Dec 4, 2014 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: CITY OF DRAGONS by Robin Hobb

City of Dragons is book 3 in the Rain Wilds Chronicles, and not only continues the journey to Kelsingra, but shows us quite a few things referenced in the first couple of books.

I enjoyed this one a little better than Dragon Haven and while it’s still not quite at the level of previous series, it’s a lot more interesting than the previous book. I loved the inclusion of Tintaglia, and seeing more of what’s happening outside of the river and Kelsingra – particularly with Chalced and Bingtown.

It was fantastic seeing Malta and Reyn again too, and while we don’t get to watch them grow as such, seeing their character growth through their actions in this book was great.

The book does end quite abruptly, that was a bit frustrating, but I’ve no doubt that the final book will wrap everything up nicely, and I enjoyed being able to see the different arcs develop.

The only thing I found jarring was Alise – her behaviour towards the other keepers with regard to Kelsingra being looted felt quite out of character. She went from being excited about exploring, to panicking that the city would be looted before she could document everything, but there was nothing in any other part of the book to suggest it was more than an irrational fear. We know from previous books (the Liveship Traders series in particular) that the Rain Wilders excavate and sell Elderling treasures, but the sudden change in behaviour did throw me off a bit.

It’s still a very solid novel though, and I can’t wait to see how it all ends.

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Nov 30, 2014 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CINNAMON GIRL by Melissa Keil

This might just be the best book I’ve read this year. It is fun, it is quirky, and it captures all of the thoughts and feelings of leaving school/changing life stages perfectly.

All while the world is ending.

Set in a quiet little country town in Australia, everything is turned on its ear when a youtube video predicting that Eden Valley is where the world is going to end, goes viral. While trying to manage all the people that turn up to celebrate the end of the world, Alba is also trying to come to terms with school finishing, her friends making plans to move away, and trying to decide what to do with the rest of her life. While this is obviously referring to leaving high school, the same thoughts and uncertainty applies to any major life change, making the whole book appealing no matter where you’re at.

I absolutely loved Alba, it was so easy to identify with her thoughts and feelings. She’s fun and sassy and has no problems saying what’s on her mind – for the most part. It was really refreshing to come across a female character with confidence, and such a matter-of-fact attitude about herself. I liked that her insecurities weren’t about her appearance, but her skills or losing touch with her friends. There really needs to be more characters like this out there.

I also loved how her comic character – Cinnamon Girl – reflected her inner turmoil as she works through everything going on. That was a really nice touch.

The rest of the cast are also brilliant, and it’s fun getting to know them as the story progresses. The only character I never quite warmed to was Dan – and I really don’t think I’m supposed to.

The romance element was introduced and portrayed incredibly well – it’s not a standard soppy love triangle, it’s funny and real and a delight to watch develop.

I cannot recommend this book enough, regardless of where you’re at on your own journey. There is something for everyone, and it’s just such a fantastic book.

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Nov 29, 2014 - Weekend Wrap Up    No Comments

Weekend Wrap Up

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Nov 24, 2014 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: THE SILENT DEAL by Levi Stack

When Viktor and Romulus, two peasant boys, dig into their town’s strange past, they awaken the wrath of a mysterious overlord. As the blood brothers struggle to survive, their search for answers takes them through gambling parlors, fortune-teller dens, and moonlit forests full of monsters and men alike. But even with the help of their friends, can they escape the dark experiments that their foe is creating in Staryi Castle?

I quite enjoyed this book. Set in 1830s Russia, it’s a wonderful mix of fantasy, folklore and adventure. The whole book was compelling from beginning to end, and I’m curious to see where the rest of the series goes.

The “silent deal” referenced in the title was very  interested, and the way that it was revealed throughout the book was done very well – just when you thought you had a handle on it, a new piece of information was revealed.

The main characters are all quite likeable, but it’s the Romani that really stand out for me, despite not getting much attention until late in the book. I’m hoping there will be a lot more of them in the future.

I really liked the way the folklore and the fantasy elements were woven in, there was nothing overly unrealistic about any of it, and that’s a pleasant change. I was really looking forward to seeing how the cards were involved in the story, as they played such a key part in setting the mystery up. The explanation for their existence was quite disappointing however – I expected them to play a much larger part considering some of the situations described.

I really liked the writing style throughout – it’s wonderfully paced and written in such a way to appeal to a broad range of ages. I’m very interested to see how book two plays out, and where it will all go from here.

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I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Nov 16, 2014 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: THE GLASS MAGICIAN by Charlie Holmberg

The Glass Magician is the second book in Charlie Holmberg’s Paper Magician Trilogy. (You can read my review of book one here.) It continues following Ceony as she grows as a magician and a person, and continues to dodge the villains introduced in book one.

This is shaping up to be a series more for those interested in teen romance than steampunk or alternative histories, and as a romance novel it does work well. I’m just not a fan of girls mooning over boys.

Much as with the first book, I enjoyed the writing style, but again the lack of world building is disappointing, not to mention the overwhelming amount of time spent either unnecessarily explaining important (and previously detailed) concepts from book one, and on Ceony’s internal agony over her feelings for Emery.

There was an interesting twist added with how magicians bond with their medium, and I’m very curious to see where book three takes that concept.

Again, I do recommend the series, but it won’t be making my top 10 list for this year.

Purchase: Book Depository

I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Nov 12, 2014 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: THE ICICLE ILLUMINARIUM by

The Icicle Illuminarium is the sequel to The Kensington Reptilarium (not required reading to pick up this book), and follows 4 Aussie children as they go on an adventure to find their mother.

I did enjoy the story, it was full of humour and daring, and did make me laugh in quite a few places. That said, it was a very exhausting read. The writing style is perfect for the story and the characters, and would appeal to the children it’s aimed at, but it’s such a high energy read that it took me quite a while to get through considering that it’s a bit over 300 pages.

Some of the characters get a bit same-same, there are quite a few parts where it feels like they’re all carbon copies of each other, just with different names. I don’t see this as being much of an issue to the target audience though, they’ll be too engrossed in the antics that the children get up to.

I’d definitely recommend this for children under the age of 12, and for those at the younger end of the spectrum, this would be a fun read for them to test their skills with.

Purchase: Book Depository | BookWorld

Nov 5, 2014 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: THE PAPER MAGICIAN by Charlie Holmberg

The Paper Magician is about magic, mystery and a large dose of romance. Ceony Twill has just graduated from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined and is about to start her apprenticeship as a Paper Magician. She’s not very happy about this – she’s always wanted to work with metal, not paper. But as she learns more about Folding, she realises it’s not as bad as she originally thought. While she’s coming to this conclusion though, there’s the small matter of the Excisioner (flesh magician) trying to kill her master.

I really enjoyed this book. I liked how magic was portrayed – that spells are cast via a physical medium (paper, metal, plastic, glass, etc) and once you have bonded to a medium, that is the only way you can ever work magic. Getting to know Ceony was a lot harder than getting to know her master, Emery Thane – we don’t spend a large portion of the book wandering through her heart the way we do his – but for the most part, I enjoyed Ceony. There’s a light, almost fairy tale quality to the story and the writing that made it seem very fresh and a bit innocent.

What I didn’t like though, was the completely avoidable romantic side-effect from wandering through Thane’s heart. One minute, Ceony  is mourning the loss of the apprenticeship she was expecting, and the next, she’s in love.  From that point on, there’s a bit too much time spent existing only for Thane than I’m comfortable with. I would have liked to see more information provided about the magical world – rules, regulations, society. The book sticks to the main plot so carefully that the world it exists in is barely fleshed out, relying on the reader’s knowledge of Victorian England to provide context – and even then, there are enough items mentioned (plastic, emphasis on wearing makeup, some of the foods) that just don’t fit with that era.

This book is definitely worth a read, I’m just hoping that the rest of the series fleshes out things a bit more, and that it works much better as a series than as individual books.

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Nov 2, 2014 - Book News    No Comments

Book Review: WONDER by R.J. Palacio

Wonder was a really interesting book. This is the story of August, a young boy with severe facial abnormalities, as he goes to school for the very first time. It’s told primarily from the perspective of Auggie himself, with alternating chapters of the people closest to him, which really enhances the story as it progresses.

Full of humour and sadness in equal measures, it’s a touching and realistic look at what life is often like not only for a 10 year old finding their way, but for anyone who stands apart from the crowd for whatever reason. In Auggie’s case, it’s his physical appearance, and not everyone reacts to it well – from the people that bully him, to the parents trying to get him removed from the school. That said, there are many beautiful people that see past his appearance, and accept him whole-heartedly, and knowing that there are in fact people like that out in the world is heart warming.

Each of the 6 perspectives are completely  unique, each character definitely has their own voice (which I found completely lacking in another recent read), so that was a very pleasant surprise. It deals with making friends, fitting in, bullying, coping with loss. The edition I purchased includes a chapter written later, from Julian’s perspective, and to be perfectly honest, this chapter really takes away from the overall story. I don’t want to give too much away, but I definitely think that including it was unnecessary, and left me feeling like some of the events that happened were justifiable (which, in my opinion, they weren’t).

Still, this is a fantastic book with something for everyone, and I would definitely, definitely recommend it.

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Oct 29, 2014 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: DRAGON HAVEN by Robin Hobb

Dragon Haven is book 2 in the Rain Wild Chronicles (or if you count from the beginning of the Farseer Trilogy, 11th in Realms of the Elderlings). It continues where The Dragon Keeper leaves off, as dragon’s keep going in their search for Kelsingra.

As most of Hobb’s books, this one is well written and engaging right from the beginning. The tension between many of the characters is balanced beautifully, although some of Thymara and Sintara’s griping gets a little tedious. Sexuality (or lack thereof) is handled very well throughout the book, which is a pleasant change from a lot of other books.

Watching Alise in particular grow throughout the book is great, and she’s one of my favourite characters since the Farseer/Liveship Traders trilogies, but if you compared her to the heroines from either series, she comes up a little short. No one will ever match Althea or Malta, I’m afraid, but that doesn’t take away from the depth of Alise’s character.

Sedric grows the most throughout the book, as he comes to terms with some hard truths about himself. He’s still not one of my favourite characters, but I like him an awful lot more than I did at the beginning.

Dragon Haven wraps up all the relevent plot points, which is a nice change after the abrupt ending of The Dragon Keeper, and I’m quite looking forward to the next two in the series.

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