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review 2016-11-17 22:58
Coin Heist (Review)
Coin Heist - Elisa Ludwig

It’s been roughly a year and a half since I read this book. That being said, I give mad props to book bloggers who manage to juggle their blogging responsibilities while maintaining good grades in their classes because I had absolutely no time to manage my blog during school. However, I have now graduated from college with a degree in English and creative writing, and I’m ready to start catching up!


However, lots of my reviews for books I read a long time ago (like this one) simply aren’t going to be very detailed… That’s my fault for having put these off for so long, and not writing reviews when I finish a book, like I used to. So instead of my usually detailed “What I Liked/What I Didn’t Like” sections, I’m going to give a basic overview of why I rated this book the way I did (since I, unfortunately, can’t remember enough to make a pros and cons list).


Coin Heist started out okay enough for me, although the four points of view made it difficult for me to engage in the narrative. One thing that I’ve found especially difficult for writers of multiple-POV novels is making the characters’ voices different enough that it’s believable. Unfortunately, Ludwig did not succeed in creating those distinctions for me, and the characters all blurred and muddled together in a way they shouldn’t have for how “diverse” they were supposed to be.


In addition, the concept of teenagers robbing a bank has the taste of “lame teenage movie” for me because there’s no good way for it to end. Either the characters have to decide not to go through with their plan (since promoting robbery to teenagers isn’t a great idea) or something will happen that they need go through with their plans in order to stop something bad from happening (even though they’ve changed their minds). And then if that happens, they will either barely escape, or they will be caught by security guards who let them go because they didn’t mean any harm anymore. This is almost exactly how Coin Heist ended, with a few more details specific to the plot of the novel (what with the school’s financial situation and everything). It was like there was no way to impress me as a reader because the ending had been determined by the basic plot idea.


While nothing stood out to me so much as to make me hate this book, it also failed to shine as an impressive novel because the characters were lackluster and one-dimensional, and there was absolutely no surprise or suspense in the plot at all. I wish I could have enjoyed it more (and I wish I could have written a better review… a year and a half ago), but it needed more suspense and color to make it stand out.



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review 2016-10-02 19:01
Awesome urban (London), epic fantasy
A Darker Shade of Magic - V E Schwab

Loved this book! It's a fantasy of parallel worlds on a spectrum of magic. Grey London has almost no magic. Red London has magic. White London bleeds magic. And Black London? It succumbed to magic. None of them really resemble our world.

As a reader, I absolutely loved it. There were twists I didn't expect, characters who stayed true to themselves even through insane events, and a beautiful setting. It's also refreshingly non-romantic! Kell, the main character, is a man intent on his duty to his family more than anything. And Lila, also a POV character, is in it for the adventure. They don't "cling" to one another... none of those romancey tropes.

They do kiss at a couple points, but without any reference to wanting to go further. It's more about the heat of the moment, and the passion of having survived, and the hope that they will continue to survive.

(spoiler show)

For being what I would call an epic fantasy, this book had surprisingly few characters. As I writer, I found its adherence to fantasy tropes particularly interesting. It had to have kings and queens, and yet in a way it leans into an urban fantasy setting at times.

Grey London is essentially "our" London, but it still has kings and queens in power... Interesting.

(spoiler show)

I was almost thrown from the book at one point when Lila swears "Christ," but then I realized she's from Grey London, which is sort-of our world. It still took a moment of pondering for me to figure out if that was a slip-up.

There were also, interestingly, omniscient scenes on occasion, mixed in with the close-third viewpoints of Kell and Lila.

Huge fan theory spoiler, potentially a spoiler for the next book:

I assume Lila is the Grey London's Antari, since she has an eye missing.

(spoiler show)

It did a great job of wrapping up plot threads but leaving some loose for a sequel. The descriptions are lush, the writing fantastic, and it's a great read. Check it out!


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review 2016-10-02 18:57
A surprisingly satisfying combo of two of my least favorite genres!
Shards of Honour - Lois McMaster Bujold

This book combined one of my least favorite SFF genres, space opera, with one of my least favorite genres in general, romance, and yet I found it a very compelling read. Lois McMaster Bujold is clearly a master storyteller.

If I were suggesting this book to someone, I'm not sure I'd call it a "science fiction romance," as it's often labeled, however. "Romance" brings all of its tropes with it... the chase, the misunderstanding, the angst, the happily ever after, etc. This book isn't really like that. For one thing, the would-be lovers come to respect each other and depend on one another long before they broach the topic of love or even kiss for the first time. In fact, Vorkosigan proposes marriage before they've ever had their first kiss. So it's not the type of romance you'd recommend to most romance readers. It's more of a relationship story.

The structure of the story was also interesting. I think it would've been less jarring to me if its disparate parts had been labeled as Parts:

You have the exploration and capture part, ending in: 

Cordelia's awesome and brave escape even though she has mixed feelings about leaving.

(spoiler show)

Then you have the part where she's back with her people and then: 

captured yet again, this time by the worst of the worst, before being quickly reunited with Vorkosigan. This part would include her time as prisoner down on the planet with the rest of the prisoners, and ending in her escape from her own people's psychiatrists.

(spoiler show)

Then you would have the third and final part, 

being when she goes to find Vorkosigan at home. This part is really more of an extended denouement.

(spoiler show)

I love how, unlike other books, we get a chance to not only imagine what live must be like when the characters go their separate ways, but to actually see it, and to see how it is every bit as miserable as they feared.

There were also great scifi ideas in this book, like the uterine replacement canisters, so that war rape victims could give the babies back to the rapists at the conclusion of the war, and the abortion would be on their heads, not the rape victims'. The canisters were designed to allow the fetus to live and be born if chosen.

I also like the nationalities (empires?) and how the different groups had their own distinct cultures and political systems.

Also... for those who are concerned about starting a long series, this book (and indeed I believe every one of her books in this "series") is a STANDALONE. So be not afraid, dear readers!

Of course it wasn't until I got to the author's afterward that I realized I still haven't read about THE Vorkosigan, which is Miles, not Aral! At some point, once I feel that my reading has been diversified enough, I'm sure to pick up a Miles Vorkosigan book.


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review 2016-10-02 18:41
Republic of Thieves doesn't live up to the legacy of the Lies of Locke Lamora
The Republic of Thieves - Scott Lynch

I loved LLL but hated Red Seas Under Red Skies. It's rare that my husband Dorian loves a book that I don't, but that was the case this time, unfortunately. Maybe it's because I had high expectations, but it was only because I loved LLL that I kept reading at all.

First, every other chapter is set in the past, when the Gentlemen Bastards learn to act. And we already know how all that turns out. It's also the foundation for the strong romantic subplot in this book, which relies heavily on the usual romantic tropes that I dislike so much... Two people who have their heads up their asses but ultimately belong together can't stop tripping over themselves long enough to make their love last.

There are long passages where we're literally just reading a play within the book, which might be fun for thespians, but was uninteresting for me.

Additionally, between chapters there are sometimes real-world quotes or poems or song lyrics, which bumped me out of the world each time.

And finally, we spend about 10% of the book watching Locke wallow in pain, and then refusing to live. Their hatred and fear of the bondsmagi makes sense, but when they realize Sabetha is playing for the other side, they never once wonder what they may have on her that would've compelled her to be the bondsmagi's puppet.

But apparently neither does the author, because while they're warned not to collude, there's no punishment for their continued romance.

This book lacked all the clever thievery and heist themes of LLL. What you have are thieves who aren't thieving, bondsmagi who aren't doing much magic, and the lack of any true antagonist. It just fell flat for me, even the explanation of what Locke really is. It didn't live up to the legacy of The Lies of Locke Lamora.

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review 2016-05-14 06:33
Blur (Review)
Blur - Steven James

(Minor disclaimer: It’s been…more than a year since I finished this book. My memory is fuzzy, but I took notes on the book and have my various status updates online to help me remember my exact feelings about this book. I gave it its rating when I first finished it, so that at least is accurate.)


I had high hopes for this when I first began. The prologue captivated me, and I’m a sucker for young adult mysteries—and ever since Thin Space by Jody Casella, I have been captivated by the possibilities of ghost stories and how much they can surprise me. This is what I expected heading into Blur, especially after such a promising beginning. However, my expectations soon began to unravel (much like Daniel’s grip on reality, actually), and I found myself less and less enthusiastic the farther I delved into the story—exactly the opposite of what should happen when reading a mystery.


I do believe James is capable of writing a captivating story, and the basic elements are there; the execution here is what becomes foggy, and the details weigh down the story’s ability to truly succeed. The main character, Daniel, was just too perfect, and there were issues with the plot of the story that never resolved. I did enjoy trying to figure out the mystery, but at the same time, there were several “plot twists” I was able to guess early in the story, which disappointed me at the end.


An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (And again, I’m so sorry it’s taken so long. You saw the publication date was 2014, right?)


(Read the rest on my blog!)


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