0

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.

0

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

0

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

4

Flame In The Mist 

If you want to ask me how this fares as a Historical fantasy, then I can say it is a mess. Emperors didn’t have surnames in Japan, that was normal even till today. Although I enjoyed how it handled the geiko and maiko. But the entire country being named Wa; that is going to make me wonder, is this set in the Asuka period where Japan was still called that. I would be fine if it was some random name, and is more willing to forgive it. But Wa, for someone who spent a long time learning about Japanese history, that is just going to make me look like this:

The magic just felt inserted, and sometimes didn’t even feel there. I felt as though I was reading historical fiction, yet there were some strange subtle clues along with Okami displaying some strange abilities, and having one of the most literal names. I wanted Okami to even acknowledge that or to pass it over or hide it slightly. I’m only staring at it in skepticism and I would have preferred it to be more subtle, or to just explain it through his perspective. It would make so much more sense that way.

Mariko, is a livable main character. She is okay, overall. Had moments where she was intelligent and moments where I doubted them too. Moments where I feel as though she was being protected by them. Since the black clan, could have done so much more for them. And why did they even include her, explanations please.

But the side characters were so much more interesting. Ranmaru, Okami, they could have made a book together. Same with Kenshin and Amaya, they were an interesting and awesome pair. Yet, that ship would never sail. As for Yumi, she should have been given more page time, she should have been the main character. She could have been the one who told this tale. And I would have greatly preferred her to Mariko. She was awesome, and you know what I liked her. She was so much more complex than Mariko. I would have preferred to learn about her instead.

As for the two wives, those two could also make a whole book on their own. The Emperor is only a puppet amongst it, and the princes might just prove to be interesting. Again, if the author decided to make it about them, the book would have some very interesting political intrigue. Which would have been right up my alley. And the dynamics, would have been the one which I wanted to read about. Rather than Mariko, and even less about the Emperor.

These two women are powerful, are dangerous. And you know what, maybe Mariko should have met them first. And learn a thing or two about outsmarting and manipulation, she really needs it. Then, she would prove to be an interesting character.

As for the romance, I don’t like it. Simple as that. It should have been dragged out, they should not have slept together. Mariko would have better self control than that, since chastity was indeed prized. And most of all, she and Okami hated each other. I would have wanted them to work out their differences instead, not just all of a sudden, “hey, I just met you, and I hate you, but you’re a girl, so let’s sleep together.” And I would have thought that sleeping together wouldn’t be on his mind, or that he would hide things from her.

I would have wanted him to be more focused and her to be more wary and distrusting and you know smarter than that. Their romance just feels so insta love and needs time to develop, then I would buy it as real. Hate to love relationships, needs time to be overcome, needs time to be real. And minor attraction to Okami, fine, I can buy it. But full on romance with her sleeping with him, girl where did all that intelligence go?

The plot was okay, really okay. It didn’t really impact me that much, but the last part really made me interested. Really made me interested, in the awesome Empress who is a villain who should have been given more screen time.

Overall, I should never have bought this thing. Since anything with Japanese culture makes me go, “I need this now.” And getting sorely disappointed instead. But I still recommend this, since there are some things which the author does get right. And the side characters and villains were so much more interesting to read than bland Mariko.

Rating: 3 out of 5

0

Ravensong

 

Name: Raven Song

Series: Inoki’s Game (Book 1)

Paperback: 290 pages

Published Date: March 14, 2016

Publisher: Lucid Dreams Publishing

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1944674004

ISBN-13: 978-1944674007

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29521339-raven-song

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Raven-Song-Dystopian-Fantasy-Inokis/dp/1944674004/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/raven-song-i-a-ashcroft/1123510684

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/raven-song

 

Book Blurb:

A century ago, the world burned. Even now, though rebuilt and defiant, civilization is still choking on the ashes.

 

Jackson, a smuggler, lives in the shadows, once a boy with no memory, no name, and no future. Ravens followed him, long-extinct birds only he could see, and nightmares flew in their wake. Once, Jackson thought himself to be one of the lucky few touched by magic, a candidate for the Order of Mages. He is a man now, and that dream has died. But, the ravens still follow. The nightmares still whisper in his ear.

 

Anna’s life was under the sun, her future bright, her scientific work promising. She knew nothing of The Bombings, the poisoned world, or the occult. One day, she went to work, and the next, she awoke in a box over a hundred years in the future, screaming, fighting to breathe, and looking up into the eyes of a smuggler. Anna fears she’s gone crazy, unable to fill the massive hole in her memories, and terrified of the strange abilities she now possesses.

 

The Coalition government has turned its watchful eyes towards them. The secret factions of the city move to collect them first. And, old gods stir in the darkness, shifting their pawns on the playing field.

 

If Anna and Jackson wish to stay free, they must learn what they are and why they exist.

 

Unfortunately, even if they do, it may be too late.

 

Raven Song is the first of a four book adult-oriented dystopian fantasy series, a story of intrigue, love, violence, and the old spirits in the shadows who wait for us to notice them again. Readers of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Charlie Human will enjoy this dark magic-laced tale rooted on the bones of what our world could become.

 

Author Bio:

​I. A. Ashcroft has been writing fiction in many forms for almost twenty years. The author’s first book, written at age seven, featured the family cat hunting an evil sorceress alongside dragons and eagles. This preoccupation with the fantastical has not changed in the slightest.

 

Now, the author dwells in Phoenix, AZ alongside a wonderful tale-spinner and two increasingly deranged cats. Ashcroft writes almost exclusively in the realm of darker fantasy these days, loving to entertain adults with stories of magic, wonder, despair, violence, and hope, bringing a deep love of mythology into every tale penned. The author also loves diverse and intriguing casts of characters.

 

When not buried in a book, one might find Ashcroft learning languages, charting road trips, and playing tabletop RPGs with clever and fun people.

Contact the Author:

Website: http://www.ia-ashcroft.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/i.a.ashcroft

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ia_ashcroft

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15077746.I_A_Ashcroft

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/I.-A.-Ashcroft/e/B01CTY42S0/

Review:

I did find this okay. Anna and Jackson are both distinct, with their narration being relatable. But for me, it just didn’t work. It just didn’t cut. It didn’t feel like it to me. I simply could not immerse myself in the story, reading it and relating to them was the best I could do. 

As for the world, the future is rather well thought out. Facing radiation, nuclear exposure. It’s true that we would face the problem eventually, but I could have liked a little more development and exploration of this. And making feel more like that world, I didn’t feel that it was really any different. Even though over a hundred years in the future likely would change everything.

But I just couldn’t feel with them, I didn’t find myself supporting them. It felt as though nothing was happening. Anna and Jackson have a lot more development, yet their interactions was so few and their relationship went to being very friendly really quick. I just couldn’t buy it, and that is a flaw of the book I feel about.

The plot was also quite a letdown, there was so many ways this could have gone. Whether Anna is someone that lives forever, or whether Anna is extremely wanted because of her abilities. I could see why, she could prevent radiation. Yet, I just didn’t feel that danger here. There wasn’t any tension really driving me, and I really couldn’t feel the emotion of the characters. It just went over me.

I would say that this is a case of it’s not you, it’s me since it is a very good book. But it just didn’t connect with me, and I couldn’t really enjoy it. But I still recommend you to check it out, and it does have good character development but to me, needs a lot on the plot, the characters interaction.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

0

The Landlord 

This was a very was mystery, it didn’t feel very dark or grim. And the ghost story to me, was not all that frightening. 

 But nonetheless, I did enjoy it as Allie continued to search about the mystery 200 years ago. All the while the flashbacks 200 years ago are good, revealing much more and giving us the full story. As Allie discovers it, the flashbacks are quite well placed to show what happened. 

Although this mystery is the main one, I would still have preferred if it really tied back to reality. That the entire story had a real reason why someone wanted to uncover it, like a treasure, a reason. More than just a potrait. 

It does seem a little strange there, but the ending is rather nice too. The way it settles everything and ties it up. However, I would say that the main issue is that it really doesn’t feel very clever. It doesn’t feel mysterious or move me to think about the mystery. Or really give me a reason why Allie should be spending all her time. 

As for the ghost story, the only place where it really occurs is where Lizzie is talking to Allie. But I would have wanted more interaction, more clues, and also a deeper motivation to do so in the first place. Lizzie was just there, in the present, and the other characters who were more involved were all missing in the present. 

Since this is a ghost story, I wish there was more liberties taken with the ghosts. The mansion which is over two hundred years old, and possibly the secrets behind it. The various owners could have done a lot. 

As for the affair between Lizzie and Thomas Fitzroy, being one sided and quite horrible. I could see that from the very beginning, and fell a little flat at the end. It wasn’t all that I expected, and I would have preferred a deeper exploration of his obsession with her. Why was he so interested in her, and why no matter what he wanted her. To the point he kept her portrait in the house. 

I also didn’t feel the parallels to this, or how it links to the present timeline. The mystery, to me could have been explored further. Explored and related the current situation. Although it was a nice ghost story with the flashbacks over two hundred years ago, being very well researched and explained. There are still points where I believe it needs work too. But, overall I really enjoyed it. 

Rating: 3 out of 5

2

RoseBlood

This was a surprise of a book. Once I picked this up, strangely Rune became a very interesting character to read through. Since her gift is also her crutch at the same time, the only reason why she was accepted with a deeper meaning revealed towards the end. And the explanation regarding her entire background, felt so historical and at the same time interesting. 

While this retelling plays around with a phantom hundred of years after, which I greatly liked. Since it deals with all the creepy weird things which to me worked perfectly here. And that Thorn is mysterious, twisted but mysterious. And that I liked that the romance went slow, to them slowly meeting, slowly figuring everything out about them. And all the clues. Since I wouldn’t see them meeting under normal circumstances, 

As for the actual phantom and what he did, such as having Christine for a short period. Actually liking the way it went, where everything didn’t end well for them. And it drove him into further obsession, which I liked the way it was. Even pushing him to get Thorn. 

As for the musical inclination, any book would have gotten into me with just that. It just feels so right, and when her gift both suffocates and glorifies her at the same time. I really enjoyed it, the way that there was so much of exploration of opera. Of music and of her talent. As for the reveal towards the end, I feel that it was rather fitting to have regarding her talents. 

Even more so, her doubts are completely believable. The way that she her father died, the way she nearly killed someone. That was believable in my account that she would stop playing. 

However, I do feel that the issues of this book lies on the fact that his mother feels as though she’s a sex worker just because she had a child out of wedlock. That’s just wrong, really. It feels off. While the romance was on point, and the atmosphere captured me, this just doesn’t sound good at all. Also, where Erik takes him to the whorehouse and forces him to do all that. Yeah, I feel that it’s wrong too. 

Overall, I would say this book is creepy and rather gothic. Precisely the retelling of the Phantom of the Opera I was looking for, but there are issues that cannot be ignored. I would say that the romance captivated me, and the music was the one thing that kept me reading. So, pick it up and just see it for yourself. 

Rating: 3 out of 5