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The Clockwork Dynasty

Originally, the work came as quite difficult to really ease myself into. And it didn’t really change throughout the novel despite the excellent writing, I just didn’t feel that spark with the characters at all. Not a single one really clicked with me.

But the worldbuilding is intriguing with a lot of nods to mythological figures being altered, but I’m fine. We know so little about these figures so I’m generally a little more tolerating regarding them. Who’s to say it was different, not when they may or may not exist.

One thing I particularly liked about the novel was the way that it handled the steampunk, although it did feel a little dry at first.

Also, the plot was really intriguing and fascinating. Bringing both characters all around the world, ranging from China(however the exact city and province would have helped a little more, but since we don’t even know where Huangdi and Leizu lived, so that’s not really necessary), Seattle and Russia. In different time period as well, which was really what piqued my interest apart from the writing and worldbuilding.

The one thing I feel is lackluster is that I couldn’t really connect to the characters, especially initially when it was narrated by two characters using first person. There wasn’t much of any difference and the lack of voice to distinguish them made it really difficult to relate to them, hence making me unable to really relate and well, the characters were all more of a miss to me than a hit.

So, I guess that the characters were the point which I really found it a little hard. Although the writing, worldbuilding and plot is intriguing with enough twists and mysteries to keep you going. But, the characters just didn’t sit well with me, and that is my sole reason why I have to lower it. However, pick up this book and give it a shot, it might work better for you than it did for me.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for giving me an e-ARC copy.

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Odd And True

After reading two books by this author, I always like it when it had a small tinge of social issues (she is probably one of the authors who handles issues regarding race, gender inequality very well.) And there always will be a feisty heroine going against everything.

Although this author didn’t take such a serious take, but in early 20th century America, there wouldn’t be much of a difference. I like it when Od decided to search for her daughter Trudie, which suggests that she is a really good mother. Even when she had a child at a point in time which was entirely unsuitable and had no ability to raise her. The ending, however will give you some hope in that sense.

As for Tru, she has polio and became dependent on a cane. Now that is rather interesting. And her eventual tale with her own sisters is the most important part, romance had almost no place here. A common trend with her previous book, and I’m fine with it. Anyway, with the kind of interactions Od had with men(with the exception of her uncle), they are all horrible people. And that’s just putting it in a good way.

This didn’t deal so much with issues, and had a little amount of paranormal in it. But again, it is about the time period. Where Odette and her mother both had children out of wedlock. Their one trait became admirable: the ability to bounce back. They didn’t give up, Odette goes on this journey with her sister to find her daughter. And she doesn’t really waver from it. And her mother eventually seeked her way out, a life that isn’t all that glamorous but I consider them both survivors. Both were dealt bad hands, and really made mistakes. But they didn’t just cry, Odette began to search for her daughter, Maria seeked out liFe elsewhere for hope of repaying debts. Both were tricked by men, both were played by them, and both didn’t just wallow in self-pity.

And the way Tru was a diviner and cared a great deal about her sister, although I found her quite bland to be honest. But at the same time, she is really interesting and I do like how her disability didn’t stop her in the least.

And this tale isn’t about the romance or about gender inequality. It really goes down to a girl seeking out and pretending to deal with the paranormal, and Tru’s wish to be able to see her own sisters again.

As for the ending, I do consider it the perfect way to end things. Although the plot was rather lacking in certain areas, but this wasn’t all that bad in comparison. And overall, if you still want a tale about women who survived, and about the real life of those in that era, then this book is a good thing for you. One more thing, those paranormal tales are all shams, yeah, since this is historical fiction first and foremost. It just had the feeling of paranormal but in actual reality was more like a tale of growth for both Od and Tru.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Court Of Twilight

This book was rather slow in the front, and didn’t really keep my interest much at all. But the ending when it revealed one twist after another, that had me completely hooked.

In this world there is what we call the Trows, and they are always having a king. Except that this king would only rule for a year before dying under the hand of someone else. There is no way to avoid it, and when it does, another king would be killed or their consort. Basically, quite a dangerous position and one of certain death.

Ivy, was the best person to have started this story. She is realistic, and she is a human. Yet, she never seems to lose faith and does something for someone close to her. And when things really get tough, she is always in it for Demi. Also, she is sensible enough not to have needlessly put herself in danger.

Like almost any other book, the truth is that parents don’t always play a great part in the story. And here, they appear when it is important and there are some very well hidden twists regarding them, and making Ivy seem a little less strange. As to why she could see Demi and why she would eventually bunk in with her.

The most important thing is how the author manages to make Ivy find Demi, it isn’t about exploration of this world. It is so much more about finding a way out for her. The ending does have a very good price that they need to pay. And Demi does something for once.

The ending leaves it as that, with very little known on who wanted the Year Kings dead. Which is something that is also a downside since I’m no closer to it, but everything closed up nearly and nicely. However, it still makes me curious and should this have a sequel, I really hoped that it would be addressed.

Overall, I enjoy this book towards the end apart from the slow start. However, if you don’t really want something that’s a little slow, then this isn’t the book for you.

I received an e-ARC of this book from Netgalley.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Burning Sky

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I think Fantasy and I need a long break. This is like the many books shelved in fantasy where I can’t raise it any higher than a three, and I barely remember anything from it. Again, unoriginal, bland and most importantly boring me to sleep.

I gave up by the hundredth page and began to skim read it. I can remember some stuff, but most of it is utterly useless apart from the setting in which I was right. It is Victorian England, and the Domain, Atlantis, whatever which I don’t have a clear picture about.

As for both the characters, I didn’t even bother. Iolanthe is perfect, she had that one weakness only to find out that she can control it. Also, she’s the chosen one. Titus is you know what, I don’t really care about his life. And both characters interactions flew over my head, and by the end I knew this simply wasn’t for me.

Their romance was relatively well thought out, seeing that Iolanthe doesn’t know Titus, and they really only got together at the end. But again, both characters fell on me and so, do I give a damn? No.

Simple and easy, I thought would serve the trick. But this failed in such a way that I’m considering taking a break from ya fantasy, seeing as the number of books I have read ends up either with a three or a two, and sometimes a one. And well, this just wasn’t one of them.

I have a feeling that I have grown out of the ya fantasy genre with so many books that I have either given up half way or probably cannot rate it higher than just a three.

But check it out, it may be just for you. But this isn’t for me. I guess I really should avoid anything that is too light, it just isn’t my thing.

Rating: 1 out of 5

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Caraval 

If you read this, you will expect to see a lot of mind games. And more importantly, people who aren’t what they seem. It occurs so often in this entire book, where the twists aren’t what we see and expect. It was unpredictable on some level, and yet at the same time, I knew that the ending was going to be that.

Scarlett, to me is okay. I knew that her character would be more relatable and she wouldn’t be someone who constantly knew what to do. She was insecure about her choices of whether she wanted to escape, whether she wanted to enter Caraval. How she even gets in there is a whole other plot twist of its own. But I still like her, since she does think of her sister first. Most importantly, towards the end I liked how she settled things with her father. Now that was how you should handle the abuse she suffered.

Donatella, she surprisingly wasn’t what I imagined. Originally, she was reckless but towards the end with new relevations, I began to like her. I began to realise that she is an important character here.

As for the relationships, it doesn’t really strike a chord with me really well. Donatella and Scarlett’s relationship weren’t explored that well, since they get separated earlier on. And she falling for Julian, although I could buy it but I just couldn’t feel them together. And towards the end, it feels as though I would need to get to know Julian all over again.

Also, the setting is incredibly unclear. Not just that, also at the same time it is set in a place filled with isles, and that’s just about it. Although I love the author’s writing, there is a lot of mystery in the setting. Although Caraval is well explored, but her home doesn’t feel well explored and I do think that it is more of a weakness of the limitations of the setting itself.

As for the theme, this is all a game, most importantly, it is never what they seem. Never what they knew. It is important to know that here, you better be looking at a story where it will be confusing you. Scarlett spends most of it searching for clues, searching for her sister, or being absolutely clueless or put out of action.

As for the graphic abuse here, it does make it possible for me to see why they would want to seek Caraval. And at the same time, become hesitant to leave. Especially Scarlett, she simply was the more sensible kind, the one who was more careful. And the one who blamed herself for everything.

As for all the characters that appear here, just think of the entire book as this. Nobody is what they seem, there is always a lot more to what lies behind them. Applies to all characters except Scarlett, and I find Donatella to be one really awesome mastermind.

So, I liked this book. Didn’t love it, and the romance and relationship fell flat to me. It really did. But I still liked how the story portrayed Scarlett, the whole reason why she played was for her sister. And she doesn’t really become too enamoured with the main guy, it takes a short while, but they went through enough mind games for me to buy into their relationship. And I recommend this book to those who enjoys a little bit of mind games and a lot more about the relationships, and seeing Scarlett become the heroine she should be. She is a scared little girl at the beginning of the book who refused to leave it, because she knows that she might get smacked in the face or suffer for making the wrong choice. The reckless choice.

As for the next book, I am excited to read it. Perhaps it might be in the viewpoint of Donatella, since she owes a certain someone something. I do think that Scarlett’s story is done, and the next book can take place in the same universe but around a different character or follow Donatella. Since I do feel that there is no reason why Scarlett would return to Caraval, and her development had ended.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Dark Enchantress 

I really strangely enjoy this book, it was a hell lot of fun. And one filled with adventures and one where there was a subversion of certain tropes. Which I expect of comic fantasy, which I consider this book to be under.

The way that the Dark Enchantress is very sympathetic, even if she is quite bratty and selfish. I liked her portrayal the way that she has her own reasons why she ended up becoming a villain and is called one. She isn’t someone who knows how to connect to people, and to many she is simply too weird to even bother. I consider her rather misunderstood, but still in need of a lot of development. As for the ending sequence when she meets Arwin again, now that is what I would expect.

Arwin is very relatable, the way that he has a lot weaknesses. The way that he is simply too good for the real world, the modern world where it is it so happens he met the worst of the lot. I mean, his girlfriend decided that breaking up with him by ‘accidentally’ meeting was the best way to go about it. It is even worse than breaking up through a text. And his best friend who left him just because he wanted better prospects.

I really like how the author pushes Arwin to face this problems, and eventually at the end is a mature person. I liked how he dealt with the Dark Enchantress, now that is how you handle a villain. The Dark Enchantress needed a wake up call anyway.

The wiring here is pretty good, even if at times the humor didn’t really get to me anymore. I didn’t laugh, but nonetheless it is worth the read. The subversion, the way the villain was written with redeemable qualities and flaws, all the while showing Arwin’s own journey into slowly finding himself. I enjoyed every bit of it. And I feel as though fantasy which takes common tropes and makes a joke out of them, often comes out being a rather nice kind of fantasy that I like. A fun, silly adventure indeed.

Do I recommend this, yes I do. It is something that would make you forget about high stakes or the end of the world, which is common in fantasy. Instead, it is something that starts out small, and develops the main character well enough that you can feel for him. And this is why I like it.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Queen Of Trial And Sorrow

I never felt more addicted to a real historical character. Although not as controversial as some people but her life made for one heck of a story. And it is true, from the moment she becomes Queen, she was unlikely. Yet, she managed to hang on.

I really got sucked into the work, immersed in its world and complicated legacies. Most importantly, I became an avid fan of this period of history from the moment I read this book. I preciously only knew about the Tudors, not much other than that.

But I loved this, as Elizabeth had a great deal of story. From becoming queen when she was widowed, and at the same time went back to her own house. To when she lost her sons, whose death till these days remains a mystery. And her emotions with all of it, touched me particularly. The author was insanely skilled in making a likeable character, she may have made some horrible mistakes with horrible repercussions. Also, the way she dealt with some strange things. She was a Queen in an age where she probably would be the last suitable contender for it. And the way she had to deal with her sons death, which is still something of great speculation till this day.

And I think her story was well narrated, crafted even. As she gets herself involved in political intrigue, and dealing with it. To maintain her standing, also to advance her own family. As well as protecting her own children. What she does clearly is interesting, and she does have faith even if the bleakest of times.

Well she may not have had a lot of influence, nor did she have a large hand in politics. But she was sound, and some level I found her sensible. The way she handled her husband’s affair, knowing full well that it was best not to do anything. Since she could survive, she had so many children to depend on.

The way I think the story introduced and immersed me in a world which I barely knew, and made it readable relatable. Her narration goes until the death of her own sons and eventually a little bit when her life did get a bit better when her daughter chose to marry Henry Tudor.

And I think that the story ended well, middle ground, she lived out the rest of her days peacefully, but so filled with sorrow. She lost most of her sons, but had her daughters for company went from a widow to a Queen and eventually a mistress. At the end of the day, she got back what she had, but lost a lot as well. The title is incredibly fitting, and I have to say, I was absorbed in this story.

Rating: 5 out of 5