Archive | March 2016

Review – The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson

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Yeah, well, hmmmm…..

How do you review The Well of Ascension? In my case, you simply don’t. I will leave just a few words to describe my feelings:

Confusion
Heartbreak
Love
Exhaustion
Hope

As with book one, this wasn’t a perfect read for me. There was a lot of political maneuvering and backstabbing. I hate that in real life and I hate it in books. So, I was fully prepared to give this 4/5 stars. But then…things…switched my rating back to 5-stars. Honestly, less than 5 would be an insult to the exceptional worldbuilding and character development. I’m not sure any other fantasy series I’ve read has reached this level.

And, yes, I’ve already pulled out book three. (Which I’ve been told is “epic” so my expectations are through the roof. Don’t let me down Sanderson.)

Review — The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

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When I saw The Passenger on Netgalley, I quickly hit the request button. Several years ago I read a few of Lutz’s Spellman books and enjoyed them. With The Passenger she was moving from the comedy of that series to a thriller (one of my favorite genres).

First, the good. Lutz had a great idea. Woman on the run from something or someone that the reader doesn’t know yet, making bad decisions because she feels that she has no alternatives. The pacing and flow of the writing are on point as well. With the ending, Lutz was able to surprise me a few times and she saved the best of her writing for the last.

However, most of the book just wasn’t my cup of tea. About 75% in, I was able to finally figure out what was really bothering me. Lutz was simply trying to hard to write a thriller. I think she had a great idea and knew how she wanted it to end (which, as I said, was very well done.) But, the rest of the story felt forced and cliche in some instances.

Would I read another thriller by Lisa Lutz? Most definitely! Her writing talent is there and she has great ideas. She just needs to work on making it feel more organic.

2.5/5 stars.

Thank you to the publisher for providing an e-copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

  
I want to write pages and pages about how much I loved this book. But I’d rather just start reading the next in the series. It’s too good to wait. 

All I will say is that Brandon Sanderson should teach a masterclass in worldbuilding. And writing a strong female main character. And including a budding romance that doesn’t take away from the primary plot. 

And tearing my heart out. 

Not perfect but this is a case where I cannot bring myself to nit-pick those details. 

5/5 stars and probably my favorite book one of any fantasy series.

And, yes, I did order my copy from bookdepository.com because the UK cover is so much better than the US. Had to be done. 

Review: Bury Your Dead (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #6) by Louise Penny

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Probably my favorite of the series thus far, Bury Your Dead is a bit of a departure from the formula Penny used in past installments.  Typically, there is a murder in the small village of Three Pines and Armand Gamache, Chief Inspector of the Surete, is called in to investigate.  For this story, however, Gamache stays in Quebec City.  He is visiting with his mentor and friend after an investigation gone wrong where he lost an officer.  He is pulled into a mystery when a body is found in a library and the local police ask for his assistance.  Gamache is also struggling to accept that ‘character X’ was guilty of the murder for which he was convicted in book five.  So, he sends his second in command back to Three Pines to get to the bottom of the questions left unanswered.

What makes this series special?  The characters.  While Penny is a good storyteller, I believe her real strength lies in building characters that are relatable because they are imperfect and flawed.  Ruth Zardo is the perfect example.  She curses at her friends regularly, is a horrible hostess, drinks to excess and is generally unpleasant.  However, she is there when needed.  And, after six books we know that she isn’t just what you see on the surface.

An excellent installment in a great series.  5/5 stars.

Review: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

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Can we get publishers to agree that calling a book “the next Gone Girl” is played out?  Stop it, please.

I wanted to read this for a while just to see what all the hype was about.  Then, a friend was in a car accident (she’s okay!) and I gave a copy to her as part of a care package.  Ashamedly I will admit that I considered keeping it for myself for a moment.  When that passed, I then said “well, there’s no reason I can’t read it before I give it to her, right?”  Good Mary finally came out and I gave it to her in virgin condition.  Lucky for me she is a fast reader and a week later sent it to me with a note that I needed to read it.  Score one for karma!

The Good Girl is a solid thriller but when you’ve read a lot of them (***coughs***raises hand***coughs***), it is predictable.  Sadly, I figured out the big twist pretty early and that was quite a disappointment.

BUT…I liked it.  Good writing, good character development, good pacing.  Good, good, good.  (Yes, I used the word ‘good’ an annoying number of times intentionally.)

3/5 stars and I will read another by this author.  Fingers crossed she can surprise me next time.

 

 

Mini-Review: Any Other Name (Walt Longmire #10) by Craig Johnson

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Any Other Name is probably my least favorite of this series so far.  The fact that it still rates 3.5/5 stars tells you how much I like Johnson’s writing.  He can tell a story like few others.

The issue is that while the main storylines change with each novel, too many of the details remain the same.  Walt is pulled into an investigation outside his jurisdiction.  He gets caught in the snow (seriously, is it ever summer in Wyoming?).  Henry and Vic assist him in the investigation (when does Vic do her day job?).  And, Henry’s appearance was just so out of left field that it made no sense to me.  If you want him included, just have Walt call him in.  Don’t make it seem like some coincidence that he shows up somewhere.

Enjoyable but becoming predictable.  I’d like to see Johnson change it up.

 

Review – The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials #3) by Philip Pullman

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Have you ever finished a book with the feeling “I have no idea what I think of this”?  Well, that was me at the end of The Amber Spyglass.  I cannot decide if I think it is brilliant or an overall bloody hot mess.

A book that tackles…

  • Spirituality vs. religious fanaticism
  • Fate / destiny
  • Parental love and abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Sacrifice for the greater good
  • Environmental awareness (or lack thereof which can lead to catastrophe)
  • What happens after we die?
  • Is there such a thing as a soul?
  • Love in all its’ forms
  • And so much more including everything except the kitchen sink.

…can go either way.  The problem that I had with The Amber Spyglass is that it felt, well, all over the place from about 10%-75%.  That’s a lot of pages of “huh”?  Don’t get me wrong.  I love it when an author surprises me but the story here wasn’t at all what I expected and, for the most part, that wasn’t a good thing.

However, the ending.  The ending.  I loved it with all the feels my tiny and now-broken heart can muster.  It was flipping fantastic.

I’m going to leave this as 3/5 stars for now.  My plan is to re-read this series in a few years to see if I further appreciate this installment once I know the end-game.

P.S. I know I’ve harped on this series being categorized as ‘children’s books’ so I can’t just ignore that in this review.  I firmly believe children should read books that challenge them both intellectually and emotionally.  However, there are some heavy themes in this series and specifically in this installment.  If your child is reading this, be sure to read it yourself and talk to them about it.  And, if you are very particular about sexual innuendo in what your child reads, just be aware.  It wasn’t over the top but there is definitely a sexual undertone in several scenes.  You might need to have “the talk” with your child after they read about Ms. Coulter and Metatron.