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Reading Roundup Archives - Page 17 of 17 - Canadian eReader

Category: Reading Roundup

Reading Roundup 11th March 2013

It has to be said I’ve been slightly disappointed in the books I’ve read recently. I was unable to get into them for some reason.

The Blade Itself by Joe Ambercrombie I read this on recommendation by Rick Riordan, one of my favourite young adult writers. I listened to it partly in audiobook and then gave up and read it on Kindle. I don’t believe it was a fault of the narrator; he did a good job, but I just couldn’t get into it very easily. On the positive side, I see that Amazon has enabled Whispersync for Voice for purchases on the Canadian store. It worked perfectly on this book. However, they do not yet offer the price reduction for both items, but maybe that will come.

The Blade Itself is very similar to George R.R, Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire in that character development is more important than plot progression. That is all very well, but Ambercrombie can’t compare to the depth of characterization that Martin has reached. None of the characters grabbed me in the manner of Tyrion, Jaime or Arya. In all fairness, Martin has had five books to develop his characters, while I have only read the first one of The First Law series. What I have read though doesn’t encourage me to read the next two in the series.

I did enjoy Ambercrombie’s writing style though. I found it entertaining, amusing and very immediate. The narration in the audiobook certainly helped with that. There were some excellent points where the reader wonders how the characters are going to get out of that particular situation. The world building too, was excellent.

At other points I felt Ambercrombie created some excellent dramatic tension – then allowed it to go nowhere. An example of this is the brilliantly executed confrontation in council. The clash was beautifully set up – the betrayal was foreshadowed and the characterization of the Council made it understandable why they were totally oblivious to the danger right up to the last moment. However, this storyline never went anywhere. The characters all seemed to continue doing what they were doing before.

I gave The Blade Itself three and a half stars out of five

Frost Burned
by Patricia Briggs
This is the latest in Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series.

I’d felt after River Marked that Mercy’s story had come to a natural end. There were developments in the companion Alpha and Omega series that could have opened up the Mercy storyline as well, but Briggs did not take that opportunity.

The novel itself is a well-written stand alone, and from any other author I’d give it top rating. However, from an author of Briggs’ calibre it was a little disappointing. Like Martin, Briggs is particularly skilled in character development and I saw little of that in this book. I hope that in future Briggs concentrates on Alpha and Omega – there seems much more scope for development there.

I gave Frost Burned four stars out of five

Bite Me: A Memoir (Of Sorts)
by Max Thompson
I admit as a cat lover I’m a sucker for this kind of book. I’ve always enjoyed “Max’s” writing style and found it very amusing to read about life from a cat’s point of view.

This book is no exception. My only complaint is that some of the material was a rehash of content I’d read before either in the previous books or Max’s blog. This book won’t give you food for thought or change your world, but it is an amusing way to pass an hour or two.

I gave Bite Me four stars out of five

Reading Roundup 6th October 2012 and Audible

This last few weeks, I’ve not taken much time to write reviews of my recent reads (well, the new TV season has started!) so I thought I’d write a few notes.

The Timekeeper by Mitch Alborn

This was rather a sweet story about a boy who was the first to mark time (in the sense of dividing it into years, months, weeks, days, hours) and how it became an obsession for him. In the story, he becomes Father Time. His tale is interwoven with those of a young teenage girl and a dying old man. While I loved the story, I felt the moralising about appreciating the time we have was a touch heavy handed.

Still, I gave The Time Keeper 4 stars out of 5

Les Chevaliers d’Emeraude – L’Enlevement by Anne Robillard

OK, I admit it, I’m a complete sucker for this series. I love Robillard’s understanding of character. Even though they are in a fantasy setting, they feel fresh and timeless. After all, a man in love with his best friend’s wife is still conflicted and in pain whether he’s a 21st century person or a heroic mediaeval knight.

One thing I’m noticing about this series is that it is more episodic than many I’ve read. By that I mean that in many epic fantasy series each book has its own “quest” if you like, feeding into a larger series arc. With Robillard there seems to be a lot more mini character development arcs – at this point it seems that character is far more important to her than plot development. In that sense, she reminds me a lot of George R.R. Martin.

I have to say though, I’m really happy the first series is already complete – it would be so frustrating to have to wait five years for the next book a la Martin. Having said that, as I’m reading them in ebook format I do need to wait on the publisher releasing them.

Naturally, I gave L’Enlevement 5 out of 5 stars.

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks This is the second in Weeks’ Lightbringer series – the followup to the Black Prism. I’ve not enjoyed this series quite as much as his Night Angel trilogy, but it is still a great read. Weeks develops his world and characters with the trademark WTF???? Weeks moment. I look forward to seeing where he goes with this.

For the first time I split this book between the Audible audiobook and reading on the Kindle. I really got into the book, so I was so happy to be able to continue listening while doing necessary chores. I did get some strange looks from my husband walking round the apartment as I laughed at a particularly funny quip from Kip or froze to think “what??? Did he really do…?”

I gave The Blinding Knife 4 stars out of 5

American Gods by Neil Gaiman There was a recent special offer on this book so I decided to give it a go. Gaiman did say in the accompanying blurb that this book was not for everyone, and I have to say that was the case for me. I can’t even say with any certainty why I struggled to get into this book. It was original, imaginative, well written. At times, it could be violent and crude, but that has never turned me away from A Song of Ice and Fire.

I suspect it was because the characters were unsympathetic to me. I personally felt that I could neither relate to nor like Shadow, which meant i struggled to like the book.

I gave American Gods 3 stars out of 5

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

As a Harry Potter fan, I was anxiously awaiting the release of JKR’s first adult novel – or at least her first novel geared towards adults. I’d had it pre-ordered for my Kindle, so I was very very disappointed on release day when the book was unreadable. Although the publisher and Amazon fixed this later in the day, in the meantime, I’d returned my order and bought it from Kobo. Rather a poor start to a major book launch.

The Casual Vacancy is VERY different to Harry Potter. There is the odd flash of JKR’s great humour, and understanding of character, but other than that, it’s a character study along with some political soapboxing. I enjoyed the beginning, getting to know the characters and the setup, the middle lagged for me somewhat, and although the ending picked up, I found it very depressing. This was the first book I read on my new Kobo Glo though.

I gave The Casual Vacancy 3 stars out of 5.

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Although this Heroes of Olympus series is for young adults, I love it. Riordan’s style is light, witty, and fun and he knows how to end a chapter on a cliffhanger. His world building is also imaginative and fun; Greek and Roman gods wandering around our world. The Mark of Athena is no exception to his high standard. I look forward to hearing more of the seven demigods and the next great prophesy. I also listened to this on Audible as well as Kindle, which enhanced the experience.

I gave The Mark of Athena 4.5 stars out of 5.

As I have mentioned a few times now, I’m starting to get into audiobooks a lot. Jeff Bezos sucked me in with the Whispersync for Voice and the great deals on bundling the ebook and Audible book. I can imagine I’ll do a lot more listening.

Reading Roundup 6th October 2012 and Audible

This last few weeks, I’ve not taken much time to write reviews of my recent reads (well, the new TV season has started!) so I thought I’d write a few notes.

The Timekeeper by Mitch Alborn

This was rather a sweet story about a boy who was the first to mark time (in the sense of dividing it into years, months, weeks, days, hours) and how it became an obsession for him. In the story, he becomes Father Time. His tale is interwoven with those of a young teenage girl and a dying old man. While I loved the story, I felt the moralising about appreciating the time we have was a touch heavy handed.

Still, I gave The Time Keeper 4 stars out of 5

Les Chevaliers d’Emeraude – L’Enlevement by Anne Robillard

OK, I admit it, I’m a complete sucker for this series. I love Robillard’s understanding of character. Even though they are in a fantasy setting, they feel fresh and timeless. After all, a man in love with his best friend’s wife is still conflicted and in pain whether he’s a 21st century person or a heroic mediaeval knight.

One thing I’m noticing about this series is that it is more episodic than many I’ve read. By that I mean that in many epic fantasy series each book has its own “quest” if you like, feeding into a larger series arc. With Robillard there seems to be a lot more mini character development arcs – at this point it seems that character is far more important to her than plot development. In that sense, she reminds me a lot of George R.R. Martin.

I have to say though, I’m really happy the first series is already complete – it would be so frustrating to have to wait five years for the next book a la Martin. Having said that, as I’m reading them in ebook format I do need to wait on the publisher releasing them.

Naturally, I gave L’Enlevement 5 out of 5 stars.

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks This is the second in Weeks’ Lightbringer series – the followup to the Black Prism. I’ve not enjoyed this series quite as much as his Night Angel trilogy, but it is still a great read. Weeks develops his world and characters with the trademark WTF???? Weeks moment. I look forward to seeing where he goes with this.

For the first time I split this book between the Audible audiobook and reading on the Kindle. I really got into the book, so I was so happy to be able to continue listening while doing necessary chores. I did get some strange looks from my husband walking round the apartment as I laughed at a particularly funny quip from Kip or froze to think “what??? Did he really do…?”

I gave The Blinding Knife 4 stars out of 5

American Gods by Neil Gaiman There was a recent special offer on this book so I decided to give it a go. Gaiman did say in the accompanying blurb that this book was not for everyone, and I have to say that was the case for me. I can’t even say with any certainty why I struggled to get into this book. It was original, imaginative, well written. At times, it could be violent and crude, but that has never turned me away from A Song of Ice and Fire.

I suspect it was because the characters were unsympathetic to me. I personally felt that I could neither relate to nor like Shadow, which meant i struggled to like the book.

I gave American Gods 3 stars out of 5

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

As a Harry Potter fan, I was anxiously awaiting the release of JKR’s first adult novel – or at least her first novel geared towards adults. I’d had it pre-ordered for my Kindle, so I was very very disappointed on release day when the book was unreadable. Although the publisher and Amazon fixed this later in the day, in the meantime, I’d returned my order and bought it from Kobo. Rather a poor start to a major book launch.

The Casual Vacancy is VERY different to Harry Potter. There is the odd flash of JKR’s great humour, and understanding of character, but other than that, it’s a character study along with some political soapboxing. I enjoyed the beginning, getting to know the characters and the setup, the middle lagged for me somewhat, and although the ending picked up, I found it very depressing. This was the first book I read on my new Kobo Glo though.

I gave The Casual Vacancy 3 stars out of 5.

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Although this Heroes of Olympus series is for young adults, I love it. Riordan’s style is light, witty, and fun and he knows how to end a chapter on a cliffhanger. His world building is also imaginative and fun; Greek and Roman gods wandering around our world. The Mark of Athena is no exception to his high standard. I look forward to hearing more of the seven demigods and the next great prophesy. I also listened to this on Audible as well as Kindle, which enhanced the experience.

I gave The Mark of Athena 4.5 stars out of 5.

As I have mentioned a few times now, I’m starting to get into audiobooks a lot. Jeff Bezos sucked me in with the Whispersync for Voice and the great deals on bundling the ebook and Audible book. I can imagine I’ll do a lot more listening.

April/May reads

This last couple of months I've got through a few good books, and rather than reviewing each individually, I decided to write a post discussing all of them.  On the fourth of May no fewer than four new releases were downloaded to my Kindle, so I am happy I had a week off work to read them all.

Fair Game – Patricia Briggs
This is the next book in the Alpha and Omega series, and it was the usual enjoyable Briggs fare.  Anna and Charles are interesting characters and it's fun to see their development.  I was particularly interested in the end game changer – I understand it's impacting the Mercy Thompson series, too.  I had been surprised that Briggs was planning a new Mercy book.  I'd felt the character had come to the end of her story, but this will add a new dimension.  I look forward to Frost Bitten next year

I gave Fair Game four stars.

The Iron King – Julie Kanawa.
This is an ebook I borrowed from the library.  A Young Adult novel, it is the usual tale of modern teen finds she has an undiscovered past and hidden powers, finds herself in a fantasy world.  It's been done before, and better executed, but the storyline and characters were engaging enough for me to want to borrow the sequels from the library.

I gave The Iron King three stars

Unholy Night – Seth Grahame-Smith
This is Grahame-Smith's take on the three Magi of the Nativity.  As the Magi are only mentioned briefly in the Gospels, the author has created a whole storyline for them.  Personally, I did not enjoy this nearly as much as his previous Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  I missed Jane Austen's wit from the former and the genuinely interesting real life story of the American President from the latter.

I gave Unholy Night two stars

Orange as Marmalade – Fran Stewart
I confess I'm a sucker for gentle mysteries where the cat helps to solve the crime, With this one I particularly enjoyed that it was written mainly from the cat owner's point of view, with regular snarky comments from the cat as she tries to make her owner see the clues she herself has found.  I will certainly be adding this series to my "to follow" list.

I gave Orange as Marmalade four stars

Les Dragons de l'Empereur Noir – Anne Robillard
I don't often read in French, preferring to read in my native English, but I couldn't call myself a self-respecting fantasy lit fan living in Quebec and not read Robillard's popular series. I've been meaning to read them ever since I arrived in Quebec nearly seven years ago, but it took publisher Welland's decision to finally publish them as ebooks for me to read them.  This is the second in the series and I adored both this and the first one.  Robillard's writing reminds me in many ways of Patricia Briggs or George R.R. Martin.  All of these writers have a very keen understanding of character.  Whether Robillard is writing from young Kira's point of view or that of the older, experienced knight Wellan, it is easy to understand and empathize with them.  I can't wait for book three to be published in ebook format.

I gave Les Dragons de l'Empereur Noir five stars

The Alchemyst – Michael Scott
It is not very often that I am beaten by a book and do not finish it, but this is one of those cases.  The premise sounded intriguing – a book involving the ancient alchemist Nicolas Flamel – but I had real problems with the execution.  The biggest issue I had was that the author plunged straight into the action without really introducing the characters.  I really found myself thinking why should I care about these people?  In the end I found I didn't care enough to finish the book.

I gave The Alchemyst one star

Red Seas Under Red Skies – Scott Lynch
This is the second in the Gentlemen Bastards series of books.  I knew I was going to enjoy it when five minutes in I was giggling out loud at the banter between Locke and Jean.  This book reminded me more of a buddy road movie than an epic fantasy novel; it hangs on the relationship between these two characters – and Lynch describes it beautifully.

I gave Red Seas Under Red Skies five stars

Insurgent – Veronica Roth
Roth's Divergent series is tipped by some to be the next Hunger Games, and it is easy to see why.  The post apocalyptic world Roth creates feels real – and scary – and her characters are engaging and multi dimensional.  This is the second of the series, and while I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first one, it is still an excellent read.

I gave Insurgent four stars

The Serpent's Shadow – Rick Riordan
This is the third and final book in Riordan's Kane Chronicles series dealing with Egyptian mythology.  I have not enjoyed this series as much as the Heroes of Olympus one based on Greek/Roman mythology, but it's still a fun read.  The series is lifted from the banal by the banter and wit sprinkled throughout the pages, but still it is fairly predictable. 

I gave The Serpent's Shadow three stars

Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris
Some reviews on Goodreads criticized the novel for being bloated with too many of the minutiae of Sookie's everyday life.  That wasn't a problem for me personally.  I enjoyed reading about easygoing Southern life.  The mystery was fun if not a page-turner, and Sookie was as annoying as ever with her boyfriend angst and her insistence on proceeding despite multiple flashing, neon warning signs.  I enjoyed the book in spite of these faults.  It felt like meeting up again with old friends.

I gave Deadlocked five stars

What next?
My Kobo reader is away for servicing, so I'm unable to read the next two ebooks I have in mind as they're non-Kindle compatible ePubs.  These are Anne Robillard's A.N.G.E. and the next in Julie Kanawa's Iron series.  In the meantime I'm reading Burned, the next in the House of Night series.

April/May reads

This last couple of months I've got through a few good books, and rather than reviewing each individually, I decided to write a post discussing all of them.  On the fourth of May no fewer than four new releases were downloaded to my Kindle, so I am happy I had a week off work to read them all.

Fair Game – Patricia Briggs
This is the next book in the Alpha and Omega series, and it was the usual enjoyable Briggs fare.  Anna and Charles are interesting characters and it's fun to see their development.  I was particularly interested in the end game changer – I understand it's impacting the Mercy Thompson series, too.  I had been surprised that Briggs was planning a new Mercy book.  I'd felt the character had come to the end of her story, but this will add a new dimension.  I look forward to Frost Bitten next year

I gave Fair Game four stars.

The Iron King – Julie Kanawa.
This is an ebook I borrowed from the library.  A Young Adult novel, it is the usual tale of modern teen finds she has an undiscovered past and hidden powers, finds herself in a fantasy world.  It's been done before, and better executed, but the storyline and characters were engaging enough for me to want to borrow the sequels from the library.

I gave The Iron King three stars

Unholy Night – Seth Grahame-Smith
This is Grahame-Smith's take on the three Magi of the Nativity.  As the Magi are only mentioned briefly in the Gospels, the author has created a whole storyline for them.  Personally, I did not enjoy this nearly as much as his previous Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  I missed Jane Austen's wit from the former and the genuinely interesting real life story of the American President from the latter.

I gave Unholy Night two stars

Orange as Marmalade – Fran Stewart
I confess I'm a sucker for gentle mysteries where the cat helps to solve the crime, With this one I particularly enjoyed that it was written mainly from the cat owner's point of view, with regular snarky comments from the cat as she tries to make her owner see the clues she herself has found.  I will certainly be adding this series to my "to follow" list.

I gave Orange as Marmalade four stars

Les Dragons de l'Empereur Noir – Anne Robillard
I don't often read in French, preferring to read in my native English, but I couldn't call myself a self-respecting fantasy lit fan living in Quebec and not read Robillard's popular series. I've been meaning to read them ever since I arrived in Quebec nearly seven years ago, but it took publisher Welland's decision to finally publish them as ebooks for me to read them.  This is the second in the series and I adored both this and the first one.  Robillard's writing reminds me in many ways of Patricia Briggs or George R.R. Martin.  All of these writers have a very keen understanding of character.  Whether Robillard is writing from young Kira's point of view or that of the older, experienced knight Wellan, it is easy to understand and empathize with them.  I can't wait for book three to be published in ebook format.

I gave Les Dragons de l'Empereur Noir five stars

The Alchemyst – Michael Scott
It is not very often that I am beaten by a book and do not finish it, but this is one of those cases.  The premise sounded intriguing – a book involving the ancient alchemist Nicolas Flamel – but I had real problems with the execution.  The biggest issue I had was that the author plunged straight into the action without really introducing the characters.  I really found myself thinking why should I care about these people?  In the end I found I didn't care enough to finish the book.

I gave The Alchemyst one star

Red Seas Under Red Skies – Scott Lynch
This is the second in the Gentlemen Bastards series of books.  I knew I was going to enjoy it when five minutes in I was giggling out loud at the banter between Locke and Jean.  This book reminded me more of a buddy road movie than an epic fantasy novel; it hangs on the relationship between these two characters – and Lynch describes it beautifully.

I gave Red Seas Under Red Skies five stars

Insurgent – Veronica Roth
Roth's Divergent series is tipped by some to be the next Hunger Games, and it is easy to see why.  The post apocalyptic world Roth creates feels real – and scary – and her characters are engaging and multi dimensional.  This is the second of the series, and while I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first one, it is still an excellent read.

I gave Insurgent four stars

The Serpent's Shadow – Rick Riordan
This is the third and final book in Riordan's Kane Chronicles series dealing with Egyptian mythology.  I have not enjoyed this series as much as the Heroes of Olympus one based on Greek/Roman mythology, but it's still a fun read.  The series is lifted from the banal by the banter and wit sprinkled throughout the pages, but still it is fairly predictable. 

I gave The Serpent's Shadow three stars

Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris
Some reviews on Goodreads criticized the novel for being bloated with too many of the minutiae of Sookie's everyday life.  That wasn't a problem for me personally.  I enjoyed reading about easygoing Southern life.  The mystery was fun if not a page-turner, and Sookie was as annoying as ever with her boyfriend angst and her insistence on proceeding despite multiple flashing, neon warning signs.  I enjoyed the book in spite of these faults.  It felt like meeting up again with old friends.

I gave Deadlocked five stars

What next?
My Kobo reader is away for servicing, so I'm unable to read the next two ebooks I have in mind as they're non-Kindle compatible ePubs.  These are Anne Robillard's A.N.G.E. and the next in Julie Kanawa's Iron series.  In the meantime I'm reading Burned, the next in the House of Night series.

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