magical but not much more? | book review

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Rating: ★★★☆☆

One magical challenge, two contestants, and a special setting: the circus. Celia and Marco have been pulled into a challenge by their mentors, a challenge of magical skill and vision. However, this challenge quickly becomes more than just a show of talent between them; lives of others are intertwined, feelings evolve, and unforeseen consequences occur. Magical and mystical, this book tells the tale of those involved in the Night Circus.

Recommended if you like:

  • Whimsical, atmospheric settings
  • Un-chronological timelines, jumping back and forth in time and between characters
  • Slow-paced plot and character development

Continue reading “magical but not much more? | book review”

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positutely a delightful read | book review

the diviners by libba bray

Rating: ★★★★☆

It’s 1926, and one Evie O’Neal is hiding a secret: She can learn details of a person’s life by touching an object belonging to them. This “party trick,” as most see it, lands in her a spot of trouble, so she’s shipped off to New York City to live with her uncle Will, who is a professor and owner of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult. Just after Evie arrives in New York, a murder occurs in the city, and soon she, Will, and others find themselves drawn into a paranormal murder investigation.

Recommended if you like:

  • Creeptastic, paranormal books that give you the shivers
  • Fun, dramatic, yet realistic teenage protagonists who you root for
  • Atmospheric, richly detailed settings

 

Continue reading “positutely a delightful read | book review”

i am in love with fitz and the fool | series review

the tawny man trilogy by robin hobb

Series Rating: ★★★★★

Within the series: Fool’s Errand (#1), The Golden Fool (#2), Fool’s Fate (#3)

This trilogy reunites readers with FitzChivalry Farseer and his story, picking up where the Farseer Trilogy left off. This time around, his adventures are filled with some familiar faces and some new ones, much political intrigue, magic, majestic creatures and their mysterious history, and fulfilling visions of a certain White Prophet.

Recommended if you like:

  • Character dynamics that rip your heart out and stomp on it
  • Slow, politics-driven plots with adventure interspersed
  • Rich, descriptive writing
  • ROBIN HOBB AND HER BRILLIANCE

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Be warned!

Instead of my usual Spoiler-Free review, today I’m writing a Spoiler-FILLED review. You got it, folks! The review below is absolutely fiiiilled with spoilers. We’ve gotten to the point in this series where it’s very hard to describe anything (other than the synopsis I gave above) without giving away some spoilers for the previous books. I’ll try to keep the spoilers for the Tawny Man trilogy to a minimum, but I do have a lot to squeal over.

So, if you don’t mind being spoiled, read on! If you’d rather avoid spoilers…see ya later.

Continue reading “i am in love with fitz and the fool | series review”

pirates, serpents, and ships — oh, my! | series review

the liveship traders trilogy by robin hobb

Series Rating: ★★★★★

Within the series: Ship of Magic (#1), Mad Ship (#2), Ship of Destiny (#3)

‘ware pirates, sea serpents, and sentient ships in this trilogy! Told through multiple POVs and story lines, this tale is full of drama, adventure, romance, and politics–not to mention magic.

Recommended if you like:

  • pirates and sea voyages
  • multiple POVs and intersecting plotlines
  • a bit of everything–adventure, romance, politics, and more
  • complex characters and relationships

Continue reading “pirates, serpents, and ships — oh, my! | series review”

i’m very glad my childhood was not so creepy | book review

the ocean at the end of the lane by neil gaiman

A man returns to his hometown to attend a funeral, and while there, old memories resurface. He finds himself making his way back to a farm where he met a girl and her family, who protected him during a most mystical time in his life, that he didn’t even remember until now. This book is the story of that time, during which the man was just a boy trying to escape an evil being that had been accidentally let loose.

Recommended if you like:

  • whimsical and nostalgic short stories
  • a sort of witchy, mysterious, and unexplained magic
  • brave little boys who try their best to overcome evil

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My Spoiler-Free Review

This was my very first Neil Gaiman read, and I’m pleased that I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this 181-page story, but it certainly wasn’t what I got. This book is freaky, mystical, and somehow also nostalgic and sweet. Only a master writer could evoke all of those feelings at once.

The things the little boy goes through in this book make me very glad my childhood was normal and free of fantastical happenings. He has a hard time of it! (And he doesn’t even have a name…this poor child!) I mean, goodness, the story begins when his best-buddy kitten gets run over. That was enough to make me sympathetic, and that’s only the beginning.

Thank goodness our little boy makes a friend with one Lettie Hempstock, and together they learn all about bravery and defeating evil.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by 6vedik
art by 6vedik

Beware the freakiness in this book. If you’re looking for a great thrillery, strange, Halloweeny read, I would definitely recommend this. I was honestly scared at more than one point in the story. The magical realism is so mysterious that you’ll want to keep reading for more of it. The writing is so lush and vivid, it’ll make you think of your own childhood.

My only major disappointment with this read is that I didn’t have a huge emotional connection to the story–probably because it was so ~out there. I also wished there was a bit more of a definite conclusion at the end. I’m all about vague endings, but in this case I wanted a bit more.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

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What books have you read that make you thankful for a normal childhood? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne

when a prince’s bastard son becomes a royal assassin | series review

the farseer trilogy by robin hobb

Series Rating: ★★★★☆

Within the series: Assassin’s Apprentice (#1), Royal Assassin (#2), and Assassin’s Quest (#3)

A six-year-old boy is dropped off at a keep, returned by his family to the prince who fathered him. This boy comes to be known as FitzChivalry, the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, next in line to the throne. Fitz becomes a catalyst to a series of events that occur in the land of the Six Duchies throughout his growing years. Invaders from the sea, tension within the royal family, and mysteries of magic and Elderlings create the chaos in which Fitz tries to find his place, and eventually realizes that while here is a mere boy, he’s also a piece of a larger puzzle.

Recommended if you like:

  • coming of age stories
  • dynamic characters and relationships
  • subtle yet complex fantasy
  • long, winding plots and descriptive writing

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My Spoiler-Free Review

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This series is our hero’s backstory, and a tragic backstory it is. Fitz’s childhood is tough, heartbreaking, and challenging.  The story begins when the only family he’s ever known basically abandoning him, and continues as he tries to find his place as the bastard son of a prince in a world that doesn’t care about him. If you’re looking for a warm and fuzzy boyhood story, this series isn’t it.

That said, Fitz’s story will tug at your heartstrings in the very best way. Hobb accomplishes this by writing a cast of complex, developed, interesting characters, including Fitz himself. He grows from an innocent young boy to a slightly exasperating teen, and finally a matured young man. Other characters, though not protagonists or evolving in such a dramatic way as coming of age, still shift and complete their own character arcs and development in satisfying ways. More than anything, Hobb excels at character development, dynamics, and relationships.

Throughout the series, Fitz brings together a found family of sorts, and his relationships with these people are deep yet complicated. He clashes with these people and he doesn’t like them all the time, but they are his people. These characters and their relationships not only make you fall in love with this trilogy, but want to continue reading the entire Realm of the Elderlings series.

The plot, though slow and perhaps meandering at times, has many shades to it as well. There are two major conflicts within the series: the first and foremost, a war with invaders from across the sea. The second and more subtle: tension within the royal family itself. When Fitz begins training as an assassin, a King’s Man for his grandfather King Shrewd, he is inexplicably drawn into this tension, and as he grows older, he plays his own part in it. As a bastard, he inevitably creates unique situations and tension himself, and it’s all deliciously suspenseful and dramatic.

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Hobb’s writing is a delight. Though she tends to be overly descriptive, you can’t say she doesn’t write a vivid world. The details and pictures she gives makes the world of the Six Duchies come alive, and as you read through the series, each new location featured is just as vibrant as the rest.

The magic in this fantasy world is subtle yet interesting. There are two types of magical abilities. First is the Skill. This ability allows someone to read another’s mind, see through their eyes, and also speak to them in their mind, sway their thoughts, or cause them to see an illusion. This Skill is found mainly in the royal bloodline, so Fitz, although he’s a bastard, could develop it. The second type of ability is called the Wit; in many ways, it’s the opposite of the Skill. This ability allows one to bond and communicate with animals. However, it is seen as a perversion and not encouraged or fostered by any civilized person. Both abilities are featured in this series, and you can imagine how they could create some conflicts.

In sum, pick up this series for a magical, political, suspenseful story. You will fall in love with the characters, delight in Hobb’s descriptive writing, and wonder at the magic of it all.

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Have you read The Farseer Trilogy? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne

how would you feel if giant robot parts were found scattered across the earth?

sleeping giants by sylvain neuvel

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

This story begins when a young girl, Rose, wakes up from a biking accident in the middle of a giant metal hand. Fast forward a few years, and adult Rose finds herself involved in the study of this artifact, trying to discover where it came from and what it can do. She becomes part of a small team, led by a mysterious nameless benefactor, to put the pieces together–in more ways than one.

Recommended if you like:

  • robots and science
  • mixed format stories
  • intrigue and mystery of the sci-fi variety

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My Spoiler-Free Review

What an intriguing concept for a story! I just love sci-fi books that I could picture happening right here and now. This means not so heavy on the aliens and space, and more of a focus on weirdness happening here on Earth. So interesting.

This book is short and fast-paced, a very quick read. The story is told through interviews, journal entries, and various reports. Because of this, there’s lots of scientific jargon and little world-building. Expect to skim over some of the complexities yet find yourself wishing for more depth at the same time.

The cast of characters is certainly interesting as well. We have a small team working in close quarters on this project, and that creates some interesting dynamics and surprisingly quite a bit of tension. While I expected the plot of this book to be more driven by the discovery of the robot, it actually focused a lot more (than I expected, anyway) on the drama between the characters.

The writing is hard to comment on because it was written in such a different way. Neuvel managed to really capture the way people talk, and the interviews came across so naturally. Though I didn’t listen to the audiobook, I have a feeling it must be stellar. However, I did wish for more description and overall world-building. I felt the story lacked depth and impact overall.

Will I continue the series? Probably. But I’m in no rush.

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Have you read Sleeping Giants? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne