of course). 

I liked the addition of new characters though I did wish for more women in the main action. The scope of the world also changes, widening from the four Londons to encompass more of Arnes (the country of which Red London is the capital). I liked reading about that, it’s always good to see more of the world.

All in all, this was a fantastic second part of the trilogy and I can’t wait for the final instalment. I can’t believe we’ll have to wait for a year! 

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HERE BE SERIOUS SPOILERS

So. You didn’t think I’d write all that praise without pointing out what bugged me, did you? :) If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear your take on these issues – they weren’t deal breakers for me, not at all, the book is still definitely a 5-star/heart read for me, but they were things that popped up when I was reading.

First of all: did the tournament really move the plot forward? Half the book (or so it seems) is about the Element Games and while it was good to give both Kell and Lila a playground on which they could test their abilities (Lila especially), I found that it didn’t really bring anything to the overall plot of the series. Look, it was great to watch the duels – but the only plot that really moves forward is the White London parts, which were possibly the least interesting (because there was no Kell or Lila or Rhy). 

This brings me to my second point: Lila and the women of the world. I know (IknowIknowIknow) she’s all about being alone and independent and that this fact is both her greatest strength and greatest weakness, but I wish there were more important female characters in the story. Okay, so Ojka looks like she might get a larger part in book 3 but she’s essentially a puppet, then there’s Calla, the seamstress who sees too much and knows not to comment, and the Queen, who doesn’t have a really big role at all. I’d hoped Kisimyr, at least, would be a more important player. I would love to have found out more about her. But none of these women touch Kell and Lila’s story (except Ojka, but we know she’s Holland’s tool). 

But wow, that ending! As Victoria wrote in the acknowledgments, she hasn’t finished a novel on a cliffhanger yet, but now she definitely made up for that. I knew something horrible was going to happen even without the “catastrophe” chapter title, but this really makes me wonder how they’ll be able to defeat that murderous shadow monster. What are you planning, Victoria?! Oh, it’ll be agony to wait for a year for the final part. 

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So, I’d love to hear your thoughts – whether you’ve already finished this part or not. 

Did the book meet your expectations? Were they crazy high?

Tell me all! :)

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