Review: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Posted in Reviews at 2:38 pm by Fiona

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have seen so many people praise this book that I just had to read it. I’m still trying to figure out what they found so fascinating about it. I managed to slog through it, but I really wouldn’t say I couldn’t put it down. I kept reading and hoping I would have some sort of “aha!” moment, but it never happened for me. It was just okay as far as I’m concerned. It was well written, in the style of the period, but the plot and story arc had little conflict.


Drood: A Novel by Dan Simmons

Posted in Reviews at 1:15 pm by Fiona

Drood: A Novel Drood: A Novel by Dan Simmons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the first book I’ve read by Dan Simmons but it certainly won’t be the last. I was drawn to this particular book because of my love for the works of Charles Dickens, but I knew I had to read it after attending a book signing where Mr. Simmons talked about the book and its “unreliable” narrator, Wilkie Collins. I was not disappointed!

The richness and depth of Mr. Simmons research and prose is exquisite. It is the sort of book one must immerse one’s self into. I nearly felt the stays of my Victorian corset poking my ribs it is so spectacularly reminiscent of the writing styles of the period. The story is redolent with details sorely missing from more modern twenty-first century works. I particularly like the way it left me with things to think about for days and days after reading the last pages. Each reader gets the ending they want, really. It’s brilliant the way Simmons doesn’t tell the reader the ending, but lets you imagine your ending. I would venture a guess that if you asked ten different people the ending, you would get then different answers. That, is true artistry.


Review: The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan

Posted in Reviews at 7:36 pm by Fiona

The Crown Conspiracy The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My original assessment of this book stands, it’s too darned short! It’s a nice story, I just wish it would have been fleshed out more. Unfortunately, it, like so many other great stories, fell victim to that “first publication by a new author” problem that so many writers fall into these days. Publishers don’t want to take a chance on a new author by publishing a true epic fantasy of 300,000 or more words so they put the word out that they want 80,000 to 100,000 word manuscripts and that’s what they get.

Michael’s writing is good. The story is interesting. It has a few twists and turns, but not as many as I would have liked, but those would all take words and when trying to keep within such a meager word count cannot be done. I really wanted to learn more about the religion in this world that built such a political system allowing for the long term development of Percy Braga’s ascension aspirations. I wanted to understand how the monks of Myron’s monastery fit into everything. I wanted to know more about the magic system that produced a wizard such as Ashrendon. I wanted to know more about the Dwarves magic and skills. I wanted to know more about Arista’s sorceress training. And I don’t want to have to read the next ten books to learn these things.

There were a few points in the book where I felt as though I was getting an information dump rather than being shown why things were the way they were, such as the whole back story on the Pickerings. Again, showing takes more words than telling. I almost feel as though I read the “abridged” or Reader’s Digest version of the story and secretly hope one of these days I will stumble across the complete unabridged version that will make my heart soar because even though I felt things were abridged, I fell in love with the characters and story.

J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was within the “first publication by a new author” guidelines, but as her story about young Harry caught on, her books grew and grew to where by the 3rd and 4th book she was putting out 300,000 plus word volumes. I can only hope Michael’s books catch on enough that he can grow to larger and larger volumes because he certainly has the talent to do so. And speaking selfishly on my part, I’d like to read what he can write once he no longer has any sort of word count restrictions imposed on his work because like I already said, he’s a good writer!


Review: A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay

Posted in Reviews at 5:14 pm by Fiona

A Song for Arbonne A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this much, much more than Tigana. Where I felt the writing was a bit choppy in the beginning, either I got used to Kay’s style or became so swept up in the story it didn’t matter. I loved all the twists and turns the story took, the subtle discoveries of hidden agendas and politics, the world, the sociology of the people, gee I think I just loved it all! I particularly liked the sociology of the Arbonnais people with their love of music and the concept of “the court of love”. I particularly enjoyed how good won out over evil in the end and the happy ending (yeah, I guess I’m just a romantic at heart) but even that happy ending took some fascinating twists and turns. Kay is such a marvelous storyteller! He is also a penultimate writer. There were so many times I would encounter anywhere from sentences to entire paragraphs or pages that I wanted to strike through with my yellow highlighter as spectacular examples of beautiful prose. I know it’s early in the year, but this is the best book I’ve read this year!


Review, King of Sword and Sky by C.L. Wilson

Posted in Reviews at 4:06 pm by Fiona

King of Sword and Sky (Tairen Soul Series, Book #3) King of Sword and Sky by C.L. Wilson
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s really a shame that these books are classified as Romance, because I feel they would find a much larger audience were they not. Cheryl Wilson has crafted a marvelous fantasy world complete with all the elements including a language for her Fey. Her characters are complex and her pacing is some of the best I’ve seen. Yes, there are romantic elements, but they are not gratuitous at all and add to the complexity of her story. I found myself many a night staying up to read far later than I should have because I just couldn’t put it away. My only complaint is Book 3 ends on such a cliff-hanger I will surely perish waiting until June to get the next installment! (Like that is a complaint, ha ha ha!)

If you have shied away from this series because of the classification, don’t! Lord of the Fading Lands, Lady of Light and Shadow, King of Sword and Sky and Queen of Song and Souls belong in Fantasy Realm Royalty.

Beylah vo, Cheryl!

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