In an attempt to get on top of the books I’ve read in the past couple of months, here are some quick reviews of books I’ve enjoyed recently:
“Mirror Prince” by Violette Malan (fantasy) – An impulse buy for me, I was drawn in by the Charlaine Harris blurb on the cover! The plot? The hero thinks he’s human, but he’s actually a prince exiled from Faerie, and his enemies are after him. And without giving too much away, yes, there’s a love interest.
I thought the prologue was slightly disconnected from the main story - in fact, I picked this book up a few times, but never got past the first few pages. Once I got past the slow start though, I was drawn into the story – I wanted to know how it would end. It works as a standalone book, though there are hints of a sequel, and Ms Malan creates an interesting fantasy world. The not-so-great bits: I would have liked more character development - the characters never really came *alive* to me; and their names… aarrghhh. Each character has two names, and keeping them straight was a nightmare. Having said that though, it was a great debut novel and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for other books by this author. Grade: B-
“Mistborn” by Brandon Sanderson (fantasy) – This is a heist-style story set in a fantasy world with lots of political intrigue. I loved the creative magical system in this book – magic is based on metals, and Mr Sanderson has an almost scientific approach to it (in a good way!). Well-developed characters and great action scenes as well. I didn’t like the random POVs he started introducing towards the end of the book, but according to his annotations (excellent btw – I read them after I finished the book, and thought it was a fantastic behind-the-scenes type bonus), he used them purposefully to introduce a sense of climax and chaos. I’m still not entirely sure if it worked, but I did enjoy this book and will get the next one in this trilogy. Grade: B+
“An Affair Before Christmas” by Eloisa James (historical romance) – I’m a big Eloisa James fan, and well, I loved this. It’s the second book in her “Desperate Duchesses” series. This actually sat in my TBR pile for quite a bit - it came out early Nov, IIRC, but I only read it over Christmas. In a way, I’m glad I waited for Christmas because it’s a nice and Christmassy book! It’s a marriage-in-trouble setting – some may say a rather contrived problem. So while I do like stories that focus on what happens *after* the wedding, this was probably the main reason I didn’t read it earlier – I was thinking “oh, no, it’s going to be boring!”. It wasn’t, and this is one of the things I love about Ms James’ books – that she can take storylines that have been used a million times and make them her own.
I also loved the setting – I’m a sucker for Georgian settings and I thought the decadence and lushness of this era was conveyed better than the previous book, IMHO. Also realistic, especially on the major beehives they wore back then! To me, this book was classic Eloisa James - beautiful writing, sizzling sex scenes, and yes, a large cast of characters. Now I like the ensemble-cast books – I love the fact that we get to know not just the main h/h, but everyone else as well – but I know it’s not to everyone’s taste. I think I compared the Duke of Villiers unfavourably with Georgette Heyer’s Duke of Avon in the last book – this time around, I’m happy to say I wasn’t tempted to compare the two at all! He definitely came into his own in this book and had quite a lot of page time.
In a way, Ms James reminds me of Suzanne Brockmann – the way she drags out this overall plot arc over the whole series. I wonder when she’s going to write Jemma and Elijah’s story (and I really hope they end up together). A keeper for me and I *want* the rest in this series. Grade: A