Review: Stained Glass Monsters by Andrea K. Höst

stained-glass-monsterStained Glass Monsters
by Andrea K. Höst
Series: Eferum #1
Genre: Fantasy
Published by Andrea K. Höst, 2011
E-book, purchased
245 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: When a motionless woman dressed in white appears in the village of Falk, Kendall Stockton has no inkling that the strange apparition will soon leave her homeless, and tangled in the affairs of mages and monsters. For the white figure is the first sign of a spell which will shatter cities, and make the caster as powerful as the gods.

Saved by a stranger who claims her goal is to stop the woman, Kendall is torn between admiring the mage Rennyn Claire’s strength, and doubting her methods. What is Rennyn willing to do to win? Do the best of intentions justify pragmatic sacrifice, or is Rennyn Claire no better than the monster she is trying to stop?

“It seems the adage about no good deed going unpunished is a true one,” the woman said when they were in earshot. The quizzical look she added sent a sudden rush of heat over Kendall’s face and throat.

and

“My Gran used to tell me that the ends don’t justify the means. What’s the difference between you and the Black Queen if you’re both willing to kill people to get your way.”

“Probably none, to any people I have to kill….”

Cheers

  • An adventure story; a page turner. I read it very quickly.
  • I love the way Ms. Höst writes her stories.
  • From the beginning we don’t know exactly what is going on and who is doing what. I wasn’t sure about the motives of  the various characters.
  • The story slowly unfolds as we discover what is happening. So even though this is an adventure story and lots happens quickly it also moves slowly as we discover who, what and some of why.
  • The magic in this world all comes from the Eferum which I’m not sure I really understand.
  • The characters are likeable and I enjoyed reading about them.
  • We don’t know everyone’s agenda during the book–especially Rennyn’s.
  • The book is mostly told from Kendall’s and Rennyn’s POVs.
  • Kendall is a fun character to read about–a skeptic, outspoken, unafraid, always questioning everything.
  • There is some romance in the book though it’s quite muted (which didn’t bother me).

Jeers

  • I’m not really sure I understand the Eferum–from which all the magic comes into the world. I have to admit that doesn’t bother me too much. I don’t have to understand everything about the world building in a fantasy or science fiction. I’m willing to follow things where they take me!

And a few thoughts . . .

  • A second book in this series is tentatively scheduled for sometime in 2015.
  • The Touchstone Trilogy is still my favorite set of books by Ms. Höst, but I’ve liked every book I’ve read by her so far.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • TBR Pile Challenge–hosted by the Bookish blog
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet)
  • COYER Winter Reading Challenge–hosted by Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun and Michelle @ Because Reading (free)

TBR Review: Bones of the Fair by Andrea K. Host

bones-of-the-fairBones of the Fair

by Andrea K. Höst
Series: Darest, Book 2
Genre: Fantasy
Published by Andrea K. Höst, 2013
E-book, Purchased
324 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: Darest stands on the verge of a Golden Age. The revival of the Rathen line and a blood price won from the Fair has drawn a flood of visitors eager to snatch their share of changing fortune – or at least one of the fabulous prizes offered at the Spring Festival.

Among those coaxed back to the once-failing kingdom is Gentian Calder, daughter of Shapers. Before she can decide whether to risk her life by staying, news arrives to put all other considerations aside. The Atlaran Ambassador and half the heirs of the western kingdoms have disappeared on Darest’s border.

Gentian agrees to join the Diamond Coeurveur and his apprentice in a rush to join the search. Will they find the missing? A plot against Darest? Or uncover older secrets, buried deep?

“Bones of the Fair” is set in the same world as “Champion of the Rose”. It can be read as a stand alone novel, but it’s recommended that you start with “Champion”.

It occurred to Gentian that some of the people here would have been sent in hopes of making sure they didn’t some back.

and

…it was all too much for Gentian, who choked into laughter.

“How very pragmatic you are, Lord Magister,” she managed. “You almost reconcile me to being trapped in Darest.” She paused, finding an unexpected core of truth in the words, and spoke unwarily when she added: “I didn’t think anyone could do that.”

Cheers

Map of Darest (link goes to Ms. Höst's blog)
Map of Darest (link goes to Ms. Höst’s blog)
  • I like this world. The world building is interesting and I hope there will be more books written in this series. Ms. Höst only scratches the surface of the stories which could be written.
  • This could be read as a stand alone as it states above, but you will have more understanding of the book if you read the first book–Champion of the Rose.
  • Told from two points of view–Aspen and Gentian.
  • Aspen and the Diamond Coeurveur are two characters from the first book who are main characters in this book.
  • Aspen plays the fool in both books. One who wants to live life to the fullest and get the most pleasure from life. He doesn’t take it seriously and hides behind that facade. He’s a hard character for me to like or respect during much of the book.
  • The sexuality in the book (mostly discovered through Aspen–his thoughts, words and actions–is interesting. There aren’t many taboos. I like that it isn’t the major focus of the book. It’s just the way this world is and doesn’t require much in the way of comment.
  • Most people overlook Gentian since she’s small, quiet and a “gardener,” but she’s also stubborn, refuses to give up and powerful in an unusual way. She also comes from a famous and quietly important family.
  • Many of the royals in this book are appropriately arrogant.
  • The Fair (Fae) don’t have much interest in humans. We find out a little more about them in this book.

Jeers

  • I had trouble keeping all the characters straight. So many princes and princesses!
  • I get to know Aspen better in this book, but the Diamond Coeurveur remains a mystery.

And a few thoughts . . .

  •  Ms. Höst’s always seems to write the kind of book I love to read. She really hits the mark with me–even this book which isn’t my favorite of her books.
  • The September challenge was to read a book recommended by someone else. This book wasn’t specifically recommended, but Li @ Me and My Books recommended Andrea K. Höst so I’m saying this book is part of that recommendation!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • Bones of the Fair is my TBR review for the month of August hosted by Wendy @ The Misadventures of Super Librarian. The review for this challenge posts on the third Wednesday each month.
  • Also qualifies as a TBR Pile Reading Challenge book.

Review: Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

Nice Dragons Finish Last
Nice Dragons Finish Last

 

Nice Dragons Finish Last
by Rachel Aaron
Series: Heartstrikers #1
Genre: Fantasy
Published by self-published, 2014
E-book, Purchased
315 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn’t fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience.

Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ–a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit–Julius has one month to prove that he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test.

He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons…

“Come on, you didn’t really think I belonged in a place like that, did you? I mean, look at me.”

He waved his hand at his ratty T-shirt and jeans, and Marci began to sputter. “I thought you were wearing that ironically!” she cried. “You know, one of those ‘I’m wearing comfortable clothes because I’m too cool to care how rich I am’ guys.”

and

“I can’t believe it. I finally meet a dragon, and he’s a year younger than I am. I have the worst luck ever.”

  • Rachel Aaron self-published this book and did a good job.
  • There’s a mix of irreverent humor, problem-solving and action in this book! It’s a lot of fun to read. As my husband would say–this is a page turner!
  • I love the way Ms. Aaron creates this world. The way magic comes back into the world. I’m looking forward to learning more in the next book.
  • The DFZ–Detroit Free Zone–is so interesting. A new city built on top of the old city, but the old city is still teeming with people trying to survive.
  • The dragons are fierce and scary at times, but so interesting. The dragons see humans mostly as pawns for their use.
  • Julius reminds me a little of Fortitude Scott in the Generation V series. They’re both considered weak by their families. They have to learn how to live in their worlds with their family and the reality of their lives. Once Julius realizes he has to stop trying to hide he shows how clever he really is.
  • The way Julius’ mother–Bethesda–names each of her Heartstriker children from her 10 clutches of eggs. “A” names for the first to the “J” names for her last group of children. This helps her remember her children!
  • Marci Novalli is a mage who was getting her doctorate in Thaumaturgical theory before she had to leave her home. She flees to the DFZ where she meets Julius. She needs work so she agrees to help Julius get into a party. She has no idea what she’s getting into, but she’s very confident about her magical abilities!
  • I love the characters in this book especially the Heartstriker dragons we meet and learn a little about: ambitious Ian; enforcer Chelsie, self-absorbed Jessica, brash and arrogant Justin, seer Bob. I hope we meet more of the Heartstriker dragons in future books.
  • I especially enjoy Bob who’s a seer. Seers tend to be a little crazy and sometimes give obscure predictions. Bob seems to delight in that.
  • The end of the book sets up lots of possibilities for the future of all the dragons…and future books!

Jeers

  • I like this book a lot. One of my favorites of the year so far–so no jeers!

And a few thoughts

  • I can’t wait for the next book in this series–One Good Dragon Deserves Another should be out this Fall!
  • Rachel Bach and Rachel Aaron are the same writer. Ms. Bach wrote the science fiction Paradox trilogy about the mercenary Devi Morris which I ended up loving. I read that Ms. Bach may write some more books set in the Paradox world! Yay!
  • Ms. Aaron previously wrote The Legend of Eli Monpress fantasy series (which I haven’t read yet–it’s always nice to have more books to look forward to).

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Review: The Silvered by Tanya Huff

I’ve had this book for several months so I’m counting it as a TBR book in the TBR Pile Reading Challenge and fantasy square in the Book Bingo Challenge.

the-silvered

 

The Silvered
by Tanya Huff
Series: None as of yet
Genre: Fantasy
Published by Daw, 2012
E-book, Purchased
454 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: The Empire has declared war on the small, were-ruled kingdom of Aydori, capturing five women of the Mage-Pack, including the wife of the were Pack-leader. With the Pack off defending the border, it falls to Mirian Maylin and Tomas Hagen—she a low-level mage, he younger brother to the Pack-leader—to save them. Together the two set out on the kidnappers’ trail, racing into the heart of enemy territory. With every step the odds against them surviving and succeeding soar….

 

He wouldn’t have been able to stop himself from pressing his lips against the top of her head had her hair not been so disgusting.

What worked for me:

  • Lots of action
  • The kingdom of Aydori is interesting with the were ruling and a very definite rule of manners similar to Regency England.
  • I liked the characters–especially Mirian. Mirian is dertermined to do the right thing against all odds.
  • Reiter was a good character–trying be a stoic military officer “just following orders.”
  • By telling this story from both sides of the war I could empathize with soldiers on both side…which made for lots of suspense.

What didn’t work for me:

  • Almost too much suspense.
  • It was hard to have so many characters I’d barely begun to know and like die.
  • The ending didn’t work for me.
  • I would like Tanya Huff to write some more books set in this world!

My thoughts:

So far Tanya Huff is saying she has no plans for a series or even a sequel. Even though the suspense was almost too much at times and the ending didn’t quite work for me I would love to read more about this world and the characters.

I like Tanya Huff’s books a lot and though I didn’t love this book I really liked many of the characters and the world. I hope she writes some more in this world. Have you read any of Tanya Huff’s books?

Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

the-burning-skyThe Burning Sky
by Sherry Thomas
Series: The Elemental Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Published by Balzer & Bray, 2013
e-book, purchased
464 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he’s also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

» » » » » » » » »

You are asking me to give up everything for a cause that isn’t mine. I don’t want to be part of any revolution. I just want to live.

and

Friendship is untenable for people in our position.

What I like about this book:

  • Iolanthe didn’t agree with Prince Titus’ plans immediately.
  • The world building for this fantasy is well done. I like that the fantasy world is different from the “real” world (which is like 19th century England).
  • She isn’t immediately heroic. She doesn’t want to die. She doesn’t understand who she is and has had no training. I thought this was a realistic reaction to her circumstances.
  • This is the second book in a row I’ve read with a girl pretending to be a boy (Hunting by Andrea K. Höst was the first–I didn’t plan it that way…lol). Both books are very good.

What I don’t like:

  • Iolanthe almost spent too much time disliking and distrusting Prince Titus.
  • I thought Iolanthe liked Titus a little too much at first and then distrusted him a little too much.

» » » » » » » » »

My thoughts: 

I’ve read some of Sherry Thomas’ historical romances and liked them, but wasn’t sure I’d like a young adult fantasy. However, I think she did a very good job with the first book of this trilogy. I hope the next two books are as good!

» » » » » » » » »

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?