Review: Tower of Thorns

Tower of Thorns

by Juliet Marillier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Enchanting characters that will win you over.

A medieval mystery series, Blackthorn and Grim are two dispossessed souls trying to do go in a world they no longer believe in. Blackthorn because of a deal made with the Fae, and Grim because he’d follow her anywhere. I have enjoyed the mysteries, though at time I felt they could move on a bit faster. Nonetheless, I enjoy the language and the characters enough to be content.

I’d listened to the first Blackthorn and Grim book by Marillier a while back. It is done with a full cast and when I heard Grim for the first time (though the voice actor is delightful) I cringed. I didn’t think I’d like him enough to stand a whole book with him. But thanks to Marillier, by the time I was done with that book, I liked Grim. And a third of the way through this one, I loved him. The relationship between stubborn Blackthorn and her “lump of a man” is something you find yourself rooting for, though her obtuseness about his feelings at the end was a bit unbelievable. After all, she is supposed to be wise.

Nonetheless, I am looking forward to the next installment to see what trouble they can get up to now. If you like fantasy and a bit of romance, you’ll love these books.

This was not actually read but was an audiobook. I do love being read to!  There was a full cast and they did a lovely job, as they did in the previous book. I’m buying book 3 now and hope the same actors will be doing that one too.  Definitely worth a listen.

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Review: Love, Rosie

Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern

I read this book because I saw the movie and totally loved it. It’s the story of star-crossed best friends and would-be lovers – Rosie and Alex. Friends since childhood, they manage to stay closer than usual despite the Atlantic ocean, three children, three marriages and a few funerals. The story is delightfully tense, full of missed opportunities and the frustrating miscommunication that arises from NOT saying what you think. And yet at times the characters are too honest with each other, leading to rifts and misunderstandings.

Of course, we all know the problems inherent in seeing a story before reading it. But in this case, I liked the movie adaptation better. Still, the book was good and I was not as bothered by the odd structure as I thought I’d be. (The entire book is written as emails, texts and letters between the various players). But, perhaps because I had seen the movie, it felt that the resolution to their story took too long in the book. The wrap up at the end less romantic than I’d hoped, though still good enough to warrant four stars. I did enjoy it but I’d rather see the movie again.

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Review: Unveiled by A.D. Trosper

Unveiled by A.D. Trosper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A.D. Trosper “unveils” another engrossing and delightful story. (See what I did there.)

I have enjoyed other books by this author and I am always struck by the ease with which Ms. Trosper creates her worlds. Her language is unadorned and straightforward. The prose itself quickly slips into the background as the setting she creates fills your imagination. The world-within-worlds reality of Unveiled is truly fascinating and I can’t wait to see what further lands are explored in the sequel(s) to this book.

Moreover, Trosper manages to put us smack dab inside the heroine’s head and never lets it slip. Jo, short for Josephine, is an ordinary if extremely stubborn young woman who has never suspected anything supernatural about her life. But when her mother dies, she discovers just how wrong she was. From her unusual parentage to her decision to join the ranks of Reapers (guides who help souls to the appropriate afterlife), she has to embrace a new worldview which she does with a only a smidge of kicking and a good dollop of sarcastic snark. She is tough and vulnerable at the same time; you can’t help but love her. As for her counterpart and reluctant partner-in-crime Caius, he has a Darcy-like haughtiness that just begs for a comeuppance. The two mains play well off each other, with a great deal of enjoyable spark. I bet their relationship will bear further watching.

Trosper’s mix of angels, demons, and older gods is fun and fresh. If you love paranormal romances with a strong sense of snark and humanity, Unveiled should definitely be on your TBR list.

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Review: The Crown’s Dog

The Crown’s Dog by Elise Kova
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To be honest, I didn’t read this but listened to it. A tale of pirate curses, missing treasure and murder, it was nonetheless a fairly light read and quite enjoyable. Though it was odd that a convicted criminal would be sentenced to serve a Prince so closely, I’m sure there is more to the story of how Jax came to be Baldair’s man than just those simple facts. Obviously, Jax’s traumatic past will be further discussed in later stories and I am eager to unravel it.

The humorous banter and camaraderie between the characters is, I think, the highlight of this tale (brought into sharper focus by excellent narration). I normally don’t choose pirate stories but this was well-executed and fun. I’d read (or listen to) more of Ms. Kova’s tales.

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Red Rising Review

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well written and well paced, I did enjoy this book though I’m not sure I want to read the rest of the series. It’s hard to watch the unmaking of someone when they are pressed into service by an ideal, pushed into making themselves more like their enemies to “win.” This keeps good company with the new gritty dystopians like Hunger Games and even the classic Lord of the Flies in places. It is wrenching and grim and shows how thin the line can be between right and wrong. I felt it was a good read if a little heartbreaking for softies, like me.

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Review: The Female of the Species

The Female of the Species

by Mindy McGinnis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think this is the best book I have yet read from Ms. McGinnis. She pulls no punches in discussing the truths of sexual assault but at the same time prevents the gory details from overshadowing the story. I felt the characters had depth and truth. Their stories and dilemmas are echoed throughout high schools across the country, familiar angst we all recognize. This story deals with all too familiar situations we are now, as a society, attempting to bring out into the open. Behaviors we need to shine a light on and name, in order to curb. Thank you, Ms. McGinnis for handling such a diffcult subject with warmth, tact and honesty.

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The Black Lyon Review

The Black Lyon (Montgomery/Taggert, #1)The Black Lyon by Jude Deveraux
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up after Christmas since it has been a stressful season and I needed a treat. But I have to say I was disappointed. I’d read some of Ms. Deveraux’s stories long ago and remember enjoying them. But this one seemed less cohesive than those. The prose felt awkward and the motivations lacking in my humble opinion. It is possible, of course, that my tastes in fiction have changed. However, I didn’t think I’d changed so much that I couldn’t enjoy a basic medieval romance. If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool romance reader you will probably enjoy this more than I did, but if feminism is your new thing you may want to pass.

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Review: The Secret Horses of Briar Hill

The Secret Horses of Briar HillThe Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve always loved books with horses.  They were my preferred subject matter. If you want the honest truth, I read A Horse and His Boy (book 5) immediately after reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe simply because of Bree. Forget those princes and such in between. 

Now if you take a horse story and include brave thoughtful girls full of heart and a dark enemy, all the better.  The fantastical features of this one reminded a little of Gaiman’s style of fantasy a la The Ocean at the End of the Lance.  I chose it because I was short on time, it had horses and Maggie Steifvater recommended it highly on Goodreads.  I have to say, I am quite pleased with it.

Resonating with the era of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, it sets the tragedy of WWII in England as a backdrop for the more personal battles these children who were left behind face. I truly enjoyed this and if you’re in the mood for a magical read this season, give it a try.

What’s your next holiday read?

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