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review 2018-07-15 23:01
Audio/Book Review of The Assassins of Altis by Jack Campbell
The Assassins of Altis - Jack Campbell

Trapped within the dead city of Marandur, Master Mechanic Mari and Mage Alain must escape both merciless barbarians and the pitiless Imperial Legion. Beyond those dangers lie the mightiest and most unforgiving powers in the world of Dematr: the Great Guilds that rule the world with iron fists.

 

Mari's Mechanics Guild and Alain's Mage Guild have always been enemies, but they are united in wanting to kill their rogue members before Mari can fulfill the ancient prophecy of being the one who will finally overthrow their power. Mari and Alain must risk those dangers because halfway across their world lies a place where truth has long been hidden. A place that could explain why their world's history begins abruptly, with no hints of what came before. A place where they might learn how the Mechanics Guild came to control all technology and how the Mages manage to alter reality temporarily. A place that might tell them how to achieve a task that appears to be impossible.

 

Never before have a Mage and a Mechanic worked together, and their combined talents offer their only hope. But she and Alain must first survive the deadly and implacable Assassins of Altis.

 

Review 5*

 

This story is the third book in a fantastic epic fantasy series called The Pillars of Reality. I absolutely loved it!

 

Mari is a fantastic character, and I liked her from the moment she was introduced. I love her determination to do the right thing, even at the cost of her own life. She is now a nineteen-year-old Master Mechanic, though her guild is determined to take her life as she poses a threat to their hold on the world of Dematr. Mari has been foreseen by Mages to be 'The Daughter of Jules' and fated to free the world of Dematr from the tyranny of both the Guilds - Mechanics and Mages - and to unite the Mechanics, Mages and Commons against said Guilds. As she tries to accept her role, she finds herself on another dangerous mission while trying to avoid death at the hands of assassins.

 

Mage Alain is also a fantastic character. I liked him a lot from the start. He was one of the youngest Acolytes to achieve Mage status at the age of seventeen. He has been taught from a young age not to show or feel any emotions and that the world he lives in is an illusion, where nothing is real. I love how this character has grown as the series has progressed. He tries to show more emotion, even though his Guild had virtually beaten it out of him. He hides a dry wit under that emotionless mask.

 

I listened to this story in audio format, rather than read it. The story is once again narrated by MacLeod Andrews. He does a fantastic job of bringing the story to life. Even Alain, who's voice is meant to be flat and emotionless comes across with subtle hints. You would think that Alain's voice would be monotonous, but it's not so. I love the way he brings all the characters to life with different accents, inflexions and tones. He even makes the women's voices sound perfect for each character. As for his narration, he read the story clearly and concisely, and his pacing was perfect. I would definitely listen to more books read by this narrator.

 

This book continues a few weeks after the end of the second story and sees Mari and Alain travelling to the island of Altis, where a long-hidden secret has been kept. With both the Guilds chasing them and now the Imperial Legions for their incursion into Marandur, Mari and Alain face many dangers, including a deadly snow storm. However, what they find on Altis will change everything.

 

This story introduces a couple of new characters into the series. One is Mechanic Caylou (not sure of spelling as I listened to the story so have no reference and have spelt it phonetically - it could be Kayloo or another variation). He is one of Mari's friends from the Mechanics Guild, along with his girlfriend, Ally (who is mentioned in book two but not introduced). Another character introduced is, Mage Asha; this is a character who is hard to explain without giving spoilers. Suffice it to say, she was a friend of Alain's from their early acolyte days, before all the emotion was beaten out of them.

 

I love the world building in this series. It is familiar though strange at the same time. The reason for this becomes apparent as this story unfolds. The story is full of action, adventure, and danger and I found myself an emotional wreck at times. Have you ever read or listened to a story and felt completely emersed in it? This happened to me as I listened to this book. These characters have come to life for me and have become my friends. This book ends with a slight cliffhanger, and the audio version has a preview of the next book in the series, which I am now looking forward to reading/listening to. I will be listening to The Pirates of Pacta Servanda as soon as I can.

 

Jack Campbell has written a fantastic science fiction series. I have added him to my favourite author's list, as he's found a fan in me. I love his writing style, which is fast-paced and descriptive, and the flow of the story is good too.

 

Although there is now some mention of scenes of a sexual nature, it’s not shown. I do not, however, recommend this book to younger readers under the age of 15 due to some violence. I do, however, highly recommend this book if you love dark or epic fantasy, steampunk or action/adventure and supernatural/paranormal romance genres. - Lynn Worton

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review 2018-05-31 22:26
Recommended to fans of action and spy thrillers looking for a fun read.
The Beauty of Bucharest (A Clean Up Crew Thriller Book 1) - S. J. Varego

Thanks to the publisher for offering me a free copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.

It is quite difficult to review this novel without revealing any spoilers, and the description does not help much (it is gripping although extremely discreet) but considering the genre, this is pretty understandable, and I’ll try my hardest not to spoil the fun.

I am not a big reader of spy novels but have watched a fair amount of spy movies,and although this is not a spy novel per se, it shares with them many of its characteristics. We have professionals working in an international team, taking up false identities, travelling all over the world to undertake dangerous missions, using weaponry and skills beyond those of most normal individuals. We have the goodies and the baddies (and they are very bad indeed, no question about it), we have secrets, risky situations, and a fair amount of violence. The novel also requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief but not more than is usual in the genre.

The story, as suggested by the title, takes place, in its majority, in Bucharest, and it involves a beautiful model, but also many other women who are at risk. The background of the operation and the individuals the two protagonists —Dan and Nicole, a married couple— are trying to get rid of are bad beyond discussion. We are not dealing with white-collar crimes or morally ambiguous matters. I don’t think any readers will find it difficult to root for the protagonists, who are also likeable and have an endearing, if somewhat idealised, relationship.

The novel manages to combine what might be some women’s fantasies (having plenty of power, running an international company that deals with and avenges those who do evil, helping make the world a better place, knowing how to use powerful weapons and possessing fighting skills, whilst at the same time having the perfect husband and children), with some men’s fantasies (having a gorgeous and younger wife, the perfect family life, retiring after having dedicated one’s life to creating a company that is fun to run [a company that designs computer games], becoming involved in fascinating adventures, and then being able to use his geek skills to save his kick-ass wife). It is a fast-paced adventure, exciting, and there’s not a moment’s boredom. Although we get a sense of what Bucharest is like, there are no lengthy descriptions to slow down the action, and we do not get lost in psychological studies of the characters either.

This is, first and foremost, a plot-driven book, and we do not get to know much about the characters or their motivations, although this is book one in the series and there are hints that we will get to discover some important secrets in future novels. The story is told in the third person but from the points of views of both of the main characters (and sometimes briefly from some of other characters, including one of the baddies), and, although as I said there is no deep analysis of the individuals, having access to their thoughts makes it easy to empathise with them. There is a degree of head-hopping (sometimes the narration quickly moves from the point of view of one of the characters to the other), but I did not find it confusing as it is quite evident who is thinking what. I am not sure the characters are always fully consistent, but they are confronting pretty challenging circumstances and that is not what the book is focused on. (I must confess to feeling quite intrigued by one of the bad characters, the female bodyguard. Not likeable but…) The writing is dynamic and fluid, and although there are some USA-based cultural references, they do not detract from the understanding of the story.

There is violence, some fairly explicit (although not extreme), and there is a scene that although very bloody, will be satisfying to most readers (just deserts come to mind, and I was close to cheering at that point) but the book is not a heavy read. Although it deals with serious matters, these are not the subject of far-reaching analysis but rather an evil that has to be fought.

In summary, this is a fun and quick read, full of action, with a degree of role reversal (strong and powerful females, and males who are side-kicks at best and distractions at worst, although they end up coming quite handy), in an interesting setting, with a very satisfying ending and a promise of more secrets to be revealed in future instalments. I could not help but think of many of the spy movies I’ve watched, and with the right cast, it could turn into a blockbuster. Recommended to lovers of action and spy thrillers looking for a fun, non-taxing read.

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quote 2018-01-19 11:04
Skomponował uroczy bukiecik z irysów, przebiśniegów, kwiatów truskawki i czerwonych tulipanów, każdy z nich starannie wybrany, by powiedzieć coś, co trudno mu było wyrazić.
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review 2018-01-19 10:42
Assassins Creed Podziemie - Oliver Bowde... Assassins Creed Podziemie - Oliver Bowden

Serię "Assassin's Creed" poznałam w 2016 roku. Wtedy to sięgnęłam po pierwszy tom serii, który nosił tytuł "Renesans". Nie przypadła mi do gustu. Widziałam w niej potencjał, zakończenie przypadło mi na tyle do gustu, by poznać tom drugi. Ale ogólnie nie byłam zadowolona z lektury. Dlatego też jakoś zbytnio nie korciło mnie do poznania następnych tomów.

 

Lecz przypadkiem otrzymałam tom ósmy, "Podziemie". Przez jakiś czas książka leżała, lecz pewnego dnia chciałam przeczytać coś z fantastyki. Niestety, poza "Podziemiem" nie miałam akurat wtedy nic pod ręką. Dlatego też zaczęłam ją czytać. Nie spodziewałam się niczego dobrego. Nie oczekiwałam wiele ani od książki ani od autora. Po pierwszych dwóch tomach nie mogłam mieć wysokich oczekiwań. Jednak...

 

Książka mnie zaskoczyła. Wreszcie nie było czuć, iż jest to gra (wiecie: główny bohater ma misje - spełnia ją, kończy się rozdział). Wreszcie poczułam, iż książka ma realną, fajnie napisaną fabułę. Bohaterów z krwi i kości. A właśnie, tutaj się całkowicie zmieniają bohaterowie. Nie ma ani jednego z pierwszych dwóch tomów. Taka ciekawostka. :D

 

Widać, że autor poprawił swoje umiejętności literackie. Tą książkę czytało mi się dużo przyjemniej niż tom pierwszy i drugi. Przeczytałam ją szybko, nie nudziłam się przy niej i naprawdę wciągnęłam się w historię.

 

Ba, tą książkę może przeczytać każdy fan fantastyki. Ona nie musi stanowić dodatku dla fanów gier z tej serii. Jest to coś fajnego, bo rzadko trafiam na książki, które są na postawie gier, które skierowane są dla szerszej grupy. Bo wiadomo, fan wiele wybaczy. Ktoś nowy jednak skłonny do wielkich wybaczeń nie jest.

 

O bohaterach też chciałabym wspomnieć. Zacznę od Ducha, głównego bohatera tej lektury.

 

Duch nie jest takim ideałem jak Ezio znany z pierwszego i drugiego tomu. Choć o wiele bardziej można polubić Ducha. Bo on nie jest idealny Assassinem, lecz jako człowiek jest wspaniały. Nasz Duch ma rozterki, popełnia błędy, stara się być coraz lepszy. Duch jest szkolony, ale ma też uczucia, które widać. Można go poznać i naprawdę polubić.

 

Ethan Fray też jest człowiekiem. Wyszkolonym, dobrym, widzącym w innych potencjał. Bohater pozytywny i ciekawy. Jego dzieci są świetne.

 

Poznajemy też policjantów, który niż nie wiedzą o tajnych bractwach. I to poznajemy ich dość dobrze. Tutaj też wielki plus dla autora, że daje też poznać bohaterów pobocznych, daje im role do odegrania. Nie jest tak jak w pierwszym tomie, że to Ezio wszystko musiał robić, bo to jego misje były do spełnienia. Tutaj każdy ma jakąś role do odegrania.

 

I jeszcze bohaterowie po przeciwnej stronie. Fajnie, że ich też było nam dane nieco poznać. Nawet motywy niektórych z nich.

 

Ogólnie jestem bardzo zadowolona z lektury. Nie spodziewałam się, że zrobi na mnie tak dobre wrażenie. Nie spodziewałam się, że autor osiągnie taki poziom. Teraz chyba będę chciała wrócić do poprzednich tomów, by zauważyć jak autor poprawiał swój kunszt. I na pewno poznam jego następne powieści z tej serii.

 

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text 2018-01-06 02:01
Reading progress update: I've read 283 out of 408 pages.
Executive Assistant: Assassins Omnibus Vol. 1 - Lori Hanson,Mark Roslan,Vince Hernandez,Jordan Gunderson,Teodoro Gonzalez de Leon,John Starr,Charlie Adlard,X.J. Kennedy

So, yeah, I need a break from this again.  I can't read these in one go, mostly because it's all pretty depressing.   Each EA has a pretty shitty back story, full of gloom.   Gonna see if I have something a little less depressing from the Humble Bundles for now!

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