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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 2018-07-15 02:43
Lair of Dreams
Lair of Dreams - Libba Bray

I honestly just can't put into words how much I absolutely love this series and it kills me that it's not as popular as some of the other stuff out there. I can't believe everyone went crazy for Divergent but is completely ignoring this gem.

The second book in the series was just as brilliant as the first. It had the same mystery and spookiness to it and I love how all of the clues that we get from each book on Project Buffalo is slowly building up to give us a picture of what's really going on. Seriously the suspense is killing me. I don't even mind that I have to wait this long for the fourth book to come out because honestly, this series is well worth the wait.

If you're looking for a story that has a diverse cast of characters well then sister this is it. You are here, you've found it. There are people of different races, ethnicities, religions, sexuality, and physical disability etc etc. And what's great is that the struggles that these characters have to put up with because they're black, or Chinese, or disabled, or gay, isn't lost to the story, it's really well incorporated into explaining their actions and their thoughts and how they see the world. The culture and mentality and racism that was present in the 1920s is very much present in this book and I seriously believe that this series would not have been the same if it had all been ignored.

I will say that if you didn't like Evie in the first book, you're probably not gonna like her any better in this book. But no matter how angry you may get with Evie and the way that she's behaving, you ultimately feel bad for her in the end when you see how she's dealing with her situation.

Blind Bill Johnson hasn't really been all that important so far, but I will say that as much as the way that he's manipulating Isaiah disgusts me, I get it. I understand where he's coming from, I get why he's doing what he's doing. I think he's a pretty complex character for someone who hasn't played as big of a role in the story so far.

The sleeping sickness was truly spooky, especially near the end where everything comes to a close and we figure out what's going on and who's responsible for what. I honestly had to stop reading quite a few times just because I was freaking out, I didn't see the plot twist coming, maybe it's because I wasn't paying attention. Everything was all there for me to put together, I just didn't bother stopping to think about how each piece fits together.

Normally I hate pretty much any and all love triangles but not in this book. I'm honestly amazed at how well-written the romance is. Usually, you can tell who the protagonist is going to end up picking, but not in this series. And honestly, I don't even have a preference myself, I would be just as happy for Evie to end up with either prospect, I just want the angst and the suffering to end for my boys Jericho and Sam/Sergei.

Although if Jericho resorts to the "nice guys finish last" type of mentality I'm going to be angry for the rest of my life.

Each relationship in the love triangle works well, the characters all have something or need something from the other that would make the relationship work ya know. And most importantly, it doesn't distract from the plot, like in most cases where it ends up more romance and what was supposed to be actual plot kind of just becomes a side thought. I can't believe I'm saying this, but if anything, the romance actually adds to the story and helps move it along.

The writing was fantastic, it flowed so well, the pacing was great, it keeps you engaged and it's honestly really easy to spend your entire day reading all 613 pages of this. 

And the cliffhanger at the end honestly has me #deadt.

In conclusion, I've been screaming about this series from the rooftops for literally years on end now but no one will listen to me about how good it is. And lastly, I am forever a fan of Libba Bray honestly bless up, this was the supernatural, paranormal story that I didn't even know I needed.

 

(Also, I saw that lil nod towards Felicity and Gemma in the book, I saw it. I just wanna know if they're gonna end up making a bigger appearance later on or if it's just a lil something for the Gemma Doyle fans out there? WHO DOES GEMMA MARRY? WHO IS THIS RAO CHARACTER? FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED LIBBA!)
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review 2018-07-07 03:47
On a roll but not the good kind
Escape from the Lizzarks (Nnewts) - Doug TenNapel

Nnewts: Escape from the Lizzarks by Doug TenNapel is another summer reading selection for middle grade readers. This is the first in a series of graphic novels which follow the adventures of Herc, a Nnewt, who is on both a literal and figurative journey of self-discovery. From the beginning, the reader is launched into this fictional world of creatures called Nnewts and their enemies the Lizzarks. There was a sense that one should already be familiar with characters and backstory. The narrative seemed to be all over the place which compounded the issue. I feel like the author was trying to put a spin on the classic 'underdog who surprises everyone to come out on top' but it was all a bit rushed in my opinion. Also, if this is a series I see no reason why the pacing had to be so hurried.  I went into this one with fairly high hopes as the first couple of pages seemed quite interesting but this is one of those books that just didn't work for me. However, I'm betting it will appeal to a younger audience. (It is after all not marketed for me so this makes perfect sense.) It will probably come as no surprise to any of you that I have no plans to continue this series but I have recommended it to some of my younger readers who like a lot of blood, guts, and gore. No complaints thus far. :-) The best thing I can say about this particular book is that the color illustrations were very imaginative but the rest of it left quite a bit to desire. 2/10

 

Spoiler: Straight out of the gate most of the characters are killed off and I feel like this was a lazy way to move the hero's journey ahead. Also, because it happened so early on there was really no emotional attachment or buildup so it served very little purpose (at least from a reader's perspective).

(spoiler show)

 

An example from the first couple of pages. [Source: Scholastic Canada]

 

 

What's Up Next: Graveyard Shakes by Laura Terry

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions by Russell Brand

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-07-05 09:27
Review: Watching You
Watching You - Shannon Greenland (S. E. Green)

There is a lot to unravel about Viola's story and I hope to do it justice. We meet Viola as she is starting at a most prestigious school that she's worked tirelessly to attend. From the first interaction with Riel we know that there is a spark between them but it is quickly doused with cold water when Viola realizes Riel is her competition for the scholarship that allows her to attend the school.

 

As Viola settles in at her new school she has a strong sense of impostor syndrome. She hasn't lived the privileged life most of her classmates have and if they only knew where she came from she would never be accepted, or so she thinks. This particular piece of of the story is so important. The need to fit in, to feel like you belong, is so strong as you enter into adulthood. This is Viola's chance to change her life and she's willing to fight hard, study furiously, and try to ignore her budding feelings for a certain boy. 

 

I really loved falling in love with Riel. His character has so much depth and passion that it's impossible to ignore. Viola deserves a beautiful soul like Riel and their story was enthralling to read. Of course, as with most relationships, there are hurdles to overcome and trust to be earned, but I was rooting for them from the first meeting. 

 

My favorite part of suspense novels is trying to figure out who did it, before it's revealed in the story. I was not successful in this case, which makes me love this story even more. Viola's stalker was a mystery right up to the reveal. So hang on to your hats, cause you're in for a whirlwind. 

 

I'd recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good coming of age story with a lot of heart, and a great build of suspense. 

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review 2018-07-03 19:26
I'm here for the illustrations
The Royal Rabbits Of London - Santa Montefiore,Simon Sebag Montefiore

If you've come here hoping for your next read of the summer then I'm afraid I have to disappoint you (unless this sounds up your street for some reason). The Royal Rabbits of London by Santa Montefiore & Simon Sebag Montefiore caught my eye because of the fantastic cover illustration of rabbits in various outfits. This is the story of Shylo, an extremely small bunny that is ridiculed and bullied by his peers (and siblings). He gets roped into a bit of intrigue and derring-do which takes him away from all that he has ever known and into the very heart of the Royal Rabbits of London. Much shenanigans ensue especially when they are confronted by Ratzis. I feel like this book was given very little thought or care (except for the illustrations which were really great and liberally padded the story) so it shocked me to learn that this is the first in a series. (Spoiler alert: I won't be reading the others.) It wasn't particularly well-written but would probably appeal to 2nd or 3rd graders who really like rabbits. For me, it was disappointing to say the least. 1/10 only because of those excellent drawings.

 

The back. [Source: Amazon.com]

 

I mean this is really great stuff. [Source: katehindley.com]

 

What's Up Next: Nnewts: Escape from the Lizzarks by Doug TenNapel

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions by Russell Brand

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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