Waiting on Wednesday: Mortal Heart and By Winter’s Light

 

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“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.com, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week, I could not decide between two pre-publication “can’t-wait-to reads”–so I figured, “Why not both?”

 

Mortal HeartMortal Heart

His Fair Assassins

by Robin LeFevers

11 . 04 . 2014

From Goodreads:

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has…

Why I am waiting:

I stumbled upon the first book in this series, Grave Mercy several years ago, and I was just amazed by the concept.  So many books focused on the supernatural from the usualy perspective of vampire, witches and magic.  I thought the story behind this series was amazingly refreshing.  This takes place in historical France, and the fantastical part of this story comes from pre-Christian Gods and pagan practices and beliefs.  Also, I happen to be a huge Francophile, so anything that takes place in France is sure to catch my eye.

Its been a bit of a wait for this book, and we finally get to hear Annith’s story.  The second book of the series dragged a bit, but I am still excited for this next installment.  The intrigue in the French court has been building, as the precarious situation of the young ruler has become more and more tenuous.  I have a feeling that they saved the best for last!

 

And the BONUS “can’t-wait-to-read” pick is:

BY WINTER”S LIGHTBy Winter's Light

Cynster #21

by Stephanie Laurens

11 . 02 . 14

From GoodReads.com

#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens returns to romantic Scotland to usher in a new generation of Cynsters in an enchanting tale of mistletoe, magic, and love.

It’s December 1837, and the young adults of the Cynster clan have succeeded in having the family Christmas celebration held at snow-bound Casphairn Manor, Richard and Catriona Cynster’s home. Led by Sebastian, Marquess of Earith, and by Lucilla, future Lady of the Vale, and her twin brother, Marcus, the upcoming generation has their own plans for the holiday season.

Yet where Cynsters gather, love is never far behind—the festive occasion brings together Daniel Crosbie, tutor to Lucifer Cynster’s sons, and Claire Meadows, widow and governess to Gabriel Cynster’s daughter. Daniel and Claire have met before and the embers of an unexpected passion smolder between them, but once bitten, twice shy, Claire believes a second marriage is not in her stars. Daniel, however, is determined to press his suit. He’s seen the love the Cynsters share, and Claire is the lady with whom he dreams of sharing his life. Assisted by a bevy of Cynsters—innate matchmakers every one—Daniel strives to persuade Claire that trusting him with her hand and her heart is her right path to happiness.

Meanwhile, out riding on Christmas Eve, the young adults of the Cynster clan respond to a plea for help. Summoned to a humble dwelling in ruggedly forested mountains, Lucilla is called on to help with the difficult birth of a child, while the others rise to the challenge of helping her. With a violent storm closing in and severely limited options, the next generation of Cynsters face their first collective test—can they save this mother and child? And themselves, too?

Back at the manor, Claire is increasingly drawn to Daniel and despite her misgivings, against the backdrop of the ongoing festivities their relationship deepens. Yet she remains torn—until catastrophe strikes, and by winter’s light, she learns that love—true love—is worth any risk, any price.

A tale brimming with all the magical delights of a Scottish festive season.

 

Why I am waiting:

It feels like it has been FOREVER since there has been a new Cynster novel… As you can see above, there are A LOT of them.  And while the original 6 were definitely my favorites in the series, the following books were fun as well.  I love that Laurens keeps bringing the original characters back.  These books are always, quick, fun, emotional, and sweet reads.  I am ridiculously excited for one about Christmas in Scotland. It will be the perfect start to the Winter season!

 

 

 

 

 

Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce

Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce

09 . 24 . 2013

 

I can still remember exactly which book it was that sparked my love of reading.  I was in the fifth grade, it was Christmas morning, and I was opening my presents by the tree.  I ripped the paper off my last gift and looked down incredulously at a book.  I remember reading the cover of Alanna the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce and telling my poor mother and father that it was the worst present ever.  My parents begged me to give it a try– and I promised I would, if only to show them how much I was NOT going to like that book.  I made a great show of sitting in bed that night and grimacing as I read the first pages…and that was the first night I stayed up all night to finish a book.  My parents were thrilled…until I made them go out the next day to buy In the Hand of the Goddess, the next book in the Song of the Lionness Quartet.  Hundreds of books, thousands of dollars later, and one English Major later, I wonder if they ever regret the monster they created that Christmas.

Battle Magic

Every year, I reread that series– and all the other books by Tamora Pierce, who has been one of my favorite authors since.  This newest book is part of the story of Sandry, Briar, Daja, and Tris, four young orphans who discover that they have magic.  The series Circle of Magic follows them as they learn to live with their gifts and become family.  The next series The Circle Opens and the single volume The Will of the Empress continues their journey as they begin to make a place for themselves in the world.  This newest book, Battle Magic, takes place between the last books in The Circle Opens  and The Will of the Empress.  It tells the story of Briar, his student Evvy, and his teacher Rosethorn as they are pulled into the middle of a vicious war.  The greed of an Emperor imperils their friends; as they fight to save the people they care about they learn exactly how much a powerful tyrant can destroy.

As usual, Pierce creates an incredible story.  Pierce’s book are not good simply because readers become enthralled in the plot and tied to the characters, but because she is able to incorporate a greater message into her novels.  (For example, the book Wolf Speaker explores the importance in caring for the environment.)  In Battle Magic, the message is clearly that war is not glorious or glamorous.  War is exhausting, unfair, and heartbreaking.  With this book, Pierce departs from her usual fantasy plot where the heroes, driven by righteousness, clearly and easily dispatch the evil villains.  This time, good and evil are much more evenly matched; both fighters and innocents suffer the consequences of battle.  Though this is an important message and a more realistic view of war than I have seen in many books, this is not the type of book that I would generally read.  I, admittedly, prefer to read books as an escape from every day life.  I enjoy a good fantasy, preferably with a romantic subplot, that will take my mind off of work, school, and real world issues.

That preference aside, the book was filled with action, magic, and obscure gods.  Pierce hooked me into the story quickly, as usual, and though I knew how it ended, I still could not put the book down.  A few parts of the story were odd — even for a book about fantasy and magic, but overall the story was really good.

Therefore, the final verdict is: though this book is a bit harsher in its realism than I would have liked, I do recommend it, along with the other books from the Circle of Magic series…especially if you have been missing books about young students learning magic since you finished the last Harry Potter book.

 

 

Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton

A long time “Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter” fan — I can’t not read each new novel Laurell K. Hamilton writes.  I did step away from the series for a while in the middle of Danse Macabre because, though I understand that the development of the ardeur (power fueled by sex)  story line required a lot of graphic scenes, I found the constant rounds of sex with no other plot boring.  I did,  eventually, catch back up.  I like the novels more now that Hamilton has focused back on the action.

In Affliction, Anita learns that Micah’s extranged father is dying.  Bitten by a zombie and suffering from a rotting contagion, he only has days to live.  Anita and her loves travel with Micah to say good bye and discover what new evil is brewing out west–threatening to rot the world.

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I enjoyed reading Affliction, but there are a few aspects of Hamilton’s style that take away from the story as a whole.  Primarily, how many times she gets into arguments about aspects of her personal life that have no bearing on her job with the law enforcement officers with which she is working.  .  Very often, the characteristics she attributes to the male law enforcement officers in the book are less than flattering.  Does no character around her have a mental filter? Seriously? As much as I realize some people may still have issues with women in authority and sexual freedom, Blake seems to encounter all the people too stupid to say nothing.

In general, I give Hamilton credit for her insight into her characters’ (both main and peripheral) psychological states.  However, Blake and her beaus are SO aware of their emotional issues and speak about them so much, that their discussions occasionally remind me of the dialogue in Dawson’s Creek–only with more angst.  Don’t get me wrong, I really do find the insights fascinating, but the constant talking occasionally bogs down the pacing of the plot.

The plot is what interests me most in Affliction.  I think Hamilton delivers a great zombie horror novel with an intriguing villain and a lot of action.  I appreciated that Anita had an unusual mystery on her hands–something that she didn’t know how to deal with immediately.  I think that the story progression was perfect; but I do wish that the ending had been fleshed out a bit more.  I loved the interplay between Micah’s family and Anita and her men.  The anxiety they felt before being introduced and their nervousness while meeting the in laws was endearing– and so easy to relate to!

Overall, I liked this novel. The plot was interesting, the actions horrifying and the interactions between the characters what emotionally compelling.  With a little less chest thumping between characters and more of Hamilton’s beautiful way of turning a descriptive phrase, this book would have been great.

 

If you like this series, you will also like:

Keri Arthur’s Full Moon Rising

Jenna Black’s The Devil Due

 

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass HardcoverSo, I am a little late with this review, Throne of Glass was published last year.  However, I assume there are enough people who have not yet read this great novel–that this review is still relevant.  Especially with the sequel coming out in 11 days.

Throne of Glass  tells the story of  Celaena Sardothien.  The beautiful and deadly young woman known as the Assassin of Adarlan, is brought out of her imprisonment in the salt mines of Endovier to the glass palace.  To win her freedom, she will fight in the competition to become the champion of the king she hates.  Her struggle becomes more perilous as competitors begin to die gruesome deaths outside the arena, and as the hatred and anger she hides behind are tempered by the unexpected love and friendships that develop.

Celaena Sardothien is an excellent heroine.  Though at times the combination of her expertise as an assassin with her beauty and her other incredible skills may have you wondering who the hell this girl is, Maas mitigates her Mary Sue-ish character with believable personality flaws. She invites you to laugh at Celaena, but she also moves you to cheer for her and cry with her.  Celaena portrays a surprising complex and imperfect morality, formed in her mysterious past, that makes her a delightfully Byronic heroine.

Other characters, such as the Crown Prince and the Master of the Guard are simpler–but show the promise of more depth to come as their stories unfold.

The story itself is a classic fantasy.  The fraught environment that Maas created for her characters will lead to a great series.  However, midways through Throne of Glass, I began to wonder how Maas was going to be able to tie the story together.  She has a lot of seemingly disparate plot pieces occurring simultaneously–from the tyrant king, to political intrigues, a bloody competition,  unexplained deaths, ghosts, mysterious pasts of her characters, magic, and a love triangle all vie for your attention in the first three quarters of the book.   Maas is able to bring everything together in an exciting ending! She struck a perfect balance between giving readers the answers and conclusion they craved and leaving them wanting more.

I am eagerly awaiting the sequel Crown of Midnight, releasing on August 27th 2013.  I hope we will find out more about Celaena Sardothien before she became the Assassin of Adarlan.  I am dying to uncover the secrets around her past!

 

If you enjoyed this novel you will also enjoy:

  • The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell
  • Trickster’s Choice  by Tamora Pierce