Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Review: Faefever by Karen Marie Moning

Title: Faefever
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Series: Fever, Book 3
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 16 September 2008

Mac's quest for the Sinsar Dubh takes her into the mean, shape-shifting streets of Dublin, with a suspicious cop on her tail. Forced into a dangerous triangle of alliance with V'lane, an insatiable Fae prince of lethally erotic tastes, and Jericho Barrons, a man of primal desires and untold secrets, Mac is soon locked in a battle for her body, mind, and soul.

As All Hallows Eve approaches and the city descends into chaos, as a shocking truth about the Dark Book is uncovered, not even Mac can prevent a deadly race of immortals from shattering the walls between worlds with devastating consequences.

I never wrote a review for this before. How the hell is that even possible? Scratch that. I know why. This book is ... world-changing, heart-breaking, intense, mind-blowing. I'm not sure that I could ever begin to do justice to the emotions that I feel throughout it.

Even now, even knowing how things turn out, what happens and how it all goes down, I was on the edge of my seat for the entirety of this book, needing to see, needing to know.

Spoiler-free? This book is amazing. I quoted as much as I could without spoilering anywhere, but there's so much more that I wanted to. Even in this, dark as it sometimes is, there was a great amount of humor, and I wished I could share more of it.

If the walls come down completely, all the Unseelie will be freed, not just the lower castes that are currently managing to get through somehow. The most powerful of the Unseelie Royal Houses will escape." He paused and when he spoke again, his voice was low, urgent. "Myth equates the heads of those four houses, the dark princes, with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."

I knew who they were: Death, Pestilence, War, and Famine.

Mac's Growth: I love how consistently it's increased. Mac doesn't just become stronger and better and smarter. She learns - sometimes difficultly - and grows organically. I know that some people have issues with Mac in the first few books, but I get her. Even when I want her to trust Barrons, I applaud her for not. Yes, he gives plenty of reasons to, but there are those times when his actions are more ambiguous. I love that she doesn't trust him just because. I love that she doesn't really trust anyone, except herself, and she's using all she can to make herself more self-reliant.

But left to my own devices I'd prefer to skim over the events of the next few weeks, and whisk you through those days with glossed-over details that cast me in a more flattering light.

Nobody looks good in their darkest hour. But it's those hours that make us what we are. We stand strong, or we cower. We emerge victorious, tempered by our trials, or fractured by a permanent, damning fault line.

I never used to think about thinks like darkest hours and trials and fault lines.

Barrons: That being said, god-damn, do I love this male. He's so freaking....everything. I can't even help it. The small moments of humour. The moments of approval. The moments where it's very clear he wants to help her become everything she can be. The way he ensures that she maintains her agency. And when he does answer questions? Damn. Love.

"What are you? I said irritably.

"In the Serengeti, Ms. Lane, I would be the cheetah. I'm stronger, smarter, faster, and hungrier than everything else out there. And I don't apologize to the gazelle when I take it down."

V'lane: I don't love V'lane. Never did. But in this book he ... became something different for me. He redeemed himself to a small degree, for a time...

"Your wards are laughable. They could not prevent a nightmare of me from getting in."

Sidhe-Seers: I love that there are more strong females out there. Females that have the will to make their own choices, even in the midst of crisis. This is probably my favorite thing about these books: Women are STRONG. Don't forget it.

"You are not one of us."

"I say she is, and she just got off to a bad start. She didn't have anyone to help her figure things out. How would you guys have done in the same situation? She's just trying to survive, like we all are."

The Plot: OMG. JFC. Everything's coming to a head. Things are getting real.

"Speaking of which, I've decided I see the wisdom of your advice."

"Has Hell frozen over?" he said dryly.

"Funny. I'm not going to ask you questions tonight, Barrons. I'm going to ask you for three actions."

Interest uncoiled like a dark snake in his eyes. "Go on."

This book was the hardest ending for me to read on my first read. It's dark. And final. And there was no Dreamfever in sight for more than a year. I had to wait, and speculate, and wonder. I'm glad I don't any longer.

Grade: A

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

Title: The Eye of the World
Author: Robert Jordan
Series: The Wheel of Time, Book 1
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Release Date: 16 January 1990

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, and Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

For a very, very long time this series has intimidated the hell out of me. I first started hearing about it sometime in the late 1990s. At that time there were seven or eight books out (less than the fourteen that finalized the series), but I was scared as hell because they are DOORSTOPPERS, and there was NO END in sight. I worried that the series would never end. I worried that it'd suck and I'd be stuck reading thousands of pages of books that I hated (this was back in my MUST FINISH EVERYTHING stage of life). But most of all, I worried that I'd love it and be stuck waiting forever for the end (also back in my no-bigger-than-a-trilogy stage with a few exceptions). So I put it off, waiting for the right moment. I've had this book on my to-read shelf for nearly 2 decades.

Honestly, I'm glad I waited. I'm not sure 15-year-old me would have appreciated this in quite the same way that adult-me does. Even though I thought I knew it all and read far beyond my age at the time, I know there are ideas and concepts that just wouldn't have held the gravitas that they do now. I wouldn't have missed them because they'd have flown right over my young head, but it wouldn't have been the same experience.

I still should have read them long before now, but by that time the length of the series started to intimidate me for a whole other reason. It is SO LONG. Good gods, we're talking over ELEVEN THOUSAND pages in total. Eleven thousand. That's an epic story if ever there was one.

Thankfully, I have some friends that praise the hell out of this series and finally convinced me to pick up the first book and start my journey.

This last month while reading this book has been one of the best book experiences of my life. I'm not sure I can do a review justice, which is probably why I've spent so much time talking about my journey to this book. What I can, definitively, say is that it is very worth it. Maybe a bullet-review will help...

  • The World: I've read a lot of books. I've read my fair share of fantasy, even. I've never, never entered a world that is so intricate, well-built, and detailed as this one. One book and we've already seen and learned so much of it, but I feel like we've barely touched the surface. Not only is there a vast amount of geography to cover, there's a ton of cultures, races, species, and magic. The history here is so intricate that I have a hard time imagining Robert Jordan being able to keep it all straight, but he does, beautifully in this first installment. I never floundered over what or who something was, never felt like I was reading info-dumps of information, and was always glued to the pages to learn more, more, MORE.
  • The Characters: I tried, the other day, to say my favorite character and ended up with a list of about fifteen. There's such diversity and complexity to the characters that I can't help but be interested in almost everyone that I meet. I'm rooting for them, worried for them, and hoping that I get to see a lot more of each of them (with 11,000 pages, I should certainly see a bunch of some of them).
  • The Prose: This writing. Holy shit. It's lyrical and beautiful, sparse and pointed. It's everything it needs to be in every place it needs to be it. There are some passages that are so arresting I had to stop and re-read them several times before I could even move on. Not only is the prose gorgeous, but the writing itself is tight. You'd be forgiven for thinking that such a long book has some (large) amount of fluff, but you wouldn't be right. There's nothing extra here, just what's needed, and it makes the book fly by.
  • The Plot/Pacing: All I can say here is that I never wanted to put it down. I always resented work, sleep and my commute for getting in the way of my continuing this story. The pacing is spot-on, the plot is amazingly suspenseful, and in the end it's everything I could have hoped for.

That's all I've got. The rest is fangirl squeeing, and incoherent muttering about how fucking amazing this book is.

Now excuse me, I have to go start The Great Hunt.

Grade: A+

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Review: Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

Title: Sweep in Peace
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles, Book 2
Genre: Science-Fiction/Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 13 November 2015

Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina's door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn... and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it's all in the day's work for an Innkeeper...

I think it's a fairly well-known fact that I'm a HUGE Ilona Andrews fan-girl. I try not to let this influence my reviews of their books, and in fact I think it makes me judge them a little more harshly in some lights, but the fact of the matter is that I just flat-out enjoy their stories. It's hard for me to find serious faults with them. And when I'm having fun, when I'm invested, and when an author can bring out the sort of emotions that Ilona Andrews manages - well, that results in an excellent review from me.

Dina's stuck in the middle of some serious peace negotiations - where neither side is really sure if they can even begin to compromise on their terms to reach peace. Each faction wants peace, I think that much is clear, but I think I've never had a fiction novel show me so clearly how hard it is to get to that when you've got years of war and devastation behind you. This novel struck at my heart for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that war is devastating. I think that's clear from our current events, and peace is something we need now, more than ever. I find myself wishing that we could protect all of Earth's inhabitants with a peace summit - even one as difficult as the one here.

I wish I'd written this review yesterday, before I heard about the devastation that's happened in Paris, before I was reminded about how much we hurt each other on this planet. I'm finding it hard to think of anything else, now.

This is an excellent book. A great addition into the series, and I really, honestly, can't wait to see where they take us next. The world keeps getting bigger - when you have a full universe to work with, it should - and I find there are more and more characters that I care about and want to see a LOT more of.

The stakes are high in this novel, not just for the races seeking peace, but for Dina herself. If you've read The Edge series, you're familiar with George and Jack - we get quite a bit more of them here. And all I can say is that it's not enough. I need so much more with them, because it's more than obvious that none of their stories are finished yet either.

Ilona Andrews is my favorite author. With good reason.

Grade: A

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