February Wrap Up

Sisters of the Fire – Kim Wilkins


I was given an e-Advanced Reader Copy of this novel through Netgalley. Many thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to do so!

Sisters of the Fire by Kim Wilkins is the second installment of the Blood and Gold series. Wilkins again delivers a novel with diverse characters, scheming sisters, conspiracy and of course magic. She delves deeper into her world and builds upon it in and even explores new regions.

Wilkins’ again manages to keep the sisters separated from each other, which is important in a book that has five sisters that all reoccur. Bluebell must learn to take her father’s place on the throne. Ash seeks out a dragon in hopes of changing her Becoming, teaming up with Unweder. Ivy must recover from her mistakes to avoid a rebellion against her rule. Rose has been banished from her home after her infidelity is discovered and has to live with her choice giving up her daughter, Rowan, for her lover, Heath. Willow, armed with the Kinslayer gathers an army under Mavaa’s name to kill her heathen sister, Bluebell. The five of them interweave together, making for a story of reconciliation, fear, love and hate.

I appreciate that Wilkins brings Rowan into her novel. She has been taken care of by Snowy for the last four years, with occasional visits from Wengest. She struggles with who she should call father, which is a side effect that I didn’t consider. She lives with Snowy who is her fatherly figure. While she also has Wengest and Heath, one her biological father and the other who believe that he is. This internal conflict is interesting to see, but not only that Rowan has become willful and strong, preferring hunt and explore over learning how to cook and embroider. Rowan reminds me a lot of Bluebell, though she is a lot less focused on violence. So here is another female character that is still differentiated from the other five.

When I finished Daughters of the Storm I was a little nervous about where the series was going to go. Now this isn’t inherently a bad thing because I was still really excited for it. My main concern was keeping the Sisters’ stories all interesting and different from each other. I found more drawn to Ash, Rowan and Bluebell in this book, but I still found the others interesting in their own right. Ivy and Willow both drove me nuts though. Willow is off on her religious escipages and Ivy refuses to take anyone’s advice and it comes back to bite her, hardcore.

I’m so glad that this novel held up to the first one. By the end of this edition everything has come together for a satisfying ending but still leavings you with enough mystery to want continue to read the series. I wish I didn’t have to wait for Queens of the Sea!

Foundryside – Robert Jackson Bennett

In Robert Jackson Bennett’s novel Foundryside, Sancia is given a job to steal a box, she is unconcerned about getting caught due to her unique ability to sense the things around her by touch. Little does she know in this box is an artifact that will change her life forever. You see, in Sancia’s world magic is a written system that allows objects to do things. Sancia’s ability is thus a medical mystery, people themselves don’t have magic they create it. She has now become mixed up in what could be the biggest upset in history, and to survive she has to find allies in the most unconventional of all places: The Merchant Houses. The same Houses that have been the source of her suffering.

Foundryside has a lot of things going for it including political intrigue, plot development and character development. Jackson Bennett interweaves these things together almost flawlessly creating a stunning fantasy novel.

Jackson Bennett creates a world where everything is split into Merchant Houses, and those don’t belong live in Foundyside. This is the rough part of town where the poor barely skate by, often committing crimes just to stay alive. To see this kind of disparity in one place interesting you could walk a foot and suddenly be surrounded by those who are better off in society. But of course the house don’t get along and this is where the political intrigue comes in. These Houses will do anything to get a head of each other, including stealing scrivings from each other. Scrivings are a written magic system that allows for the manipulation of an object. Wood acts like steel. A feather suddenly acts like a cannonball. However, these things need to be discovered and when they are they can put a House from the bottom of the food chain to the top in a matter of days. Of course Sancia gets herself caught up in the Houses’ mess and finds that there’s more than just the Houses at stake but the whole world.

Each character is unique. Sancia is a thief, Orso is an inventor of sorts, Berniece is Orso’s assistant and Gregor is the son of one of the Houses’ leaders and yet they all have to work together for a common cause. The dynamic between the group is fun to watch. They are all suspicious of each other and they slowly warm up to each other out of necessity, but they still bicker about what should be done. Especially when it comes to Sancia. I love that while there is romance in this book you will miss it if you blink. Which is really refreshing to not have a romance be at the center of the plot.

All in all, I really enjoyed Foundryside, it has its flaws but they didn’t take away from my ability to enjoy the book. I’m curious to see where the series is going as I definitely didn’t didn’t see the ending coming. I’ll will be picking up the next book in this series!  

The Missing of Clairdelune by Christelle Dabos

Spoilers for A Winter’s Promise.

I was given a E-Advanced Reader Copy through Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. Many thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to do so!

Christelle Dabos’ The Missing of Clairdelune is the second installment to her The Mirror Visitor Quartet. Ophelia’s adventure continues in The Pole. Her and Thron are set to be married, so that Thorn can share Ophelia’s ability to read the history of objects. Finally revealed to the court and the politics that come with it, Ophelia requests from the Family Spirit, Farouk, a job. He assigns her to be the Vice-Storyteller, a job that will have her telling stories from Anima to him and other members of the court. Thrust deeper into court politics Ophelia finds that her fiance is the only one that she can truly trust. When people in the court hierarchy begin disappearing each has some kind of connect that leads back to Ophelia. She must find out what is happening to them before it’s too late. Even if it means disobeying Thorn’s orders.

The Missing of Clairdelune is more fast paced than A Winter’s Promise. While it still has the political intrigue of it’s successor, it has so much more action in it. Something is always going on. Mostly because Ophelia is a strong headed character and refuses to listen to anyone when they tell her that something isn’t a good idea. For the most part I like this about her, but sometimes you just want to shake her because you know it’s a terrible idea for her to go off alone or decide to investigate something the Thorn specifically tells her not to stick her nose in. This is just a flaw in her character and who doesn’t like an author that actually gives their characters flaws?

Dabos’ is consistent with her characters. Ophelia is clumsy as ever, but not to the point of being obnoxious. She does have points of being a klutz durning important things but Dabos uses it cleverly and it’s often hilarious because it’s relatable. For instance at one point she trips on the stairs going down off of a stage. Thorn is still telling Ophelia not to get involved in things and not draw attention to herself. He is still socially awkward and withdrawn. I love that she is able to be consistent with her characters. Often times authors will say that someone is clumsy or withdrawn but they lose their characteristics by the end of the book unless it’s convenient to the story progression.

This novel is much better than the first. This may be because there is more action in this one because there isn’t as much world building that has to occur. I have some problems with how the novel ended because I’m not sure where the next two books are going to go, but I will be reading the third book when it is translated. It certainly does make me wish that I could read French so I wouldn’t have to wait!

A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos

A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos, translated by Hildegarde Serle, follows Ophelia as she is given away to be married to Thorn. Thorn is from a different clan in a different part of the world. Ophelia must learn how to navigate a new place, which may as well be a completely different world. Ophelia has the power to see the history of an object by touch, she also has the rare ability to pass through mirrors. Thorn is cold, stand-offish and completely uninterested in Ophelia. The reasoning for their match is unknown to Ophelia and she struggles to come to terms that she is going to be married off. She can’t say no without risking a war between the two clans. Ophelia is forced to stay in hiding instead of entering Court life with Thorn, not only that, she fears that their secrecy bodes poorly for her future.

This novel has a lot of intrigue. The magic in A Winter’s Promise appears to be somewhat clan based. Ophelia’s clan can manipulate what they call Anima. Ophelia can ‘read’ objects and see the history of the object, she can also travel through mirrors. Talon’s Aunts however have the ability to harm people without touching them. It’s not fully explained how the magic came to be so divided but having it split this way is an interesting idea. I would guess that it has something to do with the mysterious Rupture that split the world into floating islands, but I’m not entirely sure.

There’s some strange translation going on here. There are random French phrases and words that are left in the novel. I understand the ones that are names, it makes sense to leave those alone but in conversations and descriptions it can get confusing. I wish they were directly translated so that I wouldn’t have to look up the phrases in the middle of reading. Along this vein there’s a lot of large vocabulary that I think makes this on the very high end of Young Adult books, but I would lean towards it being adult. Funnily enough a lot of those words are French in origin.

I really enjoyed this novel, even though it has some fairly prominent flaws. For one Thorn is a jerk. He doesn’t tell Ophelia about anything he does including his reasoning for marrying her specifically. He lets his Aunts abuse her, mentally and physically and does nothing about it. Even when he finds out about it he is very nonchalant about it. He claims to care about her but he doesn’t do anything to prove it. However, I find myself still liking him because he’s not perfect. The story doesn’t make him the most beautiful person in the world like many other novels do with their male protagonists. He is also socially withdrawn and doesn’t seem to know what he’s done to make Ophelia upset. I appreciate that Dabos doesn’t make him the picture of perfection and thank you for not making her be head over heels for someone who is terrible to her.

I have high hopes for the second book in this series and I can’t wait to read it! I would suggest this novel to people who like fantasy and don’t mind having to get used to the style of a book that is translated, as well as some more complicated vocabulary. This novel has a lot going for it from the characters to the setting and the plot.

Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty follows a group of nine people as they enter a health resort run by Masha an eccentric health nut willing to do anything to make people feel the best that they possibly can. Using rigorous physical and mental exercises as well as controlling their food intake. Each member has a plan set in front of them depending on what they want when they come out of their health retreat experience. Does Masha truly care about their health or is she will she go too far?

This is not Moriarty’s best book, from five that I’ve read this was my least favorite. By far. I spent the whole book waiting for the psychological thriller part to happen. It never did. I really don’t even know what the plot was actually supposed to be. Really. I made my best guess, but man, it was up in the air for this one.

Most of the characters were unmemorable and really over the top when it came to caricaturization. For instance, there is a couple who are going through a rough spot in their marriage and go to the resort to sort out their problems. Another family has suffered through a tragic death in their family. These were all very obvious and uncreative reasons for someone to go to a health resort. I wish she could have picked different reason for them to be there. Really the only characters that I liked were Frances, Heather and Zoe. Masha was fun to watch with her descent into madness. But only liking 3 of the 9 Strangers and one of the people who works at the resort. Those are not good odds.

I hope that this book is just a slump in her writing career because I really enjoyed her other novels. Nine Perfect Strangers is not one of those novels however. Avoid this novel and pick up one of her other ones. My suggestion would be The Husband’s Secret or Little Big Lies.

2018 in Review

Since I did a my weekly review early this week (because I wanted to get one more in before 2019) here’s a review of 2018’s books.

Books Read: 71

Total Pages Read: 24,098

Best Reading Month: Tied at 11 books, July and August

Worst Reading Month: Tied at 3 books, April and November

Best books of 2018:

Worst Books of 2018:

Her One Mistake – Heidi Perks

I was given an E-Advanced Reader copy in exchange for a fair review. Many thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to do so.

Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks is a stunning thriller that takes place after a child, Alice, is left in the care of Charlotte. Charlotte takes Alice and her 3 children to a fair. While in her care Alice disappears, seemingly without a trace. Her children don’t know where she went and no one at fair saw her either. Not only is Charlotte devastated but Alice’s mother, Harriet, who made the choice to leave Alice with her friend. As it goes when people disappear, everything is not how it seems.

Her One Mistake, in a world of thrillers that are full of the same things happening over and over, is not entirely unique. However, Perks manages to build tension and keep it there leaving you wanting to keep reading until you finish. I found myself to actually be nervous while reading the book, waiting to find out what happened, especially during the last third of the book. It was refreshing to know a good majority of the plot twists, by guessing, and still be held in suspense through the authors writing and pacing.

As I said before there isn’t really anything special plot wise about this book. There are thousands of books that are about children who go missing and even more that have questionable parents. However, the author chooses to not use physical or sexual abuse, but goes for mental abuse using gaslighting. This gave me a sense of doubt who was telling the truth and who was not. This helped build tension and kept me guessing if my theory was correct or not.

Her One Mistake is a quick read, mostly due to the fact that there aren’t any luls in the suspense of the story. There was really no good place to stop reading that wasn’t going to leave you with some kind of desire to pick the book up again with in minutes to continue reading. I really appreciated that the book didn’t follow the detective of the case. Instead Perks utilises the families involved. There is part of the novel that takes place in the a police station but again the focus is on the main character’s thoughts when being questioned by a detective and not the other way around. So often this side of a thriller is missed when the main character is involved in the investigation.

Her One Mistake was definitely not a mistake to read. This easily the best thriller that I’ve read all year. I highly recommend it to people who like mystery and thriller novels, especially psychological thrillers.