Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Reading Challenge: Reviews on Half a King, Monstrous, Crown of Midnight and Dorothy Parker Drank Here

Books, books and more books!

And now, back to our reviews.

First up, a review on Half a King by Joe Abercrombie.

So yes, I tried to read Half a King first and didn't end up getting that far into it. I returned it to the library without finishing it. Then I thought I'd take a chance and read Half the World, book 2 in The Shattered Sea series, and I ended up loving it. So logic said that I needed to give Half a King another chance.

Well, I'm still not sold on Yarvi as a character but now I see how certain book plots in Half the World make the tiniest bit more sense in terms of development. However, I don't think you need to read book 1 in order to understand book 2, as I read them out of order and it worked out great. I also ended up liking Yarvi a little more this time around because I already knew where he ended up in the next book. I was invested in seeing how Yarvi survived the fate he was dealt in this book which led him to gain a position of power that put him place to save Thorn in the next book.

Half a King follows Yarvi, a young man born with only one working hand, who knew that his best option in life would be to train to be a minister. But when his father and brother end up murdered, Yarvi is forced to step up in their place. Betrayals ensue and Yarvi finds himself having to struggle to return home and take back the throne.

The writing is crisp and moves along at a good pace, developing characters and revealing information in just the right places to keep the reader going to reach the end of the book. Once I got to a certain point, I was ready to make sure I finally got to the end of the book and I cared enough to get there. Having read the book, I understand Yarvi's motivations a little more. Half a War, the conclusion to the series will be next up for review soon.

Rating: 7.5 Stars

Next up, Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly.

I don't remember how I heard about this book. I do know that the cover art was intriguing and the premise sounded promising. I wanted to read all about Kymera with the bolts in her neck, wings and a spiky tail. I wanted to read a story about a little girl who worked to save the girls of the city of Bryre from the workings of an evil wizard.

Except by the time I finished the first few chapters, I knew exactly what was going on in the book and I spent the rest of it waiting for Kymera to figure everything out. Which took longer than I expected it to and it really tried my patience. I'm all for strong middle-grade books where kids show that they are just as fearsome and impressive as other lead characters older than them. I just didn't get that with this book. The hints were too strong for me to ignore the obvious plot points screaming at me from every other page. I wanted to love Kymera and instead I read to the end of the book just because I never quit reading a book when I've already read so much of it. I also wanted to see for myself that my predictions about the plot were right.

There's another book set in the same universe called Ravenous, set for release in February 2016, that I may try reading later this year because I'm optimistic enough to give the writing another try.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Now a review on Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas.

I took a chance and tried reading Throne of Glass a couple of years ago. It wasn't wildly impressive or different but I really liked Celaena Sardothien, the assassin working to become the King's Champion. I was impressed with her strength and how she struggled to survive and how she still allowed herself to take pleasure in the little things in life. I was willing to read the next book in the series to see where the story went just based on her character alone.

Crown of Midnight took everything I liked about Throne of Glass and made it ten times better. Characters had the chance to grow and seem more realistic compared to the first book. What were once simple leads with clear motivations are now complex characters with various layers of dreams and strengths and weaknesses. The stakes are higher and Maas isn't afraid to let her characters suffer in order for them to become better and stronger. 

Celaena Sardothien is working as the King's assassin but she has her own plans in place, her own agenda at work. She struggles to find a way to keep herself in the mix, staying safe while carefully working against the King. She has to figure out how to keep her friends safe while still managing to do what she always intended: finding a way to stop the King from destroying more lives.

In this book, Maas shows that she's grown as a writer. She's improved her characterization, her pacing and her overall talent as a author. I loved this book so much, I bought both the hardcover and the e-book edition just so it would be easier for me to take a copy with me for long trips. I have the rest of the series ready for me to read as soon as I have the chance to enjoy them.

Rating: 9.5 Stars

Last up for today, Dorothy Parker Drank Here by Ellen Meister.

This book follows two main plotlines. The first involves the brilliant Dorothy Parker, who has decided not to move on after her death and haunts the halls of the Algonquin Hotel and Bar. After years left on her own, she decides to try to gain a companion, another ghost to keep her company in her afterlife, and she decides that the reclusive writer, Ted Shriver, is the answer she's been looking for. The other plot follows Norah Wolfe, a young woman working on a failing TV show who is determined to get Shriver to make an appearance. Eventually, the two of them join forces to figure out the truth behind why Shriver has hidden himself away for so long.

While I did find Dorothy Parker to be charming, I really did not care one bit for Norah Wolfe and her sad story. Her reasoning and her background did nothing to endear her to me. I found her to be naive and gullible, which for a woman of her age was distinctly disappointing, leaving her seeming childish overall. I have no idea if this was the point but for me, it didn't work as a driving force in the novel. When certain events unfolded and Norah was stunned at how things had gone down and she states why she thought things should have been different, I just sat there, staring at this book, wondering how a grown woman could possibly be so dumb. It was as if she thought everything was going to be sunshine and rainbows and was surprised when when she ended up alone and betrayed like everyone else does more often than not.

Not my kind of book. As much as I like Dorothy Parker, I'm not going out of my way to find the other book in this series.

Rating: 1.5 Stars

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