Throne of Glass – Book Review

throne-of-glass

Rating: 4 stars

Calaena Sardothien may only be 18 years old, but she is already renown as the Assassin of Ardarlan and left to rot the rest of her life away as a prisoner in the salt mines of Endovier.  She was only 8 years old when Arobynn Hamel, the King of Assassins, found her abandoned by a frozen river, raising and training her to become the most feared assassin.

Calaena finds an unexpected route to freedom from her prison when she is approached by the Crown Prince Dorian and the captain of his guard, Chaol Westfall.  Act as the prince’s champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin and earn her freedom if she wins.  Return to prison if she loses.

Training under an alias so as not to tip off the other competitors and reveal her true abilities, Calaena becomes close with both Dorian and Chaol, and they get to know her as more than just an assassin but as the young woman who has been forced to hide behind her reputation for so long.

What I liked about this book is that it evolves into more than what it initially seems.  It starts off as a competition for assassins with Calaena as the only female competitor, but then a romantic triangle story line develops around Calaena, Dorian, and Chaol.  Then it turns into a mystery when other competitors start being killed off in a very brutal way.  Calaena starts seeing mysterious symbols that are related to magic, but magic has been banned from the kingdom, so what do they mean and are they related to the murders?

Calaena is a very well-developed character.  She is tough and an assassin, because that is how she was raised to be.  It is not a life that she had chosen.  She is smart and has a love of books, which reminded me of Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  She is beautiful but doesn’t flaunt it, although others definitely take notice.  She is conflicted about her feelings for Dorian and Chaol and tries to understand them and their feelings.

Dorian and Chaol are both likable in their very different ways.  Dorian may be the prince and Chaol his guard, but they grew up together and are close adding more conflict in the Calaena, Dorian and Chaol triangle.

There are other characters who play their parts in this story and help flesh it out to make this a very wonderful story of a strong young woman who proves her self-worth.

The Girl at Midnight – Book Review

Girl at Midnight, The

Rating: 4

” Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic runng through their veins.  Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from all but one human, Echo a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market.

The Avicen are the only family Echo has every known, so when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home she decides it’s time to act.  Legend has it that to find the firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen.  It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem.  And this one might just set the world on fire.”

I really enjoyed reading this book.  I know it has been criticized as being too similar to Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, but I have not read that book yet so I had nothing to compare it to.  Echo is a 17 year old human living with the feathered Avicen after running away from home ten years before and taken in by the Ala, an Avicen and her protector.  Although human, Echo is in love with Rowan and best friends with Ivy, both Avicen.  They are all teenagers and even though Echo is the only human character in this story, she has accepted the Avicen as her family while some of these feathered people have their objections to taking her into their world.

Being a trained thief, The Ala sends Echo on a secret mission to find objects that will help lead to the firebird, a mythical figure that will help end the centuries old war with the Drakharin,a  human/dragon-like race with scales and with powers of their own. But the Drakharin are searching for the firebird too.  Echo’s quest will not only test her skills as a thief, but also her friendships and basic belief of who she is as a human.

I truly liked Echo.  She is tough, smart and loyal.  The supporting characters were also interesting and enjoyable.  Caius, the Drakharin prince, is conflicted about his role as ruler of his people.  He has a warm heart and the complete opposite of his sister, Tanith, who is a vicious and heartless royal who will do anything to destroy the Avicen.  Echo’s and Caius’ paths will intertwine and discover that maybe they aren’t as different as they have been taught to believe.

I loved how the story played out and turned into a quest for the firebird, watching different characters developing and bonding during their epic quest.

This is a fun adventure and a quick read.  I look forward to reading the second book in this series.

The Dressmaker – book review

dressmaker-the-2

Rating: 3 Stars

“After twenty years spent mastering the art of dressmaking at couture houses in Paris, Tilly Dunnage returns to the small Australian town she was banished from as a child.  She plans only to check on her ailing mother and leave.  But Tilly decides to stay, and though she is still an outcast, her lush, exquisite dresses prove irresistible to the prim women of Dungatar.  Through her fashion business, her friendship with Sergeant Farrat – the town’s only policeman, who harbors an unusual passion for fabrics – and a budding romance with Teddy, the local football star whose family is almost as reviled as hers, she finds a measure of grudging acceptance.  But as her dresses to begin to arouse competition and envy in town, causing old resentments to surface, it becomes clear that Tilly’s mind is set on a darker design: exacting revenge on those who wronged her, in the most spectacular fashion.”

I began reading this book thinking I knew what to expect.  A young woman returns home after years away, now a successful dressmaker, the envy of the townspeople who had earlier wronged her and that success was the best revenge.  Not quite.  Myrtle Dunnage did leave her hometown of Dungatar, a small town in Australia, that is populated by the most small minded, jealous and downright meanest people.

Myrtle, also known as Tilly, returns home to live with her mother Molly, who is called “Mad Molly” by the townspeople.  She does act insane.  She treats Tilly abhorrently and yet Tilly is very devoted to her mother and ignores her mother’s deplorable treatment of her.

Myrtle trained abroad as a dressmaker and her sewing skills are masterful.  She creates dresses that make the ladies of Dungatar salivate and come knocking at her door, eager for her to fill their wardrobes with her exquisite creations.

For me the first half of the book dragged on and there are so many different characters that I had a hard time remembering who everyone was.  It wasn’t until the second half of the book that it started to pick up and explanations for Tilly’s original departure start to materialize and the book takes a more emotional and darker turn.  Details of Tilly’s past emerge and there are moments of heartbreak and grief.  Tilly’s character becomes more fleshed out as we learn about what she has endured.

This is a book about bullying at all stages of life and revenge.  The meanness of small minded people can penetrate the lives of their victims in ways the perpetrators cannot fathom  This was not always an easy read for me.  I found the author’s writing style fell short of grabbing my attention completely.  It obviously caught the attention of some people because it was made into a movie.  I’ve seen the commercial for the movie and it in no way conveys the true essence of the story.  After reading the book I found the commercial to be misleading, presenting it as a fun, lighthearted movie instead of the dark and sad story that it actually is.