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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-05-28 09:30
Portals in Time by John Joseph Teressi
Portals in Time: The Quest for Un-Old-Age - John-Joseph Teressi

NOTE:  I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.  This review is my honest opinion of the book.

________________________________

 

This fantasy/dystopian/metaphysical novel follows the adventures of the "Eye of Time Exploration Team", which is sent via time-travel, on a mission to discover the Secret of Un-Old-Age and thus rescue their prematurely aging citizens and save their civilization.  

This book was not for  me.  I wasn't particularly fond of the writing style, which seemed remote and provided more expositions and descriptions than showing the reading what was going on.  I can't say I was particularly fond of any of the characters either.  The "Eye of Time Exploration Team" memberes were a particularly obnoxious, obtuse, self-centred lot.  This team of 10 people somehow never completely interact with each other.   The team ends up in Acronos, which (to me) came across as an immitation version of Alice's Wonderland.  All the poetry/lyrics did not appeal to me either.  The ending was also a bit disappointing - you never know how the mission ended or what happened to the team members.  However, the concept of the "Seven Harmonies" and how they effected (pr failed to affect) the team was interesting.  The "Seven Harmonies" may be of use to those interested in metaphysics and self-improvement.

In short, the concept was interesting, but the execution was lacking.

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review 2018-05-27 23:04
Wonderfully written fantastical world, great characters and chemistry!
Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles Book 1) - L. Penelope

I greatly enjoyed reading this one. Not only was the fantasy world written well and different, but the characters had excellent chemistry and the plot flowed to make the reading enjoyable and quick.

 

The world building is excellent and different. The story alternates in between with Jack and Jasminda’s point of view, but also there are some chapters that tell the background story of how their world was created. I enjoyed these alternating chapters. It provides better structure of the setting, it provides the mythology and a better understanding of the “True Father” and “The Queen who Sleeps”. It’s well written and everything comes together seamlessly.

 

The plot itself is also excellent. I love the concept of “Silents” and “Songbearers” and both are living side by side but marred by war and prejudice. And did you ever see the hate towards Jasminda throughout the book. You get angry at her treatment but Jasminda bears it and she does it well. The plot is pretty fast paced and it’s feels like a fast read - not to mention the fact that it’s very interesting. There’s a good mix of fantasy, action, and romance. What wasn’t really necessary was the Lizvette part. It made that aspect predictable and it didn’t really mesh well with what was going on with all the other things. It felt like it was placed there for filler reasons (I mean, we all know who Jack was going to go for a this point…)

 

Now for Jack and Jasminda.

 

I LOVED both of them together. They had this chemistry going on and you could feel it throughout the novel. It was heart wrenching in various parts of the book and you wanted to reach out to them and MAKE them go together (Jack you deserve some slaps of stupidity for some of the stuff you said). They’re both great characters and Jasminda’s development throughout the novel was excellent. Despite the changes she went through she didn’t lose her sass and her ferocious independence (love how this exasperates Jack by the way lol)

 

Definitely looking forward to the second book of this series! The ending was great (and I’m sure there’s way more battles to come)

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review 2018-05-27 21:46
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Of Fire and Stars - Jordan Saia,Audrey Coulthurst

Dennaleia (Denna) is a princess of the northern kingdom of Havemont. She's engaged to be married to Crown Prince Thandilimon (Thandi) of Mynaria for political reasons I can't recall. Denna has a secret: she can perform fire magic. Unfortunately, Mynaria is becoming more and more anti-magic. Recusants, illegal magic users, are being hunted down, and things only get worse after a member of the royal family is assassinated by someone who is likely a Recusant.

While everyone else is quick to blame the Recusants and the nearby country of Zumorda for Mynaria's recent problems, Denna and Mare, the Mynarian princess, are the only ones who suspect something else might be going on. As Mynaria prepares for Denna and Thandi's upcoming marriage, Denna and Mare work together to uncover the truth...and gradually realize that they've fallen in love with each other.

I'll start by talking about the good. For the most part, the progression of Denna and Mare's relationship from rocky, to being friends, and finally to falling in love was pretty good. Although Mare would have preferred to have as little as possible to do with Denna when they first met, she was forced to help Denna learn how to ride horses (riding isn't a thing people do in Havemont) and got to know her more than she probably would have otherwise. Their eventual romance had a solid foundation and didn't feel like it appeared out of nowhere.

I was also happy to see that homophobia wasn't one of the things standing between Denna and Mare. From what I could tell, bisexuality was the default in this world. As far as marriage went, however, things were a little fuzzier. It sounded like same-sex marriages existed, but also like same-sex political marriages were less likely than political marriages between men and women.

Now it's time to get into the things I didn't like, and unfortunately the list is long.

First and foremost, Of Fire and Stars was boring. It took ages for things to happen and for Mare and Denna's investigations to move forward. I wanted more tense political intrigue, and instead I got occasional badly executed spying attempts, some library research, and Denna stressing over the possibility that her magical abilities would be discovered. Most of that was pushed into the background after Denna and Mare realized that they loved each other. I should have been rooting for their relationship and instead I couldn't wait for the book to finally be over.

The book alternated between chapters from Mare's POV and chapters from Denna's POV (first person past tense). Mare was a tomboy who preferred dressing up as a man and going information-gathering in local taverns to putting on gowns and spending time at court. Denna had been trained to be a perfect princess since birth. Coulthurst could have alternated between chapters devoted to Mare's spying activities and chapters in which Denna made connections at court, collected potentially useful court gossip, and did a bit of research in the palace library.

Instead, readers got the former (sort of) but only the barest sliver of the latter. Both Denna and Mare dismissed court gossip as something only silly court ladies participated in, an attitude that boggled my mind. Was I really supposed to believe that only commoners in taverns gossiped about the current state of affairs in the country, city, and palace? In the end, the only useful thing Denna got to do was library research.

Denna felt like little more than a sidekick throughout much of the story, even going so far as to beg Mare to take her on one of her trips to a local tavern. Mare, meanwhile, didn't strike me as being nearly as competent as the author wanted readers to believe. She'd have died or had her identity uncovered many times over if it hadn't been for her best friend Nils, one of the few halfway intelligent and capable characters in the book. She was also annoyingly childish, kicking her shoes off at things (bushes, doors) multiple times.

The way Mare and Denna's romance played out caused me to dislike them both. They were both selfish and frustrating. Mare viewed Denna moving forward with her and Thandi's wedding as choosing Thandi over her. Never mind that it was a political marriage and that there would be consequences for both of their countries if Denna suddenly announced that she had fallen in love with Mare and wanted to marry her instead.

Denna had a similar reaction when Mare considered agreeing to a political marriage of her own that would have at least guaranteed she could work with horses on a daily basis. If Denna had had her way, Mare would have stayed by her side for the rest of her life, unmarried and perpetually available for stolen kisses. Never once did she consider Mare's feelings and that it might be best for the person she supposedly loved to find what happiness she could elsewhere.

Although the book has a proper ending, there's definitely room for a sequel, and I see that one is supposed to come out sometime in 2019. I don't currently plan on reading it.

Extras:

There's a map at the beginning of the book. Somehow I didn't manage to see it until after I'd finished reading.

 

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

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review 2018-05-27 18:36
Design Your Destiny...
Welcome to Castle Cove: A Design Your Destiny Novel - Kory M. Shrum

I've been wanting to read an adult choose your own adventure story for a while so I thought I'd try this one out. I read it several different ways and it was tons of fun but I just wish the stories were longer. It seemed like I reached the endings of the stories too quickly so it wasn't quite satisfying to me. If you like short stories though, you'll probably enjoy it more then I did and it is a fun diversion from the norm.

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review 2018-05-26 21:47
A Feast For Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4)
A Feast for Crows - George R.R. Martin

Oh, book, I wish I knew how to quit you. :P

 

This is the shortest book so far in the series. I originally thought I'd have it finished by early April. Yes, real life stuff got in the way and I had to go some weeks without reading even a single chapter, but I wasn't exactly pining to get back to Westeros like I was in ASOS, and I think the main reason for that was the POV switches.

 

There was too much time spent with horrible, awful characters (all of the Ironmen, Cersei) and not enough of the characters I wanted to spend time with (virtually everyone else). It was cool to see Dorne, but without a single focal point for those chapters it felt just as hodgepodge as the Ironborn ones did. As for Cersei, I had hopes for her POV when her chapters started, but good lord y'all. She is Trump in a dress. No thank you. The ending was sweet but not worth the journey to get there.

 

However, I loved getting to see Brienne's POV, though it was often depressing, because she's such an amazing character and easily my favorite of the favorites (sorry Samwell). Hell, I enjoyed being in Jaime's head. Somewhere along the way I started rooting for that turdmeister and he didn't disappoint. Watching him snark at everyone was a real treat too. I wanted to see a lot more of Arya and Samwell. Not so much Sansa, but that's mostly because of Littlefinger and not Sansa herself.

 

And what the hell was that prologue about? It set up absolutely nothing else that happened in the book from what I could tell. Weird.

 

I had such high hopes for a Brienne-Catelyn action duo too. :(

 

So lots of awful, which is par for the course, but not enough of the good guys to balance out the bad. 

 

The top five Worst Evers for this book:

Cersei 

Qyburn 

Lord Tarly 

Euron Crow Eye 

Victarion

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