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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-14 22:46
Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder (2016 Review)
Storm Glass - Maria V. Snyder

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Four years attending the Magician's Keep, and Opal believes she's nothing but a disaster and a disappointment. Instead of being able to learn and practice new powers like other students, her one and only ability is placing a thread of magic within the glass figures she creates, which can then be used as a means for cross-country communication. Definitely not combat related, thus she is shocked to learn the Master Magicians have an assignment for her.

(WARNING: This reviews contains MAJOR spoilers.)

I quickly fell in love with the world of the much conflicted Ixia and Sitia all the way back in Poison Study. Not only was the book a perfect reminder of why I love immersing myself in works of fiction, but it created pleasant excitement for the future instalments penned by Snyder. It was then unfortunate that the following segments of the series only declined, leaving me disappointed and pessimistic. What my gripe essentially stemmed from was the character development of Yelena, and how she evolved drastically into a famous, almighty Soulfinder than could accomplish everything and anything. But whilst Yelena's magic varied to the extreme, Opal's was very limited... At first. It offered zero offensive and defensive capabilities, but it was extremely useful and beneficial to the Sitian council and magicians as a whole. This, after the sheer extent of Yelena's power growth, was refreshing and I welcomed the unique simplicity. Imagine my irritation that as the book progressed, new magical discoveries were made, each more powerful than the last. It's an easy assumption to make that history will repeat itself.

Opal suffered through quite a lot in her ventures, and made more one than one mistake along the way. Her insecurities could've been endearing, but I felt they became a little too much when she continuously refused to accept praise or compliments of any kind. She also displayed a hunger for power, which in itself was slightly off-putting, though to be fair, if I were considered a "one-trick wonder", I'd probably feel sour about it as well. Despite these faults, which definitely threatened her likeability, I thought she was an average protagonist with the potential for improvement. Perhaps if she was given room to breathe and grow into her own person, and not overshadowed by Yelena, which of whom played a part in this book and was mentioned regularly.

Of course the love triangle ticked me off, as they usually do. I just don't understand how they can appeal to anyone. It seemed, at least to me, that Opal settled with Ulrick because Kade didn't reciprocate her interest - it's ALWAYS selfish, in one way or another. It doesn't matter which one I favoured (Kade though), it just becomes unbelievably tedious.

However in regards to the other characters, I believed there to be a satisfactory variety. I actually became a little fond of Leif, whereupon I initially hated his immaturity. Zitora I liked, Pazia was a tad annoying, as was Ulrick. Kade was a delight, and I immediately wished him the love interest. The plot itself was eventful, yet at times confusing as it veered off into different directions. I don't think it needed to be as complicated; sometimes a straightforward story does the job just as well. I very much liked the in-depth look at the Stormdancers in particular, and I would've loved if they were focused on a little longer. Hopefully they make appearances in the next two books of the Glass trilogy.

Speaking of glass, I enjoyed the detailed scenes of craftsmanship found throughout the pages. I never thought I'd find an interest in such a thing, but the writing was very well done and inspired me to perform some additional research. I do appreciate when an author can ignite enthusiasm on a certain subject otherwise ignored.

In conclusion: Looking forward to delving into more Chronicles of Ixia, but let's hope they rise to the standard of the very first. It just strikes me as the protagonists get overly powerful, which takes all the fun out of them struggling for their survival.

Notable Scene:

The roar of the wind and sea ceased the moment the monster wave engulfed me. For one heartbeat, my world filled with gurgling sounds and foamy green light. Then the force of the crashing water slammed me into an unyielding object. The sea grabbed my limp body and tossed it about. Confusion dulled the pain until my forehead smacked into a jagged rock.

© Red Lace 2016

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/04/14/storm-glass-by-maria-v-snyder-2016-review
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text 2018-02-01 00:56
January in Review

January in Review

(Read: 5 / Reviewed: 9)

It's certainly been an interesting, if not a long, month! Phew, I thought January would never end! Fortunately I got through some great books and was able to write two reviews each week. This new routine really helped me stay on top of things. Let's take a look at all the bookish goodness, shall we?

Read

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Splatterpunk Fighting Back by (multiple) - This analogy has eleven individual stories written by different authors. Going in, I was only vaguely familiar with Duncan Ralston, having previously finished Woom. I never would've discovered this had it not been for Horror Aficionados on Goodreads, of who appointed it the January group read with author invite. I was lucky enough to ask some of the authors questions whilst trying to gain more insight into their brutal tales, and I had a blast! The best thing, though? All proceeds of this book go to charity! (Rated: 4/5)

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay - Another one I wouldn't have picked up if not for the Horror Aficionados group. Being the January group read, I was pleasantly surprised by this one! (Rated: 4/5)

The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter - I started this long-running series in 2011, and it's still ongoing. Whilst I really enjoyed it at the beginning, my enjoyment waned several instalments ago, however I can't just give up without finishing it, can I? Ludicrous! (Rated: 2/5)

What Hides Within by Jason Parent - I found this on Netgalley, and I'm glad I did! Bloodshot Books accepted my request, and I promptly read and reviewed it. (Rated: 4/5)

Morium by S.J. Hermann - I was requested to read and review this novel by the author. Being my last read of January, this one takes priority and will be the first review of February. See my request information here. (Rated: 3/5)

 

Reviewed 

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Blood Song by Cat Adams (WORST READ)
Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
Stephen by Amy Cross
The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards
Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds (BEST READ)
Woom by Duncan Ralston
What Hides Within by Jason Parent
Dark Space by Kevis Hendrickson

Other than that, January was a decent month for me personally. I'm enjoying reading more, getting out more, and generally trying to put more effort into my day-to-day life. I thank everyone who made this past month all the better, including the wonderful authors I had the chance to speak to! Here's hoping for a book-tastic February!

Red xx

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/31/january-in-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-12-08 13:00
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
The Taste of Night - Vicki Pettersson
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Joanna Archer, representing the Light-side Sagittarius sign in the Zodiac troupe of Las Vegas, continues to juggle her new-found life in her sister's body. Not only does she have to keep up appearances of being the sole progeny to the richest man in the city, she also has to protect society from the Shadow organisation hellbent on terrorising the innocent. Finding herself in a rather peculiar predicament, Joanna reluctantly makes a deal with a Shadow initiate; one that she might come to regret.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I've always been fond of the good ol' fight between good and evil, so the aspect of superheroes was definitely refreshing to return to. Whilst finding The Scent of Shadows to be rather average as a whole, I believed this instalment (Signs of the Zodiac series is six instalments long) to be a large decline - primarily because of the heroine herself, Joanna Archer. I personally love the first-person perspectives that dominate the genre; it gives an in-depth and intimate picture of the character, however it can be especially unforgiving if that character happens to be someone you dislike.

And boy, did I dislike her.

I'm a firm believer that characters should be flawed, because people are flawed, however there's only so much I can take when I can find very little redeeming qualities. Joanna repeatedly made the exact same error and refused to learn from it, instead putting herself and her troupe at risk over and over. I'm legitimately shocked how anyone could find her actions reasonable, and how anyone could consider her a good protagonist. Being vengeful is one thing, but being stupidly selfish is another thing entirely.

Let me give a rundown of her transgressions; the ones that bothered me the most. 1: She kept going off alone after the bad guy, with the knowledge that her enemy was stronger. Thus, he would obviously get the better of her and she would need rescuing by her team. This happened three times, if I remember correctly. 2: The gateway to the Light side's secret hideout, she compromised it twice (the second time she was well aware of her actions), and so put the safety of her group, not to mention children, at risk. 3: Due to jealously, she couldn't allow her ex-boyfriend to move on, so she forced herself back into his life, when he was just beginning to be happy again. And she spent a night with him, then disappeared again.

The third one bothered me the most, I think. This is a woman whose identity needs to be kept a secret, yet as soon as she caught a whiff of a new woman in Ben's life, she didn't waste any time to metaphorically urinate all over him. The fact is, she can't have any sort of relationship with him, she can't even allow him to see her physical appearance unless she uses a prepubescent's shield-mould-thing. Am I the only one that found it creepy, that she had sex with Ben whilst using that little girls essence or whatever it was?

I'm going to end the rant about our dear Joanna there, if I can bring myself to it.

I can't say I favoured any of the other characters either, except maybe Regan. She really did play her role expertly, and I daresay she'll be one hell of a villain for the team to battle in the future. I'm looking forward to seeing what she has in store for the Light side. Sometimes you just have to root for evil, because in this case, the Light doesn't exactly offer anything substantial. I mean, what do we have? Hunter? Well, he took a page from Joanna's book; his selfishness actually resulting in someones death. I'm not a fan of love triangles anyway; I'd much rather he or Ben be removed from the equation altogether. Warren and Tekla's frustration throughout was understandable - they were definitely the adults of the situation.

The plot itself could've been better. I honestly expected the plague to have more of an impact, but it didn't even occur until a hundred plus pages. The focal point seemed to be Joaquin, and because of such the tone of the book was needlessly dark. Joaquin was portrayed badly; his entire thought process being about rape, despite him apparently being an avid collector of the comics. It was basically telling us he had depth, yet every time he was on-page he was constantly sexually abusing and / or harassing women. At one point he even yelled: "I will rape you, Joanna!", which in itself summed up his character perfectly.

I like the premise of this series, I do, but I got pretty sick and tired of Joanna's mess. I dearly hope she'll develop into something better.

The Touch of Twilight is the third book in this series, and was first published in 2008.

Notable Scene:

"Uh... good doggie?" I said, taking in the sight of an animal with the muscle of a bear and the angular ferocity of a wolf. He let a warning rumble loose in his throat, and the deep reverberation jarred through my immobile bones like a jackhammer through concrete.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/08/the-taste-of-night-by-vicki-pettersson
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-11-27 13:00
Blood Song by Cat Adams
Blood Song - Cat Adams
Blood Song by Cat Adams
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Celia Graves, bodyguard for hire, takes on a job to protect the Prince of Rusland (which in this world is a small kingdom located in western Ukraine), but little does she know the chaos about to befall her and change her life forever. Nothing could prepare her for a group of rampaging vampires, especially when one attempts to turn her, yet is interrupted. Thus Celia is stuck - an abomination - neither belonging, nor accepted, in human society, or amongst the shadows with the monsters.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I never thought I'd question my love of this genre (UF is what, after all, got me into reading at a relatively young age), but lo and behold, it actually happened throughout this excruciatingly long drag of a book. It wasn't even the typical cliches that bothered me; you know the type, the not-so-special protagonist turned special, the not-so-attractive woman that every man just happened to want. I can deal with the common urban fantasy tropes, because in the end it's ultimately how it's executed that deems how much enjoyment I get out of it. However, this one just didn't miss the mark, the mark was nowhere to be seen. I don't particularly like getting such a bad impression of the first in a series (Blood Singer is seven instalments long), but I can't exactly force myself to like it, either.

So, let's get into why I thought this book was rather poor. For starters, the blurb of the book gives reason to believe that the plot is centred around Celia's transformation, yet whilst it played a prominent role in the beginning - be it the looming threat of the mysterious vampire that semi-turned her - it's utterly dismissed when he's killed in the background by a character that has very little time on-page. As a result of this, not only was it misleading, but the story itself jumped all over the place and didn't seem to settle down.

I mean, for the love of God, don't intermingle plotlines if you can't do it well.

Next, there's the characters; the individuals we're supposed to connect with and therefore get attached to. There's nothing worse than feeling nothing for them, but sadly that happens when each and every one are written without depth. Sure, there were quite a few; the ex-boyfriend that was sort of the current boyfriend(?), the other male friend that sent tingles to her loins, the one heterosexual female friend, the older mentor-type that died within a few pages and the best friend that held a significant presence, yet wasn't even in it to begin with. Character death should be impactful, it should elicit an emotional response, but these people were lifeless; we weren't given time to even remotely acquaint ourselves with them before they hit the bucket. It's why I believe this to be a weak series debut - it's as if it was already several books ahead, and I'd somehow missed out on prior instalments.

Characters also had a tendency to disappear and offer no further relevance. There were multiple hints at a love triangle, however Kevin (the werewolf), played such a minor part, I quickly forgot about him. "John Jones" also could've been interesting, but he vanished early on and was never seen again.

Another thing that didn't sit quite right with me, was the whole Siren revelation. Why it needed to even be a thing, I have no clue. It added very little - basically, straight women will automatically dislike Celia, whilst men will want her and be inclined to do things for her. It's almost laughable. I'm not saying that Celia was a terrible heroine; in fact she didn't do much at all to either endear me to her, or to incur my disapproval. She had the normal attitude the majority of women have in these types of books, and moaned often about her situation - again, the usual traits.

There was one thing I appreciated, however. The dysfunctional family dynamic added an aspect I could grasp onto. It was nice, and true enough is a quote from a brief note at the beginning of the book:

"... for the most part, happy families do not make for interesting reading."

Anyway, in conclusion - I didn't enjoy this one. A part of me wants to give the series a second chance, that maybe it gets better over time, and that other part of me just wants to forget its existence. Initially I rated this two stars, because I wanted to be generous, but after a lot of thought, I'm subtracting one and leaving it at what I feel is appropriate.

Siren Song is the second instalment of this series, and was first published in 2010.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/01/blood-song-by-cat-adams
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review 2015-06-14 00:00
The Gray Wolf Throne
The Gray Wolf Throne - Cinda Williams Chima

The Seven Realms series continues in this third installment, however this has to be my least favourite so far. A major plot point was revealed in the blurb and it really took away from the reading experience and the moment it happened. It is true that you could see it was going to happen anyway, but I still would have preferred to go in blind. I recommend that you avoid reading the blurb when going into this one. All you need to know is that the story picks up right where The Exiled Queen left off. Raisa is on the run, Han is searching for her, and there are enemies everywhere.

 

The dual point of view is still in effect here, but this book focuses more on Raisa than Han, an aspect I thought I would enjoy as I greatly prefer her character. But it turned out Han’s struggles were much more interesting than Raisa’s so I was left unsatisfied. The Gray Wolf Throne is very character driven, even more so than The Exiled Queen.

 

It was sad to see the end of Oden’s Ford, as I really enjoyed the setting, and there wasn’t really any firm setting here. They moved around a lot and unlike in The Demon King, it didn’t work.

 

The first half of the novel was the best. It was pretty intense, with both Han and Raisa on the same path, yet separated. It was action packed, and I felt it had a good balance with the slower scenes. The plot was engaging and constantly moving forward (although pretty slowly it seemed) yet it didn’t have any strong build up or climax. This definitely was more of a bridge book to set up for the sequel. While I enjoyed the read, it was disappointing. There are still some fantastic moments, and if you have liked the first two books then you should definitely pick this one up. I’m hoping that this is all build up to an explosive finale! And if you haven’t tried this series yet, go ahead and give The Demon King a chance. It’s an excellent, refreshing young adult fantasy!

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