Origin

Origin by Dan Brown is the latest in the Robert Langdon series. It’s been quite a while since we’ve gotten a new one of these and honestly, I felt like this one came out of the woodwork–I had no idea it was coming until a few months out.

Robert Langdon is back and this time he is running around the Guggenheim Bilbao and the rest of Spain. When Robert is invited to an event at the Guggenheim for a presentation that will “change the world,” he can’t pass it up. Edmond Kirsch, a futurist, billionaire and one of Robert’s first students claims to know the answer to two of mankind’s greats questions: where do we come from and where are we going?

The night begins with a bang and suddenly is halted when Kirsch is attacked. Now it is up to Langdon and Ambra Vidal, the museum curator, to find out what Kirsch’s discovery was and reveal it to the world. But helping Kirsch will place them in terrible danger.

Can Langdon and Vidal uncover Kirsch’s password, release his revelation and stay alive when religious fanatics, police and the public are after them?

You can’t deny that Dan Brown as a way of combining history and fiction that is intriguing. You really do get a glimpse into history, architecture and more that you might not have otherwise seen. In this sense, all of his books are great. But for me, the story here, was a bit lackluster and not at all up to the suspense and thrill of his first two books.

I found the story quite slow actually. If you think about it, not much actually happens. The novel is book-ended by two giant chunks of text where the characters are basically stationary and nothing happens. I actually felt like I was being talked at quite a bit and it just felt like some of the prose when on and on. Don’t get me wrong, some of the theory was interesting, but it could have been condensed and still achieved the same goals.

I also hate to say it but the book was predictable. Believe it or not, but I called the ending and almost all of the character reveals after about two hours of listening to the audiobook. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t quite get into the story but there wasn’t as much wow, mystery as I expect with Dan Brown’s books.

This wasn’t a bad read but not one I would read again. Although, I will see the movie if it comes out–I love me some Tom Hanks! I hate to do it but this one only gets 2 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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One Dark Throne

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake is the second book in the Three Dark Crowns series– a YA fantasy series, which is now a 4 book series instead of two.

The ascension year has begun and Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella must fight for the crown. But each of their sisters have their own struggles to face, along with the death that is threatened by each of their hands. Once weak Katharine is now strong and changed since surviving being thrown down a ravine. Arsinoe is still coming to terms with the fact that she is a poisoner and not a naturalist. And Mirabella’s memories of her sister’s haunt her, making her unwilling to kill them.

As the game continues, each sister must look within themselves and figure out what they truly want and to what lengths they are willing to go to get it. But will they do what must be done when poison, bears and lightening threatens? And what if the island itself doesn’t like the decisions they make?

We learned so much more in this book! Reasons I thought Katharine survived the ravine are completely wrong and there is so much more to the island then I originally understood. There are also several characters who do things so out of character that it is a real shock. I want to say that this one is just a bit more dynamic than the first one and thankfully there isn’t as much Jules/Joseph drama.

I have to say I am still rooting for Arsinoe in this one, although both of the other sisters have grown on me at least a little. I hated Mirabella’s character in the first book and I still don’t find her super interesting in this one, but at least I didn’t mind reading her chapters. I do really like Billy as a character and the whole Billy/Arsinoe ship. And even Jules’ plot-line gained a bit more momentum.

Ultimately, I thought Blake really added a lot to the series in this one. I liked the world building in the first one but I think she fleshes it out even more in One Dark Throne. I like where the series is heading and am interested to see how the story plays out. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

Tower of Dawn

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas is technically the 6th book in the Throne of Glass series, although this one follows Chaol and Nesryn as they travel to the southern continent of Antica.

We pick up this story as Chaol and Nesryn leave their ship and enter Antica’s mighty court. Their purpose in Antica is twofold–to find allies for Aelin and Dorian in the war against Morath and to gain the help of the renown healers of the Torre Cesme to heal Chaol’s shattered spine.

Chaol’s spirit has been shattered along with his ability to walk. Dependent on Nesryn and others, Chaol’s anger and despair often get the best of him. When a young healer arrives, with baggage of her own, Chaol finds himself at her mercy, a position he doesn’t necessarily mind.

Nesryn on the other-hand is awed by Antica, finally feeling a sense of belonging she never felt in Rifthold. While Chaol works with the healer and attempts to glean allies from the court, Nesryn searches for her own answers and finds an unlikely ally in one of Antica’s princes.

Can Chaol and Nesryn get what they need before it is too late? And what will it cost them in return?

I honestly had no intention of picking this one up when it was just going to be a novella. I’ve never really been team Chaol, although I do like Nesryn as a character. But once I found out that the book had been expanded and you really had to read it before the last book comes out next year, well I had to pick it up. And for those of you hesitant to read this one, yes, you will need to read it if you want to be in on all the details for the final book; there is some very vital information revealed in this one that had only been hinted at previously.

For me, this book was pretty slow. It primarily revolves around the relationship building between Chaol and Yrene, the very long healing process, and the politics of the Antica court. I did find the whole sibling rivalry of choosing an heir interesting but other than that the Chaol and Yrene chapters were basically toned down Maas romance.

Nesryn’s chapters on the other-hand were much more interesting and faster paced. I liked this subplot of hers and we actually get a lot of relevant information that will help Aelin and her crew in book 7.

This book ultimately, was OK. You have to read it but in my opinion it probably would have done better as a novella. This one gets a low three stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Crown’s Fate

The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye is the sequel and conclusion to The Crown’s Game. When we left off, Pasha’s coronation as Tsar was only months away, Vika had been named Imperial Enchanter and Nikolai was presumed dead at the conclusion of the game. Barely a week has gone by, magic is growing and Russia is full of unrest.

But all isn’t as it seems. Nikolai is not dead but merely a shadow of himself, caught in a dream and growing darker by the day. Pasha faces doubts of his legitimacy and his fitness to rule. And Vika is finding it difficult to adapt to the loss of freedom that comes with being Imperial Enchanter.

Can Nikolai, Pasha and Vika restore the bond between them that was broken by the crown’s game? Will Russia survive a resurgence of magic and the turmoil it causes? And who will be caught in the crossfires?

Womp, womp. This was an OK sequel. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like it had the same flow and feel of the first book. I like the competition of the game and the tied fates of the competitors in the first book and this felt sort of forced in the second.

There were a lot of allusions to other Russian myths and fairytales, what with the resurgence of magic, and I kept waiting to get a few more glimpse of Baba Yaga or the fish king that was mentioned. These little bites were thrown in and then really only addressed in the end as something the Imperial Enchanter would have to look into. I’ve been so into Russian literature and fantasy lately that it just would have been nice to have more of this.

One of the biggest problems with this book was that the author tried to put in several branches to lead you in the wrong direction, so you wouldn’t expect the end but these weren’t really successful for me. The ending was terribly predictable and tied up a little too neatly if you asked me. The way this book was set up, I just felt that someone shouldn’t have had a happy ending. But a lot of readers like neat little packages and for them this book will be completely satisfying.

The more I am thinking about this one, I think I am giving it 2.5 stars not 3. It was entertaining in that it passed the time but it really wasn’t one of my favorites. Not a bad read but lacking in some areas.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Roar

Roar by Cora Carmack is the first book in a new YA fantasy series called Stormheart.

In this world, magical storms threaten and only those who control them hold any real power. Aurora Pavan is heir to one of the most esteemed Stormling families in the land and will one day take up her mothers mantel as protector and ruler of Pavan. There is only one problem, Aurora has no powers.

For years her family has kept this secret about their barren daughter but Aurora is now eighteen, the rage season is upon them and she is expected to start fighting the storms that threaten her home. In an effort to maintain the throne, Aurora is forced into an arranged marriage to a man whom she loathes. When all seems lost, Aurora stumbles upon a group of hunters and learns that there is another way to fight storms.

Realizing there is another way to retain her crown and still protect her people, Aurora becomes Roar and joins this rag-tag group of hunters in the hopes of finding her own way. But Roar finds more than just magic on this journey–together with a handsome hunter, Roar will find the true power within and forge the bonds she’s secretly longed for all her life. But what will she do when Pavan is threatened? Will she face the life she left behind? Will she find the strength within to do what must be done?

I stumbled across this one as an Audible recommendation and I actually really liked it. This concept that the world is beset by storms that are almost sentient and only a rare few with stormling powers can stop them, was just a unique concept that I hadn’t heard about before.

The world building really shined in this book. It’s been a while since I read a fantasy with a really good foundation and I think Roar achieved that. You can tell that this first book is meant to build a base for the rest of the story. We learn about the world, Aurora, the storms and then we are introduced to the “evil villain” who Aurora will most likely have to face throughout the rest of the series. So things are going to get a whole lot more complicated, I just hope Carmack doesn’t overly complicated things and keeps the same feel as this first book.

There is just something about a group of misfits you just got to love and that’s what the hunters are. I really liked Jinx and Bate and I wished we got more of all of them. Instead the focus is primarily on Roar, Locke and occasionally Duke. I hope we get more of the whole group in the next one.

The only reason this one gets four stars instead of five is because I thought the back and forth between Roar and Locke was a little overdone. I loved the banter and the arguing but there was a little too much we can’t but we want to but he doesn’t she doesn’t, etc. Rolled my eyes a few times. So four stars it is.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Secondborn

Secondborn by Amy A. Bartol is the first book in a a new adult dystopian series where your birth order determines your lot in life.

In the Fates of the Republic, firstborns are the ruling class, the elite–they make the rules and benefit from them. Secondborns are owned by the government and are responsible for all of the labor intensive jobs. And thirdborns… die.

On Transition Day, all secondborns are taken to begin their servitude to the republic, where they will remain until they die or are called up to take the place of a deceased firstborn. This story begins with Roselle St. Sismode’s eighteenth birthday and her transition to the Fate of Swords, a militaristic branch of the Fates. But Roselle’s transition is no ordinary thing; she was born to an elite family, a family of high power and she has been in the public’s eye since her birth. This puts her at a disadvantage and she it hated in the eyes of many of her secondborn brethren.

Can Roselle find an ally in secondborn Hawthorne Trugrave? Will she buckle under the pressure? Can she conform to rules that break her own moral code? And what will she do when her fate leads down traitorous paths?

I should kick this off by saying that I’ve never read any of Bartol’s books before and this one wasn’t really on my radar when I picked it up. I needed a new audiobook quick and Audible recommended this one so I thought I’d give it a go. I tend to enjoy books that I might not have otherwise when they are in audio format vs. print and I think that is the case with this one. The story itself kept me entertained while I drove but I found a lot lacking with it.

First and foremost, the insta-love. Roselle and Hawthorne meet and two sentences in they are talking about sex. He’s loved her since she was ten watching her on tv but he loves her more now that he knows her… and this was only a few days after they met. Hawthorne literally comes to Roselle’s rescue again and again. Yea, the banter is cute and I kind of like Hawthorne but it was just too fast, especially in a society where secondborns are only allowed to have relations through “date-night” and relationships are forbidden on pains of death. There were just too many cringe moments for me and frankly it became a little unbelievable.

I also felt that there were some lost opportunities with some of the side characters. Roselle has these intense conversations and interactions with some of the supporting characters and then they are never seen or heard from again. This is a series, so I am sure they will pop up but there were instances where they really should have at least been mentioned again.

There were some really great moments in the book, I will give it that, but the world-building wasn’t fully developed, there was no consistency with the flow/pace of the story and I guess the story just didn’t really do it for me. But it is a series and since I read the first, I will continue on for now. This one gets two stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Crown’s Game

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye is the first book in a young adult fantasy series full of magic, Russian royals and more.

Vika Andreyev and Nikolai Karimov are very different people with one extraordinary thing in common… magic. Since they were little Nikolai and Vika have been training for one job, to become the imperial enchanter to the Tsar of Russia. But there can only be one enchanter, so the Tsar enacts The Crown’s Game.

The Crown’s Game is a secret, ancient duel of magical skill, pitting enchanter against enchanter until a winner has been declared. And for the loser? Death. But circumstance and conscience get the best of Vika and Nikolai and neither know if they will be able to finish this brutal game. Who will win and at what cost?

Hmm, I have mixed feelings about this one. Ever since I’ve read The Night Circus, I’ve loved a good magical duel/love story and this definitely was that. Vika and Nikolai are connected in so many ways and yet one of them must die. I just wish I liked the characters more. I wasn’t really impressed by any of our characters. I didn’t find them terribly unique and couldn’t find myself rooting for one over the other. I did warm to all three of our main characters (Pasha, Vika & Nikolai) toward the end, which is why I will have to read the next book in the series. The book did get more interesting in the end.

The game itself didn’t really feel like much of a game to me. There was no real audience, even the Tsar, who is running the game, doesn’t witness any of the magics. I don’t know, it’s a magical duel and the first turn is to paint all of the buildings on a street in St. Petersburg. Really? I just wish there was more magic and more of an actual duel.

Did this book keep me entertained while it lasted? Yes. Would I read it again? Probably not. I am sure there are a ton of people who would really like this book but there are others out there that have pulled me in more.

Not bad but not my favorite. This one gets a grudging three stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-