**Notice** Due to transfering back from a godaddy hosted wordpress blog back to blogger, reviews published before june 2017 don`t all have a pretty layout with book cover and infos. Our apologies.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik

Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik


Book Stats:  

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Historical fiction
Paperback: 376 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: May 19, 2009

Series:  Temeraire #5

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

For Britain, conditions are grim: Napoleon’s resurgent forces have breached the Channel and successfully invaded English soil. Napoleon’s prime objective is the occupation of London. Unfortunately, the dragon Temeraire has been removed from military service–and his captain, Will Laurence, has been condemned to death for treason. Separated by their own government and threatened at every turn by Napoleon’s forces, Laurence and Temeraire must struggle to find each other amid the turmoil of war. If only they can be reunited, master and dragon might rally Britain’s scattered resistance forces and take the fight to the enemy as never before–for king and country, and for their own liberty.


In the last novel, the British had contaminated Napoleon's dragons with the wasting disease, and Temeraire and Laurence recognized that this would spread to other countries and all dragons would die. Temeraire and Laurence made a choice to bring the cure to France's dragons though all of Britain would see this as betrayal and Laurence would lose everything and be branded as a traitor. Upon their return to Britain, Laurence and Temeraire were separated and have been sent to their respective fates: Temeraire to the breeding grounds and Laurence captive in a ship's brig to await his hanging.

Things do seem the lowest of the low for our two heroes. Still, with a war on, Temeraire is the most valuable dragon in their arsenal, and things don't quite pan out to the expectation. This book is where Temeraire begins to shine separate of Laurence. When he believes Laurence is dead, he wins the allegiance of the dragons at the breeding grounds and takes them to war against Napoleon, who has launched a campaign on British soil. However, the dragons are also acting without military orders. Laurence, who has only been called to duty since the war needs Temeraire, must act as Temeraire's representative (once reunited) for the canny dragon has made himself a commander, with dragons and militia under his orders. Temeraire begins to grasp the chain of command and the hurdles resulting while also confronting the outcomes, bringing a better understanding of what Laurence has done for him in choosing treason to make the moral choice. Finally, with Temeraire's military rise, he uses this newfound power to command respect from the men and bargain for dragon rights, though we have not yet fully seen how this will play out.

Laurence, too, has his own inner battle, finding he readily accepts martial consequences of his actions for himself but not for many others it has affected. This is a subtle conflict, and Laurence chooses safeguards to prevent this from occurring again under his command by withholding their true orders from the other captains and crew. This obedience to orders to save his companions further complicates matters, though, as their orders goes against his moral code. And after everything Laurence has suffered, we finally see this take a noticeable toll on him through Temeraire's observation.

 Despite the separation and chaos of this novel, I really enjoyed the character development and the opportunities for Temeraire to both lead and learn, mostly without Laurence's guidance or influence. I still like Laurence, and with him so miserable, it would be nice to see him afforded a bit of happiness soon. I don't see how this is likely with them headed to Australia, but I guess I will have to keep reading!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [276]


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
——————
 
EnregistrerAnother very tall shelf stack over at Reading Reality this week. I'm so happy these are all ebooks. If they were print the house would sink! The scary thing is that in the days before NetGalley and Edelweiss, I used to buy books at just about the same rate. OMG.

As always, I have a couple of books to tease you with.




The Awkward Squad by Sophie Henaff

This one isn't going to be out until well into next year, but I couldn't resist picking it up. The premise, of a disgraced cop who ends up commanding a squad of misfits, sounds very much like one of my favorite British TV crime dramas, New Tricks. And if it's half as good, it should be a real treat.


A Scandal in Battersea by Mercedes Lackey

If the title and the cover don't give this away, A Scandal in Battersea is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche set in the world of Lackey's Elemental Masters. I absolutely ADORE Holmes' pastiches, and Lackey is one of my favorite authors. What's not to love?

Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik

Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Historical fiction
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: September 25, 2007

Series:  Temeraire #4

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Tragedy has struck His Majesty’s Aerial Corps, whose magnificent fleet of fighting dragons and their human captains valiantly defend England’s shores against the encroaching armies of Napoleon Bonaparte. An epidemic of unknown origin and no known cure is decimating the noble dragons’ ranks–forcing the hopelessly stricken into quarantine. Now only Temeraire and a pack of newly recruited dragons remain uninfected–and stand as the only means of an airborne defense against France’s ever bolder sorties.
Bonaparte’s dragons are already harrowing Britain’s ships at sea. Only one recourse remains: Temeraire and his captain, Will Laurence, must take wing to Africa, whose shores may hold the cure to the mysterious and deadly contagion. On this mission there is no time to waste, and no telling what lies in store beyond the horizon or for those left behind to wait, hope, and hold the line.


This is possibly the most anxiety-ridden book so far in the series as all of Britain's dragons except Temeraire are in danger of being wiped out by an aggressive epidemic. With the war still ongoing, the only defense keeping Napoleon out without the dragons is the Navy, and even then, with Napoleon's and Lien's ingenious tactics, war could soon come onto British shores. Leaving the willful Iskierka and Arkady's band of ferals (with the translation help of Tharkay and Granby) to defend all of Britain from Napoleon by air, Temeraire and his cohort must travel back to Africa in hopes of finding a cure for the draconian disease.

Book 2, Throne of Jade actually introduces quite a bit that surfaces in this novel. Quick recap: on route to China, Temeraire took suddenly ill, but with the help of the Chinese cooks who were unafraid to use whatever means to feed him as possible, they managed to find something that cured his illness. That same illness spread to Britain and amplified (Temeraire not having the illness long enough to observe the full scope and devastation of the disease), and now all the British dragons face wasting decay and death. The cure, thought to be an odd, smelly mushroom, is virtually unknown and thus, their search is made 1,000x harder by the language barrier, unknown name and unknown description over all the continent of Africa. Having traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, Temeraire's and Laurence's job is to find that cure and test it on their friends, Lily, Maximus etc. (his wingmates from previous novels) before sending it back to Britain.

Laurence and his fellows bring with them two former slaves: Joseph Erasmus, an African missionary and his wife Hannah, and their two young daughters. Since they are onboard the Allegiance with Captain Riley again, this brings up another key theme/conflict from Throne of Jade: slavery and human rights/dragon rights. Though slavery is condemned by Laurence (and Temeraire), it still exists in Britain and other countries and upheld in British law though there has been a movement for some time to abolish it. Riley's family are slave owners, and this creates tension between the naval officers and Laurence and some of his airmen. Slavers have been increasing their raids of African villages from the coast and moving inward. While they are in pursuit of the mushrooms and harvesting a large cache, Laurence and some other captains and crew, including the newly pregnant Catherine Harcourt and former slave Hannah Erasmus, are captured by African natives. Here they directly see the effects slavery has had on the African villages and their dragons, and though Laurence is against it, they still must pay the price for being associated. It forces everyone, human and dragon alike, to confront their perceptions of slavery, and even Britain suffers the devastating consequences in the end. Will our heroes make it out of Africa alive? I couldn't predict any part of the way this ended (!), and I'm sure the mind-blowing outcome will come into play in a later novel.

This one made me laugh, cry, and bite my nails with anxiety since there are a plethora of awful possibilities just waiting to happen... Onward to more reading!


Saturday, October 07, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [275]


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
——————
 
EnregistrerMy complete shelf stack over at Reading Reality got rather tall this week. I saw oodles of interesting looking books at NetGalley and Edelweiss. Possibly too many.

But I'd still like to share a couple of books with you, just to tease.



Artifact (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt #1) by Gigi Pandian

This is the first book in Pandian's lovely Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt series. I read the fifth book this week, The Ninja's Illusion, and loved it, so I immediately went off to get the rest of the series. If you enjoyed the late Elizabeth Peters' Vicky Bliss series, you'll love Jaya Jones. If you like mysteries with quirky heroines that have a great mix of cozy characters with adventurous exploits, you'll also love Jaya. I know I did!


The Governess Who Captured His Heart (Honorable Scoundrels #1) by Sophie Barnes

I also nabbed all three books in Sophie Barnes' new Honorable Scoundrels series. I really enjoy her historical romances, because she does a lovely job of turning the established tropes on their pointy little heads without making her heroines too modern, and therefor too anachronistic. Her books are always a good time, so I'm looking forward to reading this series. And they are all marvelously short! There are times when a quick little read to whisk you away is just what you're looking for, and these look like they will fill that particular bill quite admirably.


Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Thursday, October 05, 2017

Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Historical fiction
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: May 30, 2006

Series:  Temeraire #3

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

After their fateful adventure in China, Capt. Will Laurence of His Majesty’s Aerial Corps and his extraordinary dragon, Temeraire, are waylaid by a mysterious envoy bearing urgent new orders from Britain. Three valuable dragon eggs have been purchased from the Ottoman Empire, and Laurence and Temeraire must detour to Istanbul to escort the precious cargo back to England. Time is of the essence if the eggs are to be borne home before hatching.

Yet disaster threatens the mission at every turn–thanks to the diabolical machinations of the Chinese dragon Lien, who blames Temeraire for her master’s death and vows to ally herself with Napoleon and take vengeance. Then, faced with shattering betrayal in an unexpected place, Laurence, Temeraire, and their squad must launch a daring offensive. But what chance do they have against the massed forces of Bonaparte’s implacable army?


This third novel is very much an epic as it is mostly journeying across Asia and Europe (more so than most of the other novels so far). They've managed to appease China in having Laurence adopted as the Emperor's son and sealed good relations with England in the process, and now they must return as England calls for Laurence and Temeraire to escort three dragon eggs from Istanbul home. Temeraire and his crew, along with a slippery guide named Tharkay, travel across deserts and rice paddies of inland China through unknown territories to Turkestan, facing starvation, attacks, and finally betrayal.

At the forefront of this novel is the idea of dragon rights and better conditions for what most other countries see as beasts or property. When Temeraire decides to return to England, he is filled with righteous fire and determined to bring better conditions to his dragon friends. Having seen some of the luxuries in China, they bring back cooks and other Chinese ideas like his decorative dragon claw sheaths, pavilion plans, and sand tables for writing. On their journey though, they must trust their safety to Tharkay, which is in some ways problematic as he keeps disappearing and after the secrets in China, Laurence is wary of more danger. They also encounter a large band of feral dragons, led by Arkady, who wish to see the Sultan of Istanbul and have great battles and stories such as Temeraire tells. When they arrive in Istanbul, they face a mess as their allies have conflicting stories than their instructions. Here they discover that Lien has preceded them across Asia to align herself with Napoleon and turn the Sultan against them. Desperate to return to England and help in the war after having learned of other defeats, Laurence and Temeraire must decide to do things their own way without guidance. Here their bond grows even stronger as they have only themselves and their crew to rely on with the communications silent. Here their honor, choices, and unorthodox kindness to their allies are key game changers in their long journey home, especially in a war that dragon intelligence has altered drastically.

I loved the new characters and setting in this novel, though it does seem like it's a wonder that any of Laurence's crew survives. There is one super heartbreaking moment in this novel that made me cry, but there are lots of great moments too, like finally getting to see Granby having more opportunities. The brush with historical characters is exciting, though I had to do a bit of research about Napoleon and the Prussian royalty. Like always, there is quite a big cliffhanger that drives you on to the next novel. Review coming soon!


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [274]


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
——————
 
Enregistrer I got lots of goodies this week, but this time I'd like to highlight a couple of my favorite self-published authors, both of whom sent me new books this week. If you want to see my entire Stacking the Shelves, it's over at Reading Reality. As usual.



Hell Squad: Ash by Anna Hackett

I got hooked on Anna's writing many, many books ago. Probably with the first Phoenix Adventures  book, At Star's End. But I love everything she writes. Several of her series are in my favorite genre, science fiction romance - and for those who are new to SFR, she never drowns the reader in technobabble. But each series is distinct and different in spite of being in the same genre. Hell Squad is post-apocalyptic, Galactic Gladiators are about space-traveling pit fighters and the Phoenix Adventures feature intergalactic treasure hunters. She also has a contemporary action-adventure-romance series, Treasure Hunter Security, that I'm almost certain is going to be a very loose "prequel" for the Phoenix Adventures, because those two families must be related! But if you are looking for a non-stop action both of the adventurous kind and between the sheets, you cannot go wrong with any of Anna's series. Start with At Star's End, Marcus, Gladiator or Undiscovered, depending on which flavor of action-adventure floats your boat. Better yet - collect the set - they are all awesome.



River Rising by John A. Heldt

I discovered John Heldt's books way, way back, as one of the international book lovers at the late and much lamented Book Lovers Inc blog. If you like time travel romance, and you have not discovered John Heldt, you are in for a real treat. His first book, The Mine, is one of the best time travel romances I've ever read. Right up there with Outlander. But The Mine, and all of his books, are marvelously different. Not just because he clearly does one hell of a lot of research (as does Gabaldon) but because his time travelers travel back in the United States, and to parts of history that were epochal but still very much part of our collective conscious. And he does an absolutely terrific job of making us feel what they feel - both the joys of discovery and the heartache of knowing what must come, no matter what. Heartbreakingly beautiful books, every single one.

Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Frostblood by Elly Blake

Frostblood by Elly Blake

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: High Fantasy
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: January 10, 2017

Series:  Frostblood Saga, #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

This New York Times bestseller is perfect for fans of Red Queen.
Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.
Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating--yet irresistible--Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king's tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her--and from the icy young man she has come to love.
Vivid and compelling, Frostblood is the first in an exhilarating series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies...but together create a power that could change everything.

I started this book with excited anticipation, but after reading almost 3/4, I realized my problems with it were just not going to improve. I felt there was very little character development among our three mostly main characters: Brother Thistle, Arcus, and Ruby. Ruby does not stand out as a heroine and doesn't have much past besides her grandmother's stories and her mother dying almost immediately into the book. She also is pretty weak overall, and it's hard to see what strengths she has other than a temper. She has no other features to define her like a love of plants or animals or skills that set her apart. Her storyline is lending into a typical Chosen One where she'll be tempted by darkness, prophesied about, etc. And this brings up mostly what is wrong with this story: there's nothing that seems to be unique or stand out from the genre. It all feels borrowed from fantasy trope and predictable. Her romance with Arcus is also lackluster, as Arcus is secretive, brooding, and ultimately unimpressive in any detail that is revealed about his character. For most of the story, Ruby is either imprisoned or "in training" in an abby dedicated to Fors, a deity who takes in refugees. However, as a Fireblood, Ruby is largely hated. She's also (conveniently?) the only one of her kind left. She is supposed to be the only one who can kill the king and have an unstoppable Fireblood gift, but due to her weakness of character, this is very unbelievable.

The worldbuilding wasn't bad as I liked the details about the different gods, but it wasn't too clear what the history was and didn't make the reader feel fully immersed in the fantasy at all. There was little detail to the setting to set it apart or make it come alive. Ultimately, any reader who picks this up might enjoy it until they discover better written fantasies. There wasn't even enough suspense left for me to continue the book, much less try reading book 2, Fireblood, due to be released next month. After turning the book over, I also noticed it was highly praised by Morgan Rhodes, whose fantasies I also have a lot of problems with. I should have known better. Though I really liked Red Queen, which this was blurbed to have similarities to that title, this shot didn't even come close to being as good despite this beautiful cover. My opinion? Try Red Queen instead.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [273]


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
——————
 
Enregistrer And we're back with another edition of "As the Bookshelf Groans", otherwise known as Stacking the Shelves. Or, as is usual in my case, Overstacking the Shelves. My complete stack, as usual, is over at Reading Reality. But there are, as always, a couple of books I want to tease you with - I meant highlight.



The Lost Plot (Invisible Library #4) by Genevieve Cogman

If you believe that there is magic in books - I certainly do - the Invisible Library series is an absolute delight, starting with the first book, the introduction to this marvelous gateway between worlds, The Invisible Library. As The Lost Plot won't be found until early January, you have plenty of time to get caught up before Librarian Irene Adler's next breathless adventure.



A Spoonful of Magic by Irene Radford

I don't know about you, but I could certainly use a kitchen witch. (Especially in the morning, before I've had my first caffeine injection). But seriously, this one just sounds like a terrific start to a new urban fantasy series.


Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: High Fantasy
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: TOR Teen
Release date: January 5, 2016

Series:  The Witchlands, #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

The instant New York Times bestseller from the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series!

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a "witchery," a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble--as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It's a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her--but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi's hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship's captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

As I have a different opinion of this book than another reviewer, I thought I would talk about why I had such an alternate view.

I had such high hopes for this book. The cover is gorgeous. The idea of the novel is very intriguing, BUT (you did sense the BUT coming, didn't you?) there were quite a few big flaws that just made it a big disappointment.

First, there is too much action and too fast a pace to make sense. The story starts out with Safi and Iseult being chased due to setting a nasty trap for the wrong person. Why are they setting traps and robbing people? We never find out. Then, they are chased a few pages later again out of the city. And soon after that, Iseult must flee out of her former family's encampment due to a controlling Cursewitch and her mother's rushed escape plan. She meets up with Safi again, and both are being hunted by a Bloodwitch and having to flee the Empire aboard a Nubrevnan ship. A ship which has been contracted to spirit Safi away from her future husband and life as Empress and being chased by the Marstoks and the Cartorrans. It just keeps being a, pardon my terrible pun, witchhunt! There's no rest or time to get to know our characters without these super high, run-for-your-life stakes. Also, what is the point of being hunted anyway? Supposedly, it is because Safi is a Truthwitch and anyone who is a Truthwitch has the potential to be used for their power. What makes this different from being used as an Ironwitch or Threadwitch though?

There are many instances that pull the reader from the suspension of disbelief, bringing my next point to light: the lack of good worldbuilding. There's some great bones, but a lot of things are not explained that should be. Other readers/reviewers were asking about a glossary. This wouldn't be necessary if things were explained in the book at all. For instance, what is a Threadsister/brother? What makes this bond between Safi and Iseult so special? How many different types of witches are there? What makes them different from regular people? Can the Bloodwitch only hunt people with witcheries or anybody with blood? It's really frustrating, frankly, not to have these explained, and ultimately ruined this book entirely for me. Part of writing fantasy is that you have to have well-established worldbuilding and this just didn't, as it didn't support the elements it introduced. We don't find out a lot of things that really would have made the story come fully alive. Although I did finish this book, it just didn't interest me enough to even bother about reading book 2, Windwitch. I liked the characters mostly, but really wanted more of the focus on Safi and Iseult as they are there to hold the story up. The introduction of Merik is nice, but his connection with Safi just became too tiresome after awhile as it was mainly insta-love.

Side note: I noticed that Susan Dennard is bffs with Sarah Maas after getting to the acknowledgements. This is also probably should have clued me in that I was going to be disappointed as Sarah Maas and I don't get along.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [272]


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
——————
 
Enregistrer After Hurricane Irma blew through last week, it looks like the next two, Jose and Katia, are headed off the U.S. east coast and well away from the places that are currently still bailing out after Harvey and Irma. That's the good news.

And, as always, there have been more books added to the virtually towering TBR stack. It's important to have plenty of choices of stuff to read in any crisis - or just because. The complete stack is over at Reading Reality, but here are just a few teasers...




Cold Hearted Rake, Marrying Winterborne, Devil in Spring (The Ravenels series) by Lisa Kleypas

I read a spotlight/promo/teaser for the next book in the series, Hello, Stranger, and it just sounded to good that I had to borrow the first three books from the library. I'll have plenty of time (hopefully) to get caught up before the new one comes out in February.


The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger by Victoria Alexander

In addition to meriting an award for longest title ever, this is the second book in the series, after The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen, which I read and which was an absolute hoot. So I'm looking forward to this one.

Please link your STS post in the linky below: