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The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss | Blabber

The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2)The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
994 pages (43 hours)
Audio book
Fantasy
Listened Sept 5 – Oct 8, 2017

Spoilery Blabber

I’m so torn over this book.

I’ve never gone back and forth between ‘I hate this’ and ‘I like this’ so often while reading something before. There are parts of this book that I absolutely loathed. Other parts I found pretty decent. At no point was I ‘loving it’ but there are definitely parts that somewhat redeem that awfulness that was the middle of this book.

I warn you now, this is going to go into detail about events and character development. Major spoilers ahead.

Reading The Wise Man’s Fear is like eating a jelly donut full of peanuts. You get the smooth, lovely donut – the setting – but then every second chew, you hit your poor little tooth on a peanut – Kvothe – as he performs yet another completely ridiculous act. It throws off the jive of the donut. It makes you less likely to enjoy the soft, chewy gooyiness of the donut because you constantly hit little Kvothe-peanuts and get them stuck in your teeth.

That being said, I really really like the world this book it set in. The overall plot points are really good, the side characters are great, the lore is awesome. If it wasn’t for the main character, this book would seriously be a 5-star read for me.

But Kvothe just has to put his foot in everything, doesn’t he. He’s magically good at everything, including getting on my nerves.

So to rant about celebrate Kvothe being Kvothe, I bring you the following:

The (mostly) comprehensive list of things that Kvothe is ridiculously, unbelievably good at:

  • Music! Kvothe is an expert musician. He earned his pipes at a musician’s guild after trying only one time because he had two years of practice with a broken instrument. Of course, those who have been playing for decades have nowhere near his skill because of this.
  • Sympathy. The magic system in this world, sympathy, is super difficult to learn and even harder to master. But alas, as a twelve-year-old, Kvothe got instruction for a couple months from an arcanist that was travelling with him. Therefore three years later after being on the streets and not practicing at all, he was miles ahead of his 18-20 year old peers who were trying to get into the university as well. He even got paid for it!
  • The Heart of Stone. Associated with sympathy, it allows a user to divide their mind into sections to maintain different focuses at once. Kvothe, the darling, can do four, five, even six divisions while the average arcanist can do maybe three. Four if they’re really skilled. Of course, he could do this after only a year in the university. His professors are likely tenured, but that’s no comparison to Kvothe’s mighty experience.
  • Being a douchebag. And I’m not talking being an asshole character, no. He’s actually got a decent heart (one of the few positive things going for him that didn’t annoy me to bits). But the douchebag bit comes from being around Denna. Denna herself isn’t an awful character. She’s not great by any standards, but she’s (more) realistic than Kvothe is. But when he’s around her, he gets this damn smugness. Denna constantly has men around her, dating her, yada yada. They never last long, but Kvothe is constantly there. And while he’s obviously in love with the girl, he won’t make a move. Instead, he watches these men come and go and then gets smug because “he’s known her longer” He’ll outlast them. I’m not even kidding. That’s a direct quote. The friendzone only exists if you effing put yourself there, man.
  • Skimming over things that I would have found interesting. Namely the court hearing and the shipwreck. Seriously, those were some prime opportunities for character development, and instead you just go ‘that happened and it’s over. Not gonna give you any possibility to learn that I’m not entirely a butt nugget, sorry’.
  • Sex. Yep, you heard it. For the entire first book and about half of the second, Kvothe dropped the line ‘had no experience with women’ about fifty damn times. Flirted at? No experience. Winked at? Lol I have no idea what I’m doing. But suddenly he sees a Fae, jumps her, sleeps with her and then admits to her that he had never done that before. And you know what she says? Do you know what the sex-goddess-fae-that-seduces-men-to-their-doom-for-hundreds-of-years-fae SAYS? She says ‘LOL I DON’T BELIEVE YOU. YOU WERE WAY TOO GOOD AT THE SEX FOR THAT TO BE THE FIRST SEX’.
  • Sex. Yep. You heard it again. And also smoldering, apparently. Because as soon as he finishes his sexy sexiness with the sexy sex fae of sex, he returns to the human world and tells the humans what happened. And then you know what happens? All the women in the room effing swoon because he looks like he knows his way around a woman and then they decide they need to prove that human women can be just as sexily-sexed as fae. Commence more sex. Goodness gracious. I’m all for people doing what they want with their bodies, but like… these women were like we can’t let a fae beat us. This single human’s opinion matters way too much for us not to jump his bones. Yeesh.
  • Getting away with stuff. In the middle of being with the sexy-sex fae, Kvothe ventures away and finds the Cthaeh. It’s this creature that lives in a tree, knows the future and is constantly guarded because of it. It can influence world-wide events through subtle manipuation. Therefore, it’s constantly watched and any who come near it are killed to prevent any of its schemes from coming to fruition. Except that one time that Kvothe found it. ALSO, the whole ‘Any who are drawn in by the sexy-sex-fae never return. They’re doomed.’ Except Kvothe.
  • Memorizing stuff. At one point, Kvothe gets a sword. And not just any sword, he gets the Harry-Potter-wand-equivalent of swords (weird, huh. I was so totally shocked) and has to memorize its 3000-year history. How long do his teachers, the ones who have been doing this their whole lives expect him to take? Just shy of a week. How long days he take? A day and a half.

I feel like I can’t write this list anymore. It’s making me too irritated, haha. Along with Kvothe’s amazing feats there were a handful of situations he found himself in that magically solved themselves because he’s just so good at what he does, which is everything. He was taught to fight a secret fighting style that nobody outside the culture is to know. Totally was accepted into the group. Repeatedly bullied and was bullied by a rival. Neither one of them permanently harmed. Had to learn a new language. Did it in two weeks. Went out to kill five men, totally killed 20-something without issue. The list goes on.

So, shortly after deciding that there was no redeeming this guy, I went on the internet to see if I was alone in feeling this way. Luckily, I’m not, but I did read some interesting theories regarding his blatant Mary-Sue-ness:

1. Kvothe is a badly-written Mary Sue. This is one theory. This is the one that has the most evidence, but at the same time, the rest of the book is written so well. I kind of find it hard to believe that Rothfuss took such a nosedive by accident. He has to know what he’s doing, here. He has to know that his main character makes me want to punch a brick.

2. Since the book is told from Kvothe’s POV, he’s exaggerating to make himself seem cool. Maybe these events didn’t happen exactly how he’s saying. Maybe he’s an unreliable narrator… if that’s the case, he’s still a douchebag that is so insecure that he feels the need to embellish everything he’s done in his life to make himself seem neat.

3. This is the one I hope is happening: Kvothe, in present day, still has not defeated the Chandrian and his making himself seem foolish in his story so people don’t read it later and endanger themselves. Since the third book isn’t out yet, this is pure speculation. But with the skill of writing in the rest of the book, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case. Evidence to this comes from present-day creepies running around killing people. I’m thinking that Kvothe never does defeat his foe and now he’s trying to make himself sound like an idiot so nobody else follows in his tracks. I hope this is what’s happening, so so badly. Another add-on theory for this is that the Cthaeh actually is manipulating him into telling his story like a ding-dong. I feel like him running into the creature once and everyone freaking the eff out about it except him is too convenient. The Chandrian and the Cthaeh. They have to be making him act like a dolt. It has to be them. Right? RIGHT?! D:

Because if it’s not… gah. Just yuck.

That being said, I did mention Kvothe had his good parts. He’s never attacked or been lecherous towards a woman, even when under the influence of drugs or had obvious advantage over them. He’s always maintained a level of human-decency that I really like about him. That, and he’s good to his friends.

Though honestly that’s about all he’s got going for him, at least in my opinion.


So overall: I really liked the plot, the world, the lore and the side characters. Kvothe can jump off a cliff.

Will I read book three? …Effing probably. I need to know if my theory is correct. Dammit Rothfuss, you make me crazy but I still wanna read your book. Dammit dammit Dammit. I guess that’s what make a good writer. Grr.

Overall Rating: 2.75/5 stars

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Posted by on 10/09/2017 in Books, Review

 

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14 by Peter Clines | Blabber

14 Blabber

1414 by Peter Clines
469 pages
Science Fiction
Read Aug 10 – Aug 19, 2017

This book is really weird.

I’m talking… really weird. But it’s weird in the ‘what in the world is going on’ kind of way, not the ‘I can’t follow this’ kind of way. It was easy to follow along with what was happening, but everything was happening was just so bizarre.

I really enjoyed it!

14 opens on the main character Nate, who’s looking for somewhere new to live. After receiving a recommendation about the Kavach House, a historical apartment building, he moves in. Shortly after doing so, he starts noticing little oddities about his apartment. You know, the usual: padlocked doors on random apartments, bright green cockroaches, a landlord that is weirdly protective of the building… Then he notices other oddities in neighboring apartments. And things just keep getting weirder and weirder from there.

Having read another book by Peter Clines that I knew was somewhat related to this book (The Fold) I kind of knew what I was getting into writing-style wise, character-development-wise and so on, so nothing in either of those categories really appalled me or blew me away. Clines isn’t a purple-prose writer, but he’s a pretty good one I think. He’s able to construct chapters in a way so that the last sentence makes you go ‘Damn it’ and flip the page to the next chapter. His books are really hard to put down.

That, combined with just the morbidly fascinating development of the plot had me reading this book at every available moment – I was on honeymoon when I picked this thing up, so that’s telling you something. Honey, want to get dinner now? Hold on, lemme finish this chapter! Sweetie, wanna hop off the cruise boat and tour the town? Hold on, two more sentences on this page! My husband was very understanding though, thankfully. (And now as I’m writing this, he’s picked up the book and read nearly a third of it last night – unheard of for him, haha).

To be fair, the reviews for this book are mixed. Most of the negative ones mention the pacing. The pacing is indeed a bit slow at the beginning. The weird stuff isn’t super in your face, it’s more little things that you read and go ‘huh’… they eventually delve into ‘wtf’ level weird things, but yes, the pacing is a bit slow. It’s well worth the wait though, in my opinion.

In addition, I always find it strange and somewhat forced when a romantic subplot is forced into a book that is definitely nowhere even close to romance. There’s one in here and at times it’s a bit ‘ehh’ to read. It’s minor though, so it shouldn’t ruin your entire read of the book.

Aside from the pacing and the awkward romance, I really have nothing negative to say about this book – it’s exciting, unnerving, wtf-y, and the ending I think is pretty solid. Considering all the weird, seemingly unrelated stuff that happens in the apartment, I think the author did a rather good job of relating and wrapping it all up nicely. It was refreshing.

Overall, a good choice if you’re looking for something to keep you flipping pages. I really enjoyed it and if you pick it up, let me know if you do, too. :”D

Rating: 4/5 stars

 
4 Comments

Posted by on 08/20/2017 in Books, Review

 

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Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb| Series Blabber

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The Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb
Read Oct 16, 2016 – July 30, 2017
2324 pages
Spoiler-free blabber

This review has been a long time coming. I feel like this series has twisted my emotions into knots and then twists those knots into bigger knots. It’s been a while since I’ve read a series the whole way through and had it be so consistently good throughout – at no point was there bad writing or bouts of characters being out-of-character. It was all so consistent and persistent.

This series I buddy read with Zezee @Zezeewithbooks, and we’ve been both going back and forth now for months – we’ve been through a tornado of plot, character development, tragedy, action and emotional trauma. It’s been intense. So many messages back and forth full of nothing but capital letters and incoherent shouts (well… the in-coherency has been mostly me, hawhaw). But it’s been a lot of fun. :”D I totally recommend buddy reads.

The series starts off with the Vestrit family as they all gather around Ephron Vestrit, an elderly man whose life is about to fade away. This is an important event, as he will be the last of the three generations needed to pass away to cause the family’s Liveship – a ship made out of a mystical wood called wizardwood – to ‘quicken’, or come alive. With three generations of lives absorbed by a liveship, the figurehead on the front of it will awaken, retaining all the memories of those who have died on its decks. The Vestrit’s liveship, Vivacia, only needs Ephron’s passing before it can quicken.

So this is where the story opens – the family is rather large with various personalities contained within. Each character at the beginning is honestly a bit grating on the nerves, but each one (with… the exception of one) goes through major character development over the three books. Basically everyone that I loathed I ended up really liking by the end.

The world this series takes place in is the same one that Hobb’s Farseer trilogy does, but you don’t need to read that one to read this one if you don’t want to. The country that Farseer occurs in is mentioned a couple times but no background knowledge on it is really needed to understand what’s happening in this current series.

Otherwise, the world in this series starts out somewhat small-feeling but it quickly grows to encompass multiple cities, a satrapy, and a slew of islands. Each area has its own politics, sometimes ‘politics’, motivations and ways of life. I think the world is one of the strong points of the book – random POVs that seem just that come to light as to why they were even included later in the series. Everything pulls together so, so nicely without anything seeming forced. It’s really cool – really well thought out. I enjoyed it immensely.

The characters, as I mentioned above, feel like real humans. Each one has positive and negative traits – even the characters I loathed I could see their points of view and see their reasoning behind their actions. Most of the time, at least for the characters I hated, I totally couldn’t understand them… but I could at least understand them, if that makes sense. Sympathize vs Empathize, ya know?

Aside from the world and the characters, the most poignant part of this book is just the series of events that happens to these poor characters. This is not a light, fluffy book. Hardship after hardship happens to the Vestrit family and after a while, I found myself seriously rooting for them. Total mental anguish, man. It was so, so worth it though. I’ve said a billion times now that endings make or break a series for me, and this one totally made it.

I think the only thing I have to complain about in this series, the reason why it’s not five stars, is pacing. It’s all good writing but occasionally I found myself wondering why this scene or that scene was included at all. It dragged sometimes, particularly in books one and two. But like I said, it was all good, just… fast, then slow, then fast… then slooooow. A small thing, but once I noticed it I couldn’t not notice it. It was there, gah.

But overall, I generally love Robin Hobb’s writing and I hope it continues to be as wonderful as I continue through her Realms of the Elderlings saga. I plan to continue in September after I’ve had a decent amount of time to emotionally recover from the stress this trilogy put me through. Yikes yikes.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 
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Posted by on 08/09/2017 in Books, Review

 

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A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki | Blabber

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A Tale for the Time BeingA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Magical Realism, 422 pages
Audio book, listened June 3rd-20th
Spoiler-free

A Tale for the Time Being is a book that made me feel like crying the whole time I was reading it. I never actually did, but the tone of the book had me consistently feeling like I wanted to bawl. I always felt like I was right at the brink of something bad happening and that the next page would bring tragedy or heartbreak.

The tone, therefore, is the most poignant part of this book. It gives it that longing feeling, the one you get when you feel like you’re missing something but you’re not quite sure what it is. Reading this, I felt like I was grasping for an unknown thing, a mood or an event or a memory that I never got to claim. And finishing it left me feeling… a bit empty.

This book is told is told in dual perspective: one being Nao, a teenager in Tokyo whose diary entries we read. She, like a lot of teenagers, is a bit lost in the void. Her family life leaves her feeling out of place, out of sorts. So she turns to writing the diary and through it the reader learns of her suicidal ideation and her father’s as well. We also learn of Nao’s century-old great grandmother, the anarchist, feminist, novelist, Zen Buddhist nun, Jiko, whom Nao decides write about. Jiko I think is one of my favorite characters. For such a frail, tiny person, she definitely has one of the most pronounced personalities out of all the characters in the book.

The other perspective is from Ruth (named after the author, I realized – the character’s husband has the same name as the author’s husband. Miiiiighty suspect!). Ruth at the beginning of the book finds a piece of plastic trash washed up along the shoreline where she lives. She picks it up to throw it away and inside finds Nao’s diary, ten years after she’s written it. The story bounces back and forth between Nao’s diary entries and Ruth’s reading of them. It was a pretty neat dynamic, honestly. I rather enjoyed it.

As I said before, the tone is the most pronounced thing in the book – it’s present consistently and gives the whole narrative a somber feeling. If this book could be described using a color, it would be gray. Reading from a suicidal sixteen-year-old’s perspective is a very draining experience, especially when along with her own feelings, has to deal with her father’s suicide attempts as well. The whole thing gave me the sensation similar to that when you’re waiting for someone to run into something or fall down – you just know it’s going to happen, so you’re wincing preemptively. That is what this book felt like. I was just waiting for something to happen. It made me feel anxious.

That being said, the characters in this book all had their ups and downs. I think Jiko and Ruth’s husband Oliver were the only two characters I really liked – everyone else was very uh… I don’t wanna say grating, but kinda grating. Nao, while invoking feelings of sympathy and sadness, also annoyed me. She was bullied relentlessly but didn’t hesitate when she was given the chance to be the bully herself to someone even weaker than she was. It made me lose a lot of empathy towards her and regard her more coolly. Ruth was more bearable I think, but I kept feeling like she took her husband for granted a lot of the time. Oliver, the character, is a quiet man interested whatever project has his attention – in the book, he was in the middle of trying to get non-native plants to grow in their area. While Ruth was obsessed with the diary, he was supportive but also trying to keep up his own thing. A lot of the time, Ruth would get annoyed about this. I mean really, the dude has to have his hobbies, let him be.

The magical realism element to this story is very subtle, at least throughout most of the book. It kinda jumps to the forefront after a while. That in itself was neat – I liked the whole aspect of it. When I picked up the book, I read the title as ‘A story for now’ or ‘A story for this moment’. But ‘Time Being’ will take on a whole new connotation by the time you’re done with this book. A Tale for the Time Being. I can’t think of it any other way now. Out of all the things about this book – the themes, the tones, the characters, this is the impression it has made on me. Time is not something we experience, it’s something we are.

The biggest complaint I had with this book is something I can’t go into detail on, because of spoilers. But I’ve said before that endings are make or break for me. And this one didn’t quite pull it off. Ten-minute explanations for things aren’t the way to end a book with as wide of a scope as this one. It was jilting, how quick it came, and then it was over. And it left a sour taste in my mouth. A sour taste on top of the emptiness I felt from reading the story as a whole. It was a weird combination, and I didn’t quite know how I felt about it.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. The ending, not so hot. The characters, hit or miss. But the tone, while it made me feel empty and uneasy, made me feel. It kept me reading, wanting to know what would happen. I appreciate any kind of book that can make me do that. So I liked this book for what it was and if you want a mellow, gray but at the same time weirdly addicting book, you might like it too.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 
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Posted by on 07/23/2017 in Books, Review

 

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A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas | Blabber

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas
705 pages
Hardback
Read May 2 – May 13, 2017
A Court of Thorns and Roses, book 3
Spoiler-free blabber (for this book – possible spoilers for the first two books)


Reading this book allowed me to see what I like about Sarah J Maas’s books and what I don’t. I buzzed through the first two books in this series back in January and had been chewing at the bit for this one for a few months. I pre-ordered it, even – something I tend not to do unless the book is super special or signed or somethin’. But after coming off the buzz of A Court of Mist and Fury, I was super-eager for this one. I had rated that book five stars, but now looking back, there were issues in it that I had been blind to originally. I’m not changing the rating on that though – I loved it at the time and I still love it, but this latest book has pointed out some flaws in the series as a whole. Unfortunately these flaws were more apparent to me this time around than during the second book.

I’ll start with what I like about this book and this series as a whole:

Sarah J Maas’s writing is compelling – I also have issues with it but I’ll get to that later – but really, she can write a good, juicy, fast-paced story. I devour her books. They’re so much fun to read, so easy to fly through. The world she sets up takes a bit of time to develop, but I kinda fell in love with it. I wanna go see Velaris, people.

Her characters are good as well – the side characters at least. The main characters are alright – I don’t dislike them, I just find them a tad irksome. But the side characters I really like. Meaning, I’m very much looking forward to the continuation of these series bases on these characters. Maas is also really good at getting the reader (ie: me) to change opinions on characters from chapter to chapter. Some chapters, I hated Tamlin, others I felt sorry for him, others I liked him. Same with Feyre – my feelings towards her character are all over the place. But I really like that – that my mind isn’t set on ‘this character is this way and this is what I think’ like a stone. The variability of my perception just goes to show the characters themselves have more than one personality trait – that they’re actually developing throughout the series (woo!).

The plot I think, is neat too. It hopped from Beauty and the Beast in book one to Hades and Persephone in book two to… what? Was there a fairy tale entwined in book three? I have no idea, but pulling all the plot points together was really neat. Across these three books, so much happened, so much more than one over-arching plot, and I really dug it.

So as much as I liked the plot, the characters and the compelling writing of this book, I also had a laundry list of little ‘ehhh’ things that popped into my periphery while reading it:

First and foremost is Maas’s writing. Like I said above, she’s really good at keeping a fast pace and moving the story along but at the same time, her writing is rather uh… convenient, I guess is the best word to describe it. And maybe this is a strange complaint, but everything seemed to have its place in this book. All the characters kinda paired off, characters that had been alluded to throughout the series showed up at just the right time due to happenstance… It was just strange. The use of the blatant plot device, people: It’s in this book.

Second is Maas’s writing. By this I mean the inconsistency in communication. Okay, I get that Rhys and Feyre communicate via thought using the mating bond. That, sure, that’s fine. Buuuuut, there were so many times that Maas would write Feyre having full sentence communication with other characters by conveying meaning through their eyes. Like, seriously – she’d be all ‘Amrens eyes said ‘maybe we can try this thing that is a really complex idea together with two of us instead of four of us like I had planned. Totally telling you this by staring at you by the way”. It was weird. If at some point it had been pointed out that in this world that eyeballs could convey full messages to each other, then I’d be fine with it. But apparently everyone’s vision marbles are shouting things at each other throughout this whole book. Unsaid communication that nobody ever misinterpreted ever was a very common thing in this book, and it was weird. And eyeballs did so many things too – they burned, they glinted, they screamed, they did all sorts of stuff that eyeballs shouldn’t do, at least things that wouldn’t be able to be picked up by another living being via just looking at somebody. I want to have a deep and meaningful conversation on battle strategy via looking at someone. That would be neat, and I’m jealous I can’t do that while these people somehow can. 😛

The final, and honestly most goofy thing is Maas’s writing. By this, I mean sex scenes. The vocabulary used in these sex scenes had me in hysterics. So, I guess this could be a positive trait about these? I guess? I mean, if you’re looking to read about a couple boning and want to laugh hysterically while you’re doing it, then it’s definitely a good thing. If you’re after an actual love scene though that’s not funny and all but instead steamy or whatever adjective you wanna assign to it, you’re gonna be out of luck.

Because of the amount of boning in this book (which… isn’t as much as I was expecting, honestly. So go you, Maas), I’ve take the liberty of creating a list of things not to do while writing a sex scene:

  • Don’t use the word ‘sheathing’ when referring to intercourse. A vagina is not a sheath. A penis isn’t a sword.
  • Don’t use the word ‘sheathing’ more than once within the same paragraph.
  • Don’t say that breasts ‘tighten’ in anticipation. If you experience this, you should see a doctor. Nipples perk out? Sure. But if your whole boob just yells ‘ATTENTION’, then that’s a medical issue.
  • Please please come up with more than one way of letting a reader know a character is turned on. If I have to read about curling toes one more time, man…
  • At no point should your character ever ever ‘feel like a moonbeam’. What does that even mean.

So, if you’re in the middle of writing a novel that calls for a nice love scene, just follow these five easy steps to keep your reader from laughing and then getting their SO to dramatically read the passage out-loud as if it was a performance piece. I mention this because I totally did it and it was so so very entertaining.

So while Maas’s sex scenes aren’t the best, they’re still amusing to read. Whether or not she intended them that way, I have no idea, but the fact that I was still enjoying myself while reading them means they didn’t really take away from my overall rating of the book. They just made me attribute this book to being super silly at times.


Overall, I enjoyed this book. I didn’t love it I don’t think, but it was a nice, fun, (sometimes probably unintentionally funny) read. I like the series as a whole and I think this book was a nice, fitting ending to the trilogy. Endings are make-or-break for me, and this one handled loose strings rather cleanly (sometimes… too cleanly, but then again, it’s a weird complaint). I liked it. I’m very much looking forward to the companion books for this trilogy and will likely gobble them up when they come out (even if the word ‘sheathing’ is present in there, yeesh).

Rating: 4/5 stars

 
3 Comments

Posted by on 05/14/2017 in Books, Review

 

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The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb | Blabber

The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders, #2)The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb
850 pages, mass market paperback
Read Feb 23 – May 7, 2016
Book two in the Liveship Traders trilogy
Spoilery Blabber

“Tomorrow owes you the sum of your yesterdays. No more than that. And no less.”

Every time I read a Robin Hobb book – this is the fifth one I’ve buzzed through now – I get an emotional hangover. This series in particular, I’d even call it an emotional flu.

Since this is a spoilery blabber, I’m going to assume if you’re here you’ve either read it already or don’t care about being spoiled. I’m also going to assume you already know the premise of the series. I’m also going to just write a bunch of thoughts out – this is not a ‘coherent review’. 😛

This book picks up where the last left off – the returning characters are just as despicable and wonderful as before. I grew to like characters I disliked before… and really really hate characters I already hated. Hah.

So the main theme of this book is obviously character development. Sorely, sorely needed character development. And it was wonderful.

Robin Hobb is really good at writing awful characters. I don’t mean awful as in badly written, I mean awful as in I hate them. They feel like real people but they are not people I would get along with. Kennit for instance. That bastard. Never have I despised a character so much that I actually would get angry while reading from their POV. If that isn’t a well-designed character then I don’t know what is.

I hope in book three, Kennit gets knocked down a few pegs. Seriously. So far he’s managed to manipulate Etta, Vivacia and now even Wintrow to his will. Gaaah I want someone to see through his bullshit so badly. He needs good, solid punch to the face.

Another character that went through a lot of character development, but in a positive direction instead of negative was Malta. It’s unfortunate that the loss of her father was what had to trigger it, but it really woke her up to the world around her. Towards the end of the book especially, I really loved her. Her snaps at the satrap were just fantastic. (I hate him too, so it was lovely). It was such a complete turn-around from her character in the first book, which seriously irritated me. I like Reyn too – he’s a decent fella.

This book I noticed spent about as much time away from the liveships as it did with them – about half the POVs weren’t anywhere near the water – it really lent to the largeness of the plot and all of the interesting subplots that I know are going to come together in book three. I seriously liked this book, especially towards the end. I reached an ‘AHHHHH’ moment and kinda buzzed through the ending (after…. taking a two day break to finish my coding project. You have NO IDEA how hard it is to reach the AHHHH part in a book and then put it down to do important schooly things, bleh)

All the subplots are starting to wind together at this point – we now know why it kept jumping to a bit of eel-y things in the water and why some of them seem sentient and others don’t. There’s a dragon flyin’ around and Paragon, darling Paragon, has developed a sense of multiple selves. Paragon I think is my favorite character in this series – he’s just so amusing, I wanna hug him. Granted, he’d likely either punch me in the face or cry hysterically or hug me back. It would really be up in the air. I think that’s why I like his character so much – he’s so out of character all the time that everything is in character. It’s neato. :”D

I will say though – and it’s a thing that I mentioned above – that this book is tiring. It’s so emotionally saturated that it becomes a chore to read it. Not because it’s bad, but because just so much heavy stuff happens to the Vestrit family, I kinda get worn out just reading about it, yeesh.

Rating: 4/5 stars


So yes, overall I dug this book. Made me feel droopy though. And my thoughts, as you can see, aren’t really coherent, hence a spoilery blabber instead of a non-spoilery review. :”D I’m thinking I”ll do a trilogy review on the whole thing once I finish the third book – that one will spoiler-free and more uh… readable instead of a bunch of tangent-thoughts, hawhaw.

Happy reading!

 
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Posted by on 05/09/2017 in Books, Review

 

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The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson | Blabber

The Traitor Baru CormorantThe Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
Read Feb 7 – Apr 19, 2017
Geopolitical Fantasy
399 pages
Spoiler-free blabber


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“This is the truth. You will know it because it hurts.”

The Traitor Baru Cormorant is a book that you’ll either love or you’ll hate. A geopolitical fantasy set in a land controlled by a distant empire, it follows Baru, a young woman whose home is made victim of the power that empire holds. As a child, she vows revenge for her country and her family, and sets herself to tear down the nation from within.

The cover of this book, while striking on its own, is one of the most poignant covers I’ve seen when it comes to conveying the tone of a book. As a reader, you follow Baru as she enters into the realm of the enemy, manipulates her way through by cold, calculating precision. The main character is a savant for accounting, numbers, tactics. She plants herself in the middle of a rivalry of dukes, all of whom are overshadowed by the looming Masquerade, the empire that controls them all.

This is my first experience reading fantasy where the only thing fantastical about it is the names of the countries. No magic, no creatures… just a world different from ours, under a type of control that is eerily resonant at times. The Empire of Masks rules over the duchies of Aurdwynn and has imposed upon them their own rules, including those of ‘racial hygeine’.

Under the Mask, marriages must be genetically beneficial and those lands who participate ‘unhygienic practices’ must be accounted for and corrected. Baru comes from such a place – the story begins with her at home, Taranoke, living with her mother and two fathers. The Mask sweeps into Taranoke, one of Baru’s fathers is taken away and Baru herself is placed in a learning facility to learn to stay away from anything The Mask deems as sinful: sodomy, tribadism, genetically inferior breeding… all of these, The Mask seeks to eliminate by whatever means necessary.

Throughout this process, she remembers what the Mask did to her home and family.

This is one of those books that lulls you into a false sense of security, allows you to believe that you understand what’s going on and then yanks the rug out from underneath you. You see Baru’s mind as she forms plots and plans to best manipulate those around her to achieve her goal of reclaiming Taranoke. You read, you see the awfulness the Mask has created and you root for Baru… but at the same time…

The author, Seth Dickinson, is a bit of a wordsmith, but his writing style alone for this book is a tad strange. Told from Baru’s point of view, it goes into battles and hidden politics that Baru herself doesn’t see, so you as the reader sometimes only get descriptions of occurrences instead of actually seeing those occurrences through scenes. It definitely took me a bit to get into – the writing at times adopts the ‘tell’ method instead of the ‘show’, but it does that because it’s what Baru herself experiences. The writing becomes a bit more showy later in the book when Baru starts witnessing events herself, but early on it is a bit mechanic. Don’t let that dissuade you though. The endgame is totally worth the wait.

But I mentioned Dickinson being a wordsmith, and then went into mechanical writing. Whoops. The reason I mention his way with words though is because despite the overall writing at times being bit difficult, there are so many beautiful phrases and memorable quotes littered throughout the book. About half way through, I started keeping track of them and had to go back and poke through the ealier pages to find more:

“Freedom granted by your rulers is just a chain with a little slack.”

“Her fury had nothing else to eat and so it began to eat her.”

“Understood what the books and the generals always repeated: that armies did not kill each other, they broke each other, that the day would be won when one army believed it could not survive. A matter of deception, of conviction, of lies made true through performance. Like everything else.”

And there are so, so many more. Reading this book at times is like reading poetry made into war and betrayal. I really loved this book, despite my small gripes with the writing. It’s thought-provoking, it’s complex, it’s poignant…

And that bolded phrase at the top of this review? It’s the opening line to the book. And really, it’s the most perfect line that could have been there. At the end of the book, you’ll flip back to the front and just stare at that opening line for a while, thinking about what you just read. I know I did.

Rating: 5/5 stars

 
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Posted by on 04/19/2017 in Books, Review

 

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