#WWW Wednesday – 28 September, 2016

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

lifesassistanceagencycoverI finished three things this week. The first was The Life Assistance Agency by Thomas Hocknell. Sadly this ended up dragging a lot. It got better in the last 10-15%, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the earlier stuff. 😦 I also finished Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, which I enjoyed a lot more, in spite of the constant info-dumps. It was an entertaining story but it was definitely one where the author clearly wanted to convey a “message” (a worthwhile one, but it was still heavy-handed). I also read The Pickpocket by Celine Jeanjean, which is a prequel novella set in her Viper and the Urchin steampunk universe. It was adorable and I want to give tiny Rory all the hugs.

Little Brother review is here, while the Life Assistance Agency review is here. littlebrothercover

It was also the 75th book I’ve read this year, so I’ve completed my GoodReads challenge. 75 was my total for last year, and that included some Patrick Ness short stories and things that only took a few minutes, so I’m rather proud to have hit this this time with so much time still to spare.

What are you currently reading?

therookcoverI’ve finally returned to The Rook by Daniel O’Malley for the moment. I didn’t want to start anything new before heading off on holidays. I was only going to take The Name of the Wind with me, but because I’m pedantic, I don’t want to actually start it until I’m aboard the ship on Saturday, so the Rook is my reserve reading (trust me to choose two of the chunkiest books in my possession).

illuminationcoverI also started the audio book of Illumination by Karen Brooks. This is the third Curse of the Bond Riders book. I said I wasn’t going to listen to the audio book because it’s even longer than the second one and there were parts of that I wished I could skim… but I couldn’t find any other audio books that interested me right now and this was there and so far it’s okay. I may still finish it in print form.

What do you think you’ll read next?

nameofthewindcoverAs I said last week, I’ll be reading The Name of the Wind on my cruise. It did occur to me that my regular reading speed is about 100 pages an hour, give or take a bit, and that I could actually get through it a lot faster than expected, especially with the three days at sea at the end, so it’s probably good I’ll have The Rook in reserve, too.

Let me know if you’ve any thoughts on any of these! 🙂

See you all later!

~ Emily

“One look will steal your heart, but her touch will steal your soul…” // Review of “Votive” by Karen Brooks #aww2016

Title: Votive (Curse of the Bond Riders #2)
Author: Karen Brooks
Genre: YA/Historical fantasy
Audio book narrator: Eloise Oxer
Date Read: 17/08/2016 – 27/08/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

This book was good when it focused on the characters I cared about. Unfortunately, it spent significant portions of time with characters I wasn’t interested in at all, which made for a very long book.

Adopted by the Maleovelis, Tallow is now in training to become the city’s most celebrated courtesan. Believing Dante to be dead and everyone else she loved lost, Tallow hardens her heart and does as they  dictate. But various political factions are moving against one another, and all are on the hunt for an Estrattore, putting Tallow in more danger. Can she really continue to do what is asked of her?

A lot happens to Tallow in this book, and her character development followed a very good trajectory. There were a couple of events that took me by surprise at first, but actually made a lot of sense when I thought about it, and contributed to Tallow’s arc. I did feel that there wasn’t quite as much from Tallow’s first person POV as there might have been (Tallow often narrates the story, while the other POVs are in third person), and I was always glad when it finally did turn to this narration.

We also get to learn more about other characters such as Katina, and the politics of the Bond Riders’ community. Two other Bond Riders, Santo and Stephano, play a major role in this book, though unfortunately, they were two of the characters I really wasn’t interested in. Ditto Queen Zaralena and her emissary, Lord Waterford, who are plotting against Seranissima from afar.  The Queen actually made me quite uncomfortable in a couple of scenes, which didn’t help.

The plot becomes a lot darker in this book, and there is also a lot more political intrigue. This may once again be a case of the print book being better to read than the audio book, as I would have been able to flip back and remind myself who was invading whom and how they were betraying each other if I was reading the book. I’m really not good at keeping track of these sorts of intrigues, and to be honest, at some point I started skipping through the scenes with Queen Zaralena or Lord Waterford, as I just wasn’t interested anymore. However, wanting to know what happened to Tallow, Katina and a few others is what kept me going, and why I didn’t give a lower rating.


(This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2016. Click here for more information).

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Book Review: “Tallow” by Karen Brooks #aww2016

Title: Tallow (Curse of the Bond Riders #1)
Author: Karen Brooks
Genre: YA/Historical fantasy
Audio book narrator: Eloise Oxer
Date Read: 07/08/2016 – 16/08/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

tallowcoverWhile this book definitely felt like a series opener, and a set-up for bigger things to come later, the setting and characterisation were both fresh and original and drew me in completely.

Tallow has grown up as a candle maker’s apprentice in Serenissima, a place we now know as Venice. Her strange eyes have always bothered people, but it’s not until a stranger shows up at their door that she learns she is one of the last Estrattore, a race able to extract and distill the feelings of those around them, and who were exiled and killed by the Church hundreds of years before. Under  Katina’s tutelage, she begins to learn how to control her power, but she soon also learns that even using her powers for what she perceives to be good can have dire consequences.

The world-building is definitely the highlight of this book, and the books that follow. It is rich and sensual and makes the reader feel like they are really there, too. The descriptions of the various regions of Serenissima, the canals, Carnivale, etc, were all vivid. Italian language is peppered throughout the story, which also served to remind us where we were.

Tallow is a well-constructed character. She is eager to please, eager to help and horrified by the attention she begins receiving when people start attributing certain things to her (“his” – she is disguised as a boy for the majority of the book) candles. Her guardians, Pillar, the candle-maker, and his mother, Quinn, are also very thoroughly characterised, though I never especially warmed to any of them. Katina is really the only Bond Rider we meet in this book, and she makes a very good mentor for Tallow, and her world-weariness comes across well, too.

There is a bit of romance in the novel, and I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I usually do in YA books. I think this is because it is actually realistic – Tallow and Dante meet by chance, and there is no “I laid eyes on him and immediately knew he was the One/special/whatever else”. Instead, they continue to spend time together and slowly fall in love, though neither acts on it until right at the end, because Tallow is worried about revealing her powers to Dante, and Dante thinks Tallow is a boy.

There are also several subplots, including one with some Venetian nobles who go on to play a larger part later on in the series, and also with a queen of Farrow Fair (somewhere in Albion; on the audio book, she’s read with a French accent so I’m not exactly sure where she’s supposed to be from), who is also on the lookout for an Estrattore. The problem was, these characters were visited so infrequently that I tended to forget their side plots even existed when I wasn’t following them. They also made the book a lot more drawn out than it needed to be, especially as they were both being set up to play larger parts in the later books, rather than actively having much of an effect on the events of this book.

In spite of all that, the world and main characters did win me over and I had the next book downloaded before I had even reached the ending of this one.


(This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2016. Click here for more information).

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