Burgundy

Favourite genres are urban-fantasy, historical fiction, steampunk, paranormal and mystery. But I will occassionally read some fantasy or science-fiction.

The Graveyard Queen # 3

The Prophet - Amanda Stevens

I understand what the author wanted to do. The two last books (currently) in the series had the purpose to introduce us to the background of the two main characters. The Kingdom was Amelia's book and The Prophet was Devlin's. But it didn't work out quite so well. 

The Prophet contained 50 % of repetition of the first book (and to a lesser extent the second) which made this book pretty boring. Yes, I wanted to know the culprit and there's still that mystery vibe but don't expect to be as spooked out as with The Restorer (and even The Kingdom was slightly better).
Also half of the book was Amelia pining for Devlin. I'm not a huge fan of the 'I love him but we can never be together therefore I'm wallowing in my self-pity' trope. It's already book three, I want things to move on by now. Besides I don't get Devlin. He needs to be fleshed out a bit more because I feel like I don't really know him. 

The following quotes point out the core issue of this book imo:

I had other things with which to occupy my mind, Devlin foremost among them.

His presence in my life was a danger to us both. 


Hopefully the series will pick up again with The Visitor (2015).

Rating: 2.5 stars

SPOILER ALERT!

The Graveyard Queen # 2

The Kingdom - Amanda Stevens

First of all The Kingdom focuses on Amelia's past. It was interesting to know more about Amelia's biological parents and the gruesome circumstances about her birth. 
I liked it and would recommend the series but there were a few things that bothered me and prevented The Kingdom to reach the same level of awesomeness as The Restorer:

- In difference with the Restorer the reader could pretty much guess everything beforehand. Even the killer was obvious.
- I didn't like Amelia being romantically involved with Thane. I had already assumed that she and Devlin were an item. It felt a bit contrived. I would have preferred without the romance in this one. Plus his scenario was a bit too similar to Devlin's.
- Amelia kept herself purposefully in the dark. There were quite some occasions where Amelia could have investigate the case a bit more. Instead she just stopped asking questions or assumed the other was telling lies or acting weird. 
- Also the pursuit at the end was a bit too long. And some elements of the book were confusing and labelled as a 'mystery' that couldn't be comprehended. For example I would have liked to know what precisely happened with Van Zandt. Or where did Pell hide Thane's ex-girlfriend, Harper etc. I thought too much was put on the 'evil' residing in the mountains.

Still a great read though. I know that The Prophet deals with Devlin's past and I hope it will be an improvement on the Kingdom.

The Graveyard Queen # 1

The Restorer - Amanda Stevens

I absolutely recommend this book. The engaging writing style combined with the right amount of creepy factor, and a loveable heroine easily places The Restorer in my favourite read of this year. The author slowly built up the suspense towards the long-awaited climax. Although I have some questions about Devlin's sudden appearance at the end. Amelia suspects that it was probably the ghost of Robert that gave him 'hints' but that's pretty vague. I wish to know more about it. Hopefully in book 2?
About Devlin; he's the epitome of the tall, dark, mysterious guy. Maybe a bit too mysterious. I really can't figure him out so I will withhold to make any judgement about him. But his background story was emotionally gripping. 

And then I wake up and remember that it's real. 

I also came to the conclusion that I would make a poor investigator. As much as I like intricate mysteries I suck at puzzling them together. Admittedly at some occasions I couldn't quite follow Amelia's reasoning. I thought it was her paranoia speaking. Don't know.

Anyway I did had goose bumps several times while reading.

The midnight stars weep upon her silent grave,
Dead but dreaming, this child we could no save. 


I recommend it to anyone who has an unusual fascination for cemeteries. From Wikipedia: TaphophileTombstone tourist (otherwise known as a "taphophile", "cemetery enthusiast", cemetery tourists or "grave hunter" or "graver") describes an individual who has a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries. This involves epitaphs, gravestone rubbing, photography, art, and history of (famous) deaths. 

SPOILER ALERT!

The Beautiful and the Cursed

The Beautiful and the Cursed (The Dispossessed) - Page Morgan

Some reviews pointed out that this book turned out to be much 'darker' than expected. I had completely opposite expectations for this book. I wanted this book to be dark, sinister, and packed with mysteries. I ignored the cover and the title and got intrigued by the blurb. I just focused on Paris, abandoned abbey, and gargoyles. 

Your story takes place in nineteenth century Paris - the main characters live next to an abbey & rectory watched over by gargoyles/chimeras - there have been people disappearing and unsolved murders, and you want me to focus on how the romance(s) unfolds? Reading about teenagers running around in Paris?

What made this book go down the drain for me:

- One of the main characters, Ingrid, acted purposefully stupid and put herself in danger to further the plot.
- The forbidden love trope between Ingrid and Luc. And the subsequent 'you don't understand I'm a monster' trope. It had a Twilight-ish vibe to it. Really I should have known better, the clue was in the title. Also Luc and Ingrid share a connection based on 'her smell and pale skin' and 'something in his eyes' .
- The romance subplots and love triangles. In plural.
- Everyone (especially the guys) in this book is beautiful/attractive/hot etc.
- The various factions. The Dispossessed, the Alliance, the Order, the demons. A small group of youngsters running around fighting demons. It has already been done. 
- Also Ingrid is not only special, she's the very rare, almost extinct special snowflake. This is also familiar. This last point was the book's complete downfall in my opinion. 

I thought this book crammed with YA clichés. And plotlines that has been overdone already.

On a side note: what I knew about gargoyles so far before reading this book was that 'les gargouilles' have the function to carry rainwater from the roof/gutter and as far away from the wall, they are the precursors of today's drainpipe and are fixated horizontally to walls of a cathedral/castle/church etc. Those are not the ones the author is talking about. It's about the mythology and folklore surrounding the grotesques .

Lastly I prefer this cover or even this but it doesn't quite match the feeling I had while reading. The U.S. cover is pretty accurate: it's all about pink, romance, fluff, and a lots of boredom. You have the setting, Paris in 1899 and the premise, people disappearing and found dismembered, and still the author succeeded in making a boring and slow-paced mess out of it.

Gargoyles and nineteenth century Paris could have turned the book in something original but they rather felt like some random addition. The setting wasn't fully used to its advantage. Just naming some popular places in Paris is not enough for me. This book could have been so much better. I felt indifferent to it all.

SPOILER ALERT!

Mind Games

Mind Games - Carolyn Crane

Mind Games is unlike any urban-fantasy I've read so far. It doesn't feature shape shifters nor vampires or witches. You won't find your 'typically' kick-ass heroine or at least someone who desperately tries to act as a badass in this book either. It also doesn't have any intricate love triangles, in fact the heroine properly breaks up with her previous boyfriend before starting another serious romantic liaison (but I can't guarantee for the following books). Something I appreciate a lot and gives a breath of fresh air to the UF genre. Also the storyline was quite original based on, as the title suggests, people's ability to tamper with someone's mind and well sanity. The book is kind of a thriller/mystery with one person (Justine) caught in a game between two gangs/criminals. The romantic subplot didn't take central stage for which I'm grateful because I wasn't eager to follow Justine's love life. So all in all I would suggest to give this book a try. 

However, despite liking it a lot certain things annoyed me. I didn't like the main character Justine. She acted irresponsible and has a fickle personality. She also needs more substance because she came across as rather dull so hopefully in the next instalment I will learn more about her and her partner choice. [I don't like Otto Sanchez because he's the main cause the book went downhill. His appearance triggers turn of events I can't really appreciate, for example the dreaded love triangle and Justine's incomprehensible infatuation with Otto. The romance and [Justine first sex scene with Sanchez is still a puzzle to me. Euhm, you're sleeping with a criminal you know zilch about. Also the book has a strong moralistic undertone which is inevitable considering the plotline. Bottom line the book revolves around vigilantes (= the desillusionists) punishing criminals by basically brainwashing them. The aim is to reform criminals rather than avenging crimes, regardless of the fact that brainwashing people without having the law behind your back is a criminal act in itself. There's a lot of self-righteousness in what they are doing and in the end each individual thinks he or she has the moral high ground. 

[A] is going around assessing [B]'s prisoners, at least the ones who aren't mass murderers, and deciding which ones can be freed right away- released into his custody, so to speak- and which need to be disillusioned first. 

It's a bit strange knowing that the character that goes around assessing the criminals is said in the book to be a criminal himself. It's kind of a vicious circle. Maybe there will be more on that in the sequel. 

SPOILER ALERT!

"Cyborg" Cinder

Cinder - Marissa Meyer

Cinder had me at cyborg. And then it had to go down another path.

Cinder is currently the number one on the list of the most predictable "plot twist" of the year. Anyone could have seen it coming from miles away. The clues were there, Cinder should have figured it out by herself, put two and two together. No Sherlock needed on this one. Case closed. Still the author only 'reveals' the obvious in the last chapter. I desperately wanted to be proven wrong, be astonished by the author's cunning. What a pity.

The main character Cinder is supposed to be the best mechanic in New Beijing. Actually she has the same knowledge about mechanics as the average person confronted with a malfunctioning piece of technology: hit and curse until it works again or buy a new one. It bothered me that she went from the ostracized cyborg teenage girl to the one and only special snowflake. Also despite underlining her differences and the attempts to make the readers feel sympathy for her, Cinder got it pretty good. She mainly lacks self-acceptance. That's all. In Cinder being cyborg means that you're a lesser human that has been given another chance. So this 'futuristic' society wouldn't accept people with prostheses or missing limbs? Cinder doesn't embrace or show the possible advantages of being a cyborg when in fact her scientifically enhancements helped her in more ways then one. Beside that she suffers from the syndrome of doing the opposite what she's been told/warned.

Mid way we get this info dump about Lunars (inhabitants of the moon) but it doesn't explain everything. What I got out of it is that basically the Lunars are humans with improved psychic competences. But why and how? There're some other things that need more explanation. Cinder can't cry nor blush but she does feel emotions. How does the whole artificial intelligence work? and so on.

The ideas are there. But they should've been developed a bit more and Kai given more substance, he desperately needs it. Cinder is definitely not your kick ass cyborg. Maybe in the next book? But still it was an original retelling. I will give the next book a try, the cliffhanger did its job

Vicious

VIcious - Victoria Schwab, V. E. Schwab

Project Wannabe Superheroes gone bad and two main characters playing cat and mouse. 

Vicious has a strong start; throwing the reader right away in the middle of the action of people digging up a body. After that the author sure knows how to hold the reader's attention. The suspense was building up to end up in the final face off between the two main characters. Is it original? Friend turned foe and the subsequent chase? No. (The only difference is that the author blurred the dichotomy between good/bad.) But was it entertaining? Yes. Pleasant writing style? Sure.

I got intrigued with the moral ambiguity of the characters and the overall greyness depicted in Vicious. Vicious has none of that humorous banter, endearing (anti-)hero or sweet romance. However this means there's nothing to lighten up the overall dark mood nor are there characters to root for. Vicious read as a noir fiction with a paranormal spin.

I had to knock down a star for the lack of world building and complexity of the characters. I felt the author could have gone way out of the comfort zone. Certainly Eli fell into stereotype as the typical bad guy. He being a religious fanatic and admirer of former Prussian and Russian rulers. Also Victor and co. At the end of the story I knew little of them. This is due to the lack of warmth between the characters and endearing traits. In that regard Mitch and Sidney were the most successful but that is not enough. I do feel that Victor and Eli's sidekicks deserved more attention and a clearer explanation why they stick together. 

More than half of the book is written in flashbacks. This kept me on the edge of my seat at first as the story unfolded but after the umpteenth flashback in de second half it got tiresome. At this point the story should move on and not get hindered by the same flashbacks from the first half of the book except told in another main character's perspective. Though it was interesting to get into the other character's head. And it has a certain charm to write a story this way but it's a hit or miss depending on the reader. At some point my sole interest was on the events happening in the present. 

All of the above contributed to the "empty" feeling I had upon finishing the book. Vicious could have been so much more and less predictable if only the author would have written without restraint. But it is one of the better books I read this year.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making - Ana Juan, Catherynne M. Valente

I enjoyed Alice in Wonderland, Spirited Away (anything from Studio Ghibli), The Neverending Story, the tales of H.C. Andersen and so much more. But I struggled through The Girl Who Circumnavigated and had to force myself to finish it. Verdict: I don't care. I do not care about September nor Fairyland. I didn't sign up for a collection of short-stories written in pretentious prose. Note that I'm devoid of poetic soul and I can't really enjoy poetry in general.

"The Switchpoint, for that's what Ell called it, made a kissing face at them. All around them well-kept lawns wound down to the lapping Barleybroom, full of gentle little paths and sedate violets nodding pleasantly. A sundial spun its shadow slowly around clusters of yellow peonies."

"September woke to the sound of the snow falling."

Why do simple when long-winded and stilted prose will do the trick and in addition fills plenty of pages. Anyone need a crash course in design and costume?

"Bright storefronts ran on ahead of them, built with violet crinoline and crimson organdy. Towers wound up in wobbly twists of stiff, shining brocade. Memorial statues wore felt helmets over bombazine faces. High, thin, fuzzy houses puffed out angora doors; fancy taffeta offices glimmered under the gaze of black-lace gargoyles. Even the broad avenue they stood on was a mass of ropy, pumpkin-colored grosgrain."

At this point I'm having a headache and I'm skimming. The author's prose poetry purposefully kept me from being engrossed in the story.
Honestly The Girl Who Circumnavigated brings nothing new. It is in fact highly derivative even when it pretends not to. A fairytale involving talking animals, flying or sentient furniture and anything else were you apply human attributes to objects, elements and animals (aka anthropomorphism)? Sounds familiar. Now the idea is there but the execution is poor.

Plot and character depth was definitely not the priority. No, nice writing alone won't save your book.

- What about characters. Do you give them any substance?
* Oh please no, we do not participate to that. Character depth, what a nonsense! Nobody wants to connect with a personage or be engrossed in the story. No, we have excellent writing skills that's more than enough. Yes yes, we do like poetry.
- What about the plot?
* The plot is detail. After all you don't need a plot to write a good book. We will confuse charm our readers with convoluted prose and poetical descriptions. At the very least they can use our books as a tool to expand their English vocabulary. *condescending laugh*

Despite the short rant, I must say to a certain extent I do like books along the line of The Girl Who Circumnavigated. But in this case, it didn't work for me. I like my books with at least an illusion of a plot and characters with substance.

Also I'm a bit sceptic if the book was intended in the first place for children. Just the way how the narrator addresses the reader... just saying. Maybe, just maybe, the book was meant as sort of a guilty pleasure for adults.

SPOILER ALERT!

Night Broken (A Mercy Thompson Novel)

Night Broken - Patricia Briggs

*minor spoilers*

This is déjà vu.

I think a comparison is in order. In the latest instalment of the Kate Daniels series (Magic Rises) most of the readers got displeased with the character of Lorelei since there was no apparent reason to add some drama in Curran and Kate's relationship. The thing is, it didn't bother me that much because there was enough going on beside that minor issue. But in Night Broken the same trope of 'let's add a third (female) party that desperately tries to disrupt an harmonious relationship' takes a another dimension. Because when the ex-wife Christy shows up Mercy turns out to be the bad, mean, unwanted one. At this point Mercy still isn't accepted in the pack. And Adam's behaviour is disappointing.

Some random thoughts:

- Adam passive role is annoying and the fact that he accepts everything coming from Christy is even more so. Night Broken did a pretty good job to lower him in my esteem.

- The female werewolves like Mary-Jo for example showed in the previous books some effort to integrate Mercy or at least to be tolerant towards her presence in the pack. Now it seems they all dislike her. We are not making progress at all.

- Mercy just took all the shit that was thrown her way. She should assert her position in the pack for once and for all. And where is Adam when you need him. It's his pack after all.

- Let's throw a bit of Tad here, a bit of Stefan there and maybe some Wulfe here.

- I can't really give any thoughts about the rest of the story because honestly I didn't care. It was boring.

- Again I demand some more of Bran & Leah, Samuel, Charles and the dynamics in their pack.

Will I read the next one? I'm not sure, I think I will read the reviews first.

SPOILER ALERT!

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of readers were missing 'the point' that M. Atwood was trying to make. And in some sense I can't blame them because the message - if there is one - she tries to convey is quite vague and brought forward in a chaotic manner. 


By opting for a society where women are exclusively defined by their ability to bear children under the authority of Christian fanatics, M. Atwood ultimately narrowed her definition of gender inequality. After all, the issue is more complex and is rooted much deeper than merely the physical or biological differences between women and men. The deep rooted perceptions has been largely neglected.

The book fell short mainly because of the main character Offred. M. Atwood is right by saying that future generations will be more compliant with a new regime. Because they have nothing to compare with. But Offred can. She knows how it was before and lived through the transitional phase. And even though she occasionally talks about her husband and child, she doesn't ask herself further questions. She even actively participates with the new established authority. At the other hand I could understand it as it being a way to cope or survive but this wasn't made clear.

And what's with religion that influences the daily life of the characters. Why that particular choice for an authoritarian Christian theocracy? Why should a specific religion take over authority more than any other belief (I use the word here in a broad sense) and impose a strict regulation on women in particular.

If it was M. Atwood intention to convey a message then this was poorly executed. Even now I'm left confused. I guess it's open for everyone's interpretation.

But in the end, as a literary fiction, I still enjoyed it. And I got impressed by the symbolic and subtle way of showing the unequal treatment through clothing, body language etc. and the escape to the club as an 'outlet' is quite telling and still relevant today.

The Republic of Thieves

The Republic of Thieves - Scott Lynch Again a bit disappointed. Republic's pace and plot is similar to Red Seas. Insert Locke and Sabetha courtship instead of Jean and Ezri's. The story needs to move on by now.

Republic starts with Locke dying/convalescing and Jean desperately keeping him from playing the martyr (once again). This scene is reminiscent of the beginning of Red Seas where Jean had to help Locke to come back to his senses or he would have drown in his self-pity.

It doesn't take long before Sabetha makes her first appearance. Republic had to deal with major pressure. The book had to meet high expectations mainly because of Sabetha. That mysterious woman who just by mentioning her name could put Locke back in his place. Sabetha the Lady Bastard, queen of conniving and thievery didn't quite live up to the built up expectation and shaped image of her out the previous books. She's okay but after approximately 600 pages still remains a shallow character who hopefully will be fleshed out a bit more in the following books. In my opinion Nazca would have been a more convincing and certainly more entertaining 'Sabetha'.

Sabetha and Locke's love story is complicated. Maybe a bit too complicated and unnatural. After 20 years or so they still don't know where they are in their relationship. Locke is right by saying that he's obsessed with Sabetha. He's dumbstruck whenever in the presence of Sabetha. Meanwhile Sabetha is tossing him around because she's still overanalyzing Locke and their relationship and remains indecisive. They both are fixated on each other to the point it swallows up their whole lives.

There are two plotlines (past: past of the G.B. and present: political election) that are inextricably woven together and deal with the same topic: Locke & Sabetha. Admittedly the storyline that happened in the past was more interesting to read about than their scheming in the political election. It was pleasant to be back in Camorr, on the streets and to find the familiar group banter again. And of course to see the GB work as a team. About half of the book are flashbacks where the Gentlemen Bastards are reunited this time with Sabetha. In the present they oppose each other in a political election in which they have to gather the most votes. Sabetha systematically outsmarted Locke and Jean and that was sometimes difficult to digest considering the previously highly praised talent and cunning of Locke (certainly in Lies). Especially since they have been outwitted multiple times before. It's time that the duo show us some convincing proof of that cunning.
Halfway through I had an overdose of Sabetha and her relationship with Locke because it got repetitive. It was obvious that the election and the theatre play were detail, beside the bigger scheme introduced at the end. That ending is the single incentive to read the fourth book.

We learn about Locke's real name and origin which turns out to have a magical dimension. If that's really the case it would definitely take the strongest aspect of the Gentlemen Bastards series away, which is the 'reasonable' way magic is used and not to conveniently use it to cover plot holes. I wasn't a fan of that particular turn of event.

This book is an average three stars. If Republic was the first in the GB series I wouldn't have been so generous.

The Diviners

The Diviners - Libba Bray

I wanted to read an innovative YA novel that would satisfy my curiosity with the occult instead I got a dull mystery loaded with cardboard characters, trying to convey some moralistic message. And of course any self-respecting YA has to have some love triangle and a not so endearing female protagonist. Lovely.

It's obvious that the author spend more energy in trying to represent as faithfully as possible the vibe of the Roaring Twenties instead of giving substance to her characters. They practically all fell into stereotypes. Mainly Jericho's behaviour in the second half of the book bothered me. I think the author had a completely different plan for him half way through the book, somewhere when it was clear that a bit sappy romance was needed.
Every character's past gets treated in flashbacks which interrupts the flow of the reading process, especially in a mystery novel. Surprisingly they all had a difficult past except for Evie who behaves and speaks like a spoiled child.

Despite its 500+ pages the book feels incomplete. There supposed to be a grand scheme beside the ritual killings but although we are given some hints, the author never gets to the core of it. That would have been a more exciting note to end on instead of the uncomfortable romance. A 'romance' that grew out of a desperate attempt of the female protagonist to hook the love interest with her best friend who had a huge crush for years on said love interest. I think I would have appreciated the story more if there wasn't any romance at all.

But let's give credit where its due. Mrs. Bray has a vivid writing style. She evokes 1920's New York in a very persuasive manner. And admittedly Libba Bray can keep the suspense during the whole book. There were plenty of passages that kept me on the edge of my seat. But that's not enough to make the book redeem itself.

Titus Groan (Gormenghast Trilogy)

Titus Groan - Mervyn Peake Few books leave a lasting impact on me. But this one, Titus Groan will stay with me for a long time. Mervyn Peake's writing style blew me away. Once I put the book down I could not stop thinking about it. If I had indeed some aspiration to become an author, Peake's writing style would be the one I would like to emulate. Peake's style is magical.

What marked me the most is Peake's technique to write about events that happen simultaneously. I read other authors trying to handle those parts in their stories and every time I'm left confused and only later grasp what the author initially meant to do. Here it's the complete opposite. I savoured 'the reveries' chapters. Also Titus Groan is downright hilarious. she's so slow compared with me she looks so silly with her mouth open not like me my mouth isn't open yes it is I've left it open but now I've shut it and it's closed up and my face must be perfect like I'll be when I get my power [...]

This was not an easy read. At the beginning I struggled but I'm glad I persevered.
At first glance the personages seemed bizarre, unreal yet as the story progressed I got more insight in the characters' feelings and desires. The thing is, Peake expresses and analyses their behaviour in such a way that it still feels odd. The author profoundly confronts the familiar to the point it becomes unfamiliar.

I could quote 'some' passages that left me awestruck to show the creativity and ingenuity of Peake's style but since I highlighted about 50% of the book that would rather be a difficult task.

Titus Groan is definitely five star material. This one is a keeper.

Marvellous prose, memorable characters, unique and again beautiful writing style. I'm impressed. Chapeau Peake.

Because I can't let it go:


* [Fuchsia] find herself standing with the great stage below her as empty as an unremembered heart.
* [...] his eyes, having cleared themselves of the haze, encountered no ceremonial curve of the select, but a room of scattered individuals.
* He had heard the key turn. He did not disobey the simple logic of his mind.
* There is a great yearning one for the other. A fissure of impalpable night divides them,[...] there is a lacuna.
* Dived through the keyhole, I do believe.
* They had waited there until the storm had tired of its own anger and a slow rain descended like remorse from the sky.
* We are all imprisoned by the dictionary. We choose out of that vast paper-walled prison our convicts, the little black printed words, when in truth we need fresh sounds to utter [...]
* That dreadful, palpable closeness that can only be felt when there is mutual hatred.
* The air was sickly with an aftermath of the day's heat, as lifeless as though it had been breathed before, thrice exhaled and stale.
* All was altered, stealth was no longer enough. Cunning was paramount and their wits were under test. Both had felt that theirs was the initiative and the power to surprise - but now, for a few moments at least, they were equated.


This is only a small selection.

Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate)

Heartless - Gail Carriger What happened?

I'm sure it's the same author as the previous books for I still tremendously enjoyed Carriger's writing style and witty banter. She can turn daily life exchanges between individuals into something funny and clever. But what happened with Alexia and the ending which felt predictable and all over the place.

If Alexia was a bit bossy in Blameless she's downright tyrannical in Heartless (I think the title is a reflection on Alexia's behaviour in this book). Even though she is muhjah Alexia holds all the political and legal power in her hand. This development of events is a drastic change from Alexia's situation in the first instalment, Soulless. There's nothing wrong in keeping your characters 'mortal' and let them move inside the social space they have been given to by their contemporary society. Nothing is more boring than an omnipotent character.

[Spoilers]

And the intentionally negligence of plot coherence. Alexia had countless opportunities to eliminate the Westminster hive even without possible repercussions but instead she saved and protected the very persons who want to kill her and her child (if Akeldama doesn't stand in for the child's rearing). That does not sound logical to me. It feels like keeping the vampires 'alive' was done on purpose, to give Alexia and the pack a reason to move to London. Too convenient.

Ivy and Felicity whom Alexia believed simple and dumb and therefore constantly underestimated them, all outwitted her. This female lead I held so high in regard made simple mistakes which the reader could predict miles away. I'm talking about the relocation of the vampire hive. Too contrived just to make the puzzle fit. And I can't blame Akeldama for being opportunistic.

Lastly I cannot approve of a heroine who can't properly understand motherly concern when that woman's child has been kidnapped by not so nice people. And then sell that very woman to her enemies so they can feast upon her misery and still profit from her intellect. That's simply put heartless. And badly played on Alexia's part. Willingly give your enemies an invaluable weapon? Not so clever.

It's sad that one of my favourite series has come to this. I'm disappointed.

Last Argument of Kings (First Law 3)

Last Argument of Kings - Joe Abercrombie To resume this book in one word: overkill. Too much of the 'good' stuff and it becomes sickening. I had a saturation of battles and action-sequence with this one. If a certain event happens frequently it becomes a routine, it is not exceptional anymore and my interest gets lost. That's why I unfortunately felt compelled to skim some battle descriptions. There's a need to give the reader a break once in a while.

I don't require the books I read to have a happy ending. But it seems that every single character in the First Law trilogy is a turncoat/backstabber or a coward. That doesn't make them ultimately dislikeable but it's not like you got much choice either. In Before they are Hanged there was character growth and it felt like the gang made some progress in group cohesion and mutual thrust. Here we get to see the complete corrupted side of every character and we are back at the beginning. In the end it's everyone for themselves. No problem. I can deal with that but it's so heavy. A saturation of anti-heroes.

Also I can't digest what happened with Dogman and his company.

Lastly there were some lose threads (ex. Ferro/Vitari/Logen). The end was a bit abrupt.

All in all I had a enjoyable time with this trilogy, I just feel indifferent towards this last book.

Before They Are Hanged

Before They Are Hanged - Joe Abercrombie [no spoilers]

I definitely enjoyed this one more than The Blade Itself.

Honestly the first book does a disservice to the series. Not that The Blade Itself was bad but it took time to get the story going, to know the characters and enjoy their pov's. In short The Blade Itself felt like the prologue to Before They Are Hanged.

Upon finishing The Blade Itself I had no idea what the story was and were the plot would go from there. All the characters were kind of interesting, and in the end I wasn't that invested in their individual story. But The Blade Itself was entertaining, it contained adventure, political intrigue, Northmen, and Inquisitor Glokta. So, all the good stuff but still not enough for me. And in my book that counts for something around three star. Therefore not enough reasons to not read the sequel.

With that mindset, and mainly because I wanted to know what would happen to Glokta I picked up Before They Are Hanged. And I'm glad I did. Because if The Blade Itself didn't convince me, Before They Are Hanged surely did.
Now I'm completely hooked.

New favourite character: Practical Vitari

Currently reading

The Silvered
Tanya Huff
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Susanna Clarke
Progress: 320/1000 pages