I’ve been reading quite a lot of short books recently which has meant that I’ve gotten through quite a few in the last couple of months. Having reached four books this month I decided to combat that by tackling the longest book wallowing unread on my kindle. That prize goes to Malice by John Gwynne. It comes in at 672 pages which is the equivalent of the last three books on this review post put together (actually it’s over a hundred pages more than those books put together). I haven’t finished it yet so you can see what I think of it next month….hopefully!
The Hand of Raziel (Daughter of Mars #1) by Matthew S. Cox *****
Risa Black will decide the fate of an entire planet. After all, an angel told her so.
Orphaned young, she grows up among the resistance, fighting to give the people of Mars command of their own destiny. Two governments from Earth vie for control of the Red Planet; she wants them gone, regardless of how many explosives it takes.
To the outside world, she’s an emotionless, broken marionette. Inside, her father’s fiery end haunts her every waking moment. She never cared for destiny or politics, until the angel Raziel focused her anger. Whenever her adrenaline wears off, guilt at what her bombs did cuts deep, as does the apathy of the citizens she wants to liberate. Torn between duty and desire, she learns change never comes without loss.
Even to the Hand of Raziel.
The plot and action was very exciting. World building: brilliant (maybe too brilliant. I don’t really need to know that she sat upon the deflector plate of an ancient air scrubber and leaned her check against the warm plastisteel strut connecting the corner to a hydraulic actuator).
Unfortunately the writing lets it down, especially in the first part of the book.
I found the switch between third person (which most of the book is) to first person thoughts pretty jarring and I also felt that it was mostly needless. There are large swathes of the book written only in third person and it’s obvious from these parts that the author doesn’t need to switch narrative to explain what Risa is feeling. I wish he hadn’t.
Characters are all over the place in the first half of the book and not in a emotional/erratic way but in an I don’t understand these characters way. Which brings me back to the writing. Some of the dialog tags just didn’t make sense with what the characters should be doing. They did get much better as the book went on and with the building action I did enjoy reading this book.
If you like sci-fi with brilliantly built in depth worlds then read this book. If you like character driven books with a well thought out and portrayed protagonist then maybe give it a miss.
Prince Charming Must Die (The Grimm Chronicles #1) by Isabella Fontaine and Ken Brosky *****
On the eve of her 18th birthday, high school junior Alice Goodenough feels on top of the world. Classes are almost finished. She’s about to start her summer job at the local library, where she’ll be surrounded by all of her favorite books. And she has a wonderful boyfriend.
Then the rabbit shows up. The giant talking rabbit. He has a message:
200 years ago, the Brothers Grimm unleashed their stories upon the world.
With the help of a magic pen and paper, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm brought all of their characters to life. The world was a more magical place … for a time. Cinderella found her prince. Briar Rose’s spell was broken. The dancing princesses spent their nights hidden away in a secret underground city. The old miller’s boy found true love. Then, slowly, the Grimms’ characters began to change for the worse. They became Corrupted. Evil. They didn’t belong in our world, but it was too late for the Brothers Grimm to destroy them.
Only a hero can save the day. Every generation for the past 200 years, a hero has been chosen to fight the Corrupted and rid the world of the Grimms’ fairy tales. To her horror, Alice has been chosen as the next hero. As her 18th birthday nears, she begins to realize life is never going back to normal. As for her boyfriend, Edward … well, he might be hiding a terrible secret.
That sounds like a pretty cool idea, right? I was expecting this to be a solid three stars but I was a bit disappointed.
The main character is billed as smart and strong like Buffy the vampire slayer. Unfortunately, she didn’t really come off as such. I think my main gripe was how we were told what every single person was wearing in every scene. Now, this is a teenage girl, and it could very well be that she’s the kind of person that notices that kind of thing but it got pretty annoying. I wanted more plot.
They are mini books for younger readers (this one only took me a couple of hours from start to finish) and I’m probably going to read at least the next one to see if the character evolves much and if the books get better as I got this as set.
I am intrigued to see how the other characters from the Grimm stories go bad.
Flux (Ennek Trilogy #2) by Kim Fielding *****
Ennek, the son of Praesidium’s Chief, has rescued Miner from a terrible fate: suspension in a dreamless frozen state called Stasis, the punishment for traitors. As the two men flee Praesidium by sea, their adventures are only beginning. Although they may be free from the tyranny of their homeland, new difficulties await them as Miner faces the continuing consequences of his slavery and Ennek struggles with controlling his newfound powers as a wizard.
Now fugitives, Ennek and Miner encounter challenges both human and magical as they explore new lands and their deepening relationship with each other.
This was a 3.5 out of 5 but I’m going up instead of down purely because of the improvement from the first book in the series. I really didn’t like it that much (you can see my review of it here) but I already had the second book so gave it a go.
I’m really glad I read this book. Ennek and Miner grow so much as characters. I found them extremely passive and a bit bland in the first book but they come into their own here. They both bring something to the story and are on a much more equal footing than in the first book. The other characters and cultures we meet along the way are also great.
I’ll be picking up the last book in this series. Maybe that one will be even better. It makes a nice change from books getting worse as series go on!
Fall Far From The Tree by Amy McNulty *****
Terror. Callousness. Denial. Rebellion. How the four teenage children of leaders in the duchy and the neighboring empire of Hanaobi choose to adapt to their nefarious parents’ whims is a matter of survival.
Rohesia, daughter of the duke.
Fastello the son of the “king” of the raiders.
Cateline, an orphan raised by a convent of mothers.
Kojiro, new heir to the Hanaobi empire.
When the paths of these four young adults cross, they must rely on one another for survival—but the love of even a malevolent guardian is hard to leave behind.
I wanted to give this book a higher rating. The characters and the world drew me in. But we just aren’t given enough of any of it. This book is short. It’d be short for any story but to try to tell four different characters POVs in a pretty in-depth world with different cultures and religions…. It was just too short. I wish there had been more if it, as it is, I was in the middle of the climax before I’d even gotten settled down. The characters are beautifully imagined and each had a very distinct personality but there were so many possibilities for great scenes that just got jumped over. It felt like as soon as we got to know the characters we were almost at the end of the book.
I would love to read a book 2 though. And hopefully we’ll stick with the characters a bit more and see where they go next.