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review 2017-03-08 23:45
Bone War by Steven Harper
Bone War (The Books of Blood and Iron) - Steven Harper

It is from the Fates that Danr and his friends have learned that every action, every decision, every act, no matter how small, will cause ripples throughout the world and twist the future down a different path. Now the future of that world is in jeopardy once again when one of the three Fates is kidnapped by the wicked Elf Queen.

The two Fates that are left enlist Danr to find the missing Fate. But first he must find a legendary sword known as the Bone Sword. The Fates will also need Aisa’s help during this dark time. Danr and Aisa will be separated from their companions but in the end all characters will converge as this trilogy comes to an end.

This final book in the trilogy wraps things up on a more serious note and brings into question Danr and Aisa’s continuing relationship as the Fates cause them to examine life and the future. All of the loose ends are nicely tied up, giving us a final showdown between Death and Queen Vesha, and most of all, letting us know what on earth will happen with Aisa. Girl has so many options!

The Books of Blood and Iron is a series that follows in the footsteps of other great fantasy works, with all of the expected characters, but Steven Harper has given us a fresh perspective on these characters. I have to say I liked them a lot! Well most of them (I really wanted to smack the Elf Queen). The Norse-based mythology is very well done. I also really liked the way the author addresses the growing pains of a new love and how two people will handle the obstacles put in their path. This is an enjoyable series full of adventure and well worth the read.

I want to thank the publisher (Berkley Publishing Group) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

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review 2017-02-28 23:12
Blood Storm: The Books of Blood and Iron by Steven Harper
Blood Storm: The Books of Blood and Iron - Steven Harper

“I am Prince Hamzu, son of Kech and Halldora, TruthTeller from Under the Mountain, Nephew to Queen Vesha of the Stane.”

A man of many names, Hamzu, TruthTeller, Trollboy, Danr;

 

Danr and his companions are the renowned heroes of the Battle of the Twist.  They have united Kin, Stane and Fey when it was believed the three would never live together in the same city.  Danr is hated by many and adored by many, but all he really wants is to be left alone.  He longs to become a farmer and lead a calm, predictable life with his lady love, Aisa. 

 

Aisa is troubled.  She loves Danr but now she has seen his monster unleashed, and the memories haunt her.  While she is also being hailed as a hero, she finds herself being carried along in the wake of Danr and his friends, taking her further away from her dreams of the ocean.  Her dreams keep calling to her and she’s becoming restless for more.

 

Danr and Aisa first visited Death last year when she sent them after the Iron Axe.  Death rewarded them handsomely and she has since called for Danr and company’s assistance a few times.  Now as Death sits knitting, she tells Danr of the power of the shape, a gift once wielded by the Kin before the Sundering, sacrificed in order to destroy the Axe. 

 

Danr longs to find the power of the shape, for with it, he could become fully human and live a normal life.  But others want the power of the shape just as bad.  They will force Danr to find it whether it is for his use or theirs.  Before it’s over Danr and Aisa will have to confront a giant wyrm known as Grandfather Wyrm, along with the Three Gardeners, the Fates known as Nu, Tan, and Pendra.  They will find themselves sailing the stormy seas, and Aisa will actually get to see those mermaids she’s longed to keep company with.

 

This is a fun romp with characters that I’ve grown fond of.  The series is just travelling right along on the high seas of adventure…and you know it’s gettin’ good when the mermaids show up!

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review 2017-02-28 21:17
Iron Axe: The Books of Blood and Iron by Steven Harper
Iron Axe: The Books of Blood and Iron - Steven Harper

In Steven Harper’s The Books of Blood and Iron series we are introduced to a world where trolls, dwarves, and giants are known as the Stane; elves, sprites, and fairies are known as the Fae; and humans are known as the Kin.

 

The main character, Danr is 16 years old, his mother was Kin and his father was Stane.  When Danr was brought into the world, his mother was frowned upon for the birth of her half-troll child, and she was forced to accept work as a thrall to an unkind farmer.  Danr has suffered the cruelties that the world has to offer by being born as socially unacceptable and touted as a monster.  Now his mother has passed away and he desperately misses her.  He also knows that he must never forget to abide by the one piece of advice she always gave him, which was not to unleash the monster inside him. 

 

One of Danr’s few friends in the village is Aisa, who is a couple of years older than Danr.  Aisa has also suffered a hard life.  She was sold into slavery by her father and after being a slave to the elves in Alfhame, she is now a slave to a man named Farek, who sexually abuses her.  Aisa hides from the world by keeping herself covered from head to toe in a dark cloak and never allowing her face to show.  But she dreams of one day travelling to the South Sea, healing the sick and earning enough money to buy a small boat so she can sail out among the merwomen and regain her face. 

 

As these two try to escape the harsh realities of the life they’ve been given, a series of unusual events takes place which will change their paths.  Rumors are heard that the Stane have come down from the mountains and killed some villagers.  Now those villagers’ spirits are haunting the village and cannot be laid to rest.  As the rumors spread that the hated Stane are responsible, Danr’s place in the village becomes precarious.   Danr decides to flee the village and he sets out to find the truth behind the rumors and to learn more about his Stane heritage.  Danr is joined in his travels by Aisa and a new friend, Talfi, who bears no memories of who he is or where he came from.  Danr’s quest brings the group into contact with Death herself, who tells them that they must recover a powerful weapon known as the Iron Axe in order to tip the balance of the world back to its rightful place.  As they pursue the Iron Axe, they also wind up on a deeper quest for the truth about themselves and the world around them. 

 

Iron Axe features strong, loveable characters that each have their own personal struggles.  It is written in a straight-forward, no frills manner.  Harper has also effortlessly included gay characters within the story.  While the story at times seems simplistic, the characters have been through a lot of darkness.  Told in the style of traditional fantasy, the story moves along at a good clip and comes to a satisfactory end, with two more books to follow in this series.  I can also easily see this as a graphic novel, appealing to young adults and adults alike.  If you’re looking for a good book with a Beauty and the Beast crossed with a Norse-type Mythology vibe, you will enjoy this one.

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review 2016-10-20 00:00
Blood and Iron
Blood and Iron - Jon Sprunk (These are book club questions for the entire book. There will be spoilers)
Blood and Iron by Jon Sprunk Book Club
1. What do you think of the 3rd person narration?
2. How do you feel about Horace?
3. Do you feel like you are experiencing the shipwreck with Horace?
4. Horace is dropped into a world where he cannot speak the language after the shipwreck, what do you think of this as a way to learn about the world with him?
5. What do you think of Jirom?
6. Compare and contrast Horace and Jirom at the beginning of the book?
7. What do you think of the world?
8. Does the world remind you of any place in the history of our world, especially Akeshia?
9. Do you want to know exactly what happened to Horace’s family when he first starts to flashback to them?
10. What do you think of slavery in Akeshia?
11. What do you think of Horace discovering he is a magician by stopping the storm?
12. Is it more interesting that he had no idea that he had magic or zoana before the storm?
13. Is it hard to know which characters to trust in the book?
14. What do you think of Alyra?
15. How is your opinion of her shaped by the fact that we find out she is a spy as soon as we meet her?
16. How is it disconcerting to follow Horace’s changes in circumstances in captivity?
17. How do you feel about Queen Byleth?
18. Do you feel like Horace that you need to pick sides without having all of the information?
19. Does the training of soldiers in Akeshia seem wasteful?
20. Who is your favorite character?
21. What do you think of Astaptah?
22. Is the flying ship cool?
23. Did you expect the ship to crash?
24. Did you expect the fight with the Kurgarru and was it super creepy?
25. Did you expect Horace to walk away at the end of the duel rather than killing his defeated opponent?
26. What do you think of solitary confinement without death forever as a punishment?
27. Should Horace have followed Rimesh after he saved Byleth?
28. Do you like it that Alyra saved Horace from Rimesh?
29. What do you think of Mulcihar’s final letter to Horace?
30. Did the Epilogue set up the next book nicely?
31. Did you like the book?
32. Do you want to read more in the series?
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review 2016-04-02 00:00
Iron Inheritance (The Blood Artifacts, #1)
Iron Inheritance (The Blood Artifacts, #... Iron Inheritance (The Blood Artifacts, #1) - G.R. Fillinger Today's review is going to be extra spesjul because I joined forces with Cindy from My Book File. We both wanted to read this book and after a bit of brainstorming, we decided to turn this into a buddy read with a double review. What the heck is a double review?! Yeah, we didn't really know that either but, in this case, it means that we (well, Cindy did all the work when it comes to the questions because I'm a slowpoke) created some questions which we will answer alternately. Jetzt geht's los! (that's German for BOO-YAH!)

~What was your view on the book before you started reading?~

Anne: The author told me it had a lot of things in common with the Mortal Instruments series. I haven't read a single one of the books in that series (or subseries) yet, so I didn't really know what to expect, apart from it being YA and Fantasy involving angels and demons. Oh, and cheesy jokes. I love cheesy jokes. So you can say my expectations were undefined, yet also highish? The cover looks very professional and cool, which definitely made me curious as soon as I saw it!

Cindy: I was told the same thing by the author but unlike Anne I’ve read the first two books of The Mortal Instruments and (only recently) I started to watch the series (thanks Netflix). So I had some idea of what I could expect. I was really looking forward to the jokes and curious about the rest and like Anne already mentioned, the cover was appealing, so you can definitely say that my expectation were above average.

After reading the book:
~What was your impression of the novel (concept and setting)?~

Cindy: The setting is Urban Fantasy and so it is not hard to imagine what everything looks like since it is set in our contemporary society. The concept of the Nephilim is not unfamiliar because it is comparable to the series of The Mortal Instruments written by Cassandra Clare. First of all, I want to say that I really did like the idea of essence. Everyone (human or non-human) has essence and it is decided by their actions if the essence is light or dark. This novel touches many Biblical events and I would have liked it if the subjects were not just slightly touched but had been described with more detail and with more interaction concerning the event and the characters involved. Don’t get me wrong, there were some interactions between events and characters but these things were simply to mention something about the main character (see my opinion on her below).

I felt like this series is going to be a combination of other YA series that were written in the last couple of years, series as Percy Jackson, Black Magician and The Mortal Instruments. Once every few pages, there was an aspect that seemed to come from one series or another, it was just too much. I am aware that it’s difficult to write something out of the ordinary these days since fantasy is a hype, but because of the similarity between this series and many others the original aspects of the novel (like the essence part and features concerning the Nephilim) are not that visible.

There was also a promise of action, witty jokes and romance but to be quite honest, I didn’t perceive it in a good way. Perhaps I am no longer the right audience for YA novels, though, I can lose myself in one if it’s amusing/good enough. When there was action it was weak and unclear because of the lack of detail on the fight itself. I didn’t really laugh at any of the jokes... could be me but I wasn’t at all that amused and the romance was just... there. Romance I can live with, I actually love chick lit once in a while and I’m always in for a good love story but this was just not it for me. It was the usual see and fall in love and then get betrayed scenario. This point leads to my last comment in this section: everything was too predictable. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with clichés or being predictable but only when it occurs sometimes. In this case, I could see it all coming from miles away without trying. There was no suspense, no moment when I wondered; how is this going to end?! Omg can’t handle this?!... it simply wasn’t there.

Anne: I only knew about the Nephilim due to playing Diablo 3 and I think the idea of the Fallen Angels I had pretty much corresponded to the ones described in this book. The good Angel-offspring , however, was totally different than I expected. I guess I assumed they were able to fly or something instead of being able to lift a Volkswagen.They just seemed rather weak compared to the dark side, but I notice that in every good vs. bad storyline, so that's nothing new here.

I also liked the idea of Essence and not just the light or dark aspects, but colourful Essence everywhere. Imagine looking around and seeing the world as if oxygen can poop rainbows. I'd say yes to that!

I haven't read many popular YA Fantasy during the past 10 years or so, so I can't draw the same comparisons as Cindy, yet I saw correlations with Legend of Korra, Battlestar Galactica, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials and many more. This didn't bother me all too much (I mean, hey, it shows that the author is a fellow member of the geekosphere), except for the yellow-eyed Mr.Nasty which could've stepped right out of Supernatural...

Cheesy jokes, yes! I didn't laugh at them either...and this is the second time this year where I was rubbing my hands in anticipation of some chuckles and didn't so much as twitch a nostril because of it. Maybe we Dutch folk are too influenced by the British or something *shrugs*.

The romance part was instalove basically and not something I enjoyed either. And predictability? Yes, definitely a lot of that. When Cindy was a couple of chapters ahead of me and asked me "Guess what just got revealed?", I could pretty much guess it in one go. Except for the ending...I mean, I knew something fishy was up, but I didn't expect it to be that fishy. Tu dun dun!

~Who was the protagonist and what did you think of him/her?~

Anne: Evelyn Brooks, a.k.a. Eve is the 18-year-old protagonist of the story. After her mother died (and father sort of took off), she was raised by her grandfather, together with her best friend Ria.  I honestly don't know what to think of Evelyn a.k.a. Eve (speaking of biblical things eh?). During the first half of the book, I found her to be a bit whiny and basically kind of worshipping her grandfather (I'll come back to that later). On the other hand, she can kick some serious butt and loses control of herself occasionally, which can be refreshing. The instant drooling over Josh, though....pfff.

Cindy: I agree with Anne on this one. There is nothing else to say for me really, Anne has said it all ( the force is strong in this one).

~How were the other characters formed?~

Cindy: The rest of the characters were just empty. No real background, not even a good enough description except for some minor description of Evelyn’s guardian Nate and some physical features of some characters. Usually, it is just the explanation of a skill and if the person is nice, yes or no. Those things are not even close to being characters... they are just filling.

Anne: I agree that a lot of the characters were a bit stereotypical: Badboy/hunk Josh, sassy finger-snapping teenage friend Ria , whom I disliked from the start...there isn't a lot of depth to their personalities. I did like Freddy and Miranda, though!

~Did the author create an accessible novel or was it hard to get through it?~

Anne: I think the writing in itself was quite good. The sentences were very well constructed, there were no typos and the use of language was intelligent (I'd expect nothing less from an English teacher). However, I did notice that some of the scenes' descriptions didn't make any sense to me. A note I made somewhere: "WTF, they were way up high out of view??" illustrates this nicely. I just often couldn't get a clear picture of the surroundings. And then there's a bit of repetitiveness in the first 50% or so, specifically when it comes to the word 'Grandpa': 201 times...that's pretty excessive. Another one of my notes says "WE KNOW NOW!". Nuf said. I finished the book within 4-5 days, though, while hardly having the time to read properly, so it wasn't that hard to get through.

Cindy: We really need to disagree more, Anne, that would make a way more interesting double review hahaha. Still, I have to agree with you. The overall flow was nice, there was no random sidetracking or scene of which I thought could have been left out and there was no use of complex language. Quite straightforward. I finished the book in about 4 days or so. It would have been nice if there had been some more detail but this is a part of what I mentioned in my overall impression so I will not say more about this. Anne, don’t even get me started with ‘grandpa’ (or other versions of the word) or peachy… really… just don’t.

~Does this book have an: 'Omfg, I didn't see this coming at all!?!'-moment?~

Cindy: No, not really.

Anne: I can't say that I didn't see things coming at ALL, but like I said before, there were a few things (like the ending) that did surprise me a little.

~*drum ruffle* The final verdict?~

Anne: I find this one really hard to rate because it really isn't a bad book, but I can't say I truly enjoyed it to bits either. That being said, like Cindy, I think I might have outgrown these kinds of stories as well. A.k.a.:

im-getting-too-old-for-this-shit

I still think a lot of young people will really like this book, though, and I do wonder about what will happen in the sequel myself as well. So I'm going to give it 2.5 brownies. It was an okay read, but I hope the sequel will have some more depth to it.

Cindy: I had just expected so much more but instead it left me empty and not really interested in what would happen next. Like Anne, I think that this book will definitely do well with a young audience for 14-18 year-olds. The text in itself was alright, but the story was not really what I had hoped and maybe even expected it to be. For my rating, I used Goodreads in this case, so I give this book 2 stars because I think it is okay but it was lacking some things for me.

~Overall score~

2.5 stars and recommended to a younger audience. There's still some creepy violence in it, so we'd say this is very suitable for 14-18-year-olds.

A big thank you to G.R.Fillinger for providing us with a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review!
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