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Signor Finzione

Laura's Fantasy Corner 2015

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Welcome to my 2015 reading log. :)

 

These were my targets at the beginning of last year:

 

Targets for 2014:

 

1.       Get the TBR down to 100

2.       Try at least 20 new authors

3.       Read my pre-orders within a month of receiving them

 

I don't think I achieved any of them. :blush2: So I've decided this year's targets are going to be a bit more realistic.

 

Targets for 2015:

 

1. Read at least 1 book.

2. Buy less than 50 new books.

3. That's it. :giggle2:

 

I'm no longer keeping track of my TBR because, frankly, it's depressing. I'm just going to read whatever takes my fancy, and just hope I don't suffer a major loss of mojo like I did towards the end of last year.

 

I'm going to start off the new reading log by posting reviews of the books I read over the last couple of months, since I've only just got round to writing them. I'm yet to complete my first read of 2015, which is Magician by Raymond E. Feist.

 

Happy reading in 2015! :)

 

[Edited immediately after posting because apparently I can't spell.]

Edited by Signor Finzione

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Review: 'Three Parts Dead' by Max Gladstone
 
[read in 2014]
 
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A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.

Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.
 
 
I was a bit unsure going into this one, as many reviews I’d read about Three Parts Dead  contained phrases like “acquired taste” and “you’ll either love it or hate it”. I actually neither loved nor hated it, but found it fun, full of interesting twists, and a fairly enjoyable diversion from my ‘usual’ reading material.
 
The vast majority of the novel is set in the city of Alt Couloumb, which is run jointly by the fire god Kos Everburning and the former goddess Justice. The city’s equilibrium is threatened when Kos dies under mysterious circumstances, and is overturned even further upon the return of the reviled legendary ‘Stone Men’. Gladstone’s world is fresh, original and dark, a steampunk-inspired blend of gods and magic and technology. I particularly liked the concept of Justice’s servants, an army of peacekeepers who, when on duty, can call upon Her power and transform themselves into the indestructible Blacksuits.
 
Three Parts Dead follows newly-graduated Craftswoman Tara Abernathy as she is recruited to a necromantic law firm by one of its partners, travels to Alt Couloumb, begins a series of dangerous investigations, is acquainted with new allies and old enemies, and finally reaches the unexpected climax of the legal case. Believe it or not, the main part of the story takes place over the course of a single day and night, and the series of events is pretty thrilling, despite a heavy focus on law.
 
There are four main POV characters: Tara, the ancient and mysterious Ms. Kevarian, Cat the Blacksuit, and Abelard the novice priest. Each has their own unique perspective on the central case, and the author uses the shifting POVs to good effect, alternately keeping us in suspense and building momentum. However, the pacing remains fairly even throughout. The good thing about this is that there’s hardly ever a dull moment; the less good thing is that there are no real ‘high’ points until the end, and even the climax doesn’t quite feel as, well, climactic as it perhaps should. I also felt that there were a couple of things that served simply as convenient plot points, the vampire Raz Pelham being one of them, but I’m probably just nitpicking.
 
The world of Three Parts Dead is built really well, and we’re drip-fed bits of information relating to its history without ever being overwhelmed by it. Even better, there are tantalising mentions of other parts of the world which are never properly explained, and some of which we never actually see, such as the scorpionkind, the sea serpents, the Deathless Kings, the wastelands of Gleb, and the Hidden Schools. It makes the author’s fictional world seem bigger and more real, despite the fact that we only ever really see one city, and also gives the impression that further books in the series will (hopefully) finally allow us to see these things.

 

4/5
Edited by Signor Finzione

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Review: 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' by J. K. Rowling

 

[read in 2014]

 

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Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy - until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The Reason: HARRY POTTER IS A WIZARD!

 

NOSTALGIA WARNING: I read this book for the first time in 1998 – when I was 10! – and pretty much grew up with the series. I even got majorly upset on my 11th birthday because my Hogwarts letter never arrived (I still think the owl got lost). I re-read the earliest books in the series over and over again during my teenage years whilst waiting for each new one to be released. Needless to say, all the Harry Potter books have a special place in my heart.

 

Still, I’m not going to say too much about this one. I re-read it recently for the first time in several years, and am so glad it still stands the test of time. It’s much shorter than I remembered – only about 120 pages – and yet each chapter is full of exciting events without ever feeling rushed. Rowling writes with a light, gentle and humorous tone that makes the book an absolute delight to read, and the world she has created is, well, magical. Hogwarts, Quidditch, Dumbledore, Gryffindor: all of these have become bywords for fun fantasy adventure, and this is the place where it first began. As an adult I thoroughly enjoyed this return to my younger years, and can’t wait to re-read the other six books in the series.

 

5/5

Edited by Signor Finzione

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Review: 'The Alchemist of Souls' by Anne Lyle

 

[read in 2014]

 

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When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods--and a skrayling ambassador--to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador's bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally--and Mal his soul.

 

 

Anne Lyle’s debut novel, The Alchemist of Souls, is an intriguing mix of magic, drama, espionage, swordplay and politics set against a backdrop of Elizabethan England. I’ll be honest, this first book in the Night’s Masque trilogy isn’t spectacular in itself, but it does introduce a whole lot of interesting concepts and events, and hints at better things to come later in the series.

 

I usually prefer my reading to be ‘strict’ fantasy rather than historical. However, in this case I feel like the setting and time period create the perfect set-up and atmosphere for the story, and I particularly enjoyed the focus on the Elizabethan theatre and the references to figures such as Shakespeare and Marlowe. The sub-plot about the contest of plays, along with its accompanying mix of rivalry, jealousy and sabotage, was one of my favourite aspects of the book.

 

With regards to the main plot, I found it fairly fast-paced and entertaining, though it went in a slightly different direction than I’d anticipated. I’d expected quite a heavy focus on espionage as Mal learned the tricks of the trade, but this aspect of the story was somewhat surprisingly side-lined. However, I enjoyed the undercurrent of conflict between the humans and the skraylings, and felt that the author did a really nice job of interweaving each aspect of the storyline with the historical setting: the inclusion of real people and places gave great depth and realism to an otherwise fantastical tale.

 

However, I found the explanation of Mal and Sandy’s connection to the skraylings a bit confusing, and couldn’t seem to get my head around the time-frames relating to this aspect of the storyline. I also found the climax a little bit chaotic, and felt that the story lost some of its impetus as a result of the pacing and sequencing of events towards the end. Similarly I thought that the Mal/Sandy/Kiiren storyline was concluded somewhat hurriedly and unsatisfactorily. Neither did I really connect with any of the main characters as much as I would have liked, and although I quite liked Mal and Ned I didn’t really engage with much of Coby’s story at all. Theoretically she is one of the more interesting characters: a woman from another country disguising herself as a boy working for a theatre company in Elizabethan England (Shakespeare would have been proud), but for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to care overmuch.

 

Despite this, Lyle does a great job in weaving relationships between certain characters; and the sexual dynamics between many of them – Mal and Coby, Ned and Gabriel, Mal and Ned – are made much more interesting given the historical backdrop and its restrictions against both pre-marital and homosexual relations. I also really like the fact that the author creates lots of potential for the sequels without leaving us on a cliffhanger: I own all three books in this trilogy and look forward to seeing what Mal gets up to next.

 

3/5

Edited by Signor Finzione

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Seeing as I can't count and created one blank post too many, I may as well take the time to boast about my Christmas book buys. ;)

 

These are the books I unwrapped:

 

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Although it's a much smaller haul than previous years, I'm still really excited to read all three of these. The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a novella based around a minor character - Auri - in Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles. I'm a huge fan of Rothfuss' writing and this will tide me over nicely until the final book in the trilogy is released. Leviathan Wakes is an unusual one for me, since it's SF, but I've really enjoyed the author's fantasy series Dagger and Coin and look forward to giving this a go. I've had my eye on Kameron Hurley's work for a while but have always been put off by the fact that it mostly seems to be SF; when I heard she'd started a new fantasy series I decided to put The Mirror Empire on my Christmas list.

 

I also got a couple of Amazon vouchers off my lovely mother and sister, and have used them to pre-order the following books:

 

Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan (paperback)

The Liar's Key by Mark Lawrence

The Spider's War by Daniel Abraham

Assail by Ian Cameron Esslemont (paperback)

 

The releases of these books are spread out nicely between February and August, so it's nice to know I'll be receiving new books every couple of months. :)

Edited by Signor Finzione

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I wish you a great reading year in 2015, Laura :)!

 

Great reviews, I'm glad you enjoyed the books you read. There's nothing quite like nostalgia :).

 

I hope you enjoy your new purchases :)!

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Hi Laura, glad to see you. :)  Love the realism expressed in your goals. :D

I have Leviathan on my shelf....it's part of a trilogy.

 

Have a great reading year! :readingtwo:

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[Edited immediately after posting because apparently I can't smell.]

 

What's that got to do with it? :unsure::giggle2:

 

Have a great reading (and otherwise) year, Laura :smile:

 

 

 

 

I have Leviathan on my shelf....it's part of a trilogy.

 

There's already four books in that trilogy :smile:

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I don't think I achieved any of them. :blush2: So I've decided this year's targets are going to be a bit more realistic.

 

Targets for 2015:

 

1. Read at least 1 book.

2. Buy less than 50 new books.

3. That's it. :giggle2:

 Very sneaky - I like it!  :D

 

There's already four books in that trilogy :smile:

It must be channelling its inner hitchhiker - one to go!  :D

 

Happy reading in 2015.  :)

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[Had to remove a bunch of emoticons and stuff.]

 

I wish you a great reading year in 2015, Laura !

Great reviews, I'm glad you enjoyed the books you read. There's nothing quite like nostalgia .

I hope you enjoy your new purchases !

 

Thanks Gaia! Yes, this was one of those times when being nostalgic about a book actually increased my enjoyment of it, rather than disappointing me. :)

 

Hey, glad to see you back. I'm drastically behind on all my reviews/blogs/life etc.

 

Happy reading!

 

Thanks Tim! I know, and it only gets worse the more you stay away. A fresh start for 2015, maybe? :)

 

Hi Laura, glad to see you.  Love the realism expressed in your goals. :D

I have Leviathan on my shelf....it's part of a trilogy.

 

Have a great reading year! 

 

Thanks Kate, same to you! Yeah, I thought I'd go for something more achievable this year. :D

 

Happy reading, Laura!

 

Cheers Kylie! Same to you. :D

 

What's that got to do with it? 

 

Have a great reading (and otherwise) year, Laura 

 

 

There's already four books in that trilogy 

 

Thanks Steve. :) (Damn you, I actually went back and checked my spelling in that first post :lol: ).

 

And, I'm really hoping now that Leviathan is the FIRST book in the trilogy/series? :unsure:

 

 Very sneaky - I like it! 
 

It must be channelling its inner hitchhiker - one to go!  

 

Happy reading in 2015.  

 

Thanks Janet! And the same to you. :D

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(Damn you, I actually went back and checked my spelling in that first post :lol: ).

 

I love it when a plan comes together :giggle2:  

 

 

 

And, I'm really hoping now that Leviathan is the FIRST book in the trilogy/series? :unsure:

 

Yeah, it is :smile:  There are six books planned, I believe, plus several novellas :smile:

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I didn't really get on with Leviathan Wakes, it was OK but left me with no desire to read the sequels :shrug: But I know some people really love them, hope you do! There is also an upcoming adaptation which might be interesting :)

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I didn't really get on with Leviathan Wakes, it was OK but left me with no desire to read the sequels :shrug: But I know some people really love them, hope you do! There is also an upcoming adaptation which might be interesting :)

 

Ooh I'd better hurry up and read it then! :) I think you said something similar about the first Dagger and Coin book too, if I remember right? 

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I'm hoping the tv series might reinvigorate my interest.  I read LW and enjoyed it, bought the sequel, but then have never had the inkling to go read it or the rest, and have now forgotten almost everything about the first book :rolleyes:

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You've already achieved your first target .. very impressive :D Happy fantastical reading in 2015 :)

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Have a great reading year Laura :)

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I'm no longer keeping track of my TBR because, frankly, it's depressing. I'm just going to read whatever takes my fancy, 

 

Wise choices!! We should love to read books (or is it "we should read to love books?, this one is making my head spin :blink: )  and not to too stressed about the TBR list. Happy reading in 2015  :readingtwo:

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You've already achieved your first target .. very impressive :D Happy fantastical reading in 2015 :)

 

Have a great reading year Laura :)

 

Wise choices!! We should love to read books (or is it "we should read to love books?, this one is making my head spin :blink: )  and not to too stressed about the TBR list. Happy reading in 2015  :readingtwo:

 

Thank you, lovely people! Same to you. :D

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I hope you enjoy all your reading this year Laura.  :smile:

 

Happy reading in 2015, Laura! :)

 

Have a great reading year, Laura. :smile:

 

Thanks very much! And the same to you, lovely ladies. :)

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