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review 2015-08-27 18:38
The Girl at Midnight
The Girl at Midnight - Melissa Grey

On its own, without considering anything else, I enjoyed the plot and the little bit of mythology within the world.  BUT, I just can’t overlook the lack of originality that was peppered throughout the whole thing.  It has been said in so many reviews already, but seriously, this is too similar to Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  And when this did verge away from DoSaB it touched on The Grisha series.  It seemed like the author just mushed those two series together and came up with The Girl at Midnight.  If I hadn’t read both of those series before this I probably would have been more into this book.  Unfortunately for Melissa Grey, I did read both of those series before this and they were superior to this effort.  

 

The MC, Echo, was a little snarky and sarcastic, which I love to read.  It keeps novels fun and adds an relatable element to the character for me.  

 

That said, she drove me nuts on a number of occasions.  

 

First - - and I cannot emphasize this enough - - she just FORGOT about Rowan.  You know Rowan...the boy she was swooning over in the first few chapters.  The boy she has known all her life...and been “in love” with for a while.  Rowan...her boyfriend!  As soon as Caius was introduced it was as if Rowan didn’t even exist.  Some people have said there was a love triangle in this book but I would disagree.  I love triangle would require the MC to actually think about both partners.  This is no love triangle, this is Echo abandoning Rowan and not looking back.

 

Second - - Echo switched her allegiance way too quickly.  She has been raised by the Avicen her entire life to believe that the Drakharin are vicious, demented creatures.  She has been raised to hate and fear them.  Yet, one look at Caius and she is willing to ally with him and Dorian - not just to escape - but to find the firebird as well.  She could have returned to the Avicen, she didn’t.  She could have continued her search without what should have been her mortal enemies, she didn’t.  No, she took them to an Avicen safehouse and starts making googly eyes at Caius.  I don’t care that this fit nicely with the plot line, it was too easy.  There was no real attempt to provide Echo with doubts or to have her reconcile what she has been taught to believe with the reality of what she is seeing.  

 

Third - and I may be a little picky here - after all her hemming and hawing Rowan she literally throws herself at Caius.  She had a traumatic event, which Grey attempted to explore, but ended up just using as a plot device to further the romance that she needed to build between Echo and Caius.  This was an opportunity for Grey to really build Echo, to give her some development and growth, to address a serious issue (PTSD).  This could have been a moment for Grey to really show us her writing chops.  Instead, she makes Echo weak and needy.  I was really disappointed with this turn of events.

 

The world-building by Grey was lacking as well to me.  She barely touched on the mythology of the world, and only did so to bring the Firebird into things.  I wanted to know about the Drakharin and Avicen, their societal structures, power structures, customs and traditions.  We get none of that, nope, we get a pathetic so-called-romance between Echo and Caius that took up far too much of this book.


There was a gigantic area where this book excelled - and that was Jasper and Dorian.  I loved the inclusion of LGBT characters and the fact that they were central to the plot, frequently seen and explored as characters.  They weren’t just thrown in there to appease a demographic and forgotten.  They mattered, in some small way, to the overall plot.  Their romance, to me, was sweeter and more believable than that between Echo and Caius.  Kudos to Ms. Grey for taking the time to write these characters well.  This is getting 2 stars - one for Jasper, one for Dorian.    

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review 2015-08-07 23:16
Gates of Thread & Stone
Gates of Thread and Stone - Lori M. Lee

I am somewhat split on this book. The first half was harder for me than the last half. Overall though it was a good offering from Lori Lee. The writing was strong and the world was quite interesting and those are both big reasons why this is getting 3*. It took awhile for the rebirth to be explained but when Lee got around to it (very naturally in the story, not just an info dump) it was an understandable situation. It is something that came through as a very human reaction to the situation.

I struggled with Kai a bit. I liked her but I never really connected with her. There was nothing obviously wrong or annoying about the character. She behaved reasonably and she never suddenly flipped a switch to become something different in order to move the story. But, for some undefined reason, she was always a shadow in my mind; never a clearly defined picture. This was the toughest part of this book for me. Typically if the MC doesn't connect for me I won't be able to get through the book and end up DNF'ing.

However, for this, the full cast around Kai kept me involved. I loved Avan. He was troubled, mysterious, flawed, and totally amazing. Reev was superb in my opinion. Even as he had a relatively small part in this book he was the catalyst for everything. He was the strong, stabilizing presence that Kai desperately needed. I really enjoyed these characters. I could almost give this 4* just off the strength of these two characters.

Irra was a fun character for me as well. But I think Mason stole the show in Etu Gahl. G-10/Mason was fabulous. He was strong and supportive throughout the book while also pushing Kai out of her comfort zone. He, alone, could have pushed this into a 4* had he been a larger presence in the plot.

What saved this book from a 2* though was the ending. Wow for the ending. Particularly as it pertains to Avan. I really didn't see that coming at all. Usually I can predict at least a portion of the so-called twists and am not typically surprised by the endings. This blindsided me though and I absolutely loved it.

I am going to be continuing the series, though not for Kai. I will be continuing for Reev, Mason, and Avan. They were much stronger characters for me, much more sympathetic. I am hoping, though, that I will connect more with Kai in the next book of the series.

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review 2015-04-22 03:58
Gathering Darkness
Gathering Darkness - Morgan Rhodes,Michelle Rowen

So.....hmm.

 

I think my review is split between the first and second halves of this book.  But to start...I have enjoyed this series thus far (otherwise, why continue?) but I am sensing a pattern.. In each installment I find myself struggling through the first part of the book and then diving into the second part.  This was very similar.  It seems as though the plot meanders along for a long time (so that I am almost ready to DNF) but then picks up and keeps me going.  Perhaps this is the authors style, or just me being picky, but I find it makes me question whether to continue.

 

Anyhoo -

 

The first portion of this book dragged for me (shocking, I know!).  I had lost all connection to the various characters in between installments and it took me a while to get it all back. I was surprised to find that the characters I liked before were not the one's that drew me back in this time.  At first I was underwhelmed by Magnus and didn't much care what happened.  I was invested in Jonas and totally on his side.

 

Throughout this installment, though, I found that Jonas annoyed me.  He seemed to be far too weak and too much of a simpering attention-whore to really grab my attention.  I was drawn to Magnus throughout though.  I think his development was a real surprise for me here.  I wasn't expecting to like him, side with him, or even want him to live!  But by the end it was his perspective, and interactions with Cleo, that kept me interested while the plot developed.

 

Lucia is still not really much of anything for me.  She is a little too prototypical for my liking and doesn't really seem to have any growth or personality to her.  Maybe that will come later in the series....but I am running out of patience.  The "twist" at the end of GD for her was unsurprising really.  But we'll see how it develops later.

 

Cleo, well she is just ehh? for me.  Not really anything to get excited about except for her interactions with Magnus.  He is probably the only reason why I will pick up the next book in the series.

 

All in all though, after a few days of thought.  The plot picking up and the lovely character that was Magnus was enough to give this a solid 3 stars.  The other 1/2 star is purely for the development of Cleo/Magnus and how enjoyable their interactions were.

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review 2015-04-12 00:52
Snow Like Ashes
Snow Like Ashes - Sara Raasch

Started 4/10/2015

Finished 4/11/2015

 

If how quickly I finished this is any indication.....this was a great book.  I was completely sucked in from the get-go. 

 

Meira is a wonderful character.  She is smart, strong, willful.  I loved her through and through.  I wasn't even annoyed with the love triangle aspect of the novel because it made sense.  Mather was a great character as well.  It will be interesting to see how he develops as the story progresses in later books.

 

Theron....what to say about Theron.  I absolutely fell in love with him.  He is wonderful....and I think a much stronger match for Meira than Mather.  I liked his vulnerability....and what seemed to be real understanding of the situation Meira was in.

 

Sir was an odd character for me.  I liked him but I never really got a clear picture of him in my head.  He was always just this strong (occasionally overbearing) character in the periphery.  

 

I loved....loved....loved the world this is set in.  The idea is fabulous and well written.  The magic, its usage and power, the segregation of the kingdoms is well thought out and rolls well throughout the story.  

 

I am absolutely looking forward to continuing this series.  Sara Raasch has impressed me quite a bit.  I would recommend this to anyone and everyone (even if you aren't big into fantasy) as the book is wonderful.

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review 2014-01-10 06:18
Great World Building & Characters
The Sorcery Code - Anna Zaires,Dima Zales

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

My Initial Reaction…
I think I expected something different when I started Sorcery Code and it took me a little bit to get fully committed to it. However, it really picked up by the second half, though, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next book.

 

The Characters…
The characters in Sorcery Code are the kind that you don’t instantly love or hate, but grow to feel very strongly about as you get to know them. Gala was by far the most interesting character. She is a product of the Spell Realm, created sort of by accident by Blaise, and a wonderful contradiction of maturity and innocence. Brand new to life and the physical realm, Gala is so innocent and unaware, but at the same time she learns and understands at such an incredible rate (of which I can’t help but be jealous) that she never seems truly child-like. Watching her grow and discover more about her world was fascinating and exciting at the same time. Probably because of who created her, she has a high capacity for empathy and caring for others, which was pretty great. However, I wasn’t a huge fan of how quickly she started having romantic feelings for Blaise – for someone so new to the Physical Realm it felt like a stretch and as her creator, it also felt kind of off for me… to me, he should be more like a father than a romantic interest. But it wasn’t a dominant part of Sorcery Code and certainly didn’t hurt the overall story.

 

Blaise was my second favorite character to read about. He’s an incredibly gifted magic practicer and marvelously eccentric. I don’t think it’s possible to not like him, considering that he’s so selfless and caring. I would have like to get to know him better actually – and to have spent a little less time with Augusta, his ex-fiance. Don’t get me wrong, Augusta is an important part of the story and she fills in important details about this world. She’s old nobility and, unlike Blaise, wants to keep the peasants ignorant because she’s afraid of change and losing her position. Although she’s probably the misunderstood character of the series, I don’t like her right now and frankly have no sympathy for her.

 

There was a host of other characters that filled in the plot and the world really well. Augusta’s new love interest – Barson – adds an interesting element to the story as he’s not a magic practicer, but a solider and is involved in some sort of sub-plot that has yet to be fully developed. The peasants we get to know are equally important to the plot and pretty lovable.

 

The Story…
The first part of Sorcery Code is a bit bogged down with the world development, which is very complex. Spells are not simple things in this world – Koldun – and laying that out took some time. Although it was a little rough to get going, I think this was nothing more than first book syndrome and would not let it keep me from reading the rest of the series. Things really picked up once I understood the world and where things were going and I anticipate future books will be non-stop fun and action.

 

The world-building certainly paid off, because as things progressed the action got really, truly fantastic. The magic inparticular was exciting because it was so complex; magic isn’t a simple fix in this world, but a skill to be wielded with care and potential risk. There’s also a great deal of physical action and Gala’s a load of surprises on both fronts! Mix that with the clashing ideas about how the world should be (such as Blaise’s and Augusta’s differing opinions about nobility and peasants), the danger of Gala’s discovery, and Gala’s own personal development and you’ve got one exciting finish line!

 

Concluding Sentiments…
Despite having a definite case of “first book syndrome” Sorcery Code is a wonderful start to the series, complete with a complex world and wonderful characters. Can’t wait for the next one!

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