Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

“Wax crept along the ragged fence in a crouch, his boots scraping the dry ground.”

First line in The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Mistborn: The Alloy Era (Book 1)

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will.

After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

Goodreads

Review

I finally picked up this book which is a follow up to Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy. As you can tell from my rating, it was a bit of a let down without being a horrible book. It takes place 300 years after the events in The Hero of Ages and therefore, it has a completely new cast of characters. It also means that the world has progressed to a western inspired setting. I think this book has taught me that I don’t like westerns.  Just keep that in mind.

I’ll split this review up into what I liked and disliked about the book because there’s a bit of both. We start negative to end on a positive note.

Dislikes:

  • Pacing of the plot

I felt the plot was unnecessarily slow for such a short book. The edition I read was only 324 pages long, so I was actually expecting it to be very gripping and exhilarating from start to finish. That’s not what I got. A lot of time is spent on world building (which I’ll get back to) and so the plot almost felt like a side note. Like Sanderson forgot that plot is a thing and just quickly thought of something. In my opinion, the problems could have been resolved much faster but was drawn out to flesh out the world and the characters.

  • Awkward dialogue

Yes, this is weird, I know. Some of things the characters said just made me cringe to hard. Especially Wax when the topics just resembled anything romantic. Definitely not where Sanderson is strongest.

  • The main character Waxillium

We follow Wax for most of the book with a few short POV’s from other characters. That just means that your level of enjoyment is very dependent upon whether you like Wax or not. Well, I didn’t hate him. I just didn’t care very much about him and found him kind of boring. He’s very dry and always very responsible. He lightened up a bit when he had interactions with Wayne but there were very few of those.

Likes:

  • Wayne

Wayne was just a joy to read about. He was a necessary opposite to Wax’ gloominess and I just wish he’d had a more central role to play in the plot. I hope to see more of him in the next books. I need more of his amazing lines and quick wit.

  • Worldbuilding

Absolute favorite thing about this book and the reason I still liked it despite the dislikes I mentioned. Sanderson spends a lot of this book showing how the world and also the magic have evolved. I found it so intriguing to read about and just wanted more. It clearly opened up so many possibilities for the progression of the plot in the next books which I can’t wait to read.

Overall

The Alloy of Law very much functions as an introduction to the next Mistborn Era and it’s clearly meant to set up the next books. Maybe that’s why I overall found it a little underwhelming. Especially for a Sanderson novel. I wanted to be tricked and surprised, but I wasn’t because the plot felt very straightforward and predictable in my opinion.

I’m going to continue with the series and hope Sanderson returns to his earlier amazing storytelling.

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

“Place ten dozen hungry orphan thieves in a dank burrow of vaults and tunnels beneath what used to be a graveyard, put them under the supervision of one partly crippled old man, and you will soon find that governing them becomes a delicate business.”

First line in The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Author: Scott Lynch

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Gentleman Bastard (Book 3)

My rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: With what should have been the greatest heist of their career gone spectacularly sour, Locke and his trusted partner, Jean, have barely escaped with their lives. Or at least Jean has. But Locke is slowly succumbing to a deadly poison that no alchemist or physiker can cure. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmage offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him or finish him off once and for all.

Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body—though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring—and the Bondsmage’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past: Sabetha. She is the love of his life, his equal in skill and wit, and now, his greatest rival.

Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha—or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend
(Goodreads).

Review

To begin this review, I just want to clarify that I LOVE THIS SERIES! I enjoy spending time in this world and I’m so sad that I’ve now caught up with the series and have to wait for the next one. Nevertheless, I was very apprehensive before starting this third book in the Gentleman Bastard. From the synopsis I’d gathered that romance would enter the story with the introduction of Sabetha. In the previous books, we get a lot (!) of hints to Locke’s relationship with Sabetha without getting anything specific. I therefore feared that I would hate Sabetha and that the romance would take over the plot. Let me explain how wrong I was.

Sabetha is just a wonderful addition to the story in my opinion. I especially loved her in the flashbacks because she creates just a little bit of balance in that male-dominated Gentleman Bastards. It gave Lynch an opportunity to highlight the idiocy of teenage boys. It was hilarious and so on point. Of course, Sabetha also has her flaws at that age. Hers are just more related to her struggles about being the only girl and how she tries to retain influence and power in spite of this. Here is a quote from her:

I cannot stress how much I related to her and I applaud Lynch for giving us this version of a love interest for Locke. She could easily have become a cliché who was just there to fill out a role. But no, she’s her own person before she’s anything to Locke.

If you hadn’t guessed it, I could talk about Sabetha for hours, but let’s move on to my main critique. The plot. It hurts me just to write that because the plot has been magnificent in the first two books in the series. The setup was really cool. It looked like it could be even more amazing than the previous books with a very political plot. It felt like the perfect setting for the scheming and trickery we’ve been accustomed to with this series. Sadly, I ended up being kind of underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong. The book is still very good, but I don’t think it reaches the high standard of the first two books.

The best parts about this series are still Locke and Jean’s friendship and the writing. Just look at this quote:

How do you come up with a sentence like that? I’m baffled but I love it.

In short, all the humor and the swearing are still there and that is a big reason why I still enjoyed this book. Lynch’s creativity when creating these farfetched sentences is just mind-blowing.

That’s it for my thoughts on The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch. I hope you enjoyed it. If you’ve read it, I would love to chat about it in the comments. I feel like liking Sabetha is a bit of an unpopular opinion so let me know if you feel the same or can’t stand her.

Happy reading!

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Red Scrolls of Magic

“From the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower, the city was spread at Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood’s feet like a gift.”

First line in The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

Author: Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

Genre: YA urban fantasy

My rating: 3/5 stars

All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.

Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec will have to trust each other more than ever—even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping (Goodreads).

Review

Does the world have enough books about beautiful Shadowhunters and sassy warlocks? Apparently not because The Red Scrolls of Magic is the first book in a trilogy centered around everyone’s favorite spellcaster, Magnus Bane. The trilogy essentially functions as a companion series to The Mortal Instruments, and it is therefore not necessary to read to understand other books in the Shadowhunter universe. However, it is necessary to have read The Mortal Instruments up till City of Glass.

The story begins at the Eiffel Tower in Paris

I will say that I was very skeptical going into this after I found out it took place during City of Fallen Angels. As someone who has read every single Shadowhunter book that exist, I knew there would be no major consequences of whatever happened in this book. No deaths, no serious injuries, no major character developments. That just makes me wonder: is this trilogy necessary? Let’s get back to that later.

The thing I enjoyed most about the book was the characters. My favorite character has always been Alec Lightwood so having chapters from his point of view was such a delight. The way he is written is very believable and relatable. I’m guessing that many readers can see themselves in him and I want to applaud Cassandra Clare for creating such a well-rounded character.

Then of course we have Magnus, who throws out the most hilarious one-liners that keeps the tone of the book light and happy. We still get to see some of his deeper character traits which is also the point of this book. He’s more than just witty remarks.

Their journey through Europe also includes a stop in Rome

Moving on to the plot, I found it somewhat underwhelming. The bad guys weren’t really that bad, so I never actually feared for our characters. It meant that I was slightly bored throughout the book but that might just be me. I felt that it was unnecessarily slow but that is often the case with Cassandra Clare’s books because 75% of them is relationship drama. I did really appreciate the sweet moments between Magnus and Alec, but I felt the dialogue was going in circles sometimes. Is it because this book isn’t allowed to do character development? I don’t know but that’s what it felt like.

Another small thing that annoyed me was the way the authors would create suspense throughout the book. As I mentioned, the plot doesn’t have much going for it, so the authors needed to hold my attention some other way. That they would do by pretending something exciting was going to happen. They would create tension and shift the mood to make you think that the character was going to be in danger. But no. It could turn out to be a friend or maybe Magnus would just snap his fingers and it would go away. Nothing actually exciting. It’s a small thing but it happened too often, and it left me frustrated. It just seems like lazy writing to me.

So, my original question was: is this trilogy necessary? The answer: No, but it’s still very sweet and heartwarming. If you’re a fan of either Magnus or Alec, I think this is necessary to read. If you’re not, this isn’t really worth your time in my opinion. It’s not groundbreaking and it doesn’t reveal any life-altering information about the Shadowhunter universe. This is the book for you if you are already familiar with the universe and just want a fun, casual read.

Happy reading!

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Binding by Bridget Collins

When the letter came I was out in the fields, binding up my last sheaf of wheat with hands that were shaking so much I could hardly tie the knot.”

First line in The Binding by Bridget Collins

Author: Bridget Collins

Genre: Historical fantasy

My rating: 3.75/5 stars

Review

I have so many conflicting feelings about The Binding by Bridget Collins. Maybe not the most positive start to a review but I still have a lot to say. Let me fist say that you should take my star rating of 3.75 with a grain of salt. It’s an average. You see, the book contains three parts which are quite different from each other. My star rating for each part:

  • Part 1 – 2 stars
  • Part 2 – 5 stars
  • Part 3 – 4 stars

Now it’s time to go behind the numbers. I’ll do this by listing the things I liked and didn’t like about The Binding. Let’s start with what I didn’t like so we can end on a positive note.

Things I didn’t like

  • Lack of information.  

I need to know things! Collins is extremely sparse with what I would call practical information, and that left me with so many questions while reading. Where are we? What do the characters look like? How old are they?

Especially the question of where this story is set is relevant. I kept wondering whether this was a fantasy or a historical fantasy and missing the world-building. It’s not super relevant to the story as it is very character-driven but it’s distracting for me not to know.  

  • Writing annoyances

Two things annoyed me about the writing. Firstly, withholding information from the main character (and the reader) by cutting off other characters’ sentences for no reason. Here’s an example:

“It’s not…” Ma drew in her breath. “Maybe it’s not what I would have wanted, before…”

Sentences like these would come up all the time to let me know that there was some secret that I, as a reader, didn’t know. I understood that after the first three times it happened and didn’t need the extra twenty.

My second problem with the writing is a very small one albeit still annoying. The word “pale”. If I ever reread this book, I want to do a wordcount of that word. Everything in this book is pale. Eyes, hands, flowers, walls. Please use another word.

  • Pacing in Part 1

I think this might be the main reason I disliked part 1 so much. The first two or three chapters felt so rushed. Like we just needed to introduce the characters as quickly as possible and then move on. Then it calmed down. A lot. It’s a very slow-paced book overall but I only had a problem with it in part 1. I kept waiting for a plot to appear and it just didn’t.  

This is how pretty the book is without it’s dust jacket!

Things I liked

  • The romance!

I loved that so, very much. It was the reason I read practically all of part 2 in one sitting. I won’t spoil anything, so I can’t say too much about it other than it was really well written. It’s very slow and subtle and just feels magical to read. I’m not a reader who normally enjoys romance in my books. Only when it’s this good.

  • The concept of bookbinding

Bookbinding is the fantasy element in this story, and it’s really a creative idea. If you’re going to read this book, I highly encourage you to NOT read the synopsis beforehand. In my opinion, it reveals way too much about this bookbinding concept and the story in general. Therefore, I’m not going to explain it here either but just say that I appreciated how Collins made it seem like a natural part of the story.

  • The writing

Yes, I had some issues with the writing as mentioned above but those were mainly a problem in part 1 (I’m hoping the 2-star rating is starting to make sense). In part 2 and 3, it was absolutely beautiful. Maybe I’d gotten used to her writing because I’ll say it’s not the easiest book to read. I loved how Collins’ slow and thoughtful writing made me feel what the characters were feeling, and it completely pulled me into the story. I couldn’t put it down. I was reading this on my day off and I had stuff to do. As you may have guessed, I didn’t do the stuff. I just read The Binding.

Although I didn’t enjoy all of it, The Binding gave me a really nice reading experience and I would definitely recommend it. Just maybe not to everyone. The genre is historical fantasy, but I would highlight the fact that there’s more romance than fantasy in this book. The synopsis will trick you with that as well. It’s not a bad thing but it can be an unpleasant surprise if you’re not expecting it. So again, don’t read the synopsis. That’s also the reason why I haven’t included it in the beginning of this review if you were wondering.

Overall, The Binding is a slow-paced, beautifully written love story with a fantasy twist that I’m so glad to have read. I hope this review gave you an idea whether or not this is a book for you too.

Happy reading.

Line

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

“In Distress. Stuck in Universe City. Send Help.”

First line in Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Author: Alice Oseman

Genre: YA contemporary

My rating: 4.5 stars

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances is a study machine with one goal. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside. Then Frances meets Aled, and for the first time she’s unafraid to be herself.

So when the fragile trust between them is broken, Frances is caught between who she was and who she longs to be. Now Frances knows that she has to confront her past. To confess why Carys disappeared.

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has
(Goodreads).

Review

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman should be mandatory reading for everyone in high school. Also, teachers and parents should probably read it too. It deals with the more and more prevalent topic of ‘the pressure to do well’ in school. Of how our society creates a belief in young people’s minds that if they fail a test, their life is over, and they will never be happy. Alice Oseman shouts out a big fat HELL NO with this second novel of hers.

It’s a book I wish that I’d read when I was 17 because I would definitely have been able to relate to it more than I did now as a 25-year-old. I did really like most of the characters and could identify with both Frances and Aled. Frances as the “study machine” who never really questions why she studies so hard. She just knows that she has to do it or be a failure. I loved her relationship with her mother and what it represented in relation to the pressure Frances is feeling. She’s just the definition of the “cool mom”.

Aled is another story. He is quite mysterious in the beginning and for most of the book actually. He’s described as very quiet and closed-off, but he’s also pressured to be perfect in school. It’s very beautiful to see his and Frances’ friendship develop throughout the book. I enjoyed that it wasn’t an instant friendship, but we got to see them being a bit awkward at first and learning to trust each other.

The other characters weren’t as good as Frances and Aled. They seemed somewhat one dimensional as if they were only there to push the plot along. Especially Aled’s mother who very clearly just had one purpose which I won’t spoil here. I would have liked to have understood her reasoning behind her actions, but we didn’t get that. It made her seem a bit unrealistic when she could have been a really impactful character.

Enough about characters. Something that made me feel happy while reading the book was the representation of online fandom culture specifically through Tumblr. Frances is an active member of the fandom for the podcast show Universe City for which she makes fan art. Oseman clearly knows Tumblr and she was able to show both the good and the bad sides of a fandom. 

Finally, I just wanted to express my appreciation for the fact that this book takes place in Britain. It might seem like a small thing, but I’m so used to reading books and watch tv shows about the American school system that it’s just the default setting. The British setting was just so refreshing and surprising because I didn’t know about it before starting the book.

Overall, Radio Silence is an amazing book. The writing style is very simple, and the chapters are extremely short. So, if you’re looking for a fast read with significant themes that maybe will make you revaluate aspects of your own life, Radio Silence is a book for you.

I hope you liked this review and I would love to know if you agree or disagree with my points in the comments.

Until next time,

Line