Toru: Wayfarer Returns

Now to me, this was what I hoped to read about and it’s representation. Setting it in the Edo era as an alternate history, during the times when Japan is indeed struggling to modernize itself or keep to their ideals.

And I do really like how it handles female characters here. Masuyo is just more than the love interest, I do feel her strength and also her love for her family. Besides, she outsmarts her father but still will try to abide by his wishes when he insists. As well as being truthfully loyal, and never wavering from her beliefs. And her favourite moments were with the Lady Tomatsu as she is a woman who thinks survival is above all, and her ask to just have her denounce her own father. Although it does show her tenacity, but I find Lady Tomatsu to be a more sensible character than anyone else.

As for Toru, he was indeed middle ground. He dreams and wishes to see, and doesn’t like people taking advantage of his country. Strong patriotism, nice personality. But to me, he doesn’t really have much of an arc and his identity is just there and under utilized when it could have added more tension and is it just me but it does seem that he has no noticeable flaws. The one who I did feel was stuck a little more in between and still someone who will dream is Masuyo. And that he doesn’t seem to have much of any character arc apart from that.

The setting is basically perfect, I mean who wants to be overthrown in their lives. Their fear was real, and unless the whole bakufu power really weakened until the Meiji restoration which allowed it implant changes. Otherwise, I can see why almost anyone who was rich back then really wanted to keep their power. Same thing with the need to keep up with them, since they were facing plenty of threats from outside. And I do like the way that it does, although the Meiji restoration is still far away but nonetheless a step to the Japan we know of today. Although the other complaint is that it doesn’t make sense how industrialization can happen over the span of a couple months, not really believable if you ask me.

So, overall I just like this book due to the Japanese culture which was authentic. The way that it generally was for Masuyo did feel real, but she still overcame those boundaries. And last but not least, that this tale was satisfying overall, as my complaints was as above. But otherwise, it was pretty much enjoyable.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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My Lady Jane

This was the right sort of hilarious, it made me laugh within fifty pages of the book and the rest of the time giggling to myself(like a bit of a lunatic, can’t help myself since I also talk a lot to myself). I guess a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously is right up my alley (now where can I reserve a copy of The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice And Virtue).

Well, instead of the religious divide we have in Tudor England during the region of Edward the Sixth, what we have instead is a divide between people who can turn into animals, and people who cannot. And that the cast is full of animal, we have a kestrel, a fox, a cat, a ferret and of course a horse(now I can’t stop laughing at the mention of one.)

This was just so enjoyable, and you know making me laugh. I read this with rarely any skimming, because I really didn’t want to miss a joke, since it made me laugh out loud for the first time with a book(which had never happened in the year and a half that I continuously read books). Let me just say, when these three authors come together to write a comedy, count me in and I’ll forever be a willing supporter of their humor.

And I enjoyed the fact that for the first half history was there, for the second half it was thrown out the window quite literally. But for a book like this, who cares, you’re in for a silly fun ride regardless of whether it follows history or not. Trust me, just go with the flow, I suppressed my skepticism and gave myself up(though it was easy to do since it made me laugh out loud to resist all disbelief.)

As for the ending, it follows history. There won’t be any great changes to history, with some exceptions of course. And well, everyone does get a happy ending. And for an animal reference, a cat and mouse exists in here, which would prove to be the dynamic of the two characters in history(it’s easy to guess who, since they were cousins and one had the other’s head chopped off).

And not to mention the cast being as diverse as it was, and making a great joke out of Henry the Eighth in the first 10%.

I guess I have said too much, any longer and I’ll have to change this to a recap of the book, which isn’t what intend. So, I’ll end here. The rest is up to you dear reader of this review whether you want to read it or not(but I highly recommend you to like really recommend you to, this book it worth it.)

Rating: 5 our of 5

False Lights

I really really like the way that it was imagined, yet I still feel as though this book was just so utterly forgettable in the way that it made its characters and the way the plot was structured and also the writing. It just wasn’t for me.

I really couldn’t connect with any of the characters, and the writing although rather alright and able to get the meaning across just failed to even move me slightly. And strangely, I feel as though the novel had never really moved much at all.

All I really remember is a whole bunch of characters, and also plenty of historical characters who do appear. And well, mostly I’m a little confused here. One moment I was with Crow, the next with I think it was his wife Hester and finally sometimes some characters who I barely even understand. And well, the huge casts of characters without really anything memorable about then was what that ruined this book for me. Since I really need a character to focus about, and there was not much of anything which made me go back to read again. Or any form of dialogue which was even momentarily relatable. In fact, I can’t even seem to remember any memorable quotes here at all. And those go a long way when it comes to me.

If I’m not invested, yeah it is hard to make me really like a book. And sometimes this always happened here, I just couldn’t connect with them. Although I did enjoy the way it’s premise worked, and several developments that came due to the Bonaparte taking England.

But I just couldn’t feel a thing for any of the characters. And well, that to me is always a problem. And somehow, I really wanted to know more about the politics that went behind there instead of this confusing plot I had. I felt as though there was absolutely no tension throughout the book and well nothing of much importance was even happening.

I don’t know whether the writing really killed everything for me, or was it just not to my taste and expectations. So for this, it really boils down to the fact that this isn’t a perfect fit for me. I enjoyed the world, but really found the plot and characters absolutely boring.

Will recommend to you though, if you are still interested. It may be the fact that I expected something a little different from what I got.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Now I Rise 

This was worth every cent that I spent on it. I bought this book, becoming way too anxious to try and reserve it instead. And this was totally worth it, worth all the money. And like the first book, except that everything gets darker, murkier and even more brutal. 

While the first book was Lada’s story, even though here she still has a lot of story to go. But it goes to Radu, Radu who went through hell, Radu who was caught so in between two worlds. Radu who was beginning to doubt his own alliances. And this was why it is his. The slow development, his sympathy, his emotions and slowly his disillusionment; it was all well portrayed.  

The way that he began to doubt, began to wonder. The way that he eventually saw the things he needed to pay, it was all so painful for Radu. All so painful for me to read. He was the one who always fought for the truth, he isn’t without his own loyalties, his own moralities but it all comes to be a balance here. And this quote was perfect to describe it: 

How many ways could a man turn traitor in his lifetime? 

Lada’s slow evolution to becoming the Impaler, was exactly what I expected to see. Eventually, it was going down this route. She begans to fight less and less from her own inner demons, and begins to give in. She is cruel, but at the same time, I could say almost anyone would admire her for what she did. The means justifies the end, she killed all of them to have a stronger Wallachia. And she never wavered from it. 

Even if she is cruel, for me, I always liked it. I always understood her, I still continued to sympathise with her. Even though she is in a downward spiral, she will become the monster that Vlad the Impaler was, and this book showed it. The steps she took, all for a noble goal, but she is allowed to be nasty and at the same time, she is doing what she can. 

And most importantly, she is doing it on her terms. Even when she is a woman, even when she is basically nothing. And her obsession and devotion to Wallachia, it was something that I feel was real. She wanted to rebuild it, and this book will justify the monster she becomes just for her own country. 

As for her own sexuality, she should be asexual, end of story. Because she is too arrogant, and too angry with men to be one. And the way that the romance had a part to play in her, the way that she chose not to ever dress up. She doesn’t like playing by anyone’s rules, and sometimes she constantly wonders whether she has too. Even when they prove to be utterly useless and dangerous to them instead. 

And she would do it all for Wallachia. Whether it means destroying it completely and building it from the rubble, or killing so many. She is afraid of losing power, and she is afraid to be at anyone’s mercy. The way that she didn’t want to be Mehmed’s Empress, the way she didn’t want to forge alliances and play by the rules. Because she doesn’t want to trust them; she believes she cannot trust them. And this is why I loved her. So many reasons, and an actual female protagonist who although hasn’t find her feminity, but is balanced out by the other female influences here. 

As for her own quote: 

She never stopped being that girl lost in a place where she could never have power 

As for the side characters, Nazira stood out, so did Daciana. The way Nazira helped Radu, was important to it in so many ways. The way that she was so much more than a wife, and she was real. She loved, she hated. And that was why I like her, she is never afraid to take opportunities, she is never afraid to move forward. As for Daciana, being a peasant, and managing to terrify Janissaries instead, and even find Lada. She was brilliant, she was strong. And she is tough. She knew who to find, and I liked her because of it.

As for the character who are simply too good for this world, is Cyprian. Despite it all, he trusted Radu. Despite it all, he believed in him. And the way he impacted Radu, was in a way that was utterly believable. And his entire character, I just hope he will survive to the end. 

And their sibling relationship, even when they separated, they didn’t stop thinking about each other. They are close, when together are balanced yet they would suffocate each other. They would utterly be unable to help each other rise. And have separated, they constantly think about each other. Constantly think about the other’s action. And I loved it. 

The romance and love triangle have tied up, in a way that I was satisfied yet completely out of my thought. It developed in a way I never thought it would, and the end, I would say is fitting. 

As for my ending paragraph. This was perfection to me, but it may not be for all readers. If you like historical fiction, if you like politics and court intrigue, then this is for you. There is no fantasy, there is no easy way out. There is only political machinations and deals, and cruelty. Above all, there are no heroes or villains here. And there is no black or white. Everything was in shades of grey. And this is all about thrones and power. 

If you like all this, pick up And I Darken. Because there is no better ya book who deals with this better, the way that politics is handled here was so well done. But if you prefer sword fights and action scenes, you are looking for the wrong book. 

Rating: 5 out of 5

Gilded Cage 

This had been one book that had everything I needed. A little on romance, a lot of intrigue, and a lot on the possibility of those with magic ruling over them. All the while exploring a horrible yet not completely terrible situation for humans without any powers. 

I would say that the slaves here have terrible lives, they give up a decade of their lives. It does sound pretty horrible yet at the same time, it also sounds pretty reasonable. At least they aren’t bound for life. They are only bound for a decade. But the end removes almost any possibility of it being changed, perhaps it would be even worse. 

And you know what, there wasn’t a main character. Everyone was. There was a stake for everyone here. Such as Abigail, Luke, even the Equals. They are all rather well developed with it being neither black nor white. There are those who enjoy and view slavedays as being fair. There are times where Equals also try to change things. 

Even though this book sets everything up, and at the same time takes the conflict to a whole new level for book 2. It broke me and let me enjoy the beauty of the series at the same time. How dark and bleak it was for them. And sometimes that it wasn’t as illogical as it seemed. And a failed rebellion. 

All the while showing Equals who sympathise with them. Showing someone willing to do anything to free the Equals. I would say that Silyen does seem sympathetic to them but I would reserve my judgements or perhaps he is simply biding his time. 

There is no main romance. Just a little here, a little there. Somewhere or anywhere. Sprinkled throughout the characters. 

I would say that this surprisingly have been a really good book, and even managed to force me to finish it within two days without stopping. All the whole providing a horrible situation, only to have it worsened at the end. And having intrigue play out so well along with the main villain. 

So I would recommend this to those who like fantasy with a very bleak setting, and with little on the romance. All the while providing neither black nor white side to everything just grey. To me, this was absolutely perfect. 

Rating: 5 out of 5

The Glass Sentence 

I would say that the drawing point of this book lies in its premise and worldbuliding. The way the Great Disruption affected the world, had been fascinating to read since it threw the entire world into completely different ages and possibly different times. 

Also, all the while introducing many points about the side effects of the Great Disruption. People who came back to see that their age is lifeless and completely abandoned, and people who do not believe in the current world. 

That is really what made it for the book. Even more than the characters honestly, since they weren’t as unique as other characters from other books. But the worldbuliding is really good and level headed, with plenty of history. 

The only thing I would have wanted to complain was that I wanted much more. And how the worldbuliding was executed needed a lot more work, I was bored to tears on so many of the pages. 

The characters are okay, their interactions many a time quite dull and uninteresting. And the only thing really interesting about Sophia is her lack of having any sense of time. The rest you can find in almost any other female main character if you ask me. 

Same for Theo, Uncle Shadrack and almost the other cast of characters which I barely have an impression on. They simply didn’t compel me, and the dialogue at times was shallow and quite simplistic. It didn’t have anything really thought provoking in it, or any quotes which I would have wanted to read about. 

That is the real issue with the book. The characters are bland, the worldbuliding was basically dumped onto me. The only thing that redeemed this has to be the worldbuliding, which was fascinating to read about and the plot which was fine, giving Sophia an actual motivation to go in a journey to find her uncle.. But the rest could be done better. 

So, I would say if you want to read this, just keep in mind that you need a lot of patience and a lot of love for finely crafted worlds. If you prefer characters, I would say just move on. 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Paper And Fire 

Well, this is a pretty decent sequel. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, because it didn’t have the same dark tone it had, and well I expected a little more death, a little more betrayal. But there still was a set of reveals which I enjoyed and nonetheless held the same tone as Ink And Bone. Such as the ways Obscurists reproduce, I expected it, given that most are locked up in the tower. And really, there was no other way for it to happen.

As for Jess, this was the same main character we had previously. And although he showed quite little growth, but still I liked him as well. But the main issue is that unlike the previous book where stakes were high, and every step had death, and danger with it. Here, I didn’t feel it. And one part became towards his and Morgan’s relationship, which I would have expected really and the issues that they have. But to me, it didn’t hold the same tension as before where there was so much danger and nothing came easy to Jess. 

Here, they saved Thomas, and the stakes although reached a new high. It didn’t get to me ha tension, it just didn’t feel as though it existed. Though a lot happened to them, but I simply couldn’t really care about their emotions or whatever they did. I guess this is a case where there were simply too many characters, and none had really grew further on me. The characters merely had been there and did everything, but I simply couldn’t feel it. 

Overall, this didn’t really satisfy from what I have read from this book. Some instances such as the Tower which hosted the Obscurists and the development of saving Thomas, was what I expected. As for Dario and what he did, it didn’t really leave a lasting impact on me. And that the plot failed to move me, as well as were how the characters were written. It simply didn’t get my attention on any of them. So, would I read on, pretty much I would be willing to give the sequel another try.  

Rating: 3 out of 5