Browsing "Book Reviews"
Oct 5, 2014 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: THE GATEKEEPER’S SON by C.R. Fladmark

Junya’s grandfather is a billionaire who keeps the secret to his success hidden in a heavily guarded safe.
His mother is a martial artist who wields a razor-sharp katana—and seems to read his mind.
And a mysterious girl in a Japanese school uniform can knock him over—literally—with just a look.

What do they know that he doesn’t?

I really enjoyed this book – the plot was intriguing, the pacing was perfect, and the way everything fits together is wonderful. The mix between San Francisco, Japan, and a parallel world was neatly done, and enough detail was given that reading about places I’ve never been to wasn’t jarring.

I did find, however, that as much as I wanted to know what happened next (to the point where I devoured this book in one sitting), I didn’t feel a huge connection to any of the characters. They’re all well-written, likeable people, but there was something missing to make me cheer for them – that may change as the series progresses, 200 pages isn’t much after all.

In all, I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone that likes young adult/urban fantasy, and I’ll be reading the rest of the series as it’s released.

Purchase: Amazon

I received this book in exchange for a review.

Sep 28, 2014 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: THE THIRTEENTH TOWER by Sara Snider

This book was a delight from beginning to end. Essentially following Emelyn as she discovers her past, and therefore her future, The Thirteenth Tower is full of rich, detailed characters, and a wonderfully immersive world.

In the classic fairy tale structure, you have a pretty good idea what’s coming as you move through the story, and it’s no different here. But the way that it’s told, and the neat little twist at the end, make you forget that it’s a trope that you’ve encountered many times before. It’s beautifully written from beginning to end, and manages to avoid a lot of the clichés you might expect from a similar story, and I liked how the story steadily progressed from beginning to end, instead of having slow bits followed by super fast-action bits.

Our protagonist, Emelyn is very realistic and believable as she grows through the story, her confusion and innocence are incredibly well-portrayed, and her underlying strength is neatly developed as the story progresses. Cobbe was probably my favourite, and had me giggling on more than one occasion. The resident “bad dude”, or “bad lady” in this case, caused the opposite reaction as her history unfolded, and I did cheer a bit when the actual bad guy got what he deserved.

All in all, a thoroughly delightful book, and I really look forward to seeing what else Sara Snider comes out with.

Purchase: Amazon

I received this book in exchange for a review.

Sep 18, 2014 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: ACROSS THE NIGHTINGALE FLOOR by Lian Hearn

While this isn’t the best fantasy novel I’ve ever read, it is a nice, light read.

Set in a world remarkably similar to feudal Japan, it primarily follows Takeo as he has his world turned on its ear, discovers himself, and indulges in a bit of rebellion. It also follows Kaede, a young lady held as a hostage for her father’s good behaviour, and then shipped off to be married, with quite a bit of teenage angst about her impending marriage thrown in.

There is nothing ground-breaking in this book, it would be silly to pretend otherwise. Switching from Takeo’s first-person chapters to Kaede’s third-person was a bit jarring the first few times. The plot is fairly easy to predict from beginning to end. All the hallmarks of a below-average book, right? Instead, I found myself quite unable to stop reading, finishing the book in just a few hours. The predictability and simplicity of the whole thing was quite pleasant – I didn’t have to think too hard, I could just sit back and watch it all unfold. 

When all is said and done, I will be finishing the series, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting something to nibble at.

Purchase: Book Depository | Amazon

Sep 14, 2014 - Book Reviews    1 Comment

Book Review: THE BLOODY RIPPER by T.A. Uner

The Bloody Ripper is set in Victorian England at the same time as the Jack the Ripper murders. In addition to the murders, people are going missing, taken for use in experiments that are never really detailed.

This book is quite short on detail when it comes to all of the plot points. Coming in at 199 pages for the Kindle edition, there just isn’t enough room to cover all of the details that crop up in the story, leaving an overwhelming feeling of being rushed through. On top of that, the plot is shaky at best (alien vampires kidnapping some people, killing others, and framing someone for the murders) and it’s not particularly well written (bland prose, bland characters, and whoever edited the Kindle edition needs to seriously re-evaluate their chosen career).

This is one of three tie-in novels for The Leopard King Saga, which also seems to involve a weird mash-up of history and fantasy (a magical leopardess in Ancient Rome). That is about as far as the relationship between them goes, as the Saga is set entirely in Ancient Rome.

I really wanted to like this book, but when all is said and done, the only good part was reaching the end.

Purchase: Book Depository | Amazon

Dec 21, 2012 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern

Generally when you read a book, what draws you in and drags you along is a connection to the characters. You want to watch them grow and develop, overcome obstacles, come out on the other side as better people. You want them to make all the right decisions, and have a happily ever after.

You’ll get that in The Night Circus. You’ll watch Celia and Marco grow into themselves, their skills and their relationship. You’ll see Bailey find his place in the world. You will be delighted watching Poppet and Widget grow. And it will be wonderful from start to finish. But the blurb is misleading, it’s not really about Celia and Marco duelling or falling in love, and the circus is far more than merely a stage.

I found that the characters paled in comparison to the circus itself, Le Cirque des Rêves. The circus of dreams indeed. Instead of the location providing a convenient backdrop against which the characters perform, it is the main focus, it is the challenge. The detail that goes into creating the atmosphere, the imagery that pulls you in, taunts and tempts you from beginning to end is far more compelling than any character in the book.

This book is not without flaws. The timeline is difficult to follow (and for the most part, I ignored it). It was difficult to be emotionally invested in the characters. The story I read was not the story described in the blurb. Just like with a dream, there will be questions left not fully answered and yet somehow tied up just a bit too neatly. But I will read this book many, many times, simply to revisit the wonders in the circus, and to pretend, just for a little while, that such a spectacular and wondrous place can exist.

When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice up of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of the overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.

Purchase: Book Depository | Amazon

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