Posted in Fantasy, Liked It, paranormal, Rated LI

A Discovery of Witches

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Author:     Deborah Harkness

Genre:       Fantasy

Rating:     LI

Synopsis:

Deborah Harkness’s sparkling debut, A Discovery of Witches, has brought her into the spotlight and galvanized fans around the world. In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.

Harkness has created a universe to rival those of Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Kostova, and she adds a scholar’s depth to this riveting tale of magic and suspense. The story continues in book two, Shadow of Night, and concludes with The Book of Life.

Bluestocking’s Opinion:  In Ms. Harkness’ book there are three magical races: witches, vampires, and daemons.  All three magical races stand out in a crowd.  Diana Bishop comes from a very distinguished family of witches; unfortunately she shows little magical talent.  All that changes when she pulls Ashmole 782 from the library archives to aid her in research for an upcoming lecture she is to give.  This sets in motion a series of events that forces Diana return to her magical roots.

One thing that was interesting about this world was the rampant prejudices that each magical races held about other races.  Diana in that respect is very different.  Because she has next to no magical ability (or so she thinks), she views herself as human.  These races have a covenant that forbid fraternization.  There are some hefty penalties if you violate it.  But it isn’t clear why.  But one thing is certain, the key to why the covenant was created in the first place can be found in Ashmole 782.  Unfortunately, only Diana can recall the book, but she doesn’t know how she did it, and others intend to use her or destroy her in order to get that book.

I didn’t find out about this book until after the third book was released.  I see why so many book bloggers were raving about it.  It was very interesting.  I think what I liked the most of the history of alchemy that the author included in her story.

The book also has one of the best quotes I’ve ever read.

It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches.

 

 

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Posted in Fantasy, Loved It, Young Adult

Three Dark Crowns

Author:   Kendare Blake 

Genre:     Fantasy 

Rating:    L

Synopsis:

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.
The last queen standing gets the crown. 

Opinion 

It’s been a while since I found a series that I really enjoyed. This series will take sisterly rivalry to the next level.  The story centers on a set of Queen triplets- Arisnoe, Mirabella, and Katherine. Each of them is born with a gift.  Their queen mother knows what their gifts are from birth. Mirabella is an elemental. Katherine is a poisoner, and Arisnoe is a naturalist. The only problem is that of the three, Mirabella is the strongest with her gift.  Arisnoe and Katherine are so weak they are almost giftless. Each Queen is raised with people who can train them in their gift.

The story details life for each of the queens leading up to their sixteenth birthday.  Each of the families raising the queens have grown to love them and are desperate for each to survive and become Queen. Two of the sisters seem to accept their fate.  However, Mirabella doesn’t want to kill either of her sisters.

A plan is devised to give Mirabella a bloodless victory, but it backfires. Then the year starts, and all three queens want vengeance. 

But there is one tiny problem. Arisnoe discovers after an attempt by Katherine to poison her that she isn’t a naturalist. She’s a poisoner. 

So that begs the question, if the Queen knows the gifts of the triplets upon birth, how On earth did she get the triplets gifts mixed up?  Was this the design of the Queen?  Did someone switch two of the triplets on purpose?  However this happened, this is shaping up to be a fight like none other.  I think all of the queens might be the most powerful of their true gifts, and they will be more than evenly matched. 

Posted in Fantasy, Liked It

A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Sword

Author: George R. R. Martin
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: LI
Synopsis:

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as violently as ever, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey, of House Lannister, sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the land of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, the victim of the jealous sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. But young Robb, of House Stark, still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Robb plots against his despised Lannister enemies, even as they hold his sister hostage at King’s Landing, the seat of the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. . . .

But as opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is a horde of mythical Others–a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords. . .

Here is the third volume in George R. R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin’s stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

Opinion: Still no Others!!! I hope I’m not spoiling it for anyone, but THE RED WEDDING. Oh my goodness! I could not believe Walder Frey. I mean, I can sort of understand you being slighted because you didn’t get to marry off one of your daughters, grand-daughters, or great-grand daughters, but touchy much!!! Anyway, my only consolation is that Walder will undoubtably be killed off before the series ends. Hopefully, it will be something very painful or humiliating to make up for what he did.

Also, I’m looking forward to see what Lady Stoneheart gets up to in the future books. Hopefully, she will disposed of Walder Frey.

Posted in Fantasy, Loved It, Young Adult

An Ember in the Ashes

Author:     Sabaa Tahir

Genre:       Fantasy

Rating:      L

Synopsis: 

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
 
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Bluestocking’s Opinion: Wow!!!  I saw this book in Barnes & Noble, and I was very intrigued by the cover.  I got distracted by a couple of other books that came out, but I did eventually come back to read this one.  

This one had a bit of a slow start.  Don’t get me wrong, it started with a skirmish, I meant in terms of getting to the real conflict of the series.  For a long time, I kept wondering why this book was a fantasy, but eventually the author got into some of the mythical creatures.  By the end of the book, I was definitely hooked.  I can’t wait to see how this series is going to turn out.  I’m hoping that the fantasy elements will play a much bigger role in the next book; they should, particularly as this entire world’s history has been shaped by mythical creatures (though most don’t recognize this).  I have a sad feeling that the Martial Empire is going to learn far too late the consequences of taking knowledge/technology from creatures whom they have no hope of truly comprehending.  

I like the character’s Laia and Elias.  Obviously, they are going to end up together (this is a YA novel after all).  I found Elias to be a lot more interesting of the pair.  I think it is because he has had such a strange life- being abandoned by his mother and then subsequently being adopted byhis grandfather.  I’m really curious as to who his father is.  His mother mentions that Elias’ father failed to kill her.  This would suggest that he isn’t a pleasant man, but Elias’ mother is rather twisted so it is hard to know how credible she really is.  Elias’ mother is also rather interesting.  She exhibits such hatred for her own father, yet she appears to be having the family motto tattoed on her body. There’s a lot going on here.  

Anyway, my prediction for the series is that Laia and Elias will help the Scholar and Martials put aside their difference and work together to defeat their common enemy.  But we shall see.  

This is a great series to start this summer.  

Posted in Fantasy, Folklore, Rated E

Lindorm Kingdom



Author:    Amy Jane Helmericks

Genre:     Fantasy/ Folklore

Rating:     E

Synopsis:

What if your freedom came through the one who was meant to destroy you? 
The lindorm has more power in his dragon body than his human mind can reliably control. The strength that has kept him alive until now is growing into a liability. He’s running out of time to break his enchantment, and he doesn’t even know how to start. 
As a teenage single mother, Linnea endures cruelty and indignities to maintain her independence in a culture that only values the strong. When she tries to save a vulnerable child, her persistence irritates the wrong people and her jealous stepmother offers Linnea to them as lindorm bait. 
No one cares if Linnea will be an effective means to get past the dragon’s defenses, a strategic distraction, or simply its last meal. 
Linnea and the lindorm are expected to eliminate one another, but these two have never been good at doing what’s expected of them. 

Bluestocking’s Opinion:  This is a rather unusual book review for me.  Usually, I’m either sent books by the publisher ahead of the release date or I purchase them on my own.  Usually I have no involvement in the book.  The same cannot be said for Lindorm Kingdom.  I met the author (virtually met her) back in 2007 when I started this blog.  She had started this book in 2006.  I’ve gotten to review and critique a couple of the drafts.  It’s really something to see a work in progress for almost 8 years.  I hadn’t read a draft in a while, so I jumped at the chance to review the published book.  

I was very surprised.  This book has gotten better with every new draft.  I liked the direction the last draft I read was going, so I liked this direction even better.  This book is the first of a series.  There was a lot going on in this book.  I’m glad that the author is taking the time to flesh the various storylines out over a few books.  It was really fun seeing which storylines were kept and which were left out (or appear to be left out).  

I enjoyed all of the characters a lot better in this version.  I liked seeing the story from other people’s perspective.  In addition to the fact that it gave more insight as to the political machinations, it made the characters seem a lot more real.  

The only negative thing that I would say is that there were a couple of scenes I had a hard time visualizing as I was reading, but overall, I am looking forward to the rest of the story.  

Posted in Fantasy, Loved It

Shadow Scale



Author:  Rachel Hartman

Genre:   Fantasy

Rating:   L

Synopsis: 
Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.
 
The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.
 
As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

 Bluestocking’s Learned Opinion:  Wow!!!!  I didn’t see this ending coming at all!    I really enjoyed this last book.  I’m a little bit sad that the series is over.  I was hoping that this would be a trilogy at least.  The author covered a whole lot of territory in this book.  Given the amount that she covered, I was surprised that the book was so short.  It didn’t feel rushed though; she gave adequate depth to all the territory.  

Although this series is over, I would be very interested in reading other fantasy that she writes.  

Posted in Fantasy, Rated LI

A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords

Author: George R. R. Martin

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: LI

Synopsis:

Here is the third volume in George R. R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin’s stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

A Storm of Swords

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as violently as ever, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey, of House Lannister, sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the land of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, the victim of the jealous sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. But young Robb, of House Stark, still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Robb plots against his despised Lannister enemies, even as they hold his sister hostage at King’s Landing, the seat of the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world….

But as opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is a horde of mythical Others–a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the SevenKingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords. . .

Bluestocking’s Opinion: If you have seen the show, this is the third season. This book has the Red Wedding and the Purple Wedding amongst other things. This book a few new players enter the series, namely the Tyrell family. Also we meet the famous Tywin Lannister. We do find out a few new secrets such as who sent the hitman to kill Bran Stark. We also find out who killed John Arryn. It appears that Joffrey might be the ultimate cause of the War of the Five Kings.

I was a little bit disappointed because there was no mention or discussion regarding the history of the Others. I really wish the author would give us something! Also I would love to know who Coldhands really is and how he can be alive when his heart no longer beats. I really with Sansa would grow a spine and become a bigger player in the game. She just sits there like the perfect lady. **sighs**

Posted in Fantasy, Liked It

A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings

Author: George R. R. Martin

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: LI

Synopsis:

A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: BOOK TWO

In this thrilling sequel to A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin has created a work of unsurpassed vision, power, and imagination. A Clash of Kings transports us to a world of revelry and revenge, wizardry and warfare unlike any we have ever experienced.

A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel . . . and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

Bluestocking’s Opinion: In the aftermath of Ned Stark being killed, Westeros divides back into the seven kingdoms that it had been before Aegon the Conqueror united the kingdoms. Robb Stark, and the men of the North, want revenge for Ned Stark’s death. Stannis Baratheon and Renly Baratheon are both fighting for their late brother Robert’s throne as they know that all of Robert’s “supposed” children are really the children of Cersei and Jamie Lannister.

Enter into this mix is a priestess who wants to rid Westeros of the old gods and turn everyone to the worship of the Lord of Light. This is the second supernatural element in this story. The priestess Melisandre is a Shadowbinder who possesses a great deal of magical skill. She is convinced that there is some supernatural war coming between the Lord of Light and some nameless other (that the read has to wonder if this is the Others mentioned in the first book).

I did like this book a great deal. But As I mentioned in my review of A Game of Thrones, I didn’t like the teasing. There seems to be a great deal of lore missing in Westeros. The inhabitants accept that summer last years and that winter comes less seldom. For what ever reason no one, but the people from the north, seem to understand that winter should be feared. The winter brings the Others. But no one seems to know how the seasons ended up so unbalanced or what the connection is between the Others and winter. For the most part, everyone thinks that the Others are merely a legend.

I have to say, that I really like the character Tyrion Lannister. Despite the fact that he’s always in brothels, he does have a surprisingly kind heart. I think he’s probably my favorite character to date. I hope the author doesn’t kill him!

Posted in Fantasy, Loved It

A Game of Thrones

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Author: George R. R. Martin

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: L

Synopsis:

Overview
A NEW ORIGINAL SERIES, NOW ON HBO.

Here is the first volume in George R. R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin’s stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

A GAME OF THRONES

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Bluestocking’s Opinion
Where to begin with this one? I heard so much about the tv show. It had such a cult following. So a couple months ago, I decided to buy the first season. I’m hooked! After watching the three seasons that are available, I decided to read the books. The show does a pretty good job tracking the books. I found it very interesting that the author took inspiration from the War of Roses. I was constantly making comparisons between the story and some of English history.

What I thought was interesting was the fact that the author told the story from different points of view. I have definitely read books where you often got confused keeping track of whose head you were in. That didn’t happen. I think most of it was because the author kept all of the points of view 3rd person rather than 1st person.

The most annoying thing about this first book was that the reader starts off hearing/seeing the Others, but the author doesn’t give you anything about them throughout the book- no history or nothing!! I don’t mind a little bit of teasing, but really? That was too much! Anyway, I blew through the books of this series in 2 months.

Now if I could just get a hold of season 4 on DVD.

Posted in Rated Q, Urban fantasy

All Is Fair

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Author: Emma Newman

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: Q

Synopsis:

William Iris struggles to keep the throne of Londinium whilst hated by his own court and beset by outsiders, while Cathy discovers the legacy of her former governess. But those who dare to speak out about Society are always silenced. Sometimes for good.

While trying to avoid further torments from the mercurial fae, Sam finds himself getting tangled in the affairs of the Elemental Court. But an unexpected offer from the powerful and enigmatic Lord Iron turns out to be far more than Sam bargained for.

Max and the gargoyle are getting closer to uncovering who is behind the murder of the Bath Chapter and the corruption in London and Max finds the gargoyle’s controversial ideas harder to ignore. Can he stay true to his sworn duty without being destroyed by his own master, whose insanity threatens to unravel them all?

Bluestocking’s Learned Opinion: After I finished Any Other Name, I wondered how the author was going to be able to finish this series in one more book. There was a lot of plot to wrap up. She did it. It was definitely not quite what I was expecting, which is why I gave it the Q rating. The ending of this series was very anti-climatic. Some parts of the ending were completely out of no where. (Like the whole, who is killing all the chapters subplot).There was no clues in the prior books. It was a little bit disjointed. The book ended with a new beginning for all of the major storylines. I feel that perhaps the author made the ending this way so that in future she could return to this world. There was still plenty of adventure left that just wasn’t touched.

This was my least favorite book in the entire series. I really felt let down by how the author handled the ending. It was lacking in umph. To read or not to read? I would read it, but just don’t expect some breathless conclusion.