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review 2019-02-23 21:56
Arrow's Flight (Heralds of Valdemar #2; Valdemar #2)
Arrow's Flight - Mercedes Lackey

I liked this one more than the first but I still found some things unsatisfying. 

 

I liked that we got a more contained story than the first one, and things are still being set up for the intrigue at court even though we don't spend any time in court during this book, since Talia's starting her internship which means a year and a half on tour in one of the border sectors. They don't leave court behind entirely since some rumors about Talia's Gift follows them, and this causes problems for Talia and her mentor Kris. It was good to see the ethical and moral implications of Talia's Gift addressed but the conclusion to all that was sort of a letdown since the book spends pages on Talia's struggles with it and then very little time on how she eventually improves. Then there's the whole 

mind rape of a rapist, making him see through his victims eyes. No sympathy for the rapist or anything, but Talia served as judge, jury and executioner without even at least conferring with Kris first.

(spoiler show)

 

Then there's the weird direction Talia and Kris's relationship takes, all the while they're worrying about Dirk, who Talia likes and who likes her. It just really didn't seem necessary. I did really enjoy their friendship though.

 

If the ending hadn't been so rushed, I would've given this a full four stars, but for now, the issues with Talia's gift seems to have either been put off for later or resolved in an uncomfortable way. Since a lot of the conflicts in the first book were solved off-page in the first book, it could go either way.

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review 2019-02-23 11:20
"The Darkness - Hidden Iceland #1" Ragnar Jonasson - highly recommended
The Darkness (Hidden Iceland #1) - Ragnar Jónasson

"The Darkness" is original, compelling, unforgiving and completely believable. This is Scandic-Noir at its best.

 

I passed on Ragnar Jonasson's Dark Iceland series after reading "Snowblind".I found the detective too bland and the plot too much of a stretch.

 

His new series, "Hidden Iceland" fixes all that.

 

The main character is complex, easy to believe in and empathise with but with some serious flaws and deep scars that make her intriguing to discover. The plot is both darker and more credible than in "Snowblind". The storytelling, which moves skillfully along multiple timelines and from multiple, initially unnamed, points of view is perfectly structured to feed tension, curiosity and empathy with each chapter so that, by the end, we have a rich and textured understanding of the lives of the four women who are the main focus of the book.

 

One of the things that makes this first-in-a-series book original is that the main character, Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sixty-four years old and about to retire, rather reluctantly, after a successful career in the Icelandic police which has included some high profile cases and a collision with the glass ceiling. I liked the realism built into Hulda's response to being confronted with retirement, the physical realities of getting older and the challenges of building a future when your career is over and you live alone. There's no "golden years" gloss here, just a review of the possible and the inevitable.

 

 

What I liked most about this book is that the main mystery being exposed is not the cold case of a young Russian woman asylum seeker who was found dead on a beach, but the mystery of Hulda herself. Hulda has a complicated history which is slowly and cleverly revealed as the plot unfolds.

 

The name Hulda means hidden, muffled or concealed. It is a name chosen with care. Nothing about Hulda is what it seems. Discovering the truth about Hulda changes everything in the novel.

 

Hulda's daughter plays a key role in the story. Her name is Dimma which translates as darkness. Dimma is also the title of the novel in Icelandic. The story really is one of slowly spreading darkness.

 

I was very impressed with "The Darkness" and I'm looking forward to reading, "The Island", the second book in the series once it's available as an English language audiobook.

 

I listened to the audiobook version of "The Darkness" which was narrated by Amanda Redman, who I think was a perfect choice.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-02-23 10:30
The Poison Song - Jen Williams
The Poison Song - Jen Williams

First off, I feel it has to be said that I was an easy sell for this book - I really enjoyed the previous two books in this trilogy (The Ninth Rain and The Bitter Twins) and the previous books Jen has written as well. If you like well-written fantasy that surprises you along the way, I recommend you check them out.

 

Anyway, on to The Poison Song, which at times lost a little of the previous books' pace but was ultimately a very enjoyable ride. The highlight of the first third of the book was Noon's long-awaited retribution on the Winnowry, using her powers to destroy the system that had imprisoned her but without thinking of the consequences for those currently trapped in it. Her fellow witches, given the opportunity for freedom for the first time, have to then choose what to do with that freedom and make a variety of choices, which seemed much more realistic than them all going 'yes, let's do what we're told' once more. 

 

There's a lot going on in this book and at times it probably could have done with slightly more pruning - still there are plenty of enjoyable set-pieces and none of that stopped me from wanting to know how/if it was all going to get tied up at the end (not to mention who was going to survive to see it!). There's a lot more back-story for Noon in this book, as her recovery of traumatic memories eventually helps her with the final battle against the Jurellia and to figure out where she fits into this new world she has helped create. 

 

For some of its characters, The Poison Song is about the metaphorical chickens coming home to roost - on the Jurellia side, Hestillion is forced to face some of the realities of the choices she's made, including those relating to Celaphon (whose choices in this book have a massive effect on everyone's lives). Meanwhile, Tor is infected by the crimson flux and faces a long and painful death, which leads to some self-destructive behaviour along the way. As with the other books in this series, it's the relationships between the characters (including those who are neither human or Eboran) which helps keep the plot ticking over as much as the need to resolve the situations in which they find themselves.

 

So, all in all, another great book and another great trilogy finished - can't wait to see what comes next from this author!

 

The publisher and Netgalley provided me with a pre-publication copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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review 2019-02-23 02:49
If continuous torture for the hero is your thing
Born of Silence - Sherrilyn Kenyon

“You are my heaven… And you will always be my eternal hell."

 

This was almost 700 pgs and I'm guessing 680pgs have the hero either experiencing physical or emotional abuse or recalling it. It is truly awful stuff, examples: 

the hero experiences rape, as a child from other males and as an adult from foreign objects while captured, along with inhumane torture consisting of a spiked metal gag, carving into face, electrocuted, fed his own waste and finger, and homophobic slurs constantly spouted at him.  

(spoiler show)

 

Those are just some examples. It was all too much for me, the torture and constant homophobic slurs started to feel sensationalized, the point that the hero was constantly kicked and belittled by people, past and currently but still remained kind to those less fortunate was made without the feeling of, not reveling in it, but torture porn. 

 

The heroine had some offbeat moments with almost thinking things weren't fair for her after all the hero had endured from her carelessness, not much of heroine material. The whole thing was just off with the excessive torture the hero went through and constant homophobic slurs. This wasn't fun or entertaining to read. I did enjoy past characters from the series and the world the author has set this in but I don't ever want to revisit or read Darling's story again.

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review 2019-02-23 00:45
Witch-hunt
Strange Magic - Syd Moore

I love the happy accident that was Strange Magic: An Essex Witch Museum Mystery by Syd Moore. A patron dropped this book (and the next one I'm reviewing) at the circulation desk and the covers (and her effusions of pleasure) led me to checking them out for myself. This is the first in a series about (you guessed it) mysteries at the Essex Witch Museum. Our protagonist, Rosie Strange, has just inherited the museum from her deceased grandfather and she has plans for its renovation and immediate selling. (Rosie is immediately characterized as a no nonsense take charge lady.) However, soon after meeting the somewhat pompous curator, Sam Stone, she finds herself embarking on a search for the lost remains of an accused witch from the 16th century. [A/N: The accused witch they seek named Ursula Cadence is based off of an actual woman from this time period and location in Essex named Ursula Kemp who was accused, tried, confessed, and hanged for the crime of witchcraft.] Why the urgency to find these bones? Well, a little boy possessed by the son of the dead woman is losing the fight against the spirit within and the bones hold the key to his exorcism. No biggie. It's obvious that Moore has done her research on the history of witches and witchcraft in Essex because a ton of facts are thrown at the reader in this little volume (and I'm sure that's why it's spawned a series). But this isn't high brow literature by any means so please don't be deterred from giving this a shot. If you liked the nonfiction book Witches then you'll probably dig this historical fiction/mystery as it's based on true events and discusses how occult practices still occur today. It had been a while since I delved into the supernatural and I enjoyed my time with these characters so I'm sure there'll be a future review of the sequel Strange Sight. 7/10 for Strange Magic.

 

What's Up Next: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

 

What I'm Currently Reading: I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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