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review 2017-09-06 20:57
Three Dark Crowns
Three Dark Crowns - Kendare Blake

[I received a copy of this book through Edelweiss.]

This is the story of an island on which, every generation, three potential queens are born: one with the power to poison and resist toxins, the other to command elements, the third to befriend animals and make plants grow. On the 16th birthday, then begins the year during which they have to fight, and only one of them will survive. ‘Fight’ meaning, of course, that the winner can only become so by killing the other queens, a.k.a as her own sisters.

Sounds like a gruesome premise, and obviously this got my attention, especially since two of the queens are complete underdogs, and presented as such from the start (the poisoner isn’t very good at resisting poisons in general, and the naturalist one can’t even make a bud flower, least of all call her own familiar). It’d be too easy for them to just get offed quickly, though, so I expected political manoeuvers and other intrigue moves. Which I got, at least partially, as the poisoners aim at discreetly making their queen look more seducing in order to garner support (get people to like you best, and they’re more likely to try and protect you from the other queens), and the elementalists hatch a plan of their own, with the poisoners in turn trying to divert it...

Too bad the story developed so slowly, and in a way that didn’t even allow to develop the queens’ characters that much. Well, to be fair—it’s not uninteresting, it’s just that, all things considered, the setting was ripe for much, much more intrigue (or to get more quickly to the beginning of the Ascension Year). So 80% of the book read like a prologue. On top of this, a couple of things rubbed me the wrong way; unfortunately, they were things that took up quite some space:

- The style. Sometimes I can do with third person present tense; other times, it just feels weird, and keeps throwing me out of the story. This was one of those times. (I’m really not convinced by that narrative style in anything longer than 20-30 pages, to be honest. Still waiting for a story to fully convince me.)

- The romance: Katharine’s... all right, there was a political edge to her getting lessons in seduction, and once you can seduce, I’m not surprised to see romance ensue with someone at some point. But Jules’s took too much from ‘Arsinoe time’. Not that I didn’t like Jules herself, only the guy takes up screen time instead of letting us see the Jules/Arsinoe relationship, which could’ve really shone as a strong friendship, and... let’s be honest, he’s nothing special, the triangle (of course there’s a triangle) is nothing special, and all the fuss didn’t make much sense to me. Colour me callous. Get out, Joseph. You’re an appalling boor.

This said, I was expecting a twist at the end, and there was one, and for once it wasn’t the one I was expecting. So there’s that, and I still want to read the next book to see how the actual Ascension Year is going to unfold (hopefully with more intrigue and less half-baked romance).

On the positive side:

- The characters weren’t too clever nor developed, but I quite appreciated that they weren’t all black-hearted, and certainly not from the beginning. As much as I bemoan the lack of intrigue-action, this kind of story wouldn’t be interesting at all if the characters supposed to kill each other could do so with a flick of a hand without even arching an eyebrow. Mirabella is sweet, and the one who’s least blinded by hate. Arsinoe is very much no-nonsense, knowing she’s very likely to be the first to die, yet not spending her time woe-is-me’ing herself. Katharine is scrawny and weakened by her training, but she doesn’t cry over it, and keeps doing her best and putting her willpower into it. They’re not perfect, oh no; nevertheless, they each have a likeable side.

- Surprisingly, I liked Billy, too. You’d think ‘obvious love interest’, but he was definitely more the good, loyal friend than the charming suitor, and this worked much, much better for me. Also, his (kind of) ballsy move at the Disembarking.

Conclusion: 2 stars. I really liked the last 20%, but I wish more time had been spent on the actual intrigue, with more blood and twists there, and less on the romance.

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review 2017-09-04 23:22
Three Dark Crowns ( a review i thought i wrote a while back)
Three Dark Crowns - Kendare Blake

I read this a while ago, I thought I had reviewed it. I even remember writing the review. I had this as an arc, maybe it was when booklikes was not being user friendly.

 

This is young adult fantasy. It has some pretty dark themes. You have three sisters, triplets, each a potential queen. In order to determine which will rule there is a battle of skills. Each sister has a gift: elemantal, poisoner, naturalist. The girls are raised separate from each other and are strictly trained at their skill. Some sisters are excelling, others not so much.

 

This is told from tyre different POVs, it can get a bit confusing at times. This does start a bit slow and the first half is tedious at times. You basically get three indroductions, one for each sister. The second half gets much better. We a have a love triangle of sorts, but this not a sappy one by any means. In the end there is a big twist revealed, I had a suspicion as to it happening a few chapters in, but it took me by surprise regardless.

 

I found myself rooting for the underdog and feel that by the end of the book she stands a decent chance. I will continue this series, mostly because I want to see if the author will give us a Happily ever after, or let this finish darkly. The writing is average at first but it does get better.

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-07-06 10:25
June 2017 — A Wrap-Up

 

 

 

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I dunno how she does it but I never come away from an Agatha Christie novel without enjoying it to the fullest! This one wasn’t an exception even when it was full of racist and sexist characters. I am also happy that I read this one finally and so close to the release of the new movie too!

A favorite funny quote from the book is mentioned below. It shows the circuitutitous way Poirot thinks:

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It was interesting to see the term, pukka sahib, being used in the book. Even though the person who used it, Colonel Arbuthnot, meant it in a different way i.e. the first meaning in the picture below. Poirot got down to the real meaning really quickly i.e. the second meaning of the word:

 

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Picture

 

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I was worried that the sequel won’t suck me in as the first book had managed to do. I worried for naught; this book was as much fun and scary as the previous one. One thing that I both love and hate about this book is that Cas doesn’t sound like a teenage boy all the time. In places, he uses such poetic words about Anna. I also loved the gory decriptions that the author uses for when Anna shows up to show Cas how she is suffering.  This part from the book showcases both the gore and the poetic prose:

 

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Cas’s humor is another thing that I have alays had fun reading. Check out this example:

 

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There are two ways you could look at this series. You can consider the elements typical to most PNR novels and label it as one. Or, you could look at the humor and the cool references to tv shows and movies and love the series for its wittiness. I chose the latter, which is why I enjoyed reading these books! Here are my favorite parts from the last (so far) book:

 

 
 
Since the guy is known as the Lord of the Ravens, the excerpt below becomes funnier while seeming legit:
 

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The October Faction series is based on a family of monster hunters. The parents who have now retired did their best to hide their past from their kids. However, old enemies kept making that difficult. What I love about this series is how dark and gory it is. The artist doesn’t picture perfect characters and their flaws make them feel more real to me!

 

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While I am equally grossed out and intrigued by the television series, the novel itself had failed to make an impression on me. The graphic novels seem to be going down the same windpipe. The only positive thing I have to say about them is that they stay true to the book. Surprisingly, as I had expected, the art isn’t to die for. It could be that the tv series and its amazing cast has me spoiled. I mean, look at the graphic novel version of Mr. Wednesday!

 

 

 

Saga’s art is so beautiful that it hurts. This series draws you in and forces you to care for its characters! I am also including the covers of two of the single issues. Feast your eyes on their beauty:

 

 

 

 

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Ender’s Image

 

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Some of my favorites quotes:

 

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This quote paints an accurate picture of sustainable methods and their importance in everything that we do! Hunting animals to extinction, deforestation to the point of clearing forests after forests…Only this time, we will all be paying the price!

 

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I loved how “human” Jane was without being a human being. In this quote, her sarcasm comes out beautifully, which is probably as human as it gets!

 

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This elitist attitude has always been the source of our troubles and led to colonialism destroying the national identities of many a people. These words were said by Jane who starts to seem more and more deeply insightful by the minute.

 

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I have mixed feelings about this one. The story seems to make Ender seem like an omniscient deity at times. He might be good at reading people but no one is that good!

 

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This quote is from a part of the book where one of the kids rebelliously pees on Ender when he wouldn’t free the kid. This is how he responds to the incident; it shows how humor is threaded through an otherwise serious book.

 

Look at the exampe below, as well. It talks about religious leaders belonging to a branch of religion that is separate from the religion of the state. Gems such as this one were interspersed throughout the story and made me chuckle every time.

 

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This quote highlights how different two groups of people can be in their beliefs about death and everything else. Leaf-Eater’s people were planted after they died and turned into trees; benefitting the living even after death.

 

For wrap-ups of the previous months, go here.

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review 2017-06-06 15:10
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Three Dark Crowns - Kendare Blake

This book was not at all what I was expecting. The summary is very misleading. It promised three queens that were all spectacularly gifted, but it didn't deliver. I felt kind of lied to.


Lately, I seem to be picking up books that are incredibly slow in the beginning and then pick up pace about halfway through the book. This one didn't seem to pick up until very close to the end. That's about the only exciting part of the book with a few chapters that were more entertaining than others. The premise of the book was enough to keep me reading. I wanted to know which queen would survive so bad.

For the most part, the characters were decent. I wasn't strongly attached to any of them, but I did enjoy Arisnoe and Katherine's chapters much more than Mirabella's. By the end of the book I hated Mirabella as a character. I completely disliked her relationship choices. It was unnecessary and honestly uncomfortable to read about, especially because the character she's involved in is someone that is very present throughout the story. I did really enjoy reading about Arisnoe and Katherine and that's probably because they struggle, unlike Mirabella. I found Mirabella annoying, even before she made poor choices. Out of the three sisters I feel like her self-pitying was the least warranted and the most annoying.

I thought the world that Kendare Blake created was quite vivid and easy to picture, as well as interesting. It kept me intrigued throughout the story and honestly I'm strongly considering picking up the second book, even though I didn't love this one. I'm hoping that it will be more exciting, especially after the ending of this one.
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-31 16:57
May 2017 — A Wrap-Up

 

 

 

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I have been reading this series with huge breaks in between. That means, every time I start a new book from it. I am surprised anew by Dexter’s razor sharp wit and the efforts he puts into seeming “normal”. It is a good way to read this series, if you ask me. You can see both qualities in his character being used to their fullest this way. Look at the following two examples. These are from a part of the book where Dexter is called to the scene of murder of a cop. I love how hard he struggles to appear like the rest of the people and how much he has to work on things that most of us take for granted:

 

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The reason that I didn’t rate this book higher is the fact that Dexter’s monologues never seem to end. This technique works in some places and completely bombs in others.

 

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This was as much fun as I hoped it’d be. Of course, I imagined Tom Hiddleston’s voice to be Loki’s as I read the book. Loki is charming, detestable, and pathetic in turns as he narrates his own story. He also kinda has a point lol For instance, here’s what he had to say about the other deities:

 

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 The humor is threaded into the story well, so it keeps you from actually feeling the horror when horrifying things happen. Life and death don’t really matter when you are immortal-ish. The quote below describes the death of a hunter who dared to defy the Asgardians (who are described as pensioners in it):

 

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I also learned a new word:

 

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Loki’s Image

 

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Boy, this was a painful read! Not because it wasn’t good; quite the opposite. You will find my detailed review here if you’re interested.

 

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This book started off well but became too repetitive after a while. Here are some of the quotes that I liked:

 

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There are some beautiful descriptions, as well. Here is one such passage where the author describes the effect of moonlight on the jungle:

We need daylight and to that extent it is utilitarian, but moonlight we do not need. When it comes, it serves no necessity. It transforms. It falls upon the banks and the grass, separating one long blade from another; turning a drift of brown, frosted leaves from a single heap to innumerable flashing fragments; or glimmering lengthways along wet twigs as though light itself were ductile.

I think Bigwig was one character who showed a lot of growth as the story progressed. He went from being just the brawn around the leader to a rabbit who started thinking for himself. One of the many funny exchanges between Bigwig and Hazel is featured below:

 

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Here’s a picture that reminded me of Bigwig:

 

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This one was about Dexter having an affair with a movie star while being married to Rita. I liked two things about this instalment in the series:

 

One, we get to really “see” how much of a sociopath Dexter is. He doesn’t feel sorry for going against his marriage vows. Also, the only reason he goes to save his daughter is that somebody tried to take something away from him.

 

Two, we are shown more about Astor being exactly like Dexter. She doesn’t feel, loves the power she has over a pedophile, and expresses minimal sorrow over Rita’s death.

 

I have also started to worry about Dexter’s youngest now. With Rita gone, what kind of a persin will she grow up into? Did she ever have a chance to be a human being with feelings? Interesting thoughts!

 

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It would be a rare Roald Dahl book written for kids that I wouldn’t enjoy. The Witches wasn’t one of them. I loved how the grandmother dealt with every twist with aplomb. Kinda reminded me of my own grandmother who isn’t with us anymore.

 

I found the part where the little boy is reassured that he won’t outlive his grandmother and says this:

 

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One of the best things about RD’s books is how “real” they seem. The example above seems so natural; grandkids are insanely in love with their grandparents. Another example is something that many of us have felt on one occasion or the other. It is from a scene where the boy watches a doorman whistle:

 

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Oh, and I found an instance of “greased lightning” in the book! Lol

 

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The series came to an end with this book. I must say that this instalment annoyed me a lot. Dexter bumbled around like an idiot through most of it. I kept thinking that the author was going to give us a reason behind Dexter’s stupidity: mass hallucination, flouridation of the public water supply, anything! Didn’t happen. Even so, I am glad I stuck with the series until the end.

 

Two things that I liked:

 

One, mention of a certain cartoon that Astor and Cody were watching, featuring a platypus. I am going to assume it is this one:

 

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and because there would be no Perry without them, these guys:

 

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Two, Dexter’s thoughts when he gets into his lawyer’s Bentley:

 

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This is why I will always be a fan of Dexter’s razor sharp wit!

 

So far so good for the month of May. Here’s what is happening in June:

 

Currently Reading

 

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This book will mark the end of my Work Bingo. I hope it is as good as the first one was!

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