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text SPOILER ALERT! 2017-07-21 11:30
The Dreamblood books
The Killing Moon - N.K. Jemisin
The Shadowed Sun - N.K. Jemisin

I've had these two sitting on my bookcase for a while and decided, while I'm waiting for The Stone Sky to come out next month, I'd finally get round to reading them both - I know from reading interviews with NK Jemisin that these two books were actually written before the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms series, which was published first, and I think it shows in the overall structure and characterisation. 

 

Both books are set in the city of Gujaareh and its surrounding deserts, a city where dreams have power and are used as the basis for both killing and healing - our protagonist in The Killing Moon is a Gatherer, whose job it is to both help the terminally ill or injured to cross over to the next life as painlessly as possible, or to be an executioner of those found to be 'corrupt'. One of the main characters in The Shadowed Sun is a Sharer, whose job it is to use dreams to heal rather than kill, again within a very structured religious setting. 

 

The events of the two books take place ten years apart, with the focus of The Killing Moon being on an attempt by the ruler of the city to make himself immortal by the deaths of countless others. Our protagonist, Ehiru, realises too late that he has been used to put down political opponents of the prince (who also happens to be his half-brother) and that the system he has been working within is itself corrupt. His only choice, he feels, is to enlist the help of the Kisuati to overthrow the current system. 

 

In The Shadowed Sun, our focus is split between Hanani, who is the first woman to try and become a Sharer, and Wanahomen, son of the prince who was at the centre of things in the previous book. He has sought refuge with one of the desert tribes and discovers that his father was not the man he'd always believed him to be. His attempts to regain the throne are undertaken against a backdrop of a terrible plague, as well as general dissatisfaction with the way things are under Kisuati occupation. 

 

NK Jemisin is one of my favourite authors, so it's a shame to discover that she's written something I'm unlikely to want to read again. I liked The Killing Moon much better of the two, as there was much less of a redemption arc being pushed for Ehiru than there is in The Shadowed Sun for Wanahomen. The world-building in both books is excellent, though that should come as absolutely no surprise - this is not medieval-Europe-with-dragons, as is often the case with so much fantasy. 

 

It's a sign of how good a writer NK Jemisin is that she actually manages to almost redeem Wanahomen for me, given that quite early on he engineers a sexual assault on the other main character. I just couldn't get past that, even though Hanani apparently managed to do just that, which was even less believable for me given that (to save herself) she's forced to use her healing powers to kill. There's also an element of the magic healing penis too, as soon after Hanani is grieving for her mentor and decides this would be a really good time to get rid of that pesky virginity she's been hanging on to as a result of her religious vows.  

 

So, all in all, glad I've read them but doubt I'll re-read them. Maybe I'm setting the bar too high though and there was a sense of disappointment there for me too - NK Jemisin's other books are so good, so powerful and affecting, that these felt like they were part-finished in comparison. Not bad per se, although there were things I definitely didn't like about them, but just not quite as good as other things she's written...

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review 2017-07-21 10:02
REVIEW BY MERISSA - True of Blood (Witch Fairy #1) by Bonnie Lamer
True of Blood - Bonnie Lamer
This book was great. It starts with a girl's 17th birthday and the wotsit hits the fan. This book is action (of one sort or another) all the way through and the banter between Xandra and Kallen is simply brilliant. Xandra reacts to the situation in a way that is completely understandable and is often humorous.

Great start to a new series. Recommended.
 
* Verified Purchase ~ January 2013 *
 
Merissa
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

 

#Fairy_Tales, #Fantasy, #Young_Adult, #Archive_Review, 4 out of 5 (very good)

 

Source: sites.google.com/site/archaeolibrarian/merissa-reviews/trueofbloodwitchfairy1bybonnielamer
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review 2017-07-21 05:05
Bilbo's Last Song
Bilbo's Last Song: At the Grey Havens - J.R.R. Tolkien,Pauline Baynes

Probably the most fitting way leave The Lord of the Rings behind is to visit Bilbo's Last Song.

 

Smaug, a red dragon, curled on a pile of golden treasure

 

A poem written as a gift to his secretary, Bilbo's Last Stand was published posthumously and serves as an epilogue to The Lord of the Ringsand The Hobbit. Illustrated by Pauline Baynes, the poem makes a graceful transition to picture book, with paired scenes from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ringsas Bilbo pens his farewell to Middle Earth.

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review 2017-07-20 22:44
Book Review of The Jewel Tree: A Young Adult Fantasy Novella by Lee Summers
The Jewel Tree: A Novel in Miniature - David Lee Summers

At the heart of THE JEWEL TREE is an heirloom so precious that the last remaining members of the Ryder family will do almost anything to keep it in their possession.

But how long should a young girl work to earn back the emblem of her mother's soul? And is any task to menial?

 

When Leda sees the hummingbird charm dangling from wealthy Lord Caitiff's shriveled earlobe, she swears she will labor a year and a day to reclaim it. She is prepared to do whatever the old man asks--until the day he asks too much.

 

In a world of dark curses and ancient grudges, Leda and her handsome young uncle are sometimes hard pressed to distinguish between appearance and reality. Not all that glitters is gold--and gold is never worth more than flesh and blood. This mini-novel about the redemptive power of love will delight readers who appreciate a little magic in their lives.

 

Review 3*

 

This is a wonderful young adult fantasy novella. I really enjoyed it.

 

Leda Ryder is a young girl of fifteen when the story starts, but the tale covers a few years. She is a wonderful character and I really liked her. She was orphaned at a young age and has been raised by her uncle, Alexander. Unfortunately, he has a gambling addiction and has squandered the family money until there is nothing of value except an heirloom called the Jewel Tree (fashioned from gold), which holds little charms set with precious and semi-precious stones. He sells these charms to Lord Caitiff to pay for his debts. When she finds out what her uncle has done, she finds herself working for Lord Caitiff in an attempt to earn the charms back.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, with no expectation of a positive review.

 

This is an intriguing and charming novella. I must admit that I was not sure what time period this book was set in at first, then I realised that it must be in Victorian or early Edwardian times as there is mention of horses and carriages but no cars.

 

The story is mostly told through the eyes of Leda, though Alexander and Lord Caitiff also have scenes seen through their points of view. I found myself hooked from the first page. However, I also found myself confused at the relationship between Leda and Alexander. The author introduces Alexander as Leda's uncle, but a couple of times they are referred to as siblings. It's as if the author couldn't decide what their relationship should be and kept changing it and never corrected it or missed it during editing. Nevertheless, they come across as a loving and close family even though it's just the two of them. Lord Caitiff is a mysterious benefactor and the reader never really gets to know him until close to the end of the tale. There is a good reason for this and the author uses this mystery to good effect as there is a slight twist that surprised me. There are also other characters that intrigued me, like Felicity, Lord Caitiff's daughter who is unspeakably ugly. This story has a "Beauty and the Beast" feel to it, and was further enhanced by the inclusion of a curse and a sorceress called Iona Grimm. What her relationship to Lord Caitiff is, I'll leave you to find out for yourselves.

 

I reached the end of the book with mixed feelings; I would have liked for the story to be a little longer as felt it was rushed in places but happy at the way it concluded.

 

Lee Summers has written an intriguing debut YA fantasy novella. However, this author has written other works under the name of Elise Chidley, though I have never read them. I love her writing style, which is fast paced. However, as I mentioned above, I found some of the story a little rushed at times. Due to the confusion over the relationship between Leda and Alexander, I found myself stumbling and re-reading parts which disrupted the flow. I think that once this issue has been addressed, the story should flow more smoothly. Having said all that, I would definitely consider reading more of her books in the future.

 

There is no explicit or overt mention of sexual activity. However, there is one instance where Lord Caitiff propositions Leda. Nevertheless, this book is aimed at young adult readers and as such, I recommend this book to readers aged 12 upwards. Readers younger than this may struggle with certain words they may not be familiar with, but then again, it depends on their reading level, so parental advice is advised. I also recommend this book to adults who love to read young adult romance/fantasy or fairytale re-tellings. - Lynn Worton

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review 2017-07-20 21:51
[Book Review] Meddling Kids
Meddling Kids: A Novel - Edgar Cantero

Scooby-Doo meets H.P. Lovecraft.  With an absolutely fantastic cover.

If you want to read someone singing praises of this story it's not hard to find (NPR: In 'Meddling Kids,' The Scooby Gang Grows Up — Hard, USA Today: 'Scooby-Doo' fans will dig Cantero's 'Meddling Kids').

My reactions are a bit muddled, and probably more in line with the Kirkus review.

Is the book fun?  Undoubtedly.  Familiar enough to evoke Scooby-Doo, but different enough to skirt violation of intellectual property.  Even better, Cantero has injected some actual diversity and complexity to the characters.  In true Scooby-Doo fashion, even as they encounter horrors from the gates beyond, the story holds fast as an adventure rather than a horror or thriller.

My copy was a pre-publication galley, so I'm not sure how much has changed in the final publication, but as I still lack access to the final piece, I have to go forward with the above caveat.  Cantero has chosen to drop in and out of narrative voice and style, with parts of the book written as a script instead of as a novel.  Other parts the narrative includes run on sentences masquerading as paragraphs that make my eyes cross.  I truly hope those parts received excessive editorial attention.

The whole story has a fun, tongue-in-cheek aspect in regards to action movies, particularly those it appears to be a script for.  It definitely gives some fun moments.

My biggest response to this  novel is "how can I turn this into a Call of C'thulhu scenario?"  This would be loads of fun to play as a game, and only require minimal juggling to make it work (the biggest issue is probably how to balance attention to players with Peter's ghost, and possibly to consider Nate "mythos hardened" against certain things).

So, overall, the book was fun, but when I sit back it lacks something.  Elements of fun, but I felt I was promised something with more substance and creeping horror.

I still absolutely adore the cover though.

Advanced Reader Copy courtesy of Doubleday; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/07/book-review-meddling-kids.html
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