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review 2018-01-21 12:44
More well-done HATE
Chronicles of Hate Volume 2 - Adrian Smith

Chronicles of Hate, Volume 2 (Chronicles of Hate, #2)Chronicles of Hate, Volume 2 by Adrian Smith

S.E. rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

This is a sequel to Chronicles of Hate, which I reviewed earlier.

 

In short, this follows suit. New readers should start with Vol .1. Also, readers need to be comfortable "reading" visual images sans words. Of course, they must also like gritty, mature drawings of scantily clad women and undead warriors.

 

This sequel has the same style as the first: very dark & contrasty monochrome drawings, very small word count (~ 1 word per page). Adrian Smith leaves visual clues that identify the various clans. These can be subtle, but they are there. For instance, those aligned with the Mother Earth crew wear crescent moon ornaments. Many of the bad-guy clans are harder to distinguish, except for the Tyrant.

 

The story progresses very well and delivers on our hero "Worm" attempting to revive Mother Earth. Prior purchasing, I was worried that the story may not develop enough. But this was satisfying.

 

The culture of thee world develops more. It is more clear that each clan has a leader and a champion. Adrian Smith's illustrations are generally splendid. If you ever looked into any Warhammer/Games Workshop art (which Adrian has made many) and wished you could immerse yourself in a similar world (this is not part of Warhammer's TM Olde World), this is your chance.

 

Currently, there is a Kickstarter Campaign (by CMON with Adrian Smith) to realize this HATE-full world into a competitive board game. Pitched as an exclusive KS order, it may be difficult to get later (this runs thru mid-Feb 2018). This did inspire me to get Vol.2 and back the KS. The world of HATE evolves!

 

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Source: www.selindberg.com/2018/01/chronicles-of-hate-vol-2-review-by-se.html
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review 2018-01-20 20:45
Undercover Princess
Undercover Princess (Rosewood Chronicles) - Connie Glynn

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

There were good ideas in there, and I was fairly thrilled at first at the setting and prospects (a boarding school in England, hidden royals that looked like they’d be badass, etc.), but I must say that in the end, even though I read the novel in a rather short time and it didn’t fall from my hands, it was all sort of bland.

The writing itself was clunky, and while it did have good parts (the descriptions of the school, for instance, made the latter easy to picture), it was more telling, not showing most of the time. I’m usually not too regarding on that, I tend to judge first on plot and characters, and then only on style, but here I found it disruptive. For instance, the relationship between Ellie and Lottie has a few moments that border on the ‘what the hell’ quality: I could sense they were supposed to hint at possible romantic involvement (or at an evolution in that direction later), but the way they were described, it felt completely awkward (and not ‘teenage-girls-discovering-love’ cute/awkward).

The characters were mostly, well, bland. I feel it was partly tied to another problem I’ll mention later, namely that things occur too fast, so we had quite a few characters introduced, but not developed. Some of their actions didn’t make sense either, starting with Princess Eleanor Wolfson whose name undercover gets to be... Ellie Wolf? I’m surprised she wasn’t found out from day one, to be honest. Or the head of the house who catches the girls sneaking out at night and punishes them by offering them a cup of tea (there was no particular reason for her to be lenient towards them at the time, and if that was meant to hint at a further plot point, then we never reached that point in the novel).

(On that subject, I did however like the Ellie/Lottie friendship in general. It started in a rocky way, that at first made me wonder how come they went from antipathy to friendship in five minutes; however, considering the first-impression antipathy was mostly based on misunderstanding and a bit of a housework matter, it’s not like it made for great enmity reasons either, so friendship stemming from the misunderstanding didn’t seem so silly in hindsight. For some reason, too, the girls kind of made me think of ‘Utena’—probably because of the setting, and because Ellie is boyish and sometimes described as a prince rather than a princess.)

The story, in my opinion, suffers from both a case of ‘nothing happens’ and ‘too many things happen’. It played with several different plot directions: boarding school life; undercover princess trying to keep her secret while another girl tries to divert all attention on her as the official princess; prince (and potential romantic interest) showing up; mysterious boy (and potential romantic interest in a totally different way) showing up; the girls who may or may not be romantically involved in the future; trying to find out who’s leaving threatening messages; Binah’s little enigma, and the way it ties into the school’s history, and will that ever play a part or not; Anastacia and the others, and who among them leaked the rumour; going to Maradova; the summer ball; the villains and their motivations. *If* more time had been spent on these subplots, with more character development, I believe the whole result would’ve been more exciting. Yet at the same time all this gets crammed into the novel, there’s no real sense of urgency either, except in the last few chapters. That was a weird dichotomy to contend with.

Conclusion: 1.5 stars. I’m honestly not sure if I’ll be interested in reading the second book. I did like the vibes between Lottie and Ellie, though.

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text 2018-01-19 16:15
I won a book!
The Du Lac Chronicles - Mary Anne Yarde

I don't often sign up for giveaways, but this one had passed my samples test and was on my tbr.

 

I think I'm getting a hard copy!

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review 2018-01-18 18:35
My Review of A Tide of Shadows by Tom Bielawski
A Tide of Shadows (The Chronicles of Llars) (Volume 1) - Tom Bielawski

A Tide of Shadows by Tom Bielawski is the first book in the Chronicles of Llars series. Carym of Hyrum finds he has powers that he didn't know he had, and embarks on a journey with his friend, Zach.

 

A Tide of Shadows has the good vs evil trope, which I love, but for some reason I just couldn't get into this story. There were many details given, but not the details I wanted.

 

These details may be included in future books, however, I didn't care for the flow of the story enough to read future books. With that being said, I felt it a decent enough read for passing the time.

 

Purchased on Amazon.

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review 2018-01-16 23:45
"Year One - Chronicles of the One #1" by Nora Roberts
Year One: Chronicles of The One, Book 1 - -Brilliance Audio on CD Unabridged-,Nora Roberts,Julia Whelan

Year one is sort of urban fantasy twist on "The Stand". It tracks the path of groups of survivors of "The Doom", a virus which kills anyone who is not immune. As billions die, some of the immune discover latent magical powers and find themselves drawn to The Dark or The Light.

 

It's an easy to read entertainment that effortlessly manages the large number of characters and multiple initially parallel but eventually converging plot lines. The good guys are clearly drawn and instantly likeable. There are babies and a lab-cross dog. The bad guys are irredeemably evil and everyone else is either dead or consumed by fear.

 

Nora Roberts' accomplished writing kept me reading, in much the same way that high production standards make it easy to watch "Chicago Fire" or "Rookie Blue" but the good guys didn't become people I cared about and the bad guys seemed more like comic-book demons than people.

 

About halfway through, I realised that, although "Year One" was entertaining enough for me to stick with it to the end, something was preventing me from immersing myself in the story. It took me a while to isolate the cause: my lack of empathy with middle-class America. Most of the main good guy characters in this book come from privileged, sometimes very privileged, backgrounds. The Doom has destroyed their bright futures and now they have to adapt to survive.

 

It turns out that the secret to surviving the apocalypse is to band together with skilled people who embrace middle-class values, choose faith over fear, work together as a team and focus on "doing what comes next". Of course, emergent magical powers are also pretty useful.

 

There's nothing wrong with this. It might even turn out to be true. It's also not so far from the message of "The Stand". What spooked me about it in "Year One" is that Nora Roberts wraps such positive emotions around these values that they slid into my imagination already tagged as a Good Thing. Then I thought about the scale of loss, of the billions dead, of cultures across the world extinguished, of losing everyone you ever loved, of having the value of your previous life challenged or eroded and it seemed to me that the main characters react almost as if they're on medication. Their ability to focus "on what needs doing" is certainly a survival skill but the ease with which they do it, the unthinking adoption of the "I'll protect Us against Them" mindset and the strong link Nora Robers makes between this stance and The Light made it difficult for me to empathise with or care about these people.

 

Later, I struggled with Nora Roberts' obsession with the idea that some things are "meant", that they're part of a "destiny", that it isn't enough for people to be attractive, privileged, educated and have magical gifts, they also have to have some kind of pintable-tilting agents of fate on their side. This began to feel like the dystopian urban fantasy version of meeting Mr Right.

 

At about the same time, we got the sex scene between the Alpha witch couple, Max and Lorna, the two "good guys" that I liked least, and it surfaced everything I disliked about the book: the sex was glossy, the sentiment was saccharine and the allegedly spontaneous vows that followed were so cliché filled and delivered with such self-absorbed seriousness that I felt I'd dropped into the middle of a romance novel. I have less trouble accepting a world-ending-virus and the emergence of latent magical powers than I do believing that people actually talk to each other like this when there's no camera crew present.

 

I liked the end section of the book well enough, setting aside the drumbeat message about "doing what needs to be done". I disliked that fact that not one of the bad guys was given any motivation other than fear, ignorance or just being born that way. The idea of a Messianic "One" sent to save the world doesn't do it for me so I won't be bothering with book two in this series.

 

If this book appeals to you, I recommend the audiobook version. It's skillfully narrated by  Julia Whelan. You can hear her work on the SoundCloud link below.

 

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/378462590" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]

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