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review 2018-11-14 02:52
Swashbuckling Adventure with an Enchanting Twist
Daughter of the Pirate King - Tricia Levenseller

 

 

Audience: Young Adult

Format: Audiobook

 

We're outnumbered. Outgunned. Seven of my men lie dead on their backs. Two more jumped overboard as soon as they saw the black flag of the Night Farer on the horizon.

 

- opening paragraph

 

Seventeen-year-old Alosa is not only the daughter of the Pirate King, but also a captain of her own ship, and a powerful fighter with more than a few tricks up her sleeve. She allows herself to be captured in order to complete a mission for her father - to find one-third of an ancient map which leads to a legendary treasure.

 

Alosa is a strong, smart, fierce fighter, and she has a secret which can bend any man to her will. I like her character, but she seems a bit cocky at times and I couldn't figure out why (until the reveal). I love that Riden (the first mate of the pirates who unwittingly take Alosa prisoner) is clever enough to see through most of Alosa's tricks. Their rivalry makes it impossible for them to even imagine liking each other, but they can't deny they are both clever and strong-willed.

 

Alosa is easy to root for. Her relationship with Riden sometimes seems a certain disaster and other times seems meant to be. This book is well-written, exciting, and filled with action and unexpected twists. Even during the last battle, things happen that you won't see coming.

 

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a high seas adventure with a strong female lead - young adults and adults too.

 

 

 

 

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review 2018-11-06 15:56
The Clockmakers Daughter
The Clockmaker’s Daughter - Kate Morton

by Kate Morton

 

Elodie, is getting married soon, but she doesn't seem all that interested. She's a likeable character with a strong sense of her own independence and a love of researching the past, which is part of her job. Although her part in the story is set in modern day, she has the feel of a Victorian character out of place.

 

I really enjoyed reading this at first as the writing is very good and I could identify with Elodie in many ways, but as the chapters went on I felt it became very slow. There are interesting time jumps, but they aren't done as smoothly as they might have and the connection between Elodie and Ada had a lot of potential, but again, things just took forever to progress.

 

I think this story could have been shorter and tightened up. Some brilliant creative ideas were in there that deserved to hold my interest more than they did.

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review 2018-11-05 13:01
The Clockmaker's Daughter ★★★★☆
The Clockmaker’s Daughter - Kate Morton

I'm not sure how to review this one, and as I reflect on the issues I had with it, I'm not sure it deserved all 4 stars, but I'll let it stand, because in the end, I think my enjoyment of the characters and their stories overcomes the style and structure issues I had with it. 

 

First of all, I was surprised at the overtly supernatural elements to this story. Morton usually has some elements of fate or the gods or whatever embedded in her plots - she has to, in order to make them work, I think - but this is the first I can think of where there is an actual ghost. I'm not spoiler tagging that, because it's pretty apparent early on, even if not explicitly stated. I'm not disappointed in it, but after two months of reading for Halloween Bingo, I was looking for something a little more grounded in the real world. 

 

Second, the structure made this a difficult read. As the title implies, the nature of Time is a strong theme, and the author takes over a half dozen characters from across more than 150 years and weaves their stories together with a shifting timeline. Not only do we shift between different characters in different eras, we even shift back and forth within the timeline of each character. In the end, she *mostly* pulls them all together, so we can discover how they are each connected and the cause and effect between all the story's events, but getting there was difficult. I found it impossible to follow on audio and had to switch to hardcover so I could flip back to earlier pages to refresh my memory. Also, the voice of the titular character slips occasionally into first person, present tense, which I normally hate, but it is used sparingly and purposefully, and it fits as a storytelling device. 

 

Third, this is the first time I think the author was unsuccessful in tying up her loose ends and finishing the story. Maybe this was on purpose - again the nature of time and the human experience in it - but it felt just hastily finished and incomplete. I still had a lot of questions at the end. 

 

Last, though, is the strength of this book that lifts it above the technical problems. The characters are all wonderfully drawn. I invested in all of them, I invested in all of their stories, and I rooted for them, and I sympathized with them, and I even cried a little with some of them. 

 

I read using both hardcover and audio (via Audible) editions. Joanne Froggatt (of Downton Abbey fame) performs the audio and does a fine job with it, but I desperately missed the voice of Caroline Lee, who has performed all of the author's works up to now. 

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review 2018-10-29 06:33
Daughter of the Burning City (audiobook) by Amanda Foody, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller
Daughter of the Burning City - Amanda Foody

Sorina has spent most of her life working in the Gomorrah Festival, a city-sized traveling carnival, as the adopted daughter of the Festival's proprietor, Villiam. Although Sorina is the first known illusion-worker born in a hundred years and will eventually become the Festival's next proprietor, she doesn't feel particularly special. The blank areas of skin where her eyes should be mark her as a freak, even within Gomorrah. And although Villiam is kind and always finds time to talk to her, he doesn't seem to be putting serious effort into training her to be his successor. There is much Sorina still doesn't know about how Gomorrah works.

In addition to Villiam, her adopted father, and Kahina, Sorina's mother figure, Sorina has her other family members, her various illusions. Over the years, she has created several illusions so complex that they appear to almost be real people. Each of them was specifically designed to fulfill a role - Sorina's uncle, bossy older sister, annoying younger siblings, etc. - but each of them also acquired traits that Sorina didn't plan, special "freakish" abilities. They all add a bit of stability to Sorina's life, until one day she discovers something she hadn't thought possible: one of her illusions has been murdered.

Who would have killed an illusion? How did they manage it? Sorina doesn't know who to turn to. Should she trust Villiam, who believes that the killer is an outsider trying to harm him, the proprietor, through her? Or handsome Luca, who believes the killer is someone within the Gomorrah Festival?

I'll start off by saying that the only reason I listened to this was because I needed something I could use for my "Creepy Carnivals" square in Booklikes Halloween Bingo. Even just in the description, there were aspects of this book that didn't appeal to me. The entire setup sounded a bit ridiculous, for one thing, and Sorina's "family" reminded me too much of James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge's The Dangerous Days of Daniel X, a truly terribly YA book. I also rolled my eyes at the whole "first illusion-worker born in a hundred years" thing.

Daughter of the Burning City turned out to be both tedious and gross. I mean, I didn't like the whole "Sorina created nearly all of her friends and family members" aspect, but I didn't expect it to be quite as awful as it was. And the murder "investigation" was just a joke.

I was halfway through the book before anything resembling an on-page investigation started. Villiam swore he was doing a "full investigation," but I couldn't see how that could possibly be true considering that the victims were cleaned up and buried soon after their deaths. Sorina's investigation with Luca wasn't much better. Honestly, it seemed like they were randomly questioning people. I vaguely remember Luca saying something about Gomorrah residents with particularly special abilities (or more than one ability?) being more likely murderer candidates for some reason, but in practice it really just seemed like they were talking to people to fill the time and make Sorina feel like they were doing something useful.

I'll admit that I never figured out the killer's motive on my own, but the killer's identity was such a cliche that I managed to guess it about 15% in, and the oddities in their behavior just kept stacking up. I wasn't impressed at all with the murder mystery storyline.

The romance didn't start off well, but it gradually improved...until it suddenly became one of the top grossest YA romances I've read in a while.

When Sorina and Luca first met, there was some stereotypical "he's so good-looking, but he can't possibly be interested in a freak like me" stuff. Then Sorina learned that Luca was *gasp* not interested in sex. The character who initially told Sorina this said it like it was the most freakish thing she'd ever heard of, and Sorina herself seemed to have trouble wrapping her brain around the idea. After hearing this info about Luca from at least two separate people, Sorina had a conversation with Luca in which she declared the two of them friends, received a lukewarm response, and then decided to kiss him out of the blue. When he didn't respond favorably, she assumed it was at least partly due to her own freakish lack of eyes rather than the fact that she'd forced a kiss on him without his consent and with the knowledge that it might make him uncomfortable.

In a much shorter amount of time than I would have expected, Luca decided that he was okay with kissing Sorina. He explained that he needed to get to know a person before he could feel interested in them (demiromantic?). Considering that he'd also said that he'd never been put in this sort of position before and had never really thought about it, I wondered how he knew the exact words to describe all of this - his panicked confusion felt more real than his later explanation and his sudden willingness to passionately kiss Sorina.

I eventually adjusted to their romance, even though I wasn't a fan of the way it started. However, a revelation late in the book made it all skin-crawlingly gross. This is where I get into major spoiler territory.

At one point, Sorina learns that Luca is actually one of her illusions. Various machinations caused her to forget about his existence, and, if things had gone as planned, Sorina would never have met him again and they'd have lived entirely separate lives. But of course that didn't happen.

What I could not get past was that Sorina had created Luca. Foody tried to smooth this over via Luca telling Sorina that her more person-like illusions always had aspects of themselves she didn't expect. She'd never planned any of their "freakish" abilities, and many of them had private lives she was unaware of. Luca claimed that their romance was perfectly fine because he'd chosen to be with her. What Foody never addressed, however, was the fact that all of Sorina's illusions perfectly aligned with whatever role she'd assigned them to fulfill. Venera was her best friend, because that's what Sorina created her to be. Nicoleta seemed fine with being Sorina's "bossy older sister." And Luca, meanwhile, was created to be Sorina's lover. No, he didn't turn out quite as planned, but in the end he slid right into his assigned role just like all the others.

(spoiler show)

Was consent really possible in a situation like this?

Emily Woo Zeller's narration didn't improve my opinion of this book. She tended to sound overwrought, which I suppose fit Sorina well, but all this did was make Sorina grate on my nerves more. Her voices for the various male characters often sounded cartoonish, and I disliked Nicoleta in large part due to the waspish tone she used for her.

This wasn't a good book in the slightest, but at least it netted me the bingo square I needed, so that's something.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2018-10-27 17:57
Reading progress update: I've listened 761 out of 761 minutes.
Daughter of the Burning City - Amanda Foody

I'm DONE. This gets me the Creepy Carnivals square and two more bingos, for a total of three bingos so far. Crossing my fingers that I can get one or two more.

 

I loathed this book. It's also one of the grosser YA romances I've read in a while. Foody tried to smooth it over with a conversation between Luca and Sorina near the end, but I still can't help but wonder if consent is really possible in this situation. Then there's the power imbalance issue. Also, my big question remains unanswered: if Sorina dies, what happens to her illusions? And another question: Do the illusions age?

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