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“The Thief” Review

“A little danger adds spice to life.” — Megan Whalen Turner, The Thief

“The Thief” Review

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This post may contain spoilers.

I picked up this book during one of my “Let’s buy everything!” moods at Barnes and Noble with Rachel. The title and cover intrigued me. Fantasies with thieves and journeys are one of my book weaknesses.

The story itself stars Gen, a thief that has found himself in the king’s prison for boasting about stealing the king’s seal from the king’s magus. While his boasts may have landed him into trouble, the magus decides that Gen — who claims he can steal anything — will be the perfect thief to bring on a quest to find an object straight out of a legend. The object in question is a stone that indicates who is the rightful ruler of one of the land’s kingdoms.

Told in first-person, we follow Gen along on the quest. Being a thief, he’s not held in high regard among the party of travelers and is constantly monitored by the magus, the group’s soldier Pol, and the magus’s two apprentices, Ambiades and Sophos. For the most part, Gen seems fairly laid-back, figuring that attempting to steal a legendary object is better than being in jail. His narration voice does have a few quips and sarcastic remarks, but for the most part, he seems to be an observer and was easy enough to keep up with as one reads the story.

With that said, none of the characters really stood out in this story. The magus didn’t even have a name other than “the magus,” even if he was the one who orchestrated the entire quest and was, arguably, the second most important character after Gen. Pol was the competent soldier, there at Sophos’s father’s request to keep an eye on his son, and played the strong and silent type a little too well to really keep me invested in his well-being.

Sophos, on his part, was curious and easy-going, eager to learn and seemed to be a better apprentice to the magus than Ambiades. Ambiades resembled a spoiled child more often than not, despite being the elder of the two, but he seemed to get a little more development near the middle of the book… until he stayed behind from the rest of the party at one point, nearly erasing him from the rest of the story. While I had it in my head the apprentices were young — perhaps older teens, getting close to their twenties if not just reaching them — there was a comment regarding a certain someone who Sophos may marry, completely throwing off my mental picture of the character and making me question whether or not their actions throughout the story was justified for their ages or not.

The entire first half of the novel was the journey to the temple that supposedly held the legendary object. History lessons about the lands and the legend itself — with scenes of the group eating, washing, or camping peppered in — was all I read for that first half, feeling as if I were a student along with Ambiades and Sophos. Instead of being interested like Sophos, I was bored along with Ambiades.

The book’s mythology and history is actually interesting, and definite kudos to the author for creating this beautiful world for her characters to live in. However, the first half of the book read more like info-dumping than an actual story. The history was necessary for the legendary object, yes, but I feel as if the author could have done a much better job passing along the needed information. Stories around the campfire are fine, but give me more of a journey rather than a textbook while they head toward the temple.

Once the story hit the midway point, I became much more invested in it. We had reached the temple, Gen had ventured through it, the object was found, then lost. Danger found the party and motives were revealed, as well as Gen’s true plan regarding the quest. He was a bit of an unreliable narrator throughout the story, and reading how everything fell into place almost made up for the textbook half of the story.

To me, The Thief was okay. While the myths and history of the lands were interesting, I didn’t like the way it was all presented, and the characters weren’t as intriguing as I had hoped they would be. Still, I will not rule out the rest of the series. Perhaps I’ll find them in the library when I’m ready to try again to dive into the author’s world.

“The Thief” gets a 3 out of 5 stars.

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Posted by on August 9, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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“The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” Review

“We are not broken things, neither of us. We are cracked pottery mended with laquer and flakes of gold, whole as we are, complete unto each other. Complete and worthy and so very loved.” — Mackenzi Lee, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

“The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” Review

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This post may contain spoilers.

 

This book was one of my favorite spur-of-the-moment-buys-due-to-a-Tumblr-post that I’ve had in a while. The Tumblr post in question listed various reasons as to why one should buy this book, including race diversity, sexual diversity, pirates, and a journey around Europe for precious treasure. Mackenzi Lee certainly delivered with this fresh and lively story.

The story stars a young lord by the name of Henry Montague, who prefers to be called Monty because Henry reminds him too much of his father. Monty is a bit of a rascal, falling into beds of men and women alike while squandering away his inheritance as his way of rebelling against his parents. While he’s not anxious to become the next lord of the estate and learn under his father, Monty believes that it’s the only course for his future.

His solution is to gallivant on one last Tour of Europe with his best friend Percy, whom he is utterly in love with. It is Monty’s wish to have one last year having as much fun as possible flirting with Percy, gambling, drinking, and trouble alike. Yet, when Monty’s penchant for mischief causes more trouble than he would like, the Tour turns into a manhunt across Europe with Monty, Percy, and Monty’s sister Felicity as the targets.

This book was a brilliant page-turner. The action of the adventure that Lee conjures for the reader never stop — even if the starring trio seem to get a chance to catch their breath while on the run, something troublesome is always lurking around the corner. The dynamic between the three main characters is absolutely wonderful, with them representing strong ties in platonic, romantic, and sibling relationships, and each of them are strong enough to develop and grow amidst exterior and interior troubles. Side and minor characters are even fully developed, each getting his or her own voice that are easily recognizable.

As if the characters and the adventure aren’t enough to keep you reading, the sheer wit and, at times, delicious sarcasm of Monty as the narrator will keep you invested. Monty has no filter, not as a narrator nor as part of conversations with the other characters, and it is wonderfully refreshing with plenty of comedic quips. Aside from adoring Monty and Percy together (even if there were times when I wanted to shake the two by the shoulders as I want to do with most pining teenage and young adult characters), the sibling relationship between Monty and Felicity was a delight. Reading their interactions and how they grow together in the story was amazing.

If you’re interested in a period story about high-stakes adventure, witty description and dialogue, sibling banter, pining love, diversity in race and sexuality, and pirates that haven’t quite figured out how to be good pirates yet, then I highly recommend Lee’s “A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.”

“The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” gets a 5 out of 5 stars.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: The Paper Magician

“Perhaps the man wasn’t so mad after all. Or maybe it’s a madness [she] can learn to appreciate.” — Charlie N. Holmberg, The Paper Magician

“The Paper Magician” Review

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This post may contain spoilers.

 

I picked up The Paper Magician because it was on some list that I found somewhere on the Internet that suggested other books that people might like if they enjoyed Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. Charlie Holmberg has created a unique set of magical rules, wherein a magician is bond to only one manmade material, such as rubber, glass, or paper.

The novel opens up with the main character, Ceony Twill, arriving at the house of the magician she will apprentice under, Emery Thane. Thane is one of the few Paper Magicians in the area, as paper isn’t the most popular materials to spell. Ceony herself would have preferred to be bond to metal, to enchant cannons and bullets instead of scrapbook material.

Yet, as Ceony is apprenticed under the eccentric Magician Thane, she learns the intricate art and wonder of spelling paper as well as Excisioner, the forbidden magic of spelling human flesh. When an Excisioner storms into Thane’s and Ceony’s home to snatch Thane’s heart, it is Ceony who embarks on a dangerous quest to rescue the magician’s heart. She not only learns but experiences her teacher’s hopes, dreams, and darkest memories and doubts that created Thane’s spirit during this quest, all while trying to avoid becoming the Excisioner’s next victim.

I definitely enjoyed the unique magic system in this book. Being a reader and a writer, I appreciated the new magic that paper can bring the world. The descriptions of the special Folds that the papers need in order for the spells — animated, defense, attacking — to be completed were wonderful, as were the general setting descriptions. The narration succeeded in bringing the reader along with Ceony on her journey, and it kept me turning page after page.

That, and Thane had a skeleton butler named Jonto made out of paper and he had even created a paper dog for Ceony. Those little touches were adorable.

I wasn’t a fan of the main antagonist of the book, however. The Excisioner twist was definitely interesting in itself, but the battle between her and Ceony seemed to be more like two women fighting over the love of a man. The reason behind the fight reminded me of a couple of catty high schoolers, even if the settings and the fight itself was entertaining. The motive for the fight did not keep me invested.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy the book enough to consider getting the sequel the next time I’m willing to lighten my wallet at the bookstore. If you enjoy magic, historical pieces, and eccentric characters, you may enjoy Holmberg’s The Paper Magician.

“The Paper Magician” gets a 4 out of 5 stars.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

“DUMBLEDORE: You ask me, of all people, how to protect a boy in terrible danger? We cannot protect the young from harm. Pain must and will come.

HARRY: So I’m supposed to stand and watch?

DUMBLEDORE: No. You’re supposed to teach him how to meet life.”

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” Review

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This post may contain spoilers.

 

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling is one of the most beloved book franchises in the world. Spawning movies, video games, entire theme parks from the books, Harry Potter has almost a cult following. When word got out that there was going to be a play that took place after the epilogue of the final book, people went crazy. Created by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne with a bit of help from J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was born.

Considering I wasn’t able to hop on a plane and get to London for the two-part play, I was definitely excited to hear that the script would be published. Although it wouldn’t have been the same as seeing the magic performed on the stage, I was sure my imagination could fill in the blanks.

Being a script, this book was a quick read. It took me a little under three hours to get through it all. It was a delight to see Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Draco again, to see them grown even if they were still struggling from the war that had snatched away their childhoods two decades beforehand. They all had children themselves, all growing up with the pressure that came with famous parents.

The story of the play itself revolves much around time and what-ifs. What if Cedric Diggory had lived after the Triwizard Tournament? What if Hermione and Ron had never gotten married? What if Voldemort had won all those years ago? Harry’s youngest son Albus and Draco’s son Scorpius explore these possibilities when they dare to meddle with time, to try to right a wrong, to try to figure out themselves in a world that only sees them as the sons of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy.

While I enjoyed this very much, it seems to have been given mixed reviews over on Goodreads. Quite a few reviews complain about the lack of character development, the lack of description and stage directions, how it reminds them of fanfiction instead of an actual eighth story.

But that’s the point of this entire script.

It is a fanfiction, it’s a what-if telling of the future of some of the most beloved literary characters in the world. It’s a play, not a novel, and it shouldn’t be reviewed as such. Plays are meant to be watched, to see unfolded on a stage, allowing the audience members to come to their own conclusions about the characters through their actions and interactions with each other. There is no narration to allow us to get into a character’s head — you must deduce that yourself from his words, from her actions what their thoughts are.

It’s unfair to compare the play to the saga when the play aims to take you to a new world. A familiar world, yes, but a new world just the same.

With all that said, I would have loved this as a novel much like those who left disgruntled reviews stating the same, but I can understand that the writers wished to invite Harry Potter fans from all over the world to see their play. If not in person on the London stage, then in their imaginations with the help of the script. If only there were a few more parts after Part One and Part Two…

If you enjoy the Harry Potter series and keep in mind that this is a script rather than an attempt at the eighth novel, then I believe you’ll enjoy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” gets a 4 out of 5 stars.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: Six of Crows

“None of us move on without a backward look. We move on always carrying with us those we have lost.” — Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

“Six of Crows” Review

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This post may contain spoilers.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a book that has enormous hype around it. Due to all of the wonderful praise I had been hearing about it, I picked it up during one of my Barnes and Noble shopping sprees. It hung out on my bookshelf for quite a while before I picked it up during the blizzard my area had yesterday.

I finished this 450+ book in a day.

I could barely put the book down! Despite the fact that I was initially confused at the magic system the author had incorporated, seeing as I hadn’t read the previous trilogy by her, this book was fantastic. I was able to figure out and keep up with the lore, even though I was new to the author’s world (as I’m presuming that I would have had more background information if I had read the previous trilogy).

The story, after the first few chapters, was fast-paced and action-packed. The plans and trickery were well-written in their adventure, and you could never tell if everyone was going to make it out alive from the dangerous heist they had been contracted to pull off. Trying to kidnap a scientist that had created a powerful drug for the world’s magic-users from the most notorious prison in the world was something only those who had nothing left to lose would try to do, yet there they went.

Each character was distinct and the diversity surrounding their cultures was fascinating. Despite their differences, they didn’t kill each other (although it wasn’t for lack of trying on some of their parts) as they raced through their mission. The dreams and friendships kept them all hanging on to an impossible hope that they would live through the job and have better lives in the end.

There were women friendships! There were men and women friendships that didn’t end in romance! There was sexuality diversity! There was no instant romance — rather, you saw and experienced the characters falling in love amid the chaos of the mission, and it was all beautifully written.

My only obvious grievous with this book is that I obviously have to go out and get the sequel now. If you enjoy magic, dangerous odds, and snarky but lovable characters, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy Six of Crows!

“Six of Crows” gets a 5 out of 5 stars.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: Circus Mirandus

“[I]t was a ridiculous, amazing thing to do, and once in a while, it’s good to be ridiculous and amazing.” — Cassie Beasley, Circus Mirandus

“Circus Mirandus” Review

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This post may contain spoilers.

 

Circus Mirandus is a fantasy story aimed at children, mostly around the middle school age. Nevertheless, it involved a magical circus, prompting me to pick it up and read it within a few short days.

The story follows young Micah, a ten-year-old who believes in magic thanks to the wonderful stories his Grandpa Ephraim tells him about the Circus Mirandus. The circus was a haven for children who believed in magic, a safe place for them to explore and marvel at the wonders the performers acted for them. One such performer was the Man Who Bends Light… or, as Ephraim names him, the Lightbender. The Lightbender is an illusionist, taking children on fantastic journeys to all corners of the earth, and found young Ephraim special enough to promise him a miracle within his power.

It’s years later when Ephraim is terminally ill that he asks for his miracle to be granted. The Lightbender, however, feels as if he cannot grant it.

Micah, along with his friend Jenny, refuses to accept that answer and journeys to find the circus himself to make the Lightbender keep his promise. Micah believes that the miracle his grandpa had asked for was to cure him, yet Ephraim had a much better miracle in mind…

The story itself goes back and forth between points of view, including Micha’s, young Ephraim’s, and the Lightbender. Two to three timelines weave themselves together to fill out the novel, the prose showing even the most dislikable characters in an understanding light by the end of it. The characters’ developments were one of my favorite parts of this story — even minor characters had their own agendas rather than any of them feeling like cardboard caricatures.

My other favorite aspect of this novel was the magic, of course. Following along with the descriptions of the people and acts of the circus gave me a sense of excitement and even nostalgia for my childhood.

Being catered to children, Circus Mirandus was a light read for me, but I nevertheless enjoyed every chapter.

“Circus Mirandus” gets a 4 out of 5 stars.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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2017 Goodreads Challenge

Hey, look, I added the Goodreads Challenge widget to the side bar again!

Last year I had pledged to read 52 books — about one a week — and it didn’t go well. I ready maybe about 20 books, some of them rereads, which isn’t bad but I would have liked to fall in love with more new books.

This year I brought my goal down to 26 books, aiming for at least a book every two weeks. More book reviews on this blog is one of my goals for this year, so I hope you all look forward to it!

If you have any book recommendations, feel free to comment on this post or even on my Reading List!

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2017 in Home

 

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