Sunday, April 27, 2014

Letterbox Love/Stacking the Shelves


 


Hello everyone!
It's a very gloomy Sunday here in Edinburgh, but luckily I have books to cheer me up in my study breaks.

Here's what I got recently:

Before Jamaica Lane, by Samantha Young - book 3 in her 'Dublin Street' series. These are set in Edinburgh, and over all I liked this book. Review coming soon.

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. Reading & loving this just now, will definitely be reviewing it very soon.

Hounded, by Kevin Hearn - Book one of the 'Iron Druid Chronicles'. Lots of friends have talked about this series, so I thought I'd check it out.

I also saw that 'The King', the latest Black Dagger Brotherhood book from J. R. Ward was reduced to about £2.50 on amazon at the moment, so I've downloaded that to read sometime. I've read the first chapter and wasn't getting in to it, but I know I'll want to read it sometime.

How about you? What did you get this week?

-Ailsa

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Emperor's Edge #1


Emperor's edge tells the story of Amaranthe Lokdon, a female enforcer in the city of stumps who (in no fault of her own) ends up on the wrong side of the law. Trying to redeem her place in history, she gathers together an unlikely team of "heroes" called the emperor's edge in order to protect the young emperor from danger and hopefully in doing so, get back on the right side of the history books.

  Blah - that was a pretty dry summary for such a fun book!

 EE is the first of 7 books which tells the story of how Amaranthe Lokdon and her team (of misfits and Sicarius, cause he's no misfit) try to redeem themselves and save the empire. In my opinion this book (and series) are just such fun to read (and re-read - always a good sign). Although set with a serious setting (i.e. political instability etc.), and with certain themes like morality and leadership running through the series, it manages to be a light and adventurous read which captured me from beginning to end (and then made me go and read all available books in the series in 3 days).

 I believe Lindsay Buroker's great talent (which is reflected in all her books) is her character development and dialogue. The characters in her books come alive, with us rooting for them from beginning to the end. I think any other writer would be very much in danger of making Amaranthe unlikable or a Mary-Sue, but Lindsay instead makes both a strong and talented character which is also very likable that (like in the books) draws you in and wants you to be on her side. Similarly, the character of Sicarius the taciturn assassin could easily have been a paper-cut out/assassin stereotype or Gary-Stu, but through out the series (and with various eyebrow twitches) we slowly see a much richer character. In seeing these characters grow during the series, and seeing them grow closer - it adds both romance and a believably element that these two characters know each other and belong together (rather than typical UF/PR romance of insta-love which can often be too prevalent).

Beyond the great characters, dialogue and funny moments, it was Sicarius and Amaranthe's growth and their relationship which made me come back again and again to these books to get that lovely warm feeling of reading a very enjoyable book! I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone if you enjoy a fun light adventure series with great characters and lots of laugh-out-loud dialogue!!

 It is now FREE on all major e-book websites so go on read it!!

FYI: This is a cross-post from my blog

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review: The Boy With The Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick


Title: The Boy With The Porcelain Blade
Author: Den Patrick
Release date: 20/3/2014
Publisher: Gollancz
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

Description: Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game. Ruled by an insane King and the venomous Majordomo, it is a world where corruption and decay are deeply rooted - but to a degree Lucien never dreams possible when he first discovers the plight of the 'insane' women kept in the haunting Sanatoria. Told in a continuous narrative interspersed with flashbacks we see Lucien grow up under the care of his tutors. We watch him forced through rigorous Testings, and fall in love, set against his yearning to discover where he comes from, and how his fate is tied to that of every one of the deformed Orfano in the Kingdom, and of the eerie Sanatoria itself.

My thoughts: This book was not what I was expecting from the blurb and opening chapter. It starts at a critical point in the main character Lucien's life, as he faces the final test that will complete his training as a soldier. It goes horribly wrong, and Lucien is soon exiled from the city. Demesne is a city split into elite houses, each with a speciality, ruled by a king no one has seen for decades. Lucien is one of the 'Orfani', treated to an exceptional education & living in luxury, but separated by some kind of abnormality - in Lucien's case, he has black fingernails & no ears.

The book alternates from chapter to chapter between the present where he deals with the consequences of exile, and the past where we learn more about him, from when he was a small child gradually getting closer to the present.  While some of these flashbacks were interesting, I did find myself skimming through several of them, wanting to get back to the excitement of the present and the maturity of 18 year old Lucien rather than the more childish version in the other chapters.

I felt like it took until the second half of the book for the story to start living up to the promise of the first couple of chapters, with the intrigue and the challenge of a system finally coming out. That's where it really started to pick up for me and I felt far more engaged. Lucien's journey across the city, through the creepy sanatoria, the oubliette, and onwards, trying to rescue & save his friend before she is co-opted in to another gruesome experiment, kept me on the edge of my seat.

The other thing worth commenting on is that this is quite a creepy story. I'd almost class it as horror rather than fantasy. There are a lot of spiders, so I found myself picking my feet up from the floor while I read some parts! If I'd been watching this on tv, there are a lot of places where I think I would have been peeking around a cushion at the screen.

While it takes a little while to get to reach the potential set up by the first chapter and the blurb, 'The Boy With The Porcelain Blade' is a gripping fantasy story which will keep you up past your bedtime and probably sleeping with the light on. I look forward to the second book in the trilogy.

Overall, I give The Boy With The Porcelain Blade 7/10.

-Ailsa
 

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