Mistborn: The Final Empire

mistborn-the-final-empireMistborn: The Final Empire
by: Brandon Sanderson

(Fantasy)

570 pages [Nook Book]

In a land covered in ash and oppressed by the hand of the Lord Ruler, can a team of thieves use their metallurgically enhanced abilities to overthrow the Final Empire?

Why have I not been reading Brandon Sanderson books all this time? Why?

I read Elantris ages ago and loved it, but somehow forgot to see what else Mr. Sanderson had written. I wasn’t as on top of book-related things back then. Thankfully, I’ve made my way back around to him, even if it took me way too long.

Above, I categorized this book as fantasy, which it mostly is, but what I’d really like to call it is Alloy-Fantasy. The story has a lot of elements in common with steampunk novels, only no steam. There is an oppressed society, omnipresent pollution, in the form of ash, and a set of magic powers based heavily upon different types of metal. So, if you like steampunk and fantasy, you’ll be especially happy with this one.

I loved the world-building and the atmosphere. The characters are just as wonderfully developed. Vin’s evolution throughout the story was believable, and I enjoyed watching her grow. Kelsier’s flippant attitude and mad schemes were fun to watch; there’s nothing like a character who takes risk after unbelievable risk, all with a smile. There were times where I expected to be disappointed by certain character-related circumstances, only to be pleasantly surprised. There wasn’t a single underdeveloped character in the bunch and the Lord Ruler himself turned out to be especially interesting.

The story moves quickly, and the excerpts before each paragraph really add gradual depth and history to the world. The revelations at the end were unexpected and brilliant. I’m extremely pleased overall, which is a good thing since I bought the whole trilogy and have two more books to go. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

What-the-Dickens

What the DickensWhat-the-Dickens
by: Gregory Maguire

(Fantasy)

295 pages [Hardcover]

Trapped amidst a natural disaster, with three kids to look after, Gage tells them a story about What-the-Dickens, a skiberee that doesn’t know he’s a tooth fairy, or very much at all really.

This is an odd little story, not quite for children, but not quite not for children either. It’s difficult to categorize. I would have labeled it a children’s story, but there is a lot in here that would go over their heads.

It’s basically a story within a story. The children of a sheltered religious family are waiting out a hurricane while watched by their twenty-something cousin. He has his hands full, they’re out of food, and the children’s parents have yet to return, so he tells the children a story about What-the-Dickens, the rogue tooth fairy.

I found the story within the story to be the most interesting, but I think that was the point. What-the-Dickens himself is rather charming as he discovers the world, not knowing anything. His attempts to understand his surroundings are fun to watch. You get to be a part of his thought process, as erroneous as it might be.

I was a little put off by the other skiberee when they were finally revealed. They are very simple, close-minded little creatures that follow dogma and propaganda rather than thinking for themselves. They dismiss What-the-Dickens as stupid or slow, when he thinks, reasons, and questions things. I feel like the author might have been making a bit of a statement here through What-the-Dickens’ eyes.

In short, I liked the story, but I was disappointed with the other skiberee, as What-the-Dickens no doubt was also. Still, it’s a cute little book that will look nice on my shelf so I think I’ll hold on to it for a while. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

The Myth Hunters

The Myth HuntersThe Myth Hunters (The Veil Book 1)
by: Christopher Golden

(Dark Fantasy/Myth)

284 pages [Nook Book]

Oliver Bascombe is thrust into the world beyond the veil under perilous circumstances, thanks to none other than Jack Frost himself. While he always wanted to believe there was something more out there, he gets more than he bargained for.

I got this book for free for my nook, thanks to my BookBub subscription, which is why I picked it up in the first place. It’s unusual for a traditionally published book to be available for free like this. I actually thought it was an indie when I got it.

Myths are cool. I liked the premise but didn’t love the book. I felt like there was something missing here. Perhaps there wasn’t enough depth? There was plenty of action, in a running for your life kind of way, but I didn’t feel enough of that sense of danger. Despite some serious violence, I had a hard time relating to their peril.

The borderkind themselves are pretty cool, and the creatures encountered on the other side were not the standard critters you would expect. This is the first time I’ve read a novel that had Kappa in it, even if they only appeared briefly.

The biggest problem I had with it was the main character. He alternates between being utterly useless to being extremely helpful. Most of the time he is a fish out of water, and the borderkind have to constantly explain everything to him, which made him seem kind of flimsy, and less likable. By the end of the story he’s earned his place a bit better. I have found in the past that the first novel of a series might be a little weak while it sets up the characters and the story. The second book might be better.

Having events told from Oliver’s side of things, as well as from the perspective of the detective investigating his disappearance and the violence in his wake, added a little something extra to the story and helped to break up the monotony of running away and being told how things worked.

I might read the sequel, I might not. I’m curious about where this all goes and I’m secretly hoping it gets better, but it might not be worth the time with all the other books on my list. We’ll just have to see. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

The Providence of Fire

The Providence of FireThe Providence of Fire
by: Brian Staveley

(Fantasy)

608 pages [Hardcover]

Royal siblings, Adare, Kaden, and Valyn, continue to fight for survival and vie for the Unhewn Throne after the emperor’s murder. Startling revelations are made as the empire prepares to face off against an unstoppable force.

I would love to tell you all about my favorite things from this book, but I can’t. So many of those things are details and revelations that would ruin the story for anyone planning to read it. So, allow me to construct a vague impression of this story. The short version is, this series is pretty awesome. Just trust me.

At 600 pages this book can feel a little long from time to time, but when certain things are revealed, all of that extra information was worth it. It was important for the characters to follow a particular journey, in order to set them up for the epicness that follows. There is plenty of character development, and the siblings go through an awful lot: making impossible decisions, facing the consequences of those decisions, and questioning everything they thought to be true.

I love a story with a deep history. The deeper the better. The Gods, the Cestriim, and the Leach Lords kept me coming back, hoping to learn some new little scrap of information about them. Thankfully, this book goes deeper into that history and we get to learn more about my favorite things. I’d really like to tell you about it but I can’t.

On the subject of violence… I don’t seek out violent stories, but sometimes violence is necessary to make the story grounded and powerful. While this book has significantly more violence than the first, it never felt violent for the sake of violence. It all has a specific purpose, to show just how scary a character is, or how powerful, or to give him/her a reason to doubt themselves.

As I said earlier, this is shaping up to be a pretty good series. The combination of a deep history, world building, and the characters’ differing personalities keep it interesting, even when the pace slows a bit. And with everything revealed in this book I’m very much looking forward to the final installment. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

The Paradox

The ParadoxThe Paradox by Charlie Fletcher

(Victorian/Fantasy)

386 pages [Trade Paperback]

“When they fall, so do we all.” The last hand of the Oversight struggles to hold together while two of their most prominent members are lost to the mirrors. Nefarious plots abound while tragic discoveries are made.

It took nearly the entire first book of this series for me to get close to the characters, but it was well worth the effort. I enjoyed The Paradox so much more, especially because I felt I understood it better.

I love the characters now and the strange family they make. Fictional misfit families are one of my favorite things, next to animal companions and powerful worldbuilding. Some of the coolest aspects of these characters hadn’t shown up until the end of the previous book, so at the time, I didn’t know enough about them to see why they were so great. Here, knowing all of that, I really enjoyed spending time with them.

The mirrors, the awful truth behind The Disaster, multilayered bad guys, and the ever-increasing peril kept the pages turning. The mirrors were fascinating in how they affect those within, as well as what happens when blood is spilled upon them. The revelations about The Disaster were tragic. There were also some intriguing side plots with other characters outside of the Oversight, which seem to be leading in some very interesting directions. I do find these books to be just a little bit confusing at times, since there is so much going on, and with multiple threats to the Oversight, it was sometimes difficult to keep track of which was which. I felt like I should read both books over again in order to fully grasp what was going on, but let’s face it, I’m not going to do that. Given infinite time, I would gladly do so, but until I invent a time-machine, or manage to clone myself, once will just  have to be enough.

To put it simply, I was really happy with this one, minor confusions and all. Can’t wait to read The Reddest Hand! Until next time…

Happy Reading!

The Wise Man’s Fear {The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two}

The Wise Man's FearThe Wise Man’s Fear
{The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two}

By: Patrick Rothfuss

www.patrickrothfuss.com

(Fantasy)

1107 pages (Paperback)

“There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”

*   *   *

I love Kvothe. This series is awesome. Read it.

Hmm…I’m supposed to say more than that aren’t I? I’m terrible at reviewing the books I love. I do so much better pointing out faults, but I will give it a try.

I love Kvothe. He’s the reason these books are good. You get to know him so well he’s almost an extension of your own being. He’s got personality, talent, and a propensity for getting into trouble. He doesn’t always know when to keep his mouth shut, and things often go badly when he gets carried away. He does wonderful things and terrible things, and seeing the truth behind the legend of Kvothe the Arcane and Kvothe the Bloodless is fascinating.

Apart from Kvothe, Elodin and Auri are my second favorites in the series for their quirky and mysterious qualities. Elodin is brilliant, spontaneous, irreverent, and just a little bit mad while Auri is a delicate and intriguing character with her way of speaking in imaginative and nonsensical ways. Really, there isn’t one bad character in the series, bad people certainly, but never bad characters.

The story moves slowly, and yet not too slowly. There is so much to move through that it takes time to do so, but it never felt slow or long to me. I feel like Patrick Rothfuss thought of everything when writing this, every detail of the world, the characters, and the history. The entire creation is fit snugly and completely together.

I also love how each book begins and ends with “a silence of three parts.” I wish I could write like that. The interludes, returning to the present day, create a nice little break from the story of Kvothe’s past. It’s wonderful to see Kvothe seamlessly transition into Kote the innkeeper when he has customers.

This may be the longest book I’ve ever read. Nope, make that second longest, but an achievement nonetheless. So many great fantasy novels are extremely long, so I’ve had to get comfortable with thousand page books, and I have to say, it’s been a lot easier than I thought. Perhaps I’m choosing the right titles. When I first got The Name of the Wind, I was a little daunted by the number of pages and wondered if I could really like something that long. Now, after reading book two, I can firmly say that Patrick Rothfuss is my favorite author and The Kingkiller Chronicle is my favorite series. The only thing that could change this is the ending of book three. If it ends badly, I might reconsider, but I don’t think it’s likely to happen. I will be patiently awaiting the release of Doors of Stone, and for all those people complaining about it not being released yet, I say this…it will be ready when it’s ready. Do you want a crappy story done quickly or do you want an amazing story done slowly? I would happily wait ten years for this one. Let the man do his job and do it well. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Book Sale Haul VI

Wow, I’ve done six of these already? Time flies. I’ve been learning to restrain myself a bit more at these book sales, since I’m really running out of room, so this time I have 21 new books to share with you. Behold the literary splendor! (click for larger images)

Apparently I'm collecting The Wheel of Time books now...
Apparently I’m collecting The Wheel of Time books now…so far I’ve got 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 11. That’s a start.
Two more Shannara books for the collection and some fantasy/scifi...
Two more Shannara books for the collection and some fantasy/scifi…
Elizabethan espionage, sherlock, thrillers, and Ian M. Banks since I really liked The Algebraist...
Elizabethan espionage, Sherlock, thrillers, and Ian M. Banks since I really liked The Algebraist
Tarot and math make an odd combination, but I've always had an interest in forms of divination, as well as a fear of math. It says it's painless, so maybe I'll learn something.
Tarot and math make an odd combination, but I’ve always had an interest in forms of divination, as well as a fear of math. It says it’s painless, so maybe I’ll learn something.

So there you have it, my restrained book sale finds. I’m pretty happy with it and since my personal library seems to be growing at an alarming rate, I’ve decided to focus on reading what I already have for the time being. There will be no more trips to the library for a while, since I get distracted so easily. I’m almost done with The Wise Man’s Fear so there will be some new reviews in the very near future, including an indie or two, so please look forward to them! Until next time…happy reading 😉

Falling Sky

Falling SkyFalling Sky

By: Rajan Khanna

www.rajankhanna.com

(Post-Apocalyptic/Thriller/Adventure)

252 pages (Trade Paperback)

In a world where a contagion, known as the bug, broke out causing those infected to become ferals (wild not quite zombie people), Ben Gold is doing ok…until he loses his airship and gets stuck in the last place he wants to be, on the ground.

*   *   *

I need to stop picking up random books at the library, when I’m supposed to be reading from my to-read pile, but this one was short and caught my eye. I wonder if there’s some sort of support group for compulsive book gathering? I digress…

Honestly, I didn’t like this book as much as I wanted to, and while Tad Williams’ endorsement of “…like Hemingway meets The Walking Dead” made it intriguing, it also had me wondering how I would feel about it. I’m not a Hemingway fan, though I’ve only read one short story so far, and I don’t watch The Walking Dead. I hate zombies. Here, the ferals are just un-zombie-like enough for me to read it, but only just. The mention of airships and a post-apocalyptic world was enough to get me interested though. Ultimately, the things I liked pretty evenly matched the things I did not. Allow me to explain…

The story had a lot of promising elements that somehow didn’t quite come together for me. The air ships, floating city, and “stay off the ground” mentality were all great and had a wonderful steampunk vibe. I have absolutely no complaints about that. The premise was good. The contagiousness of the bug added an extra element of danger, that made simply shooting a feral into a very dangerous proposition, since a speck of contaminated blood could lead to a fate most would consider worse than death. However, as much as the characters kept themselves covered with scarves and gloves and everything, they never talked about what they did with them after or how they acquired so many. Think of it this way, you go out, run into a feral, kill it, and blood gets on your scarf. Ah! Do you keep wearing that scarf? Do you promptly dispose of it? Burn it? Where do you get a replacement? How often do you do this? I just feel like keeping a scarf with contaminated blood on it near your face after the fact just doesn’t make sense, and yet I never noticed a character disposing of contaminated garments. I find that odd.

Those things that felt out of place or didn’t quite make sense, like the example above, were my biggest problem with the story. They distracted me, pulled me out of the story, and in some cases made it harder to relate to the characters. The obviousness of Ben’s crush on Miranda, the scientist, that he somehow didn’t realize he had, seemed oddly cliche for a book that is supposed to be gritty and realistic. What really got to me was a moment when she happens to take her hair down, and oh look, the pretty scientist is pretty. Classic romantic comedy tropes didn’t seem to fit here, maybe if it were more of a cut and dry steampunk adventure it would have made more sense.

Lastly, the main character seemed to be randomly Jewish. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with him being Jewish, or any other faith for that matter, it’s just that he seemed to become it rather suddenly. Maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention to my reading, but there was a moment where he suddenly recognized Hebrew and met a rabbi. My problem is that there was no real mention of his faith or knowledge of the language before, so it felt abrupt. There may have been a very brief mention of a Star of David early on but that was it. Up to the point with the rabbi, there had been no mention, in all that talk of his Dad and Ben’s past, of learning Hebrew or caring at all about his ancestry. If anything, like most people in a messed up post-apocalyptic world, he didn’t seem to be particularly fond of any belief system other than survival. It just caught me off guard, and all those little things just kept making it more and more difficult to invest in the story or the characters the way I wanted to.

Plot wise, it was a decent adventure, and Tad Williams seemed to like it. Normally I would trust his judgement, but it just didn’t work for me. Perhaps I’m just being picky and it was a wrong book at the wrong time kind of situation. Maybe I should have been reading Endsinger like I had originally planned. It’s hard to say. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

The Emperor’s Blades

The Emperor's BladesThe Emperor’s Blades
{Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 1}

By: Brian Staveley

bstaveley.wordpress.com

(Fantasy)

476 pages (Hardcover)

 

“Come for the intrigue, assassination, death priests, black-ops bird riders, and giant poisonous hive-lizards. Stay for Staveley’s characters, his language, and his way-cool fantasy Zen.” -Max Gladstone, Author of Three Parts Dead.

*   *   *

The above book endorsement says it all. I really couldn’t have described the book any better than that. The thing I liked the most about this book was the “fantasy Zen” vibe that the author has created.

Each of the emperor’s three children has been training for years in a different area. The story focused most on the two boys, but the emperor’s daughter played just as significant a role in the story, despite her lack of screen-time. Kaden is trained as a monk in pursuit of the vaniate, a state of emptiness, following the Blank God. Out of all the gods and religions in this story, this was my favorite. Valyn’s training is quite the opposite – in a ninja assassins that ride giant birds kind of way.

The diversity of gods and religious beliefs in this story was really interesting. The world itself was wonderfully complex, leaving lots of room for complications and challenges, government, religion, supernatural abilities, oh and I forgot to mention a couple of ancient races thought to be extinct. That bit of history, and the questions it brought up, gave the story additional depth. I like depth.

My only problem with the story was that it seemed to move a bit slowly, more so because I had a hard time relating to Kaden and Valyn for most of the book. Their training is so brutal, in different ways, but with the same result, that both are so tough that any emotion or vulnerability they express seems less believable. However, as the story progressed I was able to relate to them more, and by the end, I felt much closer to them. The pace really picks up at the last 150 pages, and all that came before was necessary to appreciate the ending. It takes the whole story to get to know the characters, but I think it was ultimately worth it.

Overall it was a pretty awesome book. It was a late addition to my book list, that I had no intention of getting to for quite some time, but I happened upon it at the library when I couldn’t find the other books I was looking for. I’m a little glad the other books weren’t available. I have every intention of reading the next two books. There is so much going on in that story that I want to know more about. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

The Hundred Thousand KingdomsThe Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
{The Inheritance Trilogy Book 1}

By: N.K. Jemisin

nkjemisin.com

(Fantasy/Gods)

398 pages (Trade Paperback)

After being unexpectedly named heir to a powerful grandfather she never knew, Yeine is forced into a world of treacherous politics, selfish customs, and enslaved demi-gods.

*   *   *

So complex and yet so easy to read, this book was amazing. I think a lot of it had to do with the first person perspective which kept the story moving. When you have a first person novel, there just isn’t room in the format to get lost in lengthy histories or descriptions, and that keeps everything nice and focused and immediate. However, the personality of the main character becomes extremely important. If you don’t like the character, you’ll hate the book. Fortunately, I liked Yeine a lot. She was strong, but not too strong. It’s easy to go too far either way, especially with female characters, but she walked that line perfectly. She reacted in a human way to her circumstances and was never too cool for the occasional, completely warranted, freak out.

I loved the whole gods thing. (I’m sure there was a more eloquent way to put that, but I couldn’t think of anything else.) It was a wonderful diversion from the usual sword and sorcery fantasy. Their complex history, their contradictory relationships, the raw power, all made for an extremely interesting story. They weren’t good or bad in traditional ways. The god of light was all about order at any cost. The god of darkness was described as “everything beautiful and terrible” and largely represented change rather than pure evil.

Of the gods and demi-gods, my absolute favorite character was Sieh, a trickster and a child, but far more than a child. The way he would switch from childish behavior to something older and wiser had a way of catching the main character off guard. It was easy to forget his true power. He reminded me of the childish characters that so often show up in manga and anime, like Honey senpai from Ouran Highschool Host Club, or Momiji Sohma from Fruits Basket. I always love those characters. Their cuteness and seeming vulnerability make me love them so easily, but they are far stronger than they appear.

I loved this book. It was fast reading, infinitely interesting, and filled with intriguing characters. N.K. Jemisin is definitely moving to the top of my favorite authors list. Until next time…

Happy Reading!