Saturday, 3 February 2018

[article] January Round-Up

Are your reading resolutions still in full swing?

January Round Up, 2018

A new year and with it, new books! The majority of January was unfortunately taken up with studying for and sitting my third year university exams, but after celebrating the end I dug into my massive stack of books. Mostly, these were Christmas presents and so a massive thank you to all my family and friends for their generous gifts :)

Unfortunately, I managed to pick mostly hyped but average books to read - Empress of a Thousand Skies, Blood and Sand - and had better luck with some other anticipated books of mine - All Rights Reserved - and childhood nostalgia - The Tournament at Gorlan. Of course, the showstopper of the month was Pierce Brown's Morning Star. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on Iron Gold, but am patiently waiting until the paperback edition comes out. 

Spotlight ARC of the Month:

Blood and Sand
C. V. Wky

* * 
2 / 5
"She wanted to run and run until her breath was spent, until the ashes of her bones mingled with those of her people"
In answer to the age-old gladiatorial question: "are you not entertained?", the answer is "only a little bit". Blood and Sand promised not only the tale of a gladiator who strives for freedom, Xanthus, but also that of a warrior princess of Thrace, Attia! It sounded awesome and I eagerly began reading this book, only to discover that it is dominated by a poorly plotted romance and a lack of exciting action.

The opening of the book was fantastic. We have Attia, recently enslaved and mourning the death of her people and her father, who takes her chance to run, fleeing over the rooftops with guards in pursuit. Then there's Xanthus, a prize gladiator slave from Britannia who hates killing but is exceedingly good at it. But the plot is rather weird and the romance gave me whiplash.

Blood and Sand had it's entertaining and awesome, badass moments, but it also felt slow in terms of plot and moving at break-neck speed in terms of romance. There's also a lot of characters with similar names (Lucius, Lucretia, Lebuin, etc.) who often feel like props - Lucretia is a slave whose only role is basically to be pitied by Attia. Blood and Sand, I think, will appeal to a specific type of reader who, unfortunately, was not me.

Official Synopsis:

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end―and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus...

Spotlight Read of the Month:

Morning Star (Red Rising #3)
Pierce Brown

* * * * 
4 / 5
“The Reaper has come. And he’s brought hell with him.”
The concluding book in the Red Rising trilogy, Morning Star takes the shocking conclusion of Golden Son and blows it up. This book is, in essence, a war book: it is full of family and love and sacrifice and rebellion, but it is a war novel and because of that I thought it lacked some of the emotion of cleverness of Red Rising and Golden Son, which had war and epic fights in them, but were not about war. 

Beginning with Darrow's capture under the Jackal we are immediately introduced to a couple of new characters. The rough strokes of the plot of Morning Star are fairly typical: Darrow seeks allies, it doesn't always go to plan, there's devious twists and turns, there's plots and plans and sorrow (I almost cried at one point), and the ending is sort of what you expect but also ... not. But there's a lot more to it than that; the past and the future haunt Darrow now that the world and his friends know what he is, Mercedes is there constantly asking what are you Darrow, what are you going to build? and he doesn't really know. 

The characters are vicious and dangerous and ultimately loveable in all their flaws: Darrow, Victra, Sevro, Mercedes, Trigg, Sefi, and Ragnar. Whilst I thought this book was the weakest of the three, perhaps due to the length or that it was the end, it is still a masterpiece and thoroughly fascinating. 
Official Synopsis:

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

Other Reads:

     * * * Origin, Dan Brown
The fifth of the Robert Langdon books, Origin twines together a story of Spain, AI's, and the death of a scientist with the answers to the questions: "where do we come from?" and "where are we going?". Not my favourite of the books, but still entertaining. 

     * * * Complimentary & Acute, Ella Lyons
A short little gay novella featuring two seventeen year old girls who are roommates. A little bit of teenage high school, a little bit of underage drinking, a little bit of pining and teenage angst; Complementary and Acute has just a little bit of everything and is sweet, but not particularly novel.

     * * Valley Girls, Sarah Nicole Lemon - Review
I really, really wanted to love Valley Girls - it promised rock climbing adventures featuring a stubborn, ill-advised teen set against the stunning background of Yosemite. But the main character, Rilla Skidmore, is exceedingly annoying with barely any redeeming and endearing qualities.

* * * * All Rights Reserved, Gregory Scott Katsoulis
Every word is copyrighted, every gesture trademarked, and Speth decides never to communicate again. Super unique setting, realistic main character, some great twists - maybe the plot had a few kinks and could have been smoothed out a bit, but overall I loved it!

* * * The Early Years: The Tournament at Gorlan, John Flanagan
On the one hand this was very nostalgic: it features Halt and Crowley in their younger years, shooting arrows and being badass, which I liked quite a lot. On the other hand, the plot was rather lacking in comparison to some of the other books and the cast was quite large, featuring about twelve rangers, making hard to connect with anyone beyond Halt and Crowley.

* * * Empress of a Thousand Skies, Rhoda Belleza
On the one hand: space, space opera, spaceships, aliens, space princess, and a massive twist in that the synopsis makes this book sound like a romance but! it! isn't! On the other: there's something weird about this book that I couldn't quite put my finger on.

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