niaamore's reviews
206 reviews

Everything I Know About Love: A Memoir by Dolly Alderton

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reflective medium-paced

1.75

| Favorite Quote | Nearly everything I know about love, I've learnt from my long-term friendships with women.

| My Review | Skim-turned-DNF.
Wow, those were some choices. I don’t recommend reading this if you’ve had a rough childhood or have experienced living a lower economic class lifestyle. You don’t need to go through a book laced with privilege, drugs, alcohol, and hook-ups to tell you about the power of female friendships.
I’m sure this book is relatable to the right audiences. All stories are worth telling, I just won’t be reading them all. Sorry, this one is a pass. 
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

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challenging dark medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

 | Favorite Quote | After all, power makes everyone monstrous. At least a little.

| My Review | A captivating start with easy to love characters that slowly lost my interest over time. I think the multiple POVs outside of the Priya and Malini took some of my enjoyment out of reading. I still recommend giving this book a try, especially if you’re in the mood for an easy fantasy series!
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

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adventurous challenging medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

 | Favorite Quote | “But you can't kill me, Lord Tyrant. I represent that one thing you've never been able to kill, no matter how hard you try. I am hope.”

| My Review | Wow, Sanderson sure can write an action scene! This should be adapted into a movie!

I’ve been meaning to get into Sanderson’s line of work for some time now. There are a ton of Booktube videos on recommended Sanderson reading orders, and they often list Mistborn as a great starting point. I can totally see why! It’s easy to get into, the world and magic system are simple enough to understand, and the action is top notch. If any new fantasy readers wanted a gateway into the genre, this book would make the list.

Sanderson’s strength is in his magic systems. I usually prefer soft open-ended magic, but I can see how fun and thorough a limited hard magic system can be! It was thrilling to read the characters strategize on which powers to use to their advantage. Consider me sold on hard magic!

As much as I enjoyed my experience, I do have some critiques. I can only speak for his earlier works, but Sanderson’s characters seem a little…generic? I was only really attached to Kelsier, and my hopes for his appearance in the remaining two books have been dashed. I may continue the series for the plot, but I struggle with books where I can’t vibe with the characters. Oh, and I wish there wasn’t any romance. It felt rushed. I wish it was left out completely.

I do have to remind myself that this book came out in 2006, and I am holding it up to 2024 fantasy standards. If I read this years ago, it could have easily been a 4 or 5 star read. I think I’ll drop this series for now, and circle back in the future.

Onto the next Sanderson series! 
The Mercy of Gods by James S.A. Corey

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adventurous challenging dark medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

James S.A. Corey is back with a new series!

Admittedly, I am new to Sci-Fi, and Corey’s Expanse series is often pitched as a must read within the genre. Having yet picked up the series, I saw this book as an opportunity to get introduced to Corey’s writing.

New Sci-Fi readers, I have good news! The book’s writing focuses on character interaction over complex alien science, so I wouldn’t be worried about being thrown into the deep end. The start can be a bit slow, but it takes its time introducing Dafyd and the humans of Anjiin before the alien race Carryx arrives.

I did find myself a bit overwhelmed by all the interconnecting politics, but veteran Sci-Fi fans will enjoy the complexity. I feel quite proud of my venture into space opera Sci-Fi, and I look forward to picking up Leviathan Wakes!

Thank you to NetGalley and Orbit Books for this ARC. 
A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon

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adventurous challenging informative medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

| Favorite Quote | In the tales, she has no name, like too many women in stories of old.

| My Review | r/Fantasy 2024 Book Bingo Challenge | Multi-POV

I enjoyed The Priory of the Orange Tree, and I felt accomplished when I tackled its famously intimidating size. Even with its complex exhaustive plot, I found the characters carried me throughout the book, keeping me motivated to see their stories through to the end. My rating sits at 4 stars, and I can confidently say it’s a solid fantasy stand-alone novel. It’s only natural that I would pick up its sequel, A Day of Fallen Night. Although it hits every beat of its predecessor, almost to a one-to-one ratio, I find this book lacks the single most important strength Priory had in its storytelling: A unique variety of characters.

Sure, these characters’ stories weave together like Priory, but they lack the interesting and unique voice and perspective that make this world feel so diverse and alive. I hate to admit it, but I couldn’t care less about any of them. Plot takes priority. As a lover of character-driven novels, this felt like a major flaw.

If you loved the world of Priory; the lore, the history, and the politics, then this is the perfect prequel for you. You’ll find pages and pages detailing the many events that led to the respective kingdoms and their relationship with the dragons. If you want more characters like Ead and Tané, I recommend you lower your expectations. Shannon’s writing easily grants this book 3 stars, but truthfully, I wanted more. 
The Sword of Kaigen: Deluxe Edition by M.L. Wang

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challenging dark emotional slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

| Favorite Quote | Listen, son… when I was your age, I had to face truths that seemed to break the world. That’s what happens when you come into contact with people who aren’t quite like you. You learn over time that the world isn’t broken. It’s just… got more pieces to it than you thought. They all fit together, just maybe not the way you pictured when you were young.

| My Review |  r/Fantasy 2024 Book Bingo Challenge | Reference Materials 

It feels criminal to rate Fantasy Booktok’s favorite book any lower than 4 stars. It feels especially odd, considering that many of my favorite Booktok reviewers adored this book and showered it with 5 stars. And here I am, giving it 3 stars and feeling generous. Well, I value honesty, and here is the honest truth. The Sword of Kaigen is just okay.

I read Wang’s recently published book, Blood Over Bright Haven, a little while back. Both books sit at a 4.47 star rating, and have a ton of praise from many well respected reviewers. I went in with high expectations, and came out feeling a bit confused. The plot had inconsistent pacing, the writing was easy to read but lacked description, and the characters were interesting but failed to hold my attention for long. I brushed this off as a one book experience, seeing as many of my favorite books had other books by the same author that I didn't enjoy as much. It came as a surprise when I finally picked up The Sword of Kaigen and was met with the same problems I had with Blood Over Bright Haven.

Now, The Sword of Kaigen did a lot of things right. The characters are interesting, and I especially loved Misaki’s sister-in-law and the friendship between the two women. I did find Misaki and Mamoru frustrating at times, but given their upbringing, I anticipated their character growth, and was mostly satisfied by the end. How the author chose to handle Takeru, their abusive husband/father, greatly upset me. I do not feel any sympathy for that man, nor did I find his character redeemable simply because he “felt bad” for what he did.

I did enjoy the plot, but it was not what I expected. This book stands amongst the greatest high fantasy novels in many reviewers’ favorite book lists, so it should come as no surprise that I did not anticipate the setting to be a small village isolated from what this time period would consider a modern society. I especially didn’t anticipate how long we would be there. 40% of the book showcases day-to-day life in said small village, along with heavy blocks of text about the history of the world shoved in between, all of which I skimmed. The story eventually kicks up, but I found the slow start worked against my enjoyment of the book. It’s safe to say, I did not like the pacing in either of Wang’s books.

Overall, I was disappointed. I don’t know how to end this review, other than to say “sorry”. This book just didn’t work for me. I love Japanese inspired fantasy, and I love samurai and sword-based combat. If you loved this book, I totally get it! I should have loved it too.

There is a lesson to be learned in all of this: take every review with a grain of salt. This one included. 
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

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adventurous challenging dark funny fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

| Favorite Quote | God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.

| My Review | A highly anticipated read. I’ve heard amazing things, and I’ve been dying to watch the TV series! I thought I’d give this a read before watching.

As my rating shows, this book didn’t live up to the hype, but I still enjoyed it. The writing was smooth and playful, the pace was fast and fun, and the plot was one of a kind. It even healed a bit of religious trauma in me!

That being said, my main critique is with the characters. Beyond the banter and witty humor, their personalities fell flat. I do admit, the TV show’s brilliant cast might have set my expectations a bit too high, but I feel my disappointment may have stayed even without the show’s performance. On a lesser note, the humor didn’t always land. I’m not English, nor do I live in Britain, so I assume that to be the reason it fell flat.

Overall, I’m glad I finally got to read this book. Now, onto the show! 
Beneath the Moon: Fairy Tales, Myths, and Divine Stories from Around the World by Yoshi Yoshitani

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adventurous informative inspiring fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.5

| Favorite Quote | I hope you enjoy this collection and leave wanting to learn even more about each other, all of us living beneath the same moon.

| My Review | Beautifully illustrated, this book is paired with Yoshitani’s tarot deck, and tells the enchanting mythological tales from around the world found in her tarot cards. I adore the cards, as well as this book. The stories are short and sweet, and leave me wanting more! 
The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen by KJ Charles

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emotional funny mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.75

| Favorite Quote | “Look, nobody gives a damn for the Marsh except Marshmen. The government and the King don’t care if we starve. They put on the blockade but charge their rents and taxes same as ever, and they’ll let the sea or the French take us if that preserves their skins for another day. So we look after ourselves…We run goods for them, and when they catch us doing it, they hang us for the look of the thing.”

| My Review | A solid book if you’re in the mood for a regency historical with an overarching smuggling plot and a little bit of romance sprinkled in. I was in the mood for a historical romance, and was a bit disappointed by the ratio, but for the right readers, this will feel just right.

As much as I enjoyed the dynamic between Gareth and Joss (mostly Joss), I found Gareth on his own to be very annoying. His holier than thou attitude towards the smuggling in a city he chooses to stay in was almost painful to read. Joss has a lot of patience. I would immediately write off someone who attacks my livelihood and shames me for saving my sister from an exile or beheading, especially after dumping me in the coldest way possible simply for going back home. That's just me, I guess. As you can probably tell, I stayed for Joss. He has my heart.

Would I recommend this? Maybe. If you want a little romance with your historical fiction novels, in a he’s-a-criminal-but-I-can’t-stay-away kind of way, then this one's for you! 
Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

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dark medium-paced

2.5

| Favorite Quote | How many generations of women had delayed their greatness only to have time extinguish it completely? How many women had run out of time while the men didn’t know what to do with theirs? And what a mean trick to call such things holy or selfless. How evil to praise women for giving up each and every dream.

| My Review | I wish I liked this more than I did.

I love horror books about women reclaiming their power in weird and wild ways, so I should have liked this one. Unfortunately, the story just didn’t do it for me. It was a bit too long, and the many gruesome animal deaths almost had me DNF the book. I don’t think I’m the right audience, as I am not a mother, but I can appreciate the intended message.

I hope this finds the right audience!