Hello, fellow bookworms! So it turns out that launching a blog while simultaneously starting my own candle business is a lot trickier to balance than I thought. I’ve still managed to read a few books since I last wrote any reviews – 8 to be precise. We readers always find the time, eh? In an attempt to catch up on reviews, I’m going to do four in one post. Buckle up!
The first quick review I have for you is Master of Sorrows by Justin Call. It’s a debut fantasy epic set in the secluded village of Chaenbalu. Ainnevog is training to be an Avatar – basically a ninja who steals magical artefacts from around the world to prevent them falling into the wrong hands. Magic is regarded with the deepest hatred and suspicion in his village, which is a problem for Annev. He was born without one of his arms, which means he’s got magic and has been marked by the evil god Keos. He has been protected since birth by the village priest, Sodar, who has secrets of his own. Wearing a magic prosthetic, he tries to blend in with the other students. He struggles with trying to live up to the disparate expectations of his magical mentor and the Master Avatars.
I wanted to like this book, honestly. Master of Sorrows simply fell flat for a few reasons that I can’t ignore:
- The characters were very stereotypical. The main character was billed as being the good guy struggling against an evil destiny, but that didn’t come across at all. He was just your typical irritating, naive orphan boy. There was the authority figure who turned out to be bad, the grumpy old mentor, the plucky side kicks, the enemy that became the ally, the love interest, and the indistinct evil force that only shows up at the end (kind of).
- Long sections were dedicated to background info dumping which I found really boring and really slowed the pace of the plot.
- The plot was laughably predictable.
I did like the concept of the Avatar school and it was well fleshed-out. There were interesting types of magic but in the end the good aspects of this book didn’t outweigh the bad. 2/5 stars.
Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have done it again. Illuminae, Gemina, and Obsidio were some of my favourite reads of the last few years, so I was wary of over-hyping myself for Aurora Rising. How would another motley-crew of underage space heroes ever compare to the original squad? I needn’t have worried! It was every bit as adrenaline inducing as their last collaboration (and I can’t wait for more).
I loved the cast of characters, the various space settings throughout the galaxy, and just the general playfulness of this awesome book. It’s pure fun. There were nods to pop culture and ‘history’ that I really enjoyed, and it was very slick in the way it was written. The dialogue was 10/10 for sassy-ness. (I’m looking at you, Fin!)
If I had to fault anything, it would be the lack of any major surprises plot-wise. Maybe it doesn’t deserve it because it’s not completely mind blowing, but I’m giving it 5 stars for the entertainment factor. I genuinely hope they write 10 more books in this series.
The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie is one of the strangest books I have ever read. It’s narrated by a sentient rock-god. I honestly don’t know what to make of it…
If fantasy Hamlet re-tellings and omnipotent rocks are your thing, then you should definitely read this book: everyone else should probably steer clear.
The plot was engaging enough that I could make it through this novel quickly. However, the narrative was too stylistic for me, and I felt like I was at a very distant remove from the characters and the action (of which there was little). It read like a writing challenge or exercise that went too far. Leckie is obviously a very cerebral writer but the result was just *too* odd and not like a novel at all. Or maybe it just went over my head! 2/5 stars
Cassandra Clare was a slow-burn author for me. When I read the first Shadowhunter novel, City of Bones, I really didn’t like it. I thought her writing style was super cheesy. Through bookstagram, I was convinced to buddy-read the second Shadowhunter series – The Infernal Devices. This is where my experience with Cassandra Clare’s books took a dramatic u-turn. Something about putting demon-hunters with angelic powers to work in Victorian London just did it for me. Plus, there was the best love triangle of all time. #TeamJem
The third Shadowhunters series is The Dark Artifices, and it’s set in modern-day Los Angeles. The first book is Lady Midnight, followed by Lord of Shadows. It was only while reading Lady Midnight earlier this year that I made an important realisation about Shadowhunter books. They’re not urban fantasy novels with romantic subplots; they’re romance novels with some demon-slaying on the side. I think I find them easier to read now that I know that.
Lord of Shadows was long-winded and convoluted. The Shadowhunter world-building is really excellent, but sometimes there’s just too much background noise and not enough urgency. The show-downs in this book lacked tension. But do you know what made up for it? The love story. There was enough angst and tortured longing that it provided more than enough tension to make up for the lack of it elsewhere.
The other really strong point of this novel was the cast of supporting characters and their deep connections to the main characters. The bonds of family and friends were really emphasised, and very much true to life. Almost all of the characters mattered to me as a reader, which is rare. Usually, I don’t give a toss what happens to the side characters.
The main issue I had with Lord of Shadows is that it needed to be edited more. It was a lot longer than it needed to be. With that being said, I’m giving it 4/5 stars. I’m a sucker for a good romance.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my quick-fire reviews. I’ve still got more to catch up on, so keep an eye out! If you’ve read any of these books, I’ve love to hear your thoughts on them in the comments.