This book was enjoyable if you didn't think too hard about anything that happened. Obviously the writer did a lot of excellent research and knows her subject matter (early forensic science) very well. My big problems with this book are: some continuity errors (aka the doctor is beaten almost to death, but ten pages later injuries don't bother him and is never mentioned again) and some of the motivations for character's actions are a bit stretched. The romance seems quite forced. By the end of the book, it almost feels like the author is throwing in extra stuff just to make the book longer, or in an effort to make the plot twistier, which isn't necessary. Anyway, fun enough if you're on a long drive, but don't expect excellence.
I forced myself to finish this book all the way to the very end, in the sad hope that at some point the plot/characters would be explained and everything would make sense and come together. It didn't. Even given the low low expectations that I set for 'romance' books this one was bad. I'd say that the plot was lacking, but that implies there was something resembling a plot. It seemed early on that the book was going to be about how Ivan falls in love with Esma as she tells him how she came to murder all her lovers. Nope. Not to spoil things, but nothing is every explained. Why does the sultan murder all Esma's lovers? Why, if she feels as bad as she seems to, does she continue to take lovers knowing they are going to be murdered? The whole premise makes no sense. There is zero chemistry between the two main characters, mostly because they realistic characters in any way shape or form.
Rather than filling up the ten hours with plot, the author has fallen into the historical fiction writing trap of describing irrelevant things that may or may not be interesting but have nothing really to do with the plot that she learned while doing research. Pointless descriptions and odd tangents fill up most of the time in this book.
The only good thing about this book was the narrator, who did as good a job as she could with the material she was given.
Bottom line: don't waste your money, not even if its on sale.
Medieval zombies. That's all you really need to know about this book. If you like zombie genre books, it's a different take, although it uses nearly all the same apocalypse cliches as a book set in the present would just with horses instead of cars. If you don't like zombie books, then what are you doing even reading reviews of the book?
To be warned though, it ends kind of abruptly, or maybe not really having resolved things. So if you are the type to get really invested in characters, be prepared to buy the next book.
I was going to give the book a fourth star for plot, but then I got to the last half hour or so of narration. At the end of the plot part of the book, the narrator embarks on a chapter by chapter self-important ego trip about all the historical research he did when he wrote the book. I made it about five minutes in and then called it quits on that front. A short note with some suggested reading for those interested in social/geographical/military aspects of the medieval period would have been sufficient. Reading reviews of the next book, it sounds like the author has switched (or maybe the narration is arranged differently) and these historical notes are read at the end of each chapter instead of the end of the whole book. If this is the case, I won't be getting the next one for sure.
Well, if you're even considering purchasing this book, then I assume that you know what you're in for in the urban fantasy genre. So, yes, this book delivers everything that you expect it will. Bad-ass heroine with complicated back story, love interest, revenge, murder, etc. etc. etc. Nothing you haven't seen before, but arranged in such a way as to be sufficiently interesting. The reason I couldn't give this book more stars was how horribly horribly repetitive it was. It wasn't just that it reiterated plot points, and boy did it reiterate plot points! If you find yourself drifting off and thinking about something else for a few minutes, don't worry if you missed something, it will be repeated! Just when you think the book is about to end, it goes on. For another half an hour. Not only could the overall plot use some serious editing, but trivial things were repeated too. I'm pretty sure that I get where Gin stashes her knives about her person, you don't need to give me the exact same description every time she puts her clothes on. I get the three runes that represent her family members, you don't need to give me the entire spiel every time she looks at them. Really. I get it.
The narrator did a good enough job, but she often phrased things oddly. Frequently she would put odd pauses in the middle of sentences so things come out sounding like: "...he pushed past me. Into the dimly lit room." It was odd, but at least she didn't do it all the time.
This is definitely one of my new favorite books, and one which I will be recommending to all my friends. It was a rare treat in a genre so overstuffed with cliches and boring, predictable books! Scott Lynch has created an elaborate city-scape, stuffed it with neat characters and interesting histories, mixed alchemy, magic and crime, AND woven together several plot threads without ever being boring or getting weighed down by the need to explain unnecessary things. A quick warning, this book isn't for the faint of heart, it's fairly gory in parts and, not to spoil things, but don't get too attached to any given character.
The plot of the book moves along quickly, following a gang of con-artist criminals in a city somewhat reminiscent of Venice. Locke is a great hero, with tons of interesting backstory (which we get in very well placed 'interlude's) who also has a reasonable number of flaws. The plot was complex enough to keep you on your toes from start to finish. I see that there are two sequels. The book is certainly written with hints of other potential, future storylines, but they're neither blatant nor obviously added as afterthoughts. You could easily read this book and not need to read the rest. I'm on the fence about reading the next one. I always find that the first book is the best. I hate to tarnish my opinion of a series/author as the following books fail to live up to expectations, but I'll probably give them a try.
The narrator was perfectly adequate. I'll admit that he'd narrated another book I've listened to that I didn't particularly enjoy, so my lack of enthusiasm for his performance is probably tainted by that other book. But he grew on me as the book went on.
This book sounded from the synopsis and the rave reviews like it was going to be so great, but partway through, I caught myself continuously checking the 'time remaining', first to see if I could figure out if/when actual plot might happen and eventually to see how much longer I was going to have to suffer. Basically, the book drags on and on without any change whatsoever to any of the characters (main or otherwise) or any important plot.
I suppose it's trying to be a coming-of-age story about Eff, but as a character she doesn't grow at all. From the start of the novel (where she's the world's most precocious five year old...I mean really, has the author met many five year olds??) to the end (Eff is 18 then), neither her inner dialogue or her actions nor her interactions with others change in any way shape or form. Sure it's sort of about her getting over being a 13th child, but since she's the only one who gives a hoot about that fact after the first few chapters, it's hard to see it as a major influence in her life. Maybe if the bullying and whatnot had continued when they moved west, I could see it more, but it's mostly abandoned through the book.
My other major problem with the book was the author's cavalier attitude towards background. There were a lot of weird historical changes that were completely unnecessary to the plot (like changing it from North America to North Columbia) and weren't explained in terms of including magic into history. Whenever I see this sort of thing in books, it just makes me think that the author was too lazy to do proper research and so just changed a few things in order to claim that any rational historical criticism can't apply. Frankly, I hadn't reviewed the plot summary before I started the book and for the first few chapters I had no idea if it was taking place in 1800 or 1950.
This book seemed to have lots of things going for it. Interesting premise, variety of different and intriguing characters, individual problems and civil unrest, a mix of fantasy and steam punk. But for some reason I still didn't really like it. I still have trouble pinpointing exactly what I didn't like.
Maybe it was that the political background wasn't really explained that fully, and so it's hard to get emotionally invested in the conflict which drives the main plot. Lots of books I find get too wrapped up in explaining the intricate political and social system that they've created, so much so that it swamps the plot. But this one could definitely have had more context.
Or, maybe it's that while almost all the characters have interesting back-stories they just don't seem to interact naturally. The conversations and interactions seem forced and stilted. Characters do things for reasons I don't understand. So, between not caring about the civil war and not understanding why the characters do what they do, it's sort of hard to care about what happens at all.
Once this book got going, I quite enjoyed it. The plot moves quickly and the characters are realistic enough. There are fourteen of them, but for the most part it isn't hard to keep track of who exactly is who (except some of the little kids, but it doesn't matter much). It's easy to draw parallels to Lord of the Flies, but it is a rather telling statement about people these days (not just kids) that they struggle to survive in a vast super store with food and supplies but without the internet. It just wouldn't have been realistic to say that these kids could have made it in the wilderness.
Anyway, I was looking forward to giving this book a higher review, but then it ended. Just kind of ended in the middle of things. It sort of set itself up for an ending that would have done enough wrapping up without drawing it out or making it too 'happy ending' but then for some reason it doesn't. It almost seemed to me that the author maybe decided to write a sequel and so changed the ending to allow for that? In any case, the ending disappointed me, but not so much I wouldn't recommend it.
Alright, I buy these cheep teen paranormal romance novels when they go on sale, and I never go into them with high hopes. Yet they continue to disappoint. Putting aside the overall concept of the town run by vampires, it's just another bland series of events culminating in a predictable crisis brought on by the characters' own stupidity. Really, when you have a prodigy genius (who was accepted to Harvard, MIT, etc) as your main character, you kind of expect her to be a little bit brighter. I mean, at one point she suspects there might be vampires in the library, so breaks into the locked room, and then is SO surprised that there are vampires in there and doesn't know how to get away... Anyway, if you're looking for a teenage paranormal romance novel which features an odd group of friends who are combating supernatural forces without any parental supervision (and one of them is actually a ghost), then go read Maggie Steifvater's "The Raven Boys". It's about a million times better than this sorry excuse for a book.
I had high hopes for this book, it's in an era I love and Glyndwr is such a neat historical figure. It wasn't that this book was bad, so much as not really a novel. It follow the entire life and career for Glyndwr (and many of the other important figures associated with him) in the book by means of single chapter long snippets. Sometimes there's years and half a kingdom distance between the snippets, sometimes they follow more like novel chapters. Anyway, because it jumps around characters and covers so much of the man's life, I found it hard to really get a sense of character. The author tried to put in the character development and emotional conflicts, but it just didn't work for me. The narrator did a good job, but lots of the dialogue was spoken significantly quieter than the narrative bits, making listening kind of difficult.
Valcor. Vartex. Mannik. Wissik. Buy this book.
Ok, it won't work on you, but what if, if you knew the right words, you could persuade anyone to do anything. That's the premise here. Specially trained Poets can manipulate just about anyone. But when a single word is discovered that could potentially destroy civilization, withstanding 'compromise' becomes the most important thing.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I bought this book, I had optimism but so many books let me down. This wasn't one. Right from the get-go, this book gets you hooked and just keeps running. Usually, I can see where a book is going pretty early on, but this one just kept changing things up. Every time you think you have a handle on what's going to happen, everything changes. Good guys might be bad guys. Bad guys might be good guys, or they might be super evil guys. Barry keeps you guessing. It was great!
Don't let the trite "she falls in love" in the plot synopsis make you think that this books is a fluffy thing about romance. It's more about Emily's consistent lack of ability to follow the rules. Sure love is one of those things, but I think the synopsis rather overstates it. This book is about so much more!
As some of the other reviews have pointed out, the female narrator's Australian accent is a bit sad, but I try not to get too hung up on that kind of thing if the rest is quality.
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