Ash and Quill, The Great Library series #3 [A Review]

Ash and Quill (Book 3)

The Great Library series by Rachel Caine

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  [Image courtesy of Goodreads.com]

There is a fourth book?!?! 

I started the book thinking that it will be the third and last one in the series, and I was actually excited about it, because the first two were pretty decent and entertaining (see my review of the first two books). 

Well, this third book is also pretty entertaining, especially in the last quarter of it, when I was just turning the pages to get to whatever terrible thing Jess was planning to do in order to save everyone. Unfortunately, I knew I wasn’t going to get an answer in this book when there were only twenty pages left and Caine wasn’t any closer to revealing Jess’s plan. I almost groaned out loud when the story ended on a cliffhanger, with one line at the bottom of the page that said “to be continued in Book 4”.

I guess I just have to kick myself for not finding out more before diving into this series. Now I wonder when the next book will be out, and whether I will still remember the plot and characters by then. Oh well, at least the first three books were page-turners.

VERDICT: Yes, this is one of those ongoing and incomplete series as of today, and I suggest you wait till Caine has penned and published the last book before picking up Book 1.

End of Watch [A Review]

End of Watch, by Stephen King

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   [Image courtesy of Goodreads.com]

 

I love Stephen King’s books, and this one has not disappointed me. 

The pace of the book is so fast, that I would have devoured it in one reading marathon if I could, but of course family and work duties didn’t give me that luxury. In the end, frustrated from having to tear myself away from the book each time I had to put it down, I sacrificed two hours of my sleep and finished the second half in one seating. 

King writes in a way that few can, and draws me into his characters every single time I read him. His mastery of the language helps, because the dialogues he creates give life to his characters, and his no-nonsense way of delivering a scene means it doesn’t come with pretentious descriptions or snotty words that some writers like to produce (and which, more often than not, tend to irritate me so much that I will just dump the book).

Some may say this finale to the trilogy is not as good as the first, and I have to admit, the ending was rather predictable. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book. It didn’t stop that chill running down my spine either. King knows his craft well, and in the last decade or so, he has been using that craft to write about horrors that can be very real in today’s world.

Oh, and besides that chill, King has managed to make me cry at the end.

VERDICT: Read it!!! Get the entire Bill Hodges trilogy, if you haven’t read the first two books yet.

The Stormlight Archive Book #1 and #2 [A Review]

The Way of Kings (Book 1), Words of Radiance (Book 2) 

The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson

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  [Image courtesy of Wikipedia]

This took a while because both books are huge volumes with more than a thousand pages each, and I was reading a couple of other books at the same time.

I had held off getting into this series for the longest time, until I saw the announcement that the third book is coming out end of this year. I mean, these are humongous volumes, and I don’t really relish the possibility that I will need to go through them again when the new book is out.

Being a Brandon Sanderson epic saga series, it does not disappoint. The pace is fast, the plot intriguing, and the characters likable. Plus, unlike other mega series like George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones (I really regret starting that one, because I cannot see myself getting it to the end, EVER, thanks to the author’s delay in getting the next books out), this series does not have too many characters, and so does not run the risk of confusing its readers after a while.

What’s interesting too is the fact that Sanderson writes about honor in a world that was betrayed by the very essence of it, and parts of that narration feels eerily close to what we see happening today.  

What irritates me though, is the fact that Sanderson tries to be so obscure and mysterious about the hidden powers behind what’s driving all the events that I get utterly lost at times.

I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that when the third book comes out at the end of the year, I still remember the characters and the plot well enough to enjoy it without wondering what’s going on.

VERDICT: If you don’t like long epic series that are not yet complete, stay away till the last book is out. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy [A Review]

A Court of Thorns and Roses (Book 1),

A Court of Mist and Fury (Book 2),

A Court of Wings and Ruin (Book 3) 

A trilogy by Sarah J. Maas

  [Image courtesy of Goodreads]

Reading the first book was like reading Beauty and the Beast, Hunger Games and Twilight all in one story, and it’s enough to hook anyone who has loved those stories before.

What got me started was really because the trilogy was recently completed with the publication of the third book, and the fact that it was actually one of the YA bestsellers in a local bookstore. In fact, I even saw teenage girls reading the third book on my way to work (although I’m not sure the content is entirely suitable for young teens). 

Of course, this being a trilogy and being a Sarah J. Maas creation, “happily ever after” is never an option at the end of the first book.

The plot gets complicated in the second book, and fans of female power will love the way Maas portrays the emotional and physical strength of the protagonist Feyre, and the way she was able to make so many beautiful males fall for her. But the second book was my least favourite, because I think it focused too much on the romantic (and sexual) tensions between Feyre and Rhysand. I shall not say too much on this, so that I do not give the game away, only that I understand the need for Maas to describe a couple of the really passionate scenes, but not subsequent ones. In fact, the subsequent ones just grew to become tired and long-winded for me, because I was more interested in the political and tactical games that the Night Court had to play in order to save the world. Thankfully, the third book had more of the latter, although it got a tad too melodramatic for my liking at times.

VERDICT: Other than the fact that the protagonist was a nineteen-year-old who became a fighting machine in a matter of weeks, this series is not exactly YA material, especially for those below 16, mainly because of the raw manner in which Mass has depicted the sex scenes. Other than that, the story makes for page-turning, fast reading, and is perfect if you want some entertainment that should not be taken too seriously.

The Great Library series [A Review]

Ink and Bone (Book 1), Paper and Fire (Book 2) 

The Great Library series by Rachel Caine

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  [Image courtesy of rachelcaine.com]

Imagine a dystopian world in which real physical books were no longer in legal circulation and the only copies left were kept by one Great Library that was as powerful as the Church. Printing presses were never started, and people read “library-approved” books on “Blanks” that were replicas (think tablets and ebooks, although I don’t think Caine explicitly said they were in digital formats) of the originals kept by the library. Thousands more were left in the Great Library’s Black Archives to rot, because the knowledge in those books were too “dangerous” to be released to the public.

Yes, I can see the horror on your face.

If you’d like to read about how a group of young rebels was going to bring down the Great Library and save the world from such a horrible, book-less society, this is the series for you.

Ironically, I discovered Caine when I was browsing through the local library’s catalogue. I was hesitant at the first to start on this series, because the third book is due for publication only in July this year, but I was too intrigued by the premise and too eager to get my hands on a good fantasy series again that I decided to give it a shot, convincing myself that four months won’t be too long a wait for the next book. 

The story is fast-paced. The plot is simple. The characters are distinct and recognizable enough, although some readers might find them somewhat two-dimensional at times.

Without giving too much away, I think what drew me to the story was really the horrible prospect of having no access to any book that I want anymore, and this is one series that I really want the young protagonists to succeed. 

Now that I have finished the second book, the four months to the next book seem like forever.

VERDICT: This series read like young adult fiction at times because of the young characters, but the story holds enough intrigue and pace to interest adult readers too. If you’re sick of telling digital-fanatic people physical books are precious, these books might make you feel better.

The Rithmatist [A Review]

The Rithmatist, by Brandon Sanderson

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  [Image courtesy of Amazon.com]

 

FINALLY!!!

After the last two disappointments, this book was like a life-saver.

Reading this book, I felt transported back to the same zone I was in when I started on the first few Harry Potter books many years ago. A school that trained young people to become rithmatists so that they could serve in the “army” that fought off the wild chalklings (think Hogwarts). A boy protagonist who lost his father to an “accident”, who yearned to become a rithmatist, and who had the knowledge but lacked the “power” (not exactly Harry Potter but similar enough). A budding love interest who flunked the basic rithmatics but had a unique talent (think Hermione, minus the A-plus student quality). A professor who was arrogant, aloof and shady (think Snape). You get the idea.

What wowed me was not just the fast-paced and page-turning style typical of a Brandon Sanderson book, but the numerous twists at the end. Plus, the logic and strategies behind the chalk-drawing battles just raised my awe-level for Sanderson and his ability to create novel magical systems.

I can’t wait to read the sequel, and Sanderson just wrote on his website last December that it will be here “soooooon”. I hope it’s really soon.

VERDICT: This is one book that fans of Harry Potter, and more importantly, fans of Sanderson, shouldn’t miss.

Perfect State [A Review]

Perfect State, by Brandon Sanderson

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  [Image courtesy of kobo.com]

 

Another novella, and it’s far from perfect.

After two hellish weeks swarmed by work and a sick kid, I was in desperate need of a good read and was confident a Brandon Sanderson would do the trick. I’ve read most of his epic series, and decided to give this short story a shot. 

I was disappointed.

The story had an interesting premise, but cramming the ideas into a thin novella hardly did it justice. I would have loved to read something with the ideas (and characters) more developed. For one, the reason that the protagonist’s nemesis became a nemesis simply because the former walked away from a fight seemed rather weak. And I couldn’t feel enough from the conversation between the protagonist Kai and his date to believe that the meeting would change Kai’s perspectives and mindset so drastically.

But then I’m not a fan of novellas, so I come with my own biases.

Arghhh….. I need a really good book! NOW!

VERDICT: This novella is definitely not for folks who like their fantasy stories in the good old epic format.