Category: Three stars

The Iron Daughter warrants a cold reception

The Iron Daughter warrants a cold reception

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

After highly praising The Iron King, I knew I was setting myself up for a big comeuppance. After all, the Iron Fey IS a series from 2010-2011 (yes, the whole quartet came out within two years), and WAS quite cliche despite all the things I loved about book one. The ‘sequel series’, books five to seven, span 2013-2015, and the next book is due 2021. It’ll be interesting to see if/how the author evolves during the years and trends in YA, but the initial series of books is very dated to 2010. The Iron Daughter especially.

That’s not to say I hated this book at any point. It’s still notably engaging and of a better quality than the vast majority of books from this era, or really just books I’ve read. The side characters are fantastic and the world is a wild mish-mash of faerie mythos and lore that is extremely entertaining. Still, this books has to lose a bunch of points for the plot, and especially the romance. A lot less gets done in this book, and a lot more time is spent angsting over forbidden love and love triangles. It’s dumb and exhausting and takes up so much time.

While the book scurries over the normal ‘second book syndrome’, the useless romance, angst, lesser plot, and idiocy of the main character is exhausting enough on its own. At least Grimalkin is still perfect.

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Queen of Nothing review: I must sadly rescind my blood oath to murder Carden Greenbriar

Queen of Nothing review: I must sadly rescind my blood oath to murder Carden Greenbriar

★★★☆☆

(3.5 stars)

Call me the Queen of Fools, because I no longer despise Carden. After book one making me wish strangulation on the whole cast, and book two setting me in stone against the fae fool, I am ready to put on garish makeup and admit my wrongs.

Yes, you are hearing me correct: Carden is no longer a completely miserable excuse of garbage in the package of a generic YA love interest, and I liked him in this book, and I liked his relationship with Jude in a romantic sense. This admission weighs heavy on my soul after my many memes and posts on the matter, but rejoice! This change of tides can only mean a miracle is on its way. (And that miracle is that I will no longer be on the warpath to seek and personally destroy Carden Greenbriar).

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What? Am I supposed to seriously find a way to review House of Leaves?

What? Am I supposed to seriously find a way to review House of Leaves?

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

Okay. What. What do you think I can do, explain myself? Explain this?

NO! Of course not!

This gets 3 stars because 3 stars means nothing, and this book is not good or bad. It’s a favorite and I despise it. No, I did not finish it.

I’ve been trying to read house of leaves for a long time now. Since middle school- so we’re getting close to ten years of me trying to read this book. I have never once finished it. This time I got the further I ever had, which is still less than half.

This is the giant huge book (in size and page length) that haunts my nightmares and reality. It is a story about a dude who finds a scattered manuscript in the house of a dead man, and this manuscript is an academic collection about a documentary that doesn’t exist, and the documentary is about an endless empty labyrinth which appears in a suburban home one day. Everyone goes insane, there are many footnotes, and the formatting starts to include giant blocks of black ink, empty spaces, upside-down text, boxes in boxes, and more.

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War of the Spark is a story somehow better told through cards

War of the Spark is a story somehow better told through cards

★★★☆☆

(2.5 stars)

If you’re unfamiliar with what my header means, let’s cover some groundwork: War of the Spark is a book set in, and tied to, the Magic the Gathering trading card game. You’ll note in the cover the title is even ‘Ravnica: war of the spark’, further tying the story to a specific place in the universe (where the book takes place) AND making it sound/look less like a ‘real’ novel. This is fair, because this isn’t really a book. It is an exceedingly overstuffed, poorly told rendition of the story in one recent expansion pack of MTG, a story which is somehow better told through one-two lines of flavor text at the bottom of some cards, and the art.

Despite this, I don’t regret reading this. I knew the reaction had mostly been negative, but I like MTG a lot, and I was just excited to see characters I’d grown attached to play out a fantastic story. Since the set was released (and made) before the book actually came out, I knew the story beats ahead of time, but there was still something satisfying about seeing them linked together.

However. From a writing point of view, this book is bad. It’s fun to read, but the characters, writing, world, and everything is thin, overstuffed, and not satisfactory.

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Abandon represents a fun- yet troubling- genre mix-up

Abandon represents a fun- yet troubling- genre mix-up

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

The author of the book is for once very important to this review: Meg Cabot! I’ve never read anything by her, but I know the name, and realizing she’d written this generic-looking para-ro book gave me pause. She wrote the Princess Diaries, a series which became a movie which I have seen heaps of nostalgia for and love. Without ever touching any of her contemporary teen-tween girl books I knew she was known for humor, lightness, fun, and quirky narration.

So what was she doing writing Abandon? This book screams para-ro boom of the early 2010s, from design to title to plot, yet is met in the middle by Cabot’s signature style. In the mix of an ugly love interest and his fairly abusive actions is genuinely funny dialogue. Despite the insta-love romance, there are bits of satisfying, true emotional moments regarding coming of age and being a teen girl. Even with the confusing, cartoon-ish bits, there’s real wit and good writing shining through.

Like, maybe I just liked this because I’d just finished a particularly bad quartet, but the writing is so good I found myself not caring as much as I should have about how bad the romance was. I liked the voice too much. Plus, it’s a short and snappy read.

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Torment offers a glimpse of a far better series

Torment offers a glimpse of a far better series

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

Even I’m scratching my head at this rating, folks. The second Fallen book is actually kind of decent. I enjoyed it. It made me want to keep reading the series, when I was sure I only picked it up to get lore missing from book one and put the story down forever. But no, I anticipate I’ll be reading the rest of the quartet now.

What did it? Well, this book took the good elements of the first book (few and far between, but: good friends, supernatural elements) and added a couple things really up my alley. For one, it takes place at a small school for nephilhim, who have only weak magical powers but still get weird lessons on biblical history and controlling shadows, all in preparation for the ‘end of days’. To avoid favoritism, the school is taught from a neutral point of view, with the two teachers being an awesome married couple of an angel/demon who never the less plan to fight to the death in the apocalypse. This is a really fun concept. It’s also nearly the exact set up of a book I wrote, Good Angel, so you know… it’s a concept I’m into.

Also, there’s a lot of deeper introspection from Luce, who starts to think about her relationship with Daniel and all the Unfortunate Implications that go with it. Especially that, since she’s reborn and dies every 17 years, she has a series of relatives and parents who are left grieving her. Daniel is essentially the world’s most specialized serial killer, and it’d good how she comes to resent and grow angry at the bad power structure they have.

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I know we wanted a Nikolai duology, but King of Scars isn’t it

I know we wanted a Nikolai duology, but King of Scars isn’t it

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

King of Scars, for the uninitiated, is the latest in the ever growing Grishaverse- at this point three series and a short story collection, both linked and not. This is not a book you can read without familiarity to the world- both the original Shadow and Bone trilogy and at least the first book of Six of Crows. As the other two stood relatively separate, this book represents the first real crossover between the two different tone/writing series, and the first book to mark a real ‘epic fantasy saga’ stepstone in the Grishaverse. SaB and SoC both can stand without the other and wrap up their storylines, while this is far closer to a sequel: book 6 of the saga, if you will.

It’s written to have it’s own plot, but there’s few new characters or concepts, and the entire story, while with a degree of separation, is based on conflicts and plot points of the past. To someone with an imperfect memory of SaB and who only read the first SoC, I understood the plot points that came up- but only because of narrative reminders. This book is officially drenched in lore.

This is all my set up. Here’s my short before the proper review: King of Scars was one I was solidly looking forward too. I had a crush on Nikolai from the SaB trilogy, and I’m pretty sure I even wrote Bardugo a fan letter back in the day declaring Nikolai should forever remain single, so I had a chance of marrying him. Anyways. Fan favorite Nikolai is back in this duology, but he’s just a different person, the plot isn’t that centered on him, and the story jumps the shark entirely by the halfway point. This book is too long, with a messy story and some fraught character choices, but picks up by the end and still contains plenty of enjoyable moments and characters. It’s imperfect, and to a degree frustrating as someone who was looking forward to it quite a lot.

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