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review 2020-03-01 20:24
The Grieving Tree, Dragon Below #2
The Grieving Tree - Don Bassingthwaite

After the climactic fight with the dragon Dah'mir, Singe, Geth and Dandra retreat to Zarash'ak to recover. With them for the long haul now are the half-orc Natrac who has his own secret past, and the young orc Gatekeeper druid Orshok. Best of all is the former Bonetree hunter Ashi who transformed from a leading stooge into an ally to the cause. Bassingthwaite has a tendency to treat all of his characters as opportunities, they serve a function to the plot, but at any time a casual encounter with an NPC turns into an important character. It makes the reader pay attention and adds depth to the world and the story.


I loved the time spent in the 'City of Stilts', Zarash'ak is the unofficial capital of the independent territory of the Shadow Marches. The story also leads on to the nation of Droaam, a nation of monsters. A clue in the oral tradition of the Bonetree people points the party into that nation to get ahead of Dah'mir's plans to free the powerful Daelkyr Master of Silence from its ancient prison. The threat of the Daelkyr and the close proximity of various planes of existence - some defined by elements such as air or fire, others by concepts such as dreams or madness - is well expanded upon.


Geth and Singe are beginning to trust each other, but their mutual past comes back to haunt them and there are secrets that must come out if their mission has any chance of success. Look out for new, unexpected allies. I don't want to spoil things, but I was especially impressed with the chilling development of the Lyrandar ship's captain as he's drawn further into the madness of the plane of Xoriat.


Give me ancient ruins and prophecy any day, this is still some of the best fantasy to come out of Eberron.


The Dragon Below


Next: 'The Killing Song'


Previous: 'The Binding Stone'

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review 2017-09-05 22:29
Book 55/100: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness

I rarely give books five stars, but this one just gave me so many feels.

I already knew that Patrick Ness is an excellent writer, at least when it comes to his YA work. But this book was staggeringly beautiful, dealing with tragedy in a way that is real and raw and not full of the melodrama or romanticization that so often goes along with YA or middle-grade depictions of grief. Not only that, but Ness takes a look at the darker, messier sides of grieving that are universal and yet rarely acknowledged, something that is particularly important for kids to encounter: the scary things we think or feel when we are on the edge of losing someone we love are OK, normal, and understandable.

This book also strikes the perfect balance between fantasy and realism, allowing the reader to decide how much of it is "real" and how much Conor's own invention/coping mechanism. Aside from Conor's grandmother, the characters are not particularly fleshed out -- however, this type of characterization works in a story that can be read mostly as an allegory. And really, any book that makes me cry this much is definitely doing something right.

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review 2017-01-05 00:00
The Grieving Stones
The Grieving Stones - Gary McMahon I listened to this one on audio and it was excellent. The writing was dark and brooding and the narration by Chris Barnes really added some extra atmosphere. There were some good characterizations, as well for such a quick work, which clocked in at just under 3 hours.

A field trip group therapy session to a place called Grief House may not have been the best idea. Just sayin’.
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review 2016-08-10 19:04
The Grieving Stones by Gary McMahon
The Grieving Stones - Gary McMahon

Weird.  Not really a horror novelette, as advertised, but still a strange story.  The writing was decent but I didn't care much, one way or the other, about any of the characters.

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review 2016-01-28 17:05
Sweet and Haunting
You Were Here - Cori McCarthy

This story of a group of people broken by the careless death of one boy will pul you in and not let go.

I was unsure about this for the first 20%. It was a sad tale of a traumatized teenage girl who watched her older brother die, lives with her crumbling family, risks her life almost daily and distances herself from any future plans. I do not like to wallow in the dark pool of pain with characters, like the loop Jaycee seemed to be stuck in. Luckily she wasn't stuck for much longer. The past she so desired came to her in the pocket of her dead brothers clothes. This little piece of paper started a journey that was filled with, truths, revelations, broken hearts and hope. By the time I got to 50% I couldn't put it down, I stayed up till 3 am to finish. I had to know, had to see if they found what they were looking for.

The characters were so different and well developed. I hated, loved, cheered and worried over them. Mik. the most mysterious selective mute character had the biggest personality and the biggest draw, his lack of words just made him more fragile. How could you not want this guy to have his dream ? Natalie the type A personality friend with some serious issues. She was the biggest puzzle, a complicated mess who appeared to have it all together. Really, there isn't a character in the book that doesn't have real life after trauma issues. The issues are realistic, believable and left me even feeling sorry for the big jerk in the story.

I loved it. This author is one definitely want to read again.


*ARC provided by the publishers and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review


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