Two Minute Reviews: Spring Round Up Part 2

Thursday, April 21, 2016
Welcome back to, "Danielle forgot to review for a month and a half and feels super guilty about it" time! We left off with the great "read all the graphic novels to get you stats up" push of Two Thousand and Sixteen. This time out, we're focusing a lot more on fantasy, as I finished up some big reads.

Title: Warbreaker
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Warbreaker #1
Pages: 676
Published: June 9, 2009
Source: Purchased
Rating: 4 out of 5

I've said it before, but Brandon Sanderson's ability to come up with unique and fascinating magic systems that exist within his larger universe, The Cosmere, but are all separate and distinct between worlds is nothing short of genius. This world, Nalthis, features a shard that endows each person born on the planet with one "breath", an innate magical ability that doesn't fully manifest until at least fifty breaths are gathered. Objects are "Awakened" through a combination of Breath and color, giving them a type of sentience that lets them use simple commands, like "hold me", "protect me", or "run around in circles squeaking as loudly as you can." The idea sounds confusing, but the execution works flawlessly.

The story follows two sisters, princesses of a religious kingdom that feels using Breath is heresy. In an effort to forestall war with their highly magically inclined neighbor, Siri is married to their God King, while Vivenna follows her to the capital of Hallandren and becomes embroiled in rebellion. Other POVs include Vasher, a mysterious Awakener with a talking, evil sword, (heeeey, end of WoR,) and Lightsong, the cowardly and lazy god of bravery.

I will say Warbreaker isn't my favorite of Sanderson's plots. There's a lot of faffing about in the middle and for an author so known for his insane twists, the fact that he used the same one twice felt odd. He still tricked me both times with it, but in a cheap way, like you're better than this. I like all the characters and I ship the ship most shipily, but I didn't emotionally connect the way I did with Mistborn or Way of Kings.

Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
Pages: 339
Published: August 14, 2014
Source: Purchased
Rating: 4 out of 5

Since I described Isla as the character I most wanted to hit with my shoe until she did what I wanted, maybe a 4 sounds a bit high, but I actually like the book a lot. The insecurities that drove Isla and Josh apart in the second act were a big issue and they had me rolling my eyes, but there's still something so sweet about the relationship. The biggest pluses for me were Josh's family not being the typical WASPy political family who hates their son, (looking at you Gansey and TDT,) and Anna and St. Clair coming full circle, (and not being so overbearing as in Lola.) 

Title: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: n/a
Pages: 369
Published: September 20, 2011
Source: Borrowed - Library
Rating: 4 out of 5

Don't touch me.

At first, I didn't think SoA was for me. I actually had to borrow it from the library twice, because my first 20 day hold ran out before we even got to Troy. Patroclus' young life felt like the author was just ticking off moments: Helen's betrothal - check, sent to Phthia - check, Chiron - check. Even as the romance bloomed, (and the book is hella gay, this is not an implied, are they, aren't they thing,) I just had a really hard time connecting to either Patroclus or Achilles.

That all turned around once the boat landed in Troy. From that part on, this book is magnificent. Obviously anyone who's read the Illiad or seen Troy, (whhy?) knows where the relationship is going, but it was such a pleasure to see it happen. And then it wasn't a pleasure. It was only pain and I needed a lot of hugs. The final scene between Achilles and Thetis is a masterwork of suffering.

Title: Gunmetal Magic
Author: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series:  Kate Daniels World #1
Pages: 326
Published: July 31st, 2012
Source: Borrowed - Library
Rating: 4 out of 5

Andrea Nash is one of the most interesting side characters in the KD books. To the humans, particularly those at the Knights of Merciful Aid whom she used to work, she's a shapeshifter. To the shifters, she's Beast Kin, a dangerous subsection born of an actual animal. As of the last book, her conflict between the Order and the Pack has left her physically and emotionally damaged without her home, job, or boyfriend.

It's a shame Ilona writes her exactly the same as Kate or Dina.

The KD series has never shied from mixing mythology with their fantasy and Andrea's story is no exception. As she searches for her place in the Bouda Clan and Raphael's life, she's thrust into a mystery that starts with poisonous snakes and ends with literally Anubis. I have some quibbles with how the Anubis imagery integrated with Apep and the integration of the Slavic gods, but otherwise the mystery works well.

Speaking of the Slavs, I was on the wrong ship. I'm totally here for Roman and the love triangle, but it's squashed pretty early on. Which is a shame. Because he's hot. I love the shapeshifter mating traditions as evidenced by Andrea and Raphael four books ago, or Kate and Curran, so I mean I loved the carpet scene,  but it's something we've already seen from Andrea.

Gunmetal Magic is funny and action packed and gives a tease at the larger KD world. I enjoyed it, but it won't be supplanting Magic Bleeds in my heart.

Title: Level 2 / The Memory of After
Author: Lenore Appelhans
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
Series: The Memory Chronicles #1
Pages: 288
Published: December 18, 2012
Source: Purchased
Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Want to hear a joke?

The end of this book.

Nothing happens in Level 2, the book or the purgatory place between earth and heaven. Felicia spends 260 pages reliving memories of her mortal life and her white bread boyfriend, Neil. There's no tension. The villains aren't introduced until the final battle is already over. Mayoneil and Felicia go to heaven. 

I can't. I literally cannot. How can there be another book and a half when this isn't even a real book.

Title: Written in Red
Author: Anne BishopGenre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Others #1
Pages: 448
Published: March 5, 2013
Source: Borrowed - Library
Rating: 5 out of 5

This book is SO GOOD. I was not remotely kidding when I called it the pinnacle of UF.

On the surface it seems like another shapeshifter romance with a seemingly normal human. Except Meg isn't portrayed as a normal human for even a single second. And Simon. If it really comes down to it, what's the difference between Curran, Duke Crankypants, or Agent Sexybutgruff? They're all very narrow riffs on the Alphahole trope with a different skin.

Pop quiz, which one's the shapeshifter?!
Simon is not human. You can't forget that he's not human. He doesn't think like a human even in human shape. He feels completely fresh in the genre.

Bishop also manages to bring something new to vampires, with Vlad and the Sanguinati. (We don't even need to be bitten now?) All of the terra indigene feel fresh, from Tess to the elementals. Even the ponies are awesome and magic. And the way the Others interact with the humans through their shops. It's like if Fangtasia actually made sense.

I'm a total fangirl for this series and if my library doesn't send me book 2 soon, I'm going to sick Winter on them.

I hope you all enjoyed taking a look at my "me" books and get a chance to pick up most of them yourselves! What have you been reading lately? Let us know in the comments.

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