Romance & Fantasy (yes, again)

It’s been the crazy-busy kind of week lately (as evidenced by lack of activity on this blog).  And well, Wimbledon starts this week, so I make no promises about posts in the next couple of weeks.

But it was one of those lovely lazy Sundays yesterday, and I spent some time posting on Goodreads about some books I read towards the end of last year (yes, only six months later – I’m catching up on my backlog…).  Here they are (with some additional thoughts in italics).

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Royal Airs (Elemental Blessings, #2)Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A decent read, but not one of Shinn’s best, IMO. The story was on the predictable side of things, and Rand/Josetta’s relationship felt a bit too much like insta-love. Having said that, I have such a soft spot for the world of Welce and its elemental blessings, and I’d love to see more in this world.

I wanted to like this more – a lot more.  Sharon Shinn’s previous books have set the standard in fantasy romance (see Samaria, Twelve Houses, etc) and the elemental blessings concept in this world appeals to my inner teen.  But the romance in this felt flat – not sure why. 

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I also raced through a trilogy that turned out to be one of my favourites of 2013.  I’d been meaning to read more of Martha Wells, and finally found myself with time on my hands, so I cracked open her Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy.  Totally satisfied my fantasy craving.  And it was one of those trilogies where the later books are full of twists and turns that make you see earlier events in a different light – I love those.

 

The Wizard Hunters (The Fall of Ile-Rien, #1)The Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the prequel, The Death of the Necromancer, but it took me a while to settle into this story. But once I did, it worked for me – well, strong fantasy with a subtle romance would obviously tick all my boxes. This was written almost ten years ago, and I thought its age showed slightly, but overall, good read.

 

The Ships of Air (The Fall of Ile-Rien, #2)The Ships of Air by Martha Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For a middle book in a trilogy, this one held up very well – there were some major twists in the story… but all made perfect sense in hindsight. Needless to say, I dove into the third book, The Gate of Gods, straight after.

 

The Gate of Gods (The Fall of Ile-Rien, #3)The Gate of Gods by Martha Wells

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The third book in a trilogy usually has a lot of expectations attached to it, and I’m glad to say that this one delivered for me. It was one of those unputdownable books – I was totally caught up in the story and invested in the outcome. Having said that (and despite this being a rather action-packed book), I didn’t think the plot was particularly suspenseful – but it was emotionally satisfying. So the perfect ending to the trilogy for me – though possibly with the caveat that I think you get even more out of the story if you’ve read the prequel, The Death of the Necromancer, first.

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I then read two Diana Peterfreunds (one under her Viv Daniels pseudonym):

One & Only (Canton, #1)One & Only by Viv Daniels

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I admit it – I picked this up purely because it was Diana Peterfreund writing New Adult, and I loved her Secret Society Girl books so much. Else I probably would have passed because the premise didn’t really grab me – so the fact that the story ended up working for me says much.

There was a bit too much of the “Yes, I totally am in lust with you” followed by “No, we really shouldn’t” (rinse/repeat) throughout the middle section of the book, but I did believe in Tess/Dylan’s connection. And I’d have liked to have had more on Tess’s parents, which to me was the more fascinating and complex relationship, but maybe Hannah’s story, Sweet & Wild, will reveal more.

Yessss… I wasn’t wild about the “falling in love with my secret half-sister’s boyfriend” conflict, but like I said, Diana Peterfreund’s writing got me over that.  I didn’t love this as much as the SSG books (okay, unfair comparison), but I’ll be getting the next.  I loved the SSG dedication in this book though. 

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Across a Star-Swept Sea (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #2)Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved the companion book For Darkness Shows the Stars, but this one didn’t work as well for me – I can’t quite put my finger on why, but there was something lacking with my connection with the protagonists and the world-building didn’t feel as in-depth as FDSTS. Having said that, it was a cleverly-written story (with an excellent ending), and kept me reading through to the end.

With this retelling, I’m not sure if I’d enjoyed this more had I read THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL first – certainly part of what I loved about FDSTS was how Diana Peterfreund kept the essence of PERSUASION, while making the story feel fresh and different, so I enjoyed the book from two separate angles.  I only know the vague outlines of PIMPERNEL, so it’s possible that a lot of the allusions flew over my head.

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The Temporary WifeThe Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not a massive Balogh fan – this was more of an impulse buy as the back cover copy appealed to me. And I’m glad I bought as the story ended up hitting the right spots for me – formulaic romance, yes, but with enough tweaks to make it different enough, and I liked the focus on family.

This actually kick-started my mini Balogh glom towards the end of 2013.  

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5 Comments

Filed under Reviews

5 responses to “Romance & Fantasy (yes, again)

  1. Li,

    You know I’m a Balogh fan. I absolutely loved The Temporary Wife! I agree on the formulaic bit — Balogh loves the marriage of convenience trope — but yes, her take on it was good enough to make this a memorable read for me. I’m loving her old Signet rereleases. I still have a few in my possession that I’m saving for when the mood strikes.

    I have so many Balogh recs from the Signets I’ve read, but you say you’re not a Balogh fan so I won’t bore you with them. LOL!

    • Oh no – I’d love your Balogh recs, especially for her Signet books! I read a couple more – A PROMISE OF SPRING and THE FAMOUS HEROINE – really liked the latter, and I felt as though I was starting to *get* her writing.

      I also read a couple of her newer historicals in The Survivors’ Club series – definitely going to continue that series too, so I may well end up calling myself a Balogh fan ;-)

  2. Jan

    I’m a big Balogh fan. I really like her Signet regencies. The Temporary Wife and The Famous Heroine are both favorites. I’ve had For Darkness Shows the Stars and Death of the Necromancer for quite awhile so I need to read them one of these days…lol. I love Sharon Shinn, but haven’t read Royal Airs yet.

    • Good to know – I’ll start collecting her Signets then :-)

      FDSTS was one of my favourites last year – a YA SF that really worked, and she nailed the romance, IMO. I had a bit of a Martha Wells glom last year – still have quite a few of her backlist in my TBR!

  3. Pingback: Books for July | Me and My Books

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