Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders # 1) by Robin Hobb

618211Wizardwood, a sentient wood. The most precious commodity in the world. Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds. But how can one trade with the Rain Wilders, when only a liveship fashioned from wizardwood can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? Rare and valuable a liveship will quicken only when three members, from successive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening as Althea Vestrit’s father is carried on deck in his death-throes. Althea waits for the ship that she loves more than anything else in the world to awaken. Only to discover that the Vivacia has been signed away in her father’s will to her brutal brother-in-law, Kyle Haven…Others plot to win or steal a liveship. The Paragon, known by many as the Pariah, went mad, turned turtle, and drowned his crew. Now he lies blind, lonely, and broken on a deserted beach. But greedy men have designs to restore him, to sail the waters of the Rain Wild River once more.


Ship of Magic is book one in The Liveship Traders series. It tells the story of the Vestrit family of traders from Bingtown. The story starts with the death of the patriarch Ephron Vestrit who dies on the Vivacia. The Vivacia is the family ship and a liveship, a magical ship made of Wizardwood (a substance that gives the ship its magical properties). When Ephron dies on board of the Vivacia, it allows the vessel to “quicken,” meaning the ship comes to life and becomes a sentient being. Althea is Ephron’s youngest daughter and the one who should have inherited the ship, but much to her surprise Ephron gives the ship to his older daughter Keffria who subsequently gives it to her husband, Kyle. Althea and Kyle cannot stand each other, and since the Vivacia needs a blood relative of the Vestrits to operate, Kyle orders his son Wintrow, who wanted to become a priest, to come on board of the ship making the boy’s life miserable. Parallel to this story, we meet Kennit, an ambitious pirate who dreams of one day uniting all pirate townships and conquering all pirate ships including the Vivacia.

If the 80s American soap-opera Dynasty had a nautical version, it would be called Ship of Magic. The amount of family drama in this book is unlike anything I have read in a long time. The first fifty percent of the book is just bickering between all members of the Vestrit family, especially between Althea and Kyle.

The pace of the book is irritatingly languid. To quote Stephen King, ” When a reader puts a story aside because it ‘got boring’, the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with the powers of description and lost sight of his priority…” Indeed the majority of the book is descriptions of people and places to the point you wonder if anything is ever going to happen in this novel, or if this story even has a plot. Ship of Magic does have a plot, and things do eventually start happening but much later in the book, and by then I had read several other novels in between.

At a hefty eight hundred and eight pages, at the end of this book, you feel like you have been reading about Kyle, Althea, Wintrow, Vivacia, and trade families for years. That might have been Hobb’s idea all along since this is book one in the series and the introduction to all the characters and this magical, nautical world. I was happy to have stuck with it, and I actually loved the story all things concerned. However, if you enjoy your fantasy books a little faster paced, Ship of Magic might not be for you.


Format: Hardcover, 880 pages
Published: February 2nd, 1999 by Spectra (first published March 1998)
ISBN:0553575635
Source: Library loan
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Fantasy

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

82192Fifth century Britain is a country of chaos and division after the Roman withdrawal. This is the world of young Merlin, the illegitimate child of a South Wales princess who will not reveal to her son his father’s true identity. Yet Merlin is an extraordinary child, aware at the earliest age that he possesses a great natural gift – the Sight. Against a background of invasion and imprisonment, wars and conquest, Merlin emerges into manhood and accepts his dramatic role in the New Beginning – the coming of King Arthur.


The Crystal Cave is book one in the Arthurian Saga by Mary Stewart. Written in 1970, this is a book about Merlin. The famous wizard who played a crucial role in the birth and legend of King Arthur. I have been a fan of Arthurian stories for quite some time, and I was surprised that it took me so many years to read this book.

The book starts in Wales with Merlin still a child and the illegitimate son of a Welsh princess who refuses to name his father. Merlin grows up being ostracized for being a bastard, for having dark features (dark eyes and dark hair), and precognition abilities. All of these characteristics fed the myth that Merlin was the son of a demon. A claim that Stewart addresses later in the book.

The structure of the novel follows a first-person narrative told by Merlin and covers Merlin’s life from age six to when he becomes a young man. The book is divided into five parts. A prologue, part one (The Dove), which covers Merlin’s childhood, part two (The Falcon), a description of Merlin’s escape from his family, and his introduction to his magical studies by the hermit Galapas. Part three (The Red Dragon) relates to his time working with the High King Ambrosius and his rebuilding of Stonehenge. Part four (The Coming of The Bear) is the final part that relates to Merlin’s helping Uther Pendragon to seduce Ygraine, leading to the birth of King Arthur.

I truly enjoyed this novel and Stewart’s take on Merlin’s life. I look forward to reading more books in this series.

As to how this will be, it is with God. I can only tell you what I know. What powers is in me now is from him, and we are in his hands to make or to destroy. But I can tell you this also, Ygraine, that I have seen a bright fire burning, and in it a crown, and a sword standing in an altar like a cross.


Format: Hardcover, 527 pages
Published: June 1970 by William Morrow & Company Inc. (NY) (first published January 1st, 1970)
ISBN:0688013988
Source: Library loan
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Fantasy

The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

2495567Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.


The book starts with the protagonist, Kvothe, living a low-profile life as an innkeeper at the Waystone Inn and going by the name of Kote in the fictional world of Temerant. Kote runs the inn together with his assistant Bast. When Kote saves a traveling scribe known as Chronicler from being attacked by spider-like creatures called scrael, the Chronicler immediately recognizes Kote as the renowned Kvothe—an unequaled sword fighter and magician. The Chronicler asks permission to record Kvothe’s story. After pondering about it, Kvothe agrees to tell his story to the Chronicler but warns him that it will take three days to tell his story. The Name Of The Wind corresponds to day one of Kvothe’s story in the Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy.

It’s hard to believe that a book of this magnitude was Patrick Rothfuss’s first novel. Granted it took him several years to write it while he was pursuing his B.A. in English. The Name Of The Wind is not only an incredibly creative fantasy book, a coming-of-age like nothing I had read so far, but it is also a very well-written book. I loved the narrative, the poems, and songs in the story. Rothfuss’s use of a story-within-a-story format is what sets this book apart. To imagine an entire six-hundred-and-sixty-page book being day one in Kvothe’s story is mind-blowing, but it works because Rothfuss is so creative and descriptive with every scene in the book. I felt like I knew Kvothe on a personal level. You follow him from his early beginnings with his family—a troupe of traveling performers, through meeting his first teacher—Abenthy (Ben) to his years in the University. I’m not going to deny that as much as I loved Kvothe as a character, at times, I was annoyed by how good he was at everything. Even with this small flaw, Rothfuss still manages to make Kvothe a likable character who endures many challenges. Kvothe’s life is far from easy. He loses his family at the hands of evil mystical beings, the Chandrians, at a very early age, and his early life is plagued with violence and hunger.

When I first decided to read this novel, I remember being extremely skeptical. The Name Of The Wind is probably one of the best-rated fantasy books on Goodreads, right along legends such as Tolkien’s LOTR The Fellowship Of The Ring, with a rating of four and a half stars and more than five hundred thousand ratings. I have to admit after finishing book one in this trilogy that the hype is real and very well-deserved.

I’m definitely reading book two, The Wise Man’s Fear, and together with the fandom, I will anxiously await the release of the third book.

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” 


Format: Hardcover, 662 pages
Published: April 2007 by Penguin Group DAW (first published March 27th, 2007)
ISBN: 075640407X
Source: Library loan
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Red Sister (Book of The Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence

 

25895524At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old blood show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

“It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.”

And so starts Red Sister–my first book by Mark Lawrence. What a fantastic debut it is! I have many of his books in my TBR list, and I’m slowly chipping away at them. Red Sister is a book that came highly recommended to me by a friend, and I must admit I’m so happy I decided to read it.

The book starts with Nona at age eight and about to be hanged. She is saved at the last minute by a nun from the Convent of Sweet Mercy, a convent known to train chosen girls to be assassins. Most of the book is about the training, the fantastic fights, and the friendships that develop. Part coming-of-age, part YA fantasy I loved the way Lawrence created this world. His narrative is detailed, and he does a phenomenal job at developing his characters, especially the protagonist Nona.

This fast-paced, page-turner was a great introduction to the world of Mark Lawrence, and I look forward to reading the next books in this series.

“A book is as dangerous as any journey you might take. The person who closes the back cover may not be the same one that opened the front one. Treat them with respect.”


Format: Hardcover, 469 pages
Published: April 4th, 2017 by Ace
ISBN: 1101988851
Source: Library loan
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Fantasy

Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier

915wEJd29NLDreamer’s pool is the first book in the Blackthorn & Grim series. It’s an easy fantasy book that tells the story of a healer, Blackthorn, who after being wrongly imprisoned, makes an agreement with a mysterious fey in exchange for help escaping prison.

Blackthorn travels north to Dalriada where she is bound to live and serve the population for seven years as part of her agreement. Unbeknownst to her, Grim, her prison neighbor follows her to Dalriada and together they will form a partnership.

Oran is the prince of Dalriada, and he’s engaged to beautiful Lady Flidais who he only knows through photographs and letters. Anxiously awaiting the arrival of his bride, Oran senses something is wrong when lady Flidais arrives, and she’s nothing like the sweet and sensitive woman he found in her letters. With the wedding imminent, Oran sees no way out of this engagement, and he will need the help of Blackthorn and Grim to get him out of this tight situation.

Dreamer’s pool is told by different characters with each chapter alternating between Oran, Blackthorn and Grim’s point of view. I liked the structure of this book as it allowed the reader to get to know a little more about the characters. The pace of the narrative is slightly slower than I would have liked, but not enough to ruin the experience. Fans of Daughter of The Forrest or any other book by Marillier will not be disappointed. The book has some mentions of rape and abuse, but nothing too graphic for sensitive readers. Blackthorn is a reliable and likable character, and I loved her quirky relationship with Grim.
I’m looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops in future novels.


Review: The Mark of Noba by G. L. Tomas

 

Sterling Wayfairer has one goal for his senior year: make his mark. He’s been slipping into the background his whole high school career—distracted by his mother’s mental health, unsettled by the vivid dreams that haunt him at night, and overshadowed by the athletic accomplishments of his popular best friends. But this year is going to be different. He’s going to break a few rules, have some fun, and maybe even work up the nerve to ask his crush out on a date. But things don’t go exactly as planned. Students are disappearing, Sterling starts losing time, and it all seems to center around Tetra, a girl no one else seems to notice but him. When he finally tracks her down for answers, they aren’t what he expects: He and Tetra hail from a world called Noba, and they’re being hunted by a Naga, a malevolent shapeshifter that’s marked them for destruction. Tetra and Sterling have distinct abilities that can help them fight back, but their power depends heavily on the strength of their bond, a connection that transcends friendship, transcends romance. Years apart have left their bond weak. Jumpstarting it will require Sterling to open his heart and his mind and put his full trust in the mysterious Tetra. If he doesn’t, neither of them will survive.

Review

This was an interesting book and not at all what I’d expected it to be. Part of my interest came from this awesome cover. Sterling is a pretty cool dude. I liked his voice and I thought the authors did a good job at creating this character. Tetra, on the other hand is a bit flat, perhaps because she is from another planet. The story has a good mix of sci-fi and fantasy. I loved the multicultural elements in the story. This book started out a little slow for me but it certainly picked up at the end. Overall, the story is unusual but interesting.

I’d like to thank YA Bound Book Tours for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


About The Author

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Guinevere and Libertad go by many superhero aliases. Whether you know them by G.L. Tomas, the Twinjas, or the Rebellious Valkyries, their mission is always the same: spreading awareness of diversity in books. Oh, and trying to figure out the use for pocketless pants!

They host other allies and champions of diversity in their secret lair in Connecticut.

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Review: Titanborn by Rhett C. Bruno

 

Malcolm Graves lives by two rules: finish the job, and get paid. After thirty years as a collector, chasing bounties and extinguishing rebellions throughout the solar system, Malcolm does what he’s told, takes what he’s earned, and leaves the questions to someone else—especially when it comes to the affairs of offworlders. But his latest mission doesn’t afford him that luxury. After a high-profile bombing on Earth, the men who sign Malcolm’s paychecks are clamoring for answers. Before he can object, the corporation teams him up with a strange new partner who’s more interested in statistics than instinct and ships them both off to Titan, the disputed moon where humans have been living for centuries. Their assignment is to hunt down a group of extremists: Titanborn dissidents who will go to any length to free their home from the tyranny of Earth.Heading into hostile territory, Malcolm will have to use everything he’s learned to stay alive. But he soon realizes that the situation on the ground is much more complex than he anticipated . . . and much more personal

Review

Wow! Rhett Bruno’s Titanborn was a real breath of fresh air for me. After having gone through a series of fiction and mystery books, I had forgotten how much I love a good Sci-Fi book. Titanborn begins with a post-apocalyptic future where long ago a meteorite hit Earth leaving humans nearly extinct and forcing them to colonize other planets and solar systems. Malcolm Graves is a bounty-hunter, or collector, who spends his days collecting bounties and controlling rebellious activities throughout the solar system. Most of the plot surrounds a rebellious group from Titan, one of Saturn’s moons and one of the places humans (earthers) colonized after the meteorite hit. This rebellious group is made up of decedents of the original settlers, or Titanborn, who seek independence from human control of Titan.

“Titan, the orange moon of Saturn… the most promising celestial body in all of Sol for human expansion due to the resources offered…a pale-orange orb dappled with pockets of shadow that gave it the appearance of a windswept skull. I found it fitting for a place where the locals were as icy as the temperature.”

I absolutely loved the way Bruno constructed this world. The narrative is fast-paced, action-packed and smart. Malcolm is a character that reminded me of a cross between Hans Solo and Dick Deckard. He is sarcastic, smart, and believable. I also liked his side-kick, Zhaff. This is a high-speed, thrilling novel that is really going to appeal to fans of the genre as well as people who don’t necessarily read Sci-Fi novels. I felt the ending left me hanging a bit and that might be due to a possible sequel. If that is the case, I’ll be anxiously waiting for book number two.

The author has provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


About The Author

Rhett Bruno grew up in Hauppauge, New York, and studied at the Syracuse University School of Architecture where he graduated cum laude. He has been writing since he can remember, scribbling down what he thought were epic short stories when he was young to show to his parents. When he reached high school he decided to take that a step further and write the “Isinda Trilogy”. After the encouragement of his favorite English teacher he decided to self-publish the “Isinda Trilogy” so that the people closest to him could enjoy his early work. While studying architecture Rhett continued to write as much as he could, but finding the time during the brutal curriculum proved difficult. It wasn’t until he was a senior that he decided to finally pursue his passion for Science Fiction. After rededicating himself to reading works of the Science Fiction author’s he always loved, (Frank Herbert, Timothy Zahn, Heinlein, etc.) he began writing “The Circuit: Executor Rising”, The first part of what he hopes will be a successful Adult Science Fiction Series. Since then Rhett has been hired by an Architecture firm in Mount Kisco, NY. But that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to work on “The Circuit” and all of the other stories bouncing around in his head. He is also currently studying at the New School to earn a Certificate in Screenwriting in the hopes of one day writing for TV or Video Games.

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Review: No One Dies In The Garden Of Syn

 

Synthia (Syn) Wade is a teenage girl who struggles with cystic fibrosis, an incurable life-threatening disease. One day she is pushed into a pond by an unseen figure and wakes up in a new world – a mysterious garden where illness and death don’t exist. Welcomed by the garden’s residents and now free of her symptoms, Syn decides to stay. But, before long, she realizes that this apparent utopia holds many dangers and dark secrets. Surrounding the garden is a fog that Syn is warned never to enter. She encounters bizarre creatures that defy reason. And always lurking in the shadows is a masked woman – a woman who may have a connection to the disappearance of Syn’s parents many years ago. A woman whom no one will speak of, but whom everyone fears. While No One Dies in the Garden of Syn, She will soon discover that some fates are worse than death.

Review

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a very serious and somehow personal topic for me. My beloved cousin died at the age of 24 of this incurable disease, and I remember her struggles from diagnosis until her death. When I was offered this title, I jumped right away at the opportunity to read and review this book. I felt that the premise of the book was great, and I was really curious about how the author was going to develop this story. I have to say that I was quite disappointed with this book.

The Novel starts with Syn (for Synthia) Wade, a teenage girl struggling with CF who one day is looking at this pond in her backyard when she is suddenly pushed in the pond by an unseen figure and wakes up in this alternate world–a mysterious garden where no one is sick and illness and death do not exist. One of the things I felt that worked for me in this novel was Syn’s character development. I think the author did a great job at depicting her struggles with the disease. The story itself is confusing and a bit slow moving for me. I love fantasy books, and I have no problem with the concept of alternate worlds, parallel universes, and so on, however, this is a concept that can be tricky and not always works well. Most of the book is extremely vague and you get the sense that questions will be provided by the end of the book. In fact, the reader does get some of these questions answered, but overall it remains a confusing story.

I’d like to thank YA Bound Book Tours for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


About The Author

When Michael was growing up, his passions were reading, watching movies, enjoying nature and creative writing. Not much has changed since then. Working in Online Marketing for over ten years, Michael felt it was time to pursue his passion as a career and wrote the first book in The Garden of Syn trilogy.Getting up every morning and sitting down to create new characters and bring new worlds to life is the most fulfilling job he’s have ever had. He is currently writing the second book in The Garden of Syn series and, beyond the trilogy, has many ideas plotted out that he looks forward to sharing with the world!

Michael was born in Vancouver, BC Canada where he continues to reside.

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Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat. To join in just grab your current read, open to a random page, share 2 sentences (without spoilers), and don’t forget to share the title and author so others can add it to their TBR list.

This week’s teaser comes from The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett.

“I fell into place behind him, the other three following suit. I tried not to panic, surrounded as I was by four creatures capable of turning me into Kibbles ‘n Bits in about 2.3 seconds” ~pg. 26  The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett.

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Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

First I’d like to apologize for how long it took me to post this review. I finished reading this book a few weeks ago, but I was out of the country with limited internet access. The Bone Season was one of the books I’d been meaning to read since it was first released in 2013. Samantha Shannon is a prodigy for sure. I couldn’t even start to imagine coming up with these many ideas for a book at the tender age of twenty-two, much less sign a fabulous book deal to write a seven-book series.

The Bone Season is book one of the series and it does not disappoint. Wow, was all that was coming out of my mouth when I finished this book. I truly loved it. I liked Paige, the heroine, and Warden. The characters were complex and well-developed. This is a four hundred and fifty-page book that reads like it’s two hundred pages. It’s a real page-turner. I thought the descriptions of the fights and the action scenes were really well described.

The one complaint I have about the book was the fact that Shannon created this entire new vocabulary, and to understand it you have to consult the glossary at the back of the book. That was something that got pretty tiresome after a while, and the sole reason I’m not rating this book five stars. I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel.

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Book Details:

Title:The Bone Season /Author:Samantha Shannon/Genre:YA/Paranormal/ ISBN:9781620401392/Publisher:Bloomsbury USA/Rating: 4-Stars/Read:June, 2015.