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review 2017-08-27 13:24
Didn't like the first one, didn't feel this one improved either.
Ravenscliffe: A Novel - Jane Sanderson

Out of curiosity (and because I bought this one too) I decided to go ahead and plow through the sequel to 'Netherwood'). I was grudgingly invested enough that I was curious to know what happened, since it was clear from the first book that it was a multi-book story.

 

It appears to be pretty much the same quality of the first book. It takes up pretty much where the first book left off although we've got some advancement of the plot. Eve from the first story is considering moving to Ravenscliffe, where she can move in and live with her children. The Earl and his wife will soon be hosting King Edward and must prepare the household. It's a time of change, there's romance, people die, etc.

 

Same problems from the previous book. There's perhaps an interesting story here or with a talented writer it can make these types of tales at least readable. This isn't it. There are some plot twists I didn't quite expect (deaths of some people) plus others I didn't see coming but in retrospect was eye-rolling (lesbian relationship which could have been interesting especially considering the time period but just seemed more of a "soap opera" element than anything else). Unfortunately the author is just not talented enough to make me care about any of the characters or the story.

 

And in my headdesk-worthy moment, I didn't realize that this was a trilogy, rather than a duology. I'm of two minds about this. I've read so far and I'm still curious since there's apparently more to the story (and some of these plot/character developments lead me to think there's more since there's a book 3) but of course the third is not available at my local library and doesn't seem to be readily available in the US, even on eBay. This trilogy is not a book I'd go out of my way to read so I guess my journey with these characters ends here.

 

If you're like me you may want to think about whether you want to invest your time/energy/money before reading it. It's a 'Downton Abbey'-eque story and I can see the influences (a Goodreads review asks if the author just switched the characters and storylines a bit) but it does not match the show's quality. Skip.

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review 2017-08-27 01:59
Not a worthy successor to 'Downton Abbey'
Netherwood - Jane Sanderson

I'm always wary of books/movies/shows that get the comparison of "if you like X then you'll love Y!". It's not that the new product is necessarily bad in quality but sometimes I just end up building expectations that I really shouldn't. Even if years have passed I'll still find myself disappointed because the comparisons shouldn't be made.

 

And so it was here. The ratings aren't terrible but definitely not necessarily in the realm of telling me that it's GOOD (and even high ratings or prize nominations/awards are necessarily an indicator of quality either). But the premise sounded something like DA and after researching various works I thought it might be something that would pass as a book version of the show. Not so much.

 

There is an upstairs/downstairs divide and the book mostly focuses on Eve, the wife of the estate's employees. She and her family suffer a terrible tragedy and Eve must find her way in this world without support to provide for both her family and a charity case. Meanwhile we also get the shenanigans of the upstairs family of Lord Netherwood, a coal baron. His son, Tobias, is a reckless young man who is clearly not ready to undertake further responsibilities of the house and the "upstairs" plots follows the family dynamics, Toby's exploits and the interactions between the upstairs/downstairs divide. 

 

Other reviews say that it's very cookie-cutter and I think that's very apt. A lot of the characters are cliched (woman must manage a household during a time when women usually had very limited prospects without a husband, the oldest son is a rake, the daughter is a spunk who is ahead of her time, etc.). I also think the book is just too long with too much padding. With my own personal bias I also hoped the book would be more equal or focus more on the "upstairs" family because I just found their stories more interesting. Eve was sympathetic but I wouldn't have chosen to give so much weight of the book's storyline to her.

 

There's perhaps an interesting tale here, but with the one dimensional, predictable characters with a boring story that could have been lifted from DA, it takes a talented writer to make it interesting. This wasn't. This wasn't going to be some grand sprawling epic but it does feel like an attempt to cash in on the DA hype without the clever writing or dialogue that kept the show going (not to mention these characters also don't have the benefit of spectacular actors to give them life).

 

I ended up buying the sequel at the same time because they were bargain books but in retrospect I should have stuck to my usual wait and see. I'll skim through the sequel to see how it ends but I'd say skip this one. Library if you're interested but I wouldn't rush out to read it.

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review 2017-06-09 05:27
I think this one was really overrated
Elantris - Brandon Sanderson
This is definitely my least favorite book by Brandon Sanderson. I'm probably not going to read any of the others in the series, nor recommend this to anybody. I will stick with the Stormlight Archive instead.

The premise was very interesting and the story was engaging enough to keep me interested, so I at least managed to finish reading it.

I didn't particularly like any of the characters, and that's a big problem for me. Raoden was one of those characters whose purpose seems to be to educate and be awesome, which reminds me too much of Richard Rahl, minus the Ayn Rand objectivism. Sarene was apparently very clever, or so the book kept telling me repeatedly. Also that she was so much better than other women, most of whom were silly little airheads. She was not like other girls, okay? The book will remind the reader of this over and over and over and over. Hrathen was difficult to get through. I rarely enjoy antagonist POVs, and Hrathen was not an exception. His story eventually went in a somewhat interesting direction, but for most of the book, I ran out of steam and temporarily lost interest every time I got to one of his chapters.

There is so much religion in this book. It's really about the characters' religion. Multiple monotheistic religions that the book makes a point to indicate are all based on the same thing. I'm sick to death of the monotheistic religious arguments in the real world, so I'm just not into having to put up with it as part of my escapism as well. This is something that I recognize many people will still enjoy just fine, though.

I feel pretty lukewarm on this whole series. I hope the next installment in the Stormlight Archive comes out soon.
 
 

 

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review 2017-05-16 00:00
Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens
Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens - Brandon Sanderson 4.5 stars.

a vast well of puns, a gratuitous use of the word "stoopid", plus a killer Wheel of Time reference
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review 2017-05-15 19:06
#34 - The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
The Final Empire. Mistborn Book One - Brandon Sanderson

The Final Empire is the first book in the Mistborn trilogy (which is then followed by another trilogy taking place years after the original one).

 

I finally decided to read a Brandon Sanderson book and it was the best idea ever! I have heard nothing but great things about the Mistborn trilogy and I wanted to discover this famous world.

 

The magic system is certainly the most unique thing about this book. It is well developed and really complex, it took me some time to get familiar with it as it was not really easy to understand. The author really created something particular and put a lot of thoughts into it.

 

The characters are just great. Vin is not your typical YA heroin, she is still the chosen one, who seems to be unique, the only one of her kind and things like that, but she is not annoying as I think many young female characters can be. She experiences teenager trouble, but it is not such an important part of the book, while still being present. The author really managed to create a character that felt real (despite the fact that has magical powers, of course). I also really love her ideals; it takes her some time to understand what she wants, but once she does, she will do anything to get it. The other characters are also well developed, all having their own motives that you sometimes don’t get until the end of the book.

 

I also love the dynamics of the story. Sometimes months passed between events; which seems logical and makes the story more real. Most of the books I read are taking place in a few months time making the story a bit more unreal because it is going too fast. It was not the case in The Final Empire and I felt it refreshing.

The plot was full of twists. There were many things I did not see coming.

 

The writing was also refreshing. Brandon Sanderson really has his own way of writing and it was beautiful but still easy to follow.

 

It had been a long time since I had read such an amazing fantasy book. I definitely recommend this series to everyone who has not read it yet. It is massive, but it is so great you will just keep on reading.

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