Friday, February 26, 2016

The Hanged Man by P.N. Elrod (Her Majesty's Psychic Service, #1)

Title: The Hanged Man
Author: P.N. Elrod

Genre: Victorian Fantasy Alternate History Mystery (with a hint of Steampunk)
On a freezing Christmas Eve in 1879, a forensic psychic reader is summoned from her Baker Street lodgings to the scene of a questionable death. Alexandrina Victoria Pendlebury (named after her godmother, the current Queen of England) is adamant that the death in question is a magically compromised murder and not a suicide, as the police had assumed, after the shocking revelation contained by the body in question, Alex must put her personal loss aside to uncover the deeper issues at stake, before more bodies turn up.

Turning to some choice allies—the handsome, prescient Lieutenant Brooks, the brilliant, enigmatic Lord Desmond, and her rapscallion cousin James—Alex will have to marshal all of her magical and mental acumen to save Queen and Country from a shadowy threat. Our singular heroine is caught up in this rousing gaslamp adventure of cloaked assassins, meddlesome family, and dark magic.


I don't think there's anything more enjoyable than a well-thought out Victorian mystery with just a touch of the supernatural. 

The characters were absolutely magnificent, very well fleshed-out and had lovely banter. I couldn't get enough of their witty repartee. 

Besides the characters, the most interesting part of this book was the writing. It fit the atmosphere to a degree but their were certain turns of phrase that didn't click in meaning for me. I had to rely heavily on context clues for some parts. The execution however, was a different story from the writing style. I greatly appreciated the fact that the author built the world and characters up as the plot went along. There's no heavy exposition to bog down the beginning of the novel and stump the reader. 

The murder mystery plot was done fantastically well and the dissemination of the investigation was thrilling and compelling to read about. The combination of her majesty's Psychic Serivce working with Scotland Yard made for a hilarious pairing for solving crimes. 

This novel ended with 'no she didn't!' and 'haha wait, are you serious? Haha excellent!' moments that perfectly wrapped up the all the loose threads. I can't say more or I will end up spoiling something but suffice to say that this book set up a potential series quite nicely.

I would no doubt want to read more about this world and Alex's position in it but I'm not sure if there will be more books to come. In any case, this was an amazing romp of a book and just what I needed. 



Thursday, February 25, 2016

Charcoal Tears by Jane Washington (Seraph Black, #1)

Title: Charcoal Tears
Author: Jane Washington

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Seraph Black used to think that she was prepared for anything. She could last days without eating, and she always walked away from the violent altercations with her father relatively unharmed. She even survived working at the club, surrounded by the dregs of society, all staring into their bottles instead of noticing the unravelling lives that trailed behind them.

She had thought that she could survive anything, but she wasn’t prepared for Noah and Cabe to come bulldozing into her life, careless of the precious secrets they picked apart in their quest to take over her world. She was even less prepared for the mysterious Miro and Silas, but most of all…

Most of all… it was the stalker that threatened her talent for surviving. She wasn’t ready for the photos, and the messages. The warnings. The threats. Seraph’s life of surviving in the shadows was over, because the searchlight had found her, and there was nowhere that she could hide.


Read this in one day because I absolutely loved the writing and reverse harems just do it for me; which, if you've seen what I typically like to read, is not a big surprise.

The biggest problem I had was how secretive the boys were when it came to explaining what they were and the connection they had to Seph. One of the main reasons I initially liked this book was because Seph was quietly strong in her own way but the the author strips that away from her when the boys are introduced. There's absolutely no world building in this book because the author spends too much time trying to develop chemistry between characters who are deliberately kept in the dark about each other's feelings.

The author seemed to prioritize developing an evil villain than explaining the basis of what the villain is fighting against. I wanted to root for the characters to connect and become stronger as a group but I literally have no idea of what to root for because the main character doesn't know what's happening around her most of the time.

This book had all the convenience and benefits that is shown in The Academy series of a damaged girl rescued by a harem of boys but it has none of its amazing background development and relationship building.

Overall, I was disappointed because this could have been another favorite series of mine but the ending seemed so half-assed that I don't want to continue it.



Monday, January 4, 2016

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Title: Uprooted
Author: Naomi Novik

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.


So this definitely took me a while to finish but I'm glad I followed through with it because it was a really good story. I mostly enjoyed the latter half of the novel because the first half had a lot of pacing and execution issues. It was very stop-and-go in the beginning; there was a burst of action and then the plot dwindled to a crawl then another burst and another crawl.

I liked the fact that since Agnieszka was introduced as the Dragon’s latest captive it served as a catalyst in questioning the routine that was settled on the relationship between the Dragon and the villages he protects. Nieshka’s involvement produces an awakening in the Dragon and his methods. Her unique power and straightforward personality was able to infiltrate the Dragon’s dogged attitude and stiff mannerisms. 

I had a love-hate relationship with the writing due to its inconsistent prose. I loved the fluidity of the author's writing when she was describing anything, the scenery, the action, character’s feelings, etc. I hated when she tried to convey emotions via dialogue. In that instance, it was missing that fluidity and she wasn’t able to fully get across the passion in the emotion the character was trying to express.

I enjoyed the characters for the most part and believed they developed quite nicely throughout the story. However, I didn't get attached to any of them because of their development that they each went through was restricted to the circumstances they were in. Like the main character for example, Agnieszka, she turned out to be an amazing character but beyond the scope of the plot of fighting against the Woods, there was no substance to her. The Dragon was the same. His grumpiness was mostly just irritating to read about and his development was very slow-going.

The best parts of the story were mostly when the characters interacted with one another. They showed a depth in feeling was easily captured and conveyed to the reader. Agnieszka's friendship with Kasia was one of favorite parts to read about. And the relationship between Agnieszka and the Dragon was fun to witness develop because of the polarity between them was comical.

Another aspect that I found fascinating was the character of the Woods and how elaborate the author made it. The entire world-building that the author constructed was magnificent and very fairy tale-esque. That may be the biggest reason this book wasn't a five stars for me. I don't enjoy the linear plots of fairy tales. There's just something very constricting about the plots of fairy tales that limits the characters personalities by tying their development to their determination of confronting the Big Bad, in this case the Woods.