Book Review: Chapelwood by Cherie Priest

Book Review: Chapelwood by Cherie PriestChapelwood by Cherie Priest
Series: The Borden Dispatches #2
Published by Roc on September 1, 2015
Genres: Horror
Pages: 434
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
3 Stars
From Cherie Priest, the award-winning author of Maplecroft, comes a new tale of Lizzie Borden’s continuing war against the cosmic horrors threatening humanity…

Birmingham, Alabama is infested with malevolence. Prejudice and hatred have consumed the minds and hearts of its populace. A murderer, unimaginatively named “Harry the Hacker” by the press, has been carving up citizens with a hatchet. And from the church known as Chapelwood, an unholy gospel is being spread by a sect that worships dark gods from beyond the heavens.

This darkness calls to Lizzie Borden. It is reminiscent of an evil she had dared hoped was extinguished. The parishioners of Chapelwood plan to sacrifice a young woman to summon beings never meant to share reality with humanity. An apocalypse will follow in their wake which will scorch the earth of all life.

Unless she stops it…

Book Review:

I don’t typically read horror, but Cherie Priest has been on my watch list for a long time, and who can resist a book featuring Lizzie Borden?

CHAPELWOOD is the second book in the Borden Dispatches series. CHAPELWOOD is set 25 years after the events of the first book, MAPLECROFT. A few familiar faces from MAPLECROFT are back, namely Lizzie Borden and Inspector Simon Wolf. I quite liked seeing these two older characters (sort of) save the day — all too often, heroes are young and dashing. It was a nice change to have two older characters who used their brains and hard-won experience.

MAPLECROFT and CHAPELWOOD are the only Lovecraftian horror books I’ve read, but I think they fit the sub-genre quite well. I thought MAPLECROFT was scarier, but I liked CHAPELWOOD‘s subtle mocking of racism and rich white men in power. I also liked Ruth Stephenson, the real female power in this book. It was great to see Lizzie again, but she was more of a side character this time, called upon by Wolf for her experience. Ruth takes matters into her own hands, even when the situation is beyond hopeless.

I did find a few too many random things in CHAPELWOOD that left me wondering what the heck was going on there, such as with Nance or Storage Room Six. I mean, a storage room that eats certain papers is cool, but I just didn’t get where it fit into the story. Maybe my confusion on those things is because I’m not super familiar with the sub-genre.

Socialize with the author:

Cherie Priest:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver & H.C. Chester

Book Review: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver & H.C. ChesterThe Shrunken Head by HC Chester, Lauren Oliver
Series: The Curiosity House #1
Published by HarperCollins on September 29, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Mystery
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
3 Stars
What you will find in this book:

– A rather attractive bearded lady
– Several scandalous murders
– A deliciously disgusting Amazonian shrunken head
– Four extraordinary children with equally extraordinary abilities
– A quite loquacious talking bird

Blessed with extraordinary abilities, orphans Philippa, Sam, and Thomas have grown up happily in Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders. But when a fourth child, Max, a knife-
thrower, joins the group, it sets off an unforgettable chain of events. When the museum’s Amazonian shrunken head is stolen, the four are determined to get it back. But their search leads them to a series of murders and an explosive secret about their pasts.

This sensational new series combines the unparalleled storytelling gifts of Lauren Oliver with the rich
knowledge of the notorious relics collector H.C. Chester.

What you will NOT find in this book:

– An accountant named Seymour
– A never-ending line at the post office
– Brussel sprouts (shudder)
– A lecture on finishing all your homework on time
– A sweet, gooey story for nice little girls and boy

Book Review:

Middle grade is a hit or miss age range for me, and THE SHRUNKEN HEAD was mostly a miss. Not to say I didn’t like it — I enjoyed the book while reading — but it’s not a series I’d continue. The book is average, nothing new or special, but one that would satisfy readers who liked similar books.

Pippa, Sam, Thomas, and Max live at Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders. They’re freaks with special abilities; Sam is the strongest boy in the world, Pippa can read pockets, etc. Some are more okay with their special abilities than others, and one of the best things about the book is how positively being different is portrayed inside the museum.

When the museum’s newest exhibit, an Amazonian shrunken head, is stolen, the four band together to try and save Mr. Dumfrey and their home. Death seems to follow the shrunken head, but is it really a curse or just coincidence?

As I said above, I enjoyed THE SHRUNKEN HEAD while I read the book, but it’s one I won’t remember tomorrow. It’s the start to a series, but I probably wouldn’t continue the series because I just wasn’t that interested. The characters are likely enough, and the dime museum was a good setting . There are a few atmospheric illustrations. But I’m not sure who the book is aimed at. It was a tad long, and I wish it would have firmly established the time period, rather than alluding to it. I’m not sure 3-7 grade knows when Spanish flu hit or the stock market crashed. But the writing and mystery seem too simple for an older age range, so I’m not sure.

Socialize with the author:

Lauren Oliver:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

Book Review: Soundless by Richelle MeadSoundless by Richelle Mead
Published by Razorbill on November 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, comes a breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore.

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever...

Book Review:

While I haven’t read any of Richelle Mead’s other books, I know a lot of readers love her Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series. I was excited to read SOUNDLESS because of the book’s premise: a fantasy with Chinese influences, featuring an entire village of deaf characters. Fei and her people have been trapped on top of a mountain for generations. Avalanches blocked them in and keep them from farmland. So to survive, they mine precious metals which are sent down the mountain by zipline. In return, the line keeper sends them food.

It’s a system that’s worked for generations, but now miners are beginning to lose their sight. Unable to send enough metal down the zipline, they are punished with restricted rations. Fei, who has a more privileged life than many as an artist’s apprentice, is terrified because her sister’s going blind. Fei joins Li Wei, her childhood friend, on an impossible quest to get down the mountain to bring awareness to her village’s plight. The quest is made possible because Fei has miraculously regained her hearing.

I really wanted to like SOUNDLESS. So many fantasy books are set in Medieval European-like countries that I’m always excited to see a book use other influences. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like the author really developed the Asian setting and culture of SOUNDLESS. There are a few hints like foods and dress styles, but if there wasn’t an Asian girl on the cover, you could’ve plopped the book into any other generic fantasy setting. There are mentions of pixius (a mythological Chinese creature) in the book, but they needed more page time and development for me to feel them, rather than swooping in at the end.

I also didn’t like that Fei needed hearing to basically save the day. Because she can hear rocks falling, she and Li Wei are able to get down the mountain safely. Because she can hear soldiers and horses, she and Li Wei are able to escape pursuit. At first Fei’s not super happy about being able to hear, because it’s confusing and annoying to her, but as it saves her behind more and more, she admits the usefulness of it. By having Fei regain her hearing, I feel like the author was erasing a big part of Fei. That said, I do think Mead did a good job of showing how someone who has been deaf would think about suddenly having hearing — there were some good passages showing Fei’s feelings and thoughts.

In the end, SOUNDLESS was just okay. It’s a standalone, which also disappoints me a bit. Everything wraps up a bit too neatly at the end. Even though I’ve mostly pointed out negatives in this review, I would have liked to see more of Fei and her village, of what happens after the big climax. SOUNDLESS was just a bit too straightforward — a standard fantasy without anything super memorable. I think there are some great ideas here, but the execution was too simplistic.

Socialize with the author:

Richelle Mead:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Thrall: Beyond Gold and Glory by Barbara Ann Wright

Book Review: Thrall: Beyond Gold and Glory by Barbara Ann WrightThrall: Beyond Gold and Glory by Barbara Ann Wright
Published by Bold Strokes Books on September 15, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, LGBT, Romance
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Like heroes from an ancient tale, Aesa and Maeve plan to raid foreign shores, claiming gold and glory for their homeland. Young and in love, neither considers what will happen if one is chosen to be a warrior and the other is left behind.

On a mist-shrouded island, Aesa meets Ell, a woman enslaved by an insidious curse. Maeve walks the path of dark magic and finds Laret, a woman well acquainted with pain. Together, they must break the magic surrounding Ell, an act that will force them to choose between their dreams, their homes, and the women they love.

Book Review:

THRALL: BEYOND GOLD AND GLORY is a standalone LGBT fantasy set in a Viking-esque world. I was drawn to this book for two reasons: strong female characters and Vikings. I mean, lesbian warriors and witches? Gimme!

In some aspects, THRALL is a fantastic book. In Aesa and Maeve’s country, there’s no judgment for liking who you like. A woman who likes women? Great. A guy who likes guys? Great. Do you want a polyamorous relationship? That’s great, too. Are you the partner of a warrior away on a raid? If there’s an agreement, there’s nothing wrong with you seeking a bed partner.

I don’t want to make it sound like THRALL is all about sex, because it isn’t. Those things are mostly mentioned in passing, which is both good and bad. Good because it’s just a part of Aesa and Maeve’s society, and there’s no need to comment. It’s just how life is. Bad because I’m a greedy reader, and I would’ve liked to see more of all the different relationships in the author’s Viking world.

Aside from Aesa and Maeve, who are both strong women who want to do what’s right, there’s another great character in THRALL. Laret is the first transgender woman I’ve read in fantasy, and she stole the book for me. I think she was good representation, and also because her magic was the most interesting to me. Laret’s a blood witch, but instead of cursing people, she breaks the curses of other blood witches.

THRALL also has an interesting take on fae, and I enjoyed puzzling out that mystery. But otherwise, the book lacked a bit for me. Maybe because THRALL is a standalone — I really wanted to learn more about the author’s version of Vikings, to see more of their magic system and culture beyond raiding. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think I just wanted more overall. More magic, more worldbuilding, more character and relationship development, more action.

I think if THRALL were the first in a series, I’d be more lenient, because that “more” would come in other books. But then again, a standalone is always nice… I don’t know. I just went in with high expectations, and while I really liked some parts, other parts didn’t live up to those expectations.

Socialize with the author:

Barbara Ann Wright:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden by Emma Trevayne

Book Review: The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden by Emma TrevayneThe Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden by Emma Trevayne
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on July 28, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
Grave robbing is a messy business. A bad business.

And for Thomas Marsden, on what was an unremarkable spring night in London, it becomes a very spooky business. For lying in an unmarked grave and half covered with dirt is a boy the spitting image of Thomas himself.

This is only the first clue that something very strange is happening. Others follow, but it is a fortune teller’s frightened screams that lead Thomas into a strange world of spiritualists, death and faery folk.

Faery folk with whom Thomas’s life is bizarrely linked. Faery folk who need his help.

Desperate to unearth the truth about himself and where he comes from, Thomas is about to discover magic, and ritual, and that sometimes, just sometimes, the things that make a boy ordinary are what make him extraordinary.

Book Review:

The cover for THE ACCIDENTAL AFTERLIFE OF THOMAS MARSDEN is what first drew my attention to the book. It’s got the right touch of spooky whimsy that made me curious about Thomas without being too scary for the intended age.

Thomas is a grave robber, but it’s never scared him until the night he finds a boy who could be his identical twin in a grave. A note in the boy’s hand identifies him as Thistle; there are also theater tickets for a spiritualist’s performance. The note and tickets send Thomas on a meandering journey to discover the truth about who he is, and then on a quest to save a group of faeries in London.

What I liked most about THE ACCIDENTAL AFTERLIFE OF THOMAS MARSDEN was the author’s unique take on changelings. I won’t spoil it for you, but I haven’t seen changelings done that way before, and I’ve read a fair amount of faery books. I also liked the idea that faeries could talk to the dead.

Otherwise, I thought the book was a bit slow-paced and confusing at times for middle grade. There were a few times I wondered why this or that was included, and the ending left me a tad disappointed. However, I did like that THE ACCIDENTAL AFTERLIFE OF THOMAS MARSDEN is a standalone, and I also think readers will like Thomas. He’s an ordinary, relatable boy. Once he learns the truth about himself, he doesn’t change much, but he’s determined to do whatever necessary to help the faeries.

Socialize with the author:

Emma Trevayne:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Book Review: Hunter by Mercedes LackeyHunter by Mercedes Lackey
Series: Hunter #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 1, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.

Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.

With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.

Book Review:

Have you ever read a book that’s just so over the top that it’s entertaining? HUNTER was that book for me. For the first third my eyes were rolling so much I’m surprised they’re still in my head, because Joy is such a special snowflake. But then I put my disbelief aside and enjoyed a good story.

Hunter Joyeaux Charmand is Superwoman. There’s nothing she can’t do. Really. There’s nothing she can’t do. When she’s summoned from a remote mountain to the main city to be a Hunter in the big time, Joy immediately catapults to the top of the ratings. In a world where Othersiders prey on humans, Hunters are the only people who can turn back the vampires, fairies, drakkens, harpies, and every other type of magical/supernatural creature you can think of. In Apex City, Hunters are celebrities, each with their own TV channel so fans can keep track of everything they do.

Joy’s so extraordinary I had a really hard time believing it. She controls the largest pack of Hounds, and they’re special Hounds, of course. She knows more about the Othersiders than most of the City Hunters do. She can fight or talk her way out of any situation. And oh yeah — she doesn’t want any of the fame that comes with her new position. She just wants to help the normal people.

This is something I never say, but there was too much worldbuilding for me in HUNTER. Every single time Joy encountered something in the City, she had to inform the reader how that same thing was back on the Mountain. Even such mundane things as how bathing worked or how clothing was made. There’s such a thing as information overload, and HUNTER suffers from it. I really didn’t need to know so much about the Mountain, and the deluge of info at the beginning slowed down the book. I also think the author was being a bit too preachy on things like waste and religion.

But once I got past all of that, and set aside my disbelief over Superwoman Joy? I enjoyed HUNTER. I could see it being made into a television series, which makes sense, since Hunters are reality stars. There’s some inventive magic, lots of action, and a fun mashing together of all types of supernatural creatures. I’m really curious as to where the series will head next.

Socialize with the author:

Mercedes Lackey:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Clockwork Menagerie by Karen Kincy

Book Review: Clockwork Menagerie by Karen KincyClockwork Menagerie by Karen Kincy
Series: Shadows of Asphodel #2.5
Published by Curiosity Quills Press on September 1, 2015
Genres: Alternate Universe, Dieselpunk, Romance, Steampunk
Pages: 102
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour, Publisher
Goodreads
3 Stars
1914. Konstantin would love to hide in his laboratory and dissect the clockwork dragon captured from Russia, but the Archmages of Vienna have other plans. He finds himself shipped off to St. Petersburg as the scientific attaché to an ambassador. His orders? Look, but don't touch. Of course, he considers this an impossible request with so much enemy technomancy to explore.

To make matters worse, Konstantin has to work with the dashing zeppelin commander Himmel, a man who should also be untouchable. They can't act on the smoldering attraction between them without risking it all. Faced with an illegal relationship and a devious rival technomancer, Konstantin might not return from this mission in Russia without conquering the forbidden.

A companion novella to the Shadows of Asphodel series, from Konstantin's point of view.

clockwork menagerie blog tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for CLOCKWORK MENAGERIE by Karen Kincy. CLOCKWORK MENAGERIE is a novella set in the Shadows of Asphodel series. The tour is hosted by CBB Book Promotions and you can visit all the stops here. After my review, there’s a tour-wide giveaway.

Book Review:

CLOCKWORK MENAGERIE is a novella set in the dieselpunk world of the Shadows of Asphodel series. While the series mainly follows Ardis and Wendel, this novella focuses on Archmage Konstantin and zeppelin captain Himmel. The two are part of a diplomatic mission to Russia, Austria-Hungary’s enemy. Konstantin is just supposed to observe Russia’s technomancy, but he’s distracted by two things: his attraction to Himmel and the illegal use of souls to power clockwork creations.

You don’t necessarily need to have read the main books in the Shadows of Asphodel series to understand CLOCKWORK MENAGERIE, since the novella has different main characters and takes place mostly in Russia, but I’d recommend checking them out for full understanding of Karen Kincy’s universe. Or use CLOCKWORK MENAGERIE as your introduction to the author’s world. Because Konstantin is an archmage, there’s enough explanation about the magic in this series that it’s not hard to understand what’s going on. Konstantin likes to geek out a lot about the magic, which I enjoyed.

For the most part, I enjoyed CLOCKWORK MENAGERIE. It’s about 100 pages, so a good length for a novella. The story doesn’t leave any loose ends, which is always nice. And it’s a story I liked, because Konstantin and Himmel go up against a devious Russian technomancer. Well, Konstantin does. Himmel wants to follow orders, which are to look but not touch. Konstantin manages to get himself into scrape after scrape, but luckily he has Himmel to rescue him. You know how even super smart people can have no common sense? Yeah, Konstantin’s a great example of that. For example, he remembers to pack magical supplies but no food for himself.

The romance in CLOCKWORK MENAGERIE is the aspect that didn’t work for me. I was intrigued by a relationship between Konstantin and Himmel, because I could see it, but I wanted more development for me to really believe it. I understand their attraction to each other is forbidden — it’s 1914, in Russia — but still. I think if the novella were a bit longer, there would have been more room to expand on their attraction and relationship.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author:

author of shadows of asphodel: karen kincyKaren Kincy (Redmond, Washington) can be found lurking in her writing cave, though sunshine will lure her outside. When not writing, she stays busy gardening, tinkering with aquariums, or running just one more mile. Karen has a BA in Linguistics and Literature from The Evergreen State College.
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Buy links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

– leeanna

Book Review: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Book Review: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor HermanLegacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 18, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

Book Review:

I love historical fiction, especially historical fiction that covers less popular time periods than Tudor England or WWII. There’s nothing wrong with those periods, but there are thousands of years of stories to tell rather than rehashing the same thing over and over. So, I was obviously excited to start LEGACY OF KINGS. Alexander the Great as a boy? Bring it on!

LEGACY OF KINGS is the first in the Blood of Gods and Royals series. It’s over 400 pages, and for the first book in a series, it felt about a hundred pages too long. Part of the reason why I felt it was too long is there’s a huge cast of main characters. There are seven! The author had to spend a lot of time introducing everyone and setting up their arcs. I’m sure all the characters are important in their own way, but a few were boring for me, because they didn’t get a lot of page time and I didn’t know enough about them. Yes, I know that’s contradictory, but I wish the author had slimmed down her cast and really focused on characters such as Alexander and Cynane.

Due to the large cast, LEGACY OF KINGS has a slow start. It takes the book a while to get going, and switching perspectives didn’t immerse me in the time period at first. But I kept going, and after I’d gone through everyone’s perspectives at least once, the book got better. I swore I was reading a historical soap opera — but in a good, really entertaining way.

I think the author did a great job of showing life in ancient Macedonia. I really liked the little details, such as how there’s a bucket of sand in most rooms in case of fire. I also like how there’s some magic in LEGACY OF KINGS, and hints of more to come. It’s the end of the Age of Gods … or is it? I don’t know, and I can’t wait to find out.

I wavered between three and four stars for LEGACY OF KINGS. It’s a book I liked because of the time period and the story. But I didn’t love it, due to the large cast of characters and the slow pacing. Based on the ending, I think the author’s going to really amp things up in the next book, EMPIRE OF DUST, so this is a series I’m eager to continue.

Socialize with the author:

Eleanor Herman:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

Book Review: Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie GoldenDark Disciple by Christie Golden
Series: Star Wars
Published by LucasBooks on July 7, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Based on unproduced scripts from the blockbuster TV show Star Wars: The Clone Wars!

The only way to bring down the dark side's most dangerous warrior may be for Jedi and Sith to join forces.

In the war for control of the galaxy between the armies of the dark side and the Republic, former Jedi Master turned ruthless Sith Lord Count Dooku has grown ever more brutal in his tactics. Despite the powers of the Jedi and the military prowess of their clone army, the sheer number of fatalities is taking a terrible toll. And when Dooku orders the massacre of a flotilla of helpless refugees, the Jedi Council feels it has no choice but to take drastic action: targeting the man responsible for so many war atrocities, Count Dooku himself.

But the ever-elusive Dooku is dangerous prey for even the most skilled hunter. So the Council makes the bold decision to bring both sides of the Force's power to bear—pairing brash Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos with infamous one-time Sith acolyte Asajj Ventress. Though Jedi distrust for the cunning killer who once served at Dooku's side still runs deep, Ventress's hatred for her former master runs deeper. She's more than willing to lend her copious talents as a bounty hunter—and assassin—to Vos's quest.

Together, Ventress and Vos are the best hope for eliminating Dooku—as long as the emerging feelings between them don't compromise their mission. But Ventress is determined to have her retribution and at last let go of her dark Sith past. Balancing the complicated emotions she feels for Vos with the fury of her warrior's spirit, she resolves to claim victory on all fronts—a vow that will be mercilessly tested by her deadly enemy . . . and her own doubt.

Book Review:

I’ve been a fan of the Star Wars Expanded Universe books for years, but I never got into the comics or Star Wars: The Clone Wars. So I didn’t have a lot of knowledge on Asajj Ventress or Quinlan Vos that I had to ignore, now that the EU is considered “Legends.” After finishing DARK DISCIPLE, I did go to Wookiepedia and read about both characters; if you are a huge fan of either, be prepared. There’s some definite changes.

DARK DISCIPLE was a mixed bag for me. I think Golden does a good job of developing Ventress and Vos and growing the relationship between them. The author also explores the consequences of the Jedi sending Vos on a mission to assassinate Count Dooku — is preserving one life worth the millions he’s killed? Lastly, I liked that Ventress shows Vos how there’s more than one aspect to the Dark Side.

But by the middle and especially the end, DARK DISCIPLE started slowing down for me. The characters flip flop allegiances without a lot of explanation, and the book drags. Ventress faded into the background, which I didn’t like. She’s the kind of character — morally ambiguous, flawed, powerful — that I want to see more of. I feel like Vos got way more page time, which I didn’t enjoy, since some of the important stuff that happened with him we didn’t get to see. I hate being told about important events — I want to read them for myself!

I really did not like the ending. I can’t say why, because that would be a huge spoiler, but it verged into a bad trope. I’m not sure if the ending was decided by the author, or written in the unproduced scripts the book is based on.

Socialize with the author:

Christie Golden:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Book Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia BoeckerThe Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
Series: The Witch Hunter #1
Published by Brown Books for Young Readers on June 2, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

Book Review:

THE WITCH HUNTER is described as “The magic and suspense of GRACELING meet the political intrigue and unrest of GAME OF THRONES in this riveting fantasy debut.”

Uhm, no. It’s not.

First, let me say I’m really tired of publishers describing books as “X meets Y.” I understand why they do it, but when the book is neither, it’s incredibly misleading. And believe me, most of the time those comparisons are untrue.

So what is THE WITCH HUNTER? It’s an average YA fantasy. There were times it was good and times I wondered why I wasn’t in love with it like everyone else seemed to be. The writing is decent and the book is readable. But the plot is predictable and there’s not a lot of memorable stuff.

Elizabeth is a witch hunter, one of the best, but lately she’s been distracted and has made mistakes. When she’s discovered with herbs in her pocket, she’s sentenced to death, just like all the witches she’s captured. And then when she’s rescued by Anglia’s most wanted wizard, she starts to question everything she’s been told.

THE WITCH HUNTER has a historical setting, but it’s not really developed. Anglia is basically 16th century England with witches. Elizabeth is sexually abused by the king, but her feelings on this are never explored; it’s just a thing to get her into trouble. I would’ve expected some reaction, especially when she crushes on John, the cute wizard healer. The plus about their romance is the author doesn’t go the insta-love route, but I’m not sure why John liked Elizabeth.

For me, THE WITCH HUNTER is one of those books I enjoyed while reading and that’s it. If I thought more about it, I’d probably rate it lower, so I’ll stop here. It’s not a book that’ll stick with me, but that’s okay.

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– leeanna