Friday, January 27, 2017

Review: Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

Did Not Finish Red Queen (Red Queen book 1) by Victoria Aveyard.

This book comes highly recommended two years ago. The good reviews and high ratings tempt me to start on this new Young Adult urban fantasy series amid my long list of to-be-read. Two years later, I finally delve into reading that which everyone has been raving about. And I am sorely disappointed.

The story starts off well, what with the Reds and the Silvers, and the division between them. I thought I will enjoy the story through and through until I reach the part where the protagonist is - figuratively speaking - forced to be a sheep pretending to be a wolf. And that is where the plot starts to crumble. Still, I struggle on. There must be good reasons for all the great reviews, right? Hang on there. 30%.. 40%... 50%. Argh! I give up.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Review: Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) by Ilona Andrews

5 stars for Magic Binds (Kate Daniels book 9) by Ilona Andrews.

5 HUGE stars!

Kate Daniels is a series that continues to surprise me. Every single time.

Nine books running and the worldbuilding, the art of creating an alternate universe where the rules of present-day Earth life do not apply, is still astoundingly strong. The connection between Kate and the rest of the characters maintains that carefully threaded fine line but yet the past, present and future, all meld into one and everything just falls into place beautifully.

The swordplay and display of magic are as captivating as I remember them to be, if not better. There is never a dull moment in the fight scenes. Each strike, each parry draws me into Kate's world and subtly preps me for the eventual showdown. I am so utterly absorbed in Kate's magic that pulling myself out from that alternate world back into the light of reality delivers a sharp jolt with ensuing emptiness.

And then, there is the Nostalgia Factor. The authors are so effective in evoking the past Magic memories that I feel like rereading the entire series from scratch. Yes, that will be wonderful. I will like to do that some day. One day.

It seems that everything in Magic Binds is.. done to perfection. But wait.. Not quite there.. Because I notice an increasing use of profanity. Is it just me or has it always been so, but I honestly do not recall much use of bad language in any of the earlier books. I understand the need to stockpile and release anger aplenty in this book but surely the more than generous use of swear words is unwarranted since readers can feel infinitely the rise and fall of the tempest as it rages. Yes, I cringe every time the four-letter words pop up and try my best to gloss over them. I hope, with all my heart, that this is just a passing phrase in Kate's world and not the beginning of strong language in the Kate Daniels series to come.

Regardless of my last comment, I am in no bind to drop my rating for Magic Binds. 5 stars it is. 5 HUGE stars.

I love this series so. What am I to do when it comes to a permanent close one day?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Kick-start 2017: Add-ons to my book collection

Kick-start 2017 with mint condition add-ons to my book collection:-

(1) Mythology by Edith Hamilton

(2) D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d'Aulaire and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire

(3) D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths by Ingri d'Aulaire and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire

(4) Percy Jackson and the Olympians (5-book Boxed Set) by Rick Riordan
      1. The Lightning Thief
      2. The Sea of Monsters
      3. The Titan's Curse
      4. The Battle of the Labyrinth
      5. The Last Olympian

(5) Percy Jackson's Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

(6) The Kane Chronicles (3-book Boxed set) by Rick Riordan
      1. The Red Pyramid
      2. The Throne of Fire
      3. The Serpent's Shadow


Additions in the last month of 2016:-

(1) A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
(2) My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

P/s: I place my online order on 7 Jan 2017 (ETA: 25 Jan) and receive all the books in good condition 10 days later, 7 minus the weekends. I am happy beyond words.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Review: Breath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles Trilogy #2) by Amanda Bouchet

2.5 stars for Breath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles Trilogy book 2) by Amanda Bouchet.

I dread writing this review. Seriously, I do not enjoy singing the praises of a debut author in one review and then turn around to criticise the same author in my next post. But still, I grit my teeth and get it done.

Having thoroughly enjoyed Book 1 Promise of Fire, this book is a disappointment. I feel bad for saying this but the author has set the bar too high in book one of the trilogy which, unfortunately, cannot be kept up to in the subsequent instalment.

Though I still enjoy the story, there are actually more things to dislike than like in Breath of Fire. More often than not, I feel like I am the one breathing fire because the story does not seem to get moving. The dynamics and special relationship between the protagonist and the hero is overplayed; whereas in book 1, it ignites fire and makes my heart skip a beat, in this book, it sets fire and makes my blood boil instead. To put it simply, the story goes stale - as the chemistry between the lovey-dovey duo fizzles out - because it feels like listening in to a radio station that has gone haywire and kept looping the same songs over and over.

Above all, I cannot help but feel that the story and plot mirrors that of my favourite Kate Daniels series by author Ilona Andrews; the gladiator style Agon games bears too much resemblance to the Midnight games in Magic Strikes. It is not in me to compare authors and their books as I have never done so in any of my earlier reviews. I guess the increasing lack of originality brings out the worst in me. But I am sure hard-core fans of Kate Daniels will agree with me.

A fantasy romance that oft feels much more like an urban fantasy, I am not sure if I will have the heart to read and review the final book, Heart on Fire, which is likely to be published and available one year from now.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Review: A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles Trilogy #1) by Amanda Bouchet

5 stars for A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles Trilogy book 1) by Amanda Bouchet.

It has been a long time since I last read a fantasy novel. Add in the romance and the idea of starting the year with a fantasy romance story appeals to me no end.

Naturally I am wary of my choice author as not many can get away with striking a good balance between fantasy and romance. As it turns out, this debut author exceeds my expectations. A Promise of Fire starts out promising and continues to live up to its promise right down to the last page. I am not only awed by the fluid writing that emits sparks of fire and magic at every turn of the story, my heart flutters and is set aflame at practically every turn of the page.

So, what - or rather, who - is a Kingmaker? A Kingmaker is a person who brings leaders to power through the exercise of political influence, without being a viable candidate. Here, the Kingmaker is a woman who hears the lie and knows the truth and is sought after by many to assist in royal succession. Long story short, it is about Power Bid.

The author does a fantastic job crafting the three realms (Sinta, Tarva and Fisa) and breathing life into each of the characters through the use of Greek mythology which I so love. We have Cerberus (the three-headed Hound of Hades), Charon (the Ferryman of Hades), Athena (the Greek Goddess of Wisdom and War), Poseidon (the God of the Sea) and Zeus (the God of the Sky and ruler of the Olympian Gods) to name a few. The author's choice of Greek myth fascinates me so much so that I have a strong desire to read up more on the ancient Greeks, their origins and the lives and adventures of their gods, goddesses, heroes, heroines and mythological creatures.

This novel is flawless on all counts, almost that is, and unquestionably a good genre and splendid story to start the year with. *** Spoiler Alert *** The only grievance I have is the excessive graphic account of steamy scenes in the later part of the book. However, there is the good that results from these encounters as it does not all go downhill from there. It actually makes the heroine more vulnerable and the story even more forward looking.

A Promise of Fire, a fabulous book to start the year with. A promise to a great story which guarantees to set the reader on fire. I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy - the dead tree version - of book 2 Breath of Fire.

P/s: Ophs! I know I'm supposed to keep it short and sweet. This review is still sweet, just not that short. Sorry guys, I can't help it.. 👅