literaryweaponry's reviews
244 reviews

Where Dreams Descend, by Janella Angeles

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medium-paced
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

1.5

1.5/5

“A good trick amazes, leaves everyone breathless in the moment. But a great trick truly deceives, keeps the audience wondering what happened, long after the performance.”

Ya’ll, I am not going to play around with you, this book was a garbage YA fantasy. It is now living in my brain as one of the most time wasting, over hyped, useless books I’ve ever read and I’m angry. Before you argumentative types start with your, “Well, you must not read much YA fantasy because here are the reasons I thought it was good and my opinions are obviously superior,” you can stop right now. I know fantasy. I know what I enjoy in fantasy. This book promised things that I know I enjoy and it did not deliver so get off my back you troll monkeys.

Let’s start with what the synopsis promised was The Star of the book, Kallia. Now, I have a lot of things to say about her and none of them are particularly kind. “A powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost.” That is what she is billed as. What is on page is a selfish, self centered, emotionally stunted, arrogant, ignorant child. Kallia thinks of no one but herself, doesn’t have a care for anyone’s feelings but her own, and even treats her so called friends as a convenient commodity. Now, she says otherwise on the page, stating how much she values the people around her, but we all know that talk is cheap and her actions paint her as a simpering and spoiled infant. It is okay to be selfish sometimes, even healthy to do so, but the world doesn’t revolve around you sugar and you need to get a grip.

Next, we are going to talk about the Big Bad in this book. Which, as far as I can tell, is…mirrors? Kallia and one of her fellow not quite magicians avoid mirrors like the plague and she comments frequently about seeing menacing shadows in them. But, for real? A shadow in a mirror is our bad guy? No, I need something more than that if you expect me to hop on board with this story. Everything else about this book is very in-your-face but the assumed villain is a shadow in a mirror. Child, please.

Lastly I want to quickly address the fact that this book is frequently tagged as a romantic fantasy. I love romantic fantasy but this story is not that. The supposed love interest in this is a washed up magician who is too deep in his Sad Boy emotions to be of any use to anyone and spends the entire story whinging. I mean constantly. He is absolutely useless and I’m not surprised that Kallia was attracted to him because she just wants to stomp on everyone anyway and he seems like the type to let her.

Overall, I hated this book. The story was dull, the villain is nearly non-existent, the love interest is laughable, and if you look in the description you see The Master which sounds all menacing? He pretty much doesn’t do anything and takes up every little space in the book. Hardly worth a footnote. I know some people love this book but I just can’t see what they got from it. I will not be continuing with this series.
Fire, by Kristin Cashore

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DNF for now. I may come back to it later but right now I just wasn’t feeling the characters. May just be my mood. 
Daughter of the Salt King, by A. S. Thornton

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dark emotional slow-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

3/5

This review is of an eARC provided via NetGalley. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

This book makes me rage. I can think of no other way to start this that would encapsulate my feelings. Rage. So much rage.

What really irritates me, though, is the fact that 90% of this book was absolutely fantastic.

This story focuses on Emel, the daughter of the powerful and corrupt Salt King. In their world of sand and brutal sun, salt is the only currency that matters and the Salt King lords over them all, dictating all trade and trade routes associated in the sale of salt. But the Salt King is not a kind man. He keeps his many daughters hidden away and sells them to other men with power throughout the desert for political alliance.

What people don’t know is that the King has a jinni under his command and he cannot be defeated. Many have tried and all have been killed with the slightest wish dropping from his lips.

Now, during the first 90% of this book I was enthralled by Emel and her acts of defiance against her father and her personal growth. She is an interesting, intelligent, kind hearted woman who wants to be out from under her father’s rule to make her own choices and be in control of her own life. Watching her grow and develop as a character was a great journey and I loved watching her learn what boundaries she could push.

During her journey she learns that her father has a jinni and the pair begin to have clandestine meetings and you quickly come to love Emel and Saalim. Saalim may have the power to grant wishes but the Goddess that looms over them all decides what path those wishes take. If you have malice in your heart when you make the wish the malice will come back on you unless you are very, very cautious in your wording. So, though Emel desires to wish for her freedom, she wants to be sure it cannot come back to haunt her nor does she wish to be separated from Saalim.

Watching their relationship grow as Emel also navigated the horrors of her father’s court was wonderful. I loved that part of the story and often found myself picking this book up to read more even if there were other things I should be doing.

Until we get to the end. I won’t give any spoilers but I will say that nothing ends the way the reader is lead to believe it will. The conclusion is painful and you are left feeling completely unfulfilled. None of the promises made come to fruition and we are left with many dangling plot points and a painful, empty feeling where the conclusion should have gone. It was enough to drop my rating from my projected 4.5 to a 3. Yes, it truly was that dissatisfying and I stand by my rating.

Is this worth a read? That is up to you. As I mentioned, most of this book was wonderful and I absolutely adored it but the end just…well, it hurt. As a reader who had come to love these characters it was painful to read and not satisfying in any way. I’ll leave this one in your hands and quietly hope that perhaps some major changes were made to the ending of this book after I received my ARC.

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Among the Beasts & Briars, by Ashley Poston

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adventurous mysterious medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

“Briars, brambles, bones, and blossom, I smell a girl who can’t be forgotten.”

Contains minor spoilers

One of my goals this year is to read all of my backlist books from past OwlCrate boxes and Among the Beasts & Briars was the first on my list to conquer. I had read one of Ashley Poston’s books in the past, Heart of Iron, and enjoyed it well enough but not being terribly familiar with her writing style I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into.

The tags etc for this book all tell me that it is a fairy-tale retelling but I just don’t see what fairy-tale it is talking about. I was never terribly interested in the classic happily-ever-after fairy tales anyway so just reading this book I don’t know which one it is supposedly retelling.

Be that as it may, Among the Beasts & Briars was a pretty good read.

Our heroine, Cerys, is very much what you would expect from a ya fantasy heroine. She is kind, loving, and her soul longs for adventure even if her mind won’t accept it. Cerys loves her father, her home, and her best friend who is set to be queen. Overall, she is a very likable character and when push comes to shove she is determined, brave, and tries her best to make the right decisions in tough situations. Her journey from being the castle gardener’s daughter to the savior of the kingdom is fun to go along with her on.

On the flip side of that, we have Fox who is, sort of, an actual fox. Fox has been by Cerys side for years as her furry woodland companion who seemed to understand and sense more than a normal fox should. When, after a magical accident, he gets turned into a human he accompanies Cerys on her quest to save her father, her friend, and everyone who dwells near the magical, menacing forest. Fox was not a likable character and having him as a love interest was rather off-putting. I found him cowardly and weak, unwilling to help against a threat unless he had no other choice.

I’ve seen this book billed as sapphic by a few reviewers and if that is specifically what you are after I will say that perhaps you should try another title. There is a sapphic aspect to this story but it is little more than a quick little snippet hardly worth mentioning toward the end. Overall, this story was good and it was exactly what I was looking for as my first read of 2021. I wanted simple, easy to follow, and a happily tied up ending. If that is something you would like, too, then I would recommend this book.

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Olmec Obituary, by L.J.M. Owen

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4.0

Review taken from http://literaryweaponry.com

I had been wanting to get my hands on this book for ages. It took a while because none of the libraries I am associated with had it or would bring it in and I just didn’t have it in my budget to pay full price for this book. However, Lady Luck was finally on my side and I was able to pick this up as an e-book for $2. Woohoo! For over a year I had been waiting to dig into this story so as soon as I could I jumped right in.

This story, and presumably the others in the series, revolve around a modern woman and archaeologist solving mysteries both modern and thousands of years old. As an enthusiastic lover of ancient history, that is right up my alley. My greatest love is ancient Egypt but Rome, Mesoamerica, the vikings…it is all fascinating to me. My passion for all things ancient as well as a good mystery made this book a near perfect fit for me.

Our main character, Dr. Elizabeth Pimms, was, unfortunately, a little difficult to relate to. She was interesting and highly, highly intelligent as well as flawed as all good characters should be but at the same time she was a bit stale. Elizabeth had recently gone through some emotional upheaval due to the death of her father and her career being derailed because of that. After his death, she has to return home from her very first archaeological dig to become the family breadwinner so that her grandparents and siblings can remain in the family home. You know, good for her for doing that but at the same time she spends most of the book complaining about it which was frustrating. I understand that you wanted to do something else with your life, Elizabeth, but quit your bitching. Life doesn’t go the way we plan, deal with it. Fact.

Once the story gets into the mystery things get a good bit more interesting. It no longer focuses to much on the whiny, neediness of Dr. Pimms and instead on this group of women and girls from Mesoamerica over 3000 years ago. The group had been found buried in the ruins of a temple and Dr. Pimms help is requested by a shady archaeologist to study them. However, Elizabeth uncovers information which makes the dig sight appear staged and she is dismissed with great venom from working with the remains. Determined to uncover the truth, Elizabeth embarks on the challenge of proving her theories about the dig being staged and attempting to uncover the truth about the group of remains.

I would have liked to have seen a little more about the women who the remains belonged to. The flashbacks to when they were alive were engrossing and easily one of my favorite parts. I also enjoyed the familial interactions between Elizabeth and her family as her grandfather has some spunk.

Overall, a very enjoyable read and I thought that the conclusion tied everything together very nicely. The so-called bad guy wasn’t exactly who I thought it would be which also was great. I hate when I guess correctly. So, if you love a mystery with some ancient history tie-ins, this is the book for you. I am looking forward to reading the next in the series to see how Dr. Pimms grows and expands as a person as well as whatever mystery she stumbles into next.
The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost, by Lucy Banks

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4.0

https://literaryweaponry.com/2017/01/02/the-case-of-the-green-eyed-ghost-by-lucy-banks/

It has been a very long time since I finished a book in less than twenty-four hours. In fact, I was probably a teenager at the time. A time when responsibilities were few, your folks still gave you dinner every night, and free time was pretty much constant. Anyone else feeling nostalgic? Now we all have a to-do list a mile long and a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. Unless you have a maid. If you do I’m incredibly jealous. In any case…

After my last read, which was an utter disappointment of a story that lasted 200 pages too long, I wanted an easy read. A slam dunk. Needed to get my reading mojo back. So, I went with what appeared to be a nice sci-fi mystery. Even the title reminded me of a Scooby-Doo episode and what heathen doesn’t like Scooby? There is even a mystery solving gang with a van! Fun, right?

We begin with Kester Lanner whose mother has recently passed. The last thing she said to him was a request to find a fellow named Dr. Ribero. Following his mother’s last request he manages to find Dr. Ribero in a dilapidated old building. Now, Kester is a lovable wuss and does not want to investigate in this building even though this is where he tracked Ribero to. Being loyal to his mother’s final request, he ventures into the building and finds himself thrown into what he previously thought was only fiction. The group of folks he finds inside hunts ghosts and banshees and all sorts of paranormal things. He also learns that the mysterious Dr. Ribero is his father. *dramatic music*

Kester finds himself pulled into this world of the supernatural and watching his discovery is just, well, fun! He has always been an awkward fellow and has very little confidence or courage in himself. Still, he joins this group of folks in their hunt (granted they sure pressured him into it) and discovers he has a rare power that significantly helps his father and the rest of the team in capturing these otherworldly creatures. Of course, it scares the pants right off of him. The reader gets to watch this young man with no confidence start to discover himself and his place in the world.

I very much enjoyed this book. It was simple and fun. After my previous read being such a let down this is exactly what I needed. The author states that this is the first book in a series featuring our paranormal fighting group and I am looking forward to reading more about them.

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This book was provided to me by Net Galley