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review 2017-09-24 13:57
Letdown of an ending.
The Immortal Heights (Elemental Trilogy) - Sherry Thomas

So, here we are at the end of another adventure. Iolanthe and Titus are now joined by friends and allies for one Final Battle vs. the Bane with lives at stake, a prophecy to fulfill and the fate of the world resting in the balance. But the Bane has a twist. Titus must give up Iolanthe to the Bane or it is the end of the world as we know it. You know, as is standard with these epic YA fantasy trilogies. 


Anyway, I had hoped that after book 2 this book might pick up a bit more and in a way it does. Thankfully the strange split perspective was not repeated and this is more in the vein of the storytelling style of book one. And we are plunged right into the action but unfortunately a lot doesn't really "happen" until the closer to the climax of the book. We've got a few twists and turns, bits and pieces of plot twists, info dump on the Bane and how he came to exist, etc. 


In some ways the book felt like it was a bit too rushed and yet not that much happened. Thomas's books tend to be slow in build-up and sometimes are slow overall but I just couldn't help but feel that there wasn't enough material for three books (hence what is basically rehashing of the love story in book 2) and yet there was too much saved for this last book (sacrifices, information revealing motives, origins, etc.). This might have made for a better duology than stretched out as trilogy. I also wanted more elemental magic. I was also partially right in how they managed to fulfill one of the prophecies while not actually doing so. It was a bit disappointing that I was on the right track for the device used, even if it didn't quite happen the way I thought it would.


But I will say I was glad Thomas didn't force a love triangle. Too many YA books use that as a crutch or plot device and I'm glad we didn't have any nonsense with these Iolanthe and Titus. Arguably this device was transferred to some of the secondary characters but it wasn't a major plot point to take up much space. There was also a bit of throw-ins mentioning some LGBT relationships that just felt a bit tacked-on for no reason whatsoever.


Overall a mixed bag and I'll probably make it a point to borrow her books from now on instead of buying. But this was something a little different and I enjoyed the ride.

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review 2017-09-23 14:19
Slow to get going and strange format.
The Perilous Sea - Sherry Thomas

Here we are in book 2 of the Elemental trilogy. After the triumph of killing off the Bane in book one our protagonists (Titus and Iolanthe) return to Eton to once again continue training, navigate being school and try to untangle what could be a kink. Titus believed that Iolanthe was the one who would help in his mission and had invested a lot of time, effort and emotion in that goal. If Iolanthe is not, how does this change things for him? For her? For their mission?


Once again Thomas's text is very slow to get going and it took me awhile to settle into it. I suppose I had forgotten this style from her other books I've read plus that as part of a trilogy I had thought that we'd be right in the middle of things (it IS the middle entry, after all!). Not quite. The book takes a bizarre format where we are viewing events in both the past and the present. Initially I had a few different theories as to what we were seeing (that forgot we're viewing events at different times) and initially really liked the scenes in the desert. But once it became clearer what it was (a sloppy device to give the love story some juice) it grew to bore me. This was entirely unnecessary as a device and really ended up just taking up space. It made me wonder if the author didn't have enough material for the middle section.


At while at first I wasn't as excited by the events in the present, it became more interesting once we had a few plot twists/developments and the story really started coming together. There is a bit of info-dumping that could have been better spread out or handled (in retrospect it would have been better to delete the desert scenes entirely and set everything at Eton) but I was willing to go along with this and see where exactly the author is taking us.


I also wish there had been more elemental magic along the lines of Jim Dresden's 'Codex Alera' series or the 'Avatar'/'Korra' cartoons. That was whole reason why I picked up this trilogy and so I was a bit disappointed that this entry (first book as well) really didn't have that much. Here's to hoping Book 3 has more.


Overall it wasn't as good as the first one but I'm still interested in the series overall and appreciate how Thomas has written a variety of works. I bought this with a coupon and didn't mind, although perhaps a library borrow would have been better instead.

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review 2017-09-10 13:57
First entry shows promise!
The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy) - Sherry Thomas

Decided it was time to switch things up a bit and read something a little different. Had this book for awhile now and decided it was time to finally read up on it. As a fan of the 'Avatar: the Last Airbender' and 'The Legend of Korra' as well as enjoying Jim Dresden's 'Codex Alera' series this trilogy that has elemental magic seemed like a good option.


Iolanthe is a young woman who has been living her life doing magic with a drunk guardian when she is plunged into an adventure where she must destroy the Bane, a tyrant who seeks to control all. She meets Prince Titus, the ruler (in name, really) of the land and who needs Iolanthe to defeat the Bane to restore peace to the land as foreseen by his mother's visions.


Admittedly typing that out made it sound like a cliched, well-worn trope-filled story and it is. It's not a story that hasn't been done before and admittedly Thomas' entry isn't exactly a unique take. But all the same I found myself enjoying the story anyway. There are familiar aspects to this (romance between Iolanthe and Titus, training sequences, can the two main characters learn to trust each other) but all the same it was still a pleasant adventure. I enjoyed the sequences where Iolanthe must play Titus's male classmate (he had actually been expecting a young man).


That said, I understand the criticisms. The world-building isn't great (there's no map!) the elemental magic isn't as well-defined as say it is in Dresden's books or the Avatar universe and I could have really done without the romance.The romance was subtle (it's also limited to looks and thoughts and occasional kisses but as a YA series it doesn't go further than that) but it's never my cup of tea. The book is also quite slow. Having read a few other of Thomas's books (including her historical romances and the first in the Charlotte Holmes series) I could see this book would be somewhat similar--more focus on the characters and not so much on the action.


Still, I liked it. I suppose it's really a 3.5 star book but I decided to round up. I had been put off by some of the negative reviews and experience from her previous work but I think recognizing it's quite different from her other writings in terms of genre (YA, fantasy) helped. This won't be the next great YA trilogy but as a mashup of the Avatar universe with the latter part of the Harry Potter series (where Hogwarts and schooling became less of a focus) I enjoyed it. I bought this first book and will likely buy the next two as they're relatively cheap and in paperback but the library is probably a better option for others.

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text 2017-08-30 19:06
Coming Soon?
The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
Glass Houses - Louise Penny
The Snake, the Crocodile & the Dog - Elizabeth Peters
Heartless - Gail Carriger
The Peach Keeper - Sarah Addison Allen
Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
A Study In Scarlet Women: The Lady Sherlock Series - Sherry Thomas
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
Copper Beach - Jayne Ann Krentz
The Ghost and the Graveyard - Genevieve Jack

Just some possibilities I have in mind.

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review 2017-05-04 13:35
What happened?
My Beautiful Enemy - Sherry Thomas

After finally reading ''The Hidden Blade' by the same author I thought and hoped that this book would be close (it is the second of the duology after all). Instead it seems like a completely different story.


We fast forward a few years to see Leighton and Ying-Ying (who goes by Catherine as well) as adults. But there's a history. While searching for a particular heirloom we have danger and peril. Old enemies return, new friends are made, love triangles happen, people die, etc. You know, just a normal historical romance.


Or something like that. After the careful setting-building and following of the characters' development it's like it all went out the window. Leighton and Ying-Ying have a history together before meeting up. The book moves back and forth through time, flashing back to their initial meeting and relationship to the "present" where an ever-lurking danger has deadly consequences.


This book somewhat suffered from the same problem of the previous one: there really isn't much focus on a plot and unfortunately this is all about the romance between the two. I can't stand that. I actually liked both characters MUCH better when they had never met. The story just ended up dragging on and on without much to really keep me reading. I wouldn't have expected the author to spend much time on their character histories/development in this book but for such time and care in following these characters' backstories only to be shoe-horned into such a boring romance was rather disappointing. I know there are some people who did like it without reading the prequel but based on my experience I only know I would have hated it even more. 


I am quite sad at the drop off in quality and am quite surprised it has such high ratings. Glad I got this from the library.

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