I am currently pretty swamped with school stuff, but I still managed to sneak in a few books this week.
Seregil and Alec have spent the last two years in self-imposed exile, far from their adopted homeland, Skala, and the bitter memories there. But their time of peace is shattered by a desperate summons from Queen Idrilain, asking them to aid her daughter on a mission to Aurenen, the very land from which Seregil was exiled in his youth.
This was a breath of fresh air after the many somewhat mediocre reads from the last two weeks! I enjoyed learning more about Seregil’s past and about the society he comes from; also enjoyable was the little details of his and Alec’s relationship (finally! kissing! and MORE!) and all the emotional turmoil that comes from being an exile and a criminal and still super depressed over the events from the previous book(s).
I’m actually not often in the mood for woobies, but when I am I definitely prefer a) woobies who don’t wallow in their own angst and b) that the story doesn’t wallow in the angst, either. A good 30-40% of this book was basically a travel story, and the rest of it was a mystery (with some political stuff thrown in for kicks). It made for a nice balance to the characters’ various emotional problems, and I really just found the whole thing very satisfying.
Ariah's magical training has been interrupted. Forced to rely on a mentor, Dirva, who is not who he claims to be, and a teacher who is foreign and powerful, Ariah is drawn into a culture wholly different from the elven one that raised him.
As his friendship with Dirva's brother blossoms into a surprising romance, and he slowly learns how to control the dangerous magic in his blood, life finally appears to be coming together for Ariah—but love and security are cut short by a tyrannical military empire bent on expanding its borders.
War, betrayal, passion, and confusion follow Ariah as his perilous journey leads him beyond the walls of the Empire, and into unfamiliar territory within himself. Along the way, he’ll discover just how much he’s willing to give up to find his place in the world, and he’ll learn what it means to sacrifice himself for freedom—and for love.
I found this book after stumbling across a tweet from Foz Meadows that compared this to both The Goblin Emperor and Ancillary Justice, and I kind of agree…but not entirely.1 Like The Goblin Emperor, this is a fantasy that is more about people than swords or sorcery. Like Ancillary Justice, it’s about social issues (classism, racism, slavery, etc.) and characters discovering themselves after a heap of struggle and confusion. The writing style, plot, and character development, however, isn’t like either of those books and ultimately I found it a little disappointing.
My main issue with the writing style was that it felt very info-dumpy at times. It’s from the POV of the protagonist sometime in the future, which means there’s a lot of “and though I would think differently some years later, right now I thought this. And then this happened. And then other stuff happened.” This created a huge distance between myself and Ariah and I never connected to him as deeply as I had with both Maia from The Goblin Emperor and Breq from Ancillary Justice. The disconnect meant I was never as interested in the plot as I probably needed to be, either, which made it less fun to read.
That said, I did like the worldbuilding, especially how each elvish culture was so different from one another. And I appreciated that it was a story of finding oneself– the summary makes it seem like a war story, but it’s totally not. I also liked how the romance wasn’t straightforward (in any sense) despite the fact that it was also SUPER frustrating in some regards. And I very much appreciate when an author takes risks with their stories, even if it doesn’t end up doing much for me.
I’m for sure going to check out the author’s other books, though! Maybe I’ll find a Maia or a Breq, even.
Love, Like Ghosts (Bay City Paranormal Investigations #7) by Ally Blue
Published: Samhain Publishing (2009), eBook, 181pg
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Romance, GLBTQ
Truth. Lies. A century-old mystery. What a tangled web…
A Bay City Paranormal Investigations story.
At age eleven, Adrian Broussard accidentally used his mind to open a portal to another dimension. Now, ten years later, he’s successfully harnessed his strong psychokinetic abilities. In the process, he’s learned the lessons which have become the guiding principles of his life. Absolute truth. Absolute control. Always.
Sticking to his personal code of ethics has never been a problem, until two chance meetings—one with a hundred-year-old ghost, one with a handsome, very-much-alive man—turn his orderly existence upside down.
Having grown up in a family of paranormal investigators, Adrian is intrigued by the spirit of Lyndon Groome and determined to solve the mystery of his death. Greg Woodhall, however, affects Adrian in unpredictable ways. Not only does his every touch challenge Adrian’s hard-won control over his abilities, his company quickly becomes a light in Adrian’s lonely life.
As the mystery surrounding Lyndon’s death turns sinister, Adrian’s relationship with Greg deepens into something serious. Something Adrian wants to keep. But intimacy isn’t as easy as honesty, and when the heart’s involved, the line between right and wrong can blur.
Warning: This book contains a gory ghost, a haunted castle, nerdy college parties and gay sex enhanced by psychic powers.
I really should’ve dumped this book rather than finishing it, but I kept hoping it’d get better and so I kept reading. I went in wishing for a modern, fluffier version of Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series, maybe, but it wasn’t to be. It’s the start of a spin-off series from a series I haven’t read, which was maybe the first problem, but the BIGGEST problem was that about half the book seems to be missing, and it’s the half with all the emotional connection/development between the heroes.
They meet, they immediately start dating, undying devotion soon follows, there’s a ghost floating around somewhere that ultimately adds nothing to the story, misunderstanding(s) happen, and then in comes the happy ending. Fairly standard romance plotline, minus any spark that might’ve kept me interested in the characters or series. Sometimes bookish hope doesn’t pan out, I guess!
A More Diverse Universe (#Diversiverse) is happening again this year from Oct. 4-17! I’ve come up with a small TBR list for the next two weeks:
- On a Red Station, Drifting – Aliette de Bodard
- Gunpowder Alchemy – Jeannie Lin
- King Maker – Maurice Broaddus
- a Virginia Hamilton book (there are tons in my library and I’ve never read one!)
What’ve you read lately?