Monday, 23 January 2017

Book Reviews - Good stuff

I'm going to start with the more memorable ones, because they stuck out in my memory and made me want to read more. I remember their characters and plots and felt they did their job in letting me escape reality for a while.

Magic of Thieves: Legends of Dimmingwood series by C Greenwood.  This is your standard fantasy trope, which was something I desperately needed that day. I believe I picked this one up from Fussy Librarian. First book was permafree and sucked me right in. "Magic of Thieves" is the first book and tells the story of Ilan. Through Bad Things happening, she finds herself a member of a band of thieves, and thus grows up as one of them.

I found the voice and style smooth and easy to read. The characters were nicely rounded and interacted well. I only wish there had been more body to the plot.

Recommendation:  Yes, I'd recommend this. It was pleasant.  I'd like to read the rest of the series.

However... the rest of the series is exclusive to Amazon.  Many authors are doing this, and it's really annoying me. They'll throw up the first book on all platforms (including my beloved Kobo), but the rest of the series is only on Amazon.  And yes, while I could download a Kindle reader for my laptop, the whole reason I got an ebook reader was because it's easy on my eyes. I can only stand staring at a computer monitor for so many hours before I get headaches.  I've got to really, really like a book series to risk a headache so I can read it Amazon-exclusive.  (Zon, you have much to answer for for your stupid exclusivity practices, and your inability to only allow an author to set a free pricepoint if you're price-matching from another platform. Shame!)

Still, I am considering purchasing the rest.

Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles, #1)  by Rick Johnson. A fresh YA take on anthropomorphic animals. Helga is a Wood Cow who barely escaped slavers, and ends up growing up in a bayou. Eventually she's reunited with her father and brother, though mother was captured by slavers.   When her brother ends up giving the middle finger to the Hedgelands High One (aka self-centred king), said High One banishes her whole clan.  Another one selected from Fussy Librarian.

I liked this fresh read and had fun with the voice. The characterisation was deep and interesting. The plot, however, was rather episodic. While one tale tied in to another through various threads, there wasn't much of an uberplot. Most of the stories function very well as standalones. They are beautiful within themselves, and provided a pleasant thirty minutes of reading.  I loved the little stories, but if I were to read too many of them in a row without some sort of master plan, I might start finding them tedious.

It felt like this series was pantsed (aka organic, aka written without any prior plotting). The next book in the series sounds like there's more of an uberplot. I'm willing to give it a go. There's also a third and a fourth, should my plotty goodness wishes come true.

Recommendation:  Yes, quite. Recommended for readers who like characters with a bit of sass.  Also, extra blessings to the author for having the next few books available on Kobo.

The Midnight Sea: The Fourth Element series by Kat Ross.  This takes place during the Mediterranean Classical era when Alexander the Great conquers the world and Zarathustra was the Zoroastrian prophet. That said, this book had a delightful otherworldly feel, which I love in my fantasy.

Magical beings called daevas (djinni) are bonded to humans through enchanted cuffs (think sul-dam and damane), and together they hunt necromancers and demons and other nasties that an evil queen has sent to plague the kingdom.

This had a nice plot with a few twists and turns. I like that in my stories. Turn a few facts on their heads and I'm yours.

Recommendation:  Sure. But here's another one who's gone Amazon exclusive. Shame, as I really wanted to read "Blood of the Prophet", as this plot is upping its ante nicely.  If only my Kobo reader could handle .mobi. (It doesn't, alas.)

The Unflappable Miss Fairchild: Uncommon Courtships (or Rogues and Rakes, depending on your version) series b Regina Scott.  When I want true escapism with a clinical dose of optimism, I'll turn to trusty old Regency Romance.

Miss Anne Fairchild is a character that will go with the flow, does not feel constrained by societal mores, yet will not compromise her values easily. Chas Prestwick is a second son who acts a bit of the rake. When the two meet, they individually consider changing their ways.

I loved this story, for when a misunderstanding came up, the two of them talked it out, instead of doing the whole prideful hurt-ish silent treatment. That bodes well for me to believe their HEA will be truly E.A.  If the rest of the books are as well-thought-out as this one, I'm happy to read the rest of the series.

Now, when I say series, know that a series in romance is not the same as a series in Fantasy.  Pros: I am guaranteed a complete plot arc in a single book.  Cons: no sweeping three-book sagas giving me a universe in which I can lose myself for a week.

Recommendation:  Yep. This was a good choice. Am considering buying more of her books, though the price point is making me balk. At least she's got plenty of books available on Kobo.

Her Grace loves a well-written book. 

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