MandaBerry's Books

One person's thoughts on a whole lot of books

Tag Archives: magic

Review: Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat

Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat

From the inside flap of the book

New Venice – the “pearl of the Arctic” – is a place of ice palaces and pneumatic tubes, of beautifully ornate sled-gondolas and elegant Victorian garb, of long nights and short days and endless vistas of crystalline ice.  But as the city prepares for spring, it feels more like qarrtsiluni – “the time when something is about to explode in the dark.”  Local “poletics” are wracked by tensions between the city’s security forces – the Subtle Army – and the Eskimos who were there first; by suffragette riots led by an underground music star; and by drug round-ups led by the ruthless secret police, the Gentlemen of the Night.  Meanwhile a mysterious black airship hovers over the city like a supernatural threat – is new Venice about to come under assault, or is it another government ploy? At the root of it all is an anonymous pamphlet calling for revolt, which the Gentlemen suspect was written by one of the city’s most prominent figures, Brentford Orsini.  But as they tighten the net around him, Orsini receives a message from a lont lost love that compels him to radical action.  What transpires is a literary adventure unlike anything you’ve read before.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (Extra star for the incredible book design)

Bookshelf: No

How I Got It: Borrowed

Book design by Kelly Blair.

This wasn’t one of my favorites.  I just couldn’t get into it.  The setting was fantastic. I mean, the Arctic, really? Wonderful.  It was exciting to keep guessing whether or not a revolution would occur. The book design is absolutely beautiful.  The cover is awesome and the drawings inside the book add a very nice touch.  But that was about it.  I couldn’t help feeling like I was missing something.  The characters in the book talk about events that happened prior to the beginning of the story, and what happened is never really explained.  It wouldn’t be a big deal, but this event keeps getting brought up.  I would have like to have known what happened.  I didn’t really care for any of the characters – good or bad.  Don’t get me wrong, some of the characters did interesting things, but I just wasn’t that interested after a certain point.  I think it may have to do with the writing style.  I’m not saying that the writing style is bad, it’s just a certain type that I’m personally not that fond of. This reminded me of two other authors – China Mieville and Tim Powers.  I haven’t actually finished a Mieville book, but what I have read was similar to this.  This definitely reminded me of the two Tim Powers books I’ve read.  If you’re a fan of either Mieville or Powers, I think you definitely might want to take a look at this.


Review: Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd (Book One of the Twilight Reign)

The Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd (Book One of the Twilight Reign)

From the back of the book

In a land ruled by prophecy and the whims of Gods, a young man finds himself at the heart of a war he barely understands, wielding powers he may never be able to control.  Isak is a white-eye, born bigger, more charismatic, and more powerful than normal men…but with that power comes an unpredictable temper and an inner rage he cannot always hide.  Brought up as a wagon-brat, feared and despised by those around him, he dreams of a place in the army and a chance to live his own life.  But when the call comes, it isn’t to be a soldier, for the Gods have other plans for the intemperate teenager: Isak has been chosen as heir-elect to the brooding Lord Bahl, the white-eye Lord of the Farlan.  The white-eyes were created by the Gods to bring order out of chaos, for their magnetic charm and formidable strength make them natural leaders of men.  Lord Bahl is typical of the breed: he inspires and oppresses those around him in equal measure.  He can be brusque and impatient, a difficult mentor for a boy every bit as volatile as he is.

But now is the time for revenge, and for the forging of empires.  With mounting envy and malice, the men who would themselves be kings watch Isak, chosen by Gods as flawed as the humans who serve them, as he is shaped and molded to fulfill the prophecies that circle him like scavenger birds.  Divine fury and mortal strife are about to spill over and paint the world with blood.  The Stormcaller is the first book in a powerful new series that combines inspired world building, epoch-shattering battles, and high emotion to dazzling effect.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I got it: Bought

I admit that I’m behind on my fantasy reading.  I wish I could say “If you like so-and-so, then you’ll like this,” but, alas, I can’t.  I enjoyed reading about most of the characters, and the action scenes were exciting but very brief. I liked the world that the author was building, but I don’t feel I can completely see or understand it yet.  Maybe in the next book it’ll all make sense.  Quite a few characters were briefly introduced in short segments and left me wondering how they fit into the story. I’m a little miffed because this isn’t settled by the end of the book. Sorry. I’m aware this is a series, but this installment doesn’t compel me to rush out and buy the next one. I’m concerned I might just get completely lost.  I enjoyed the story, but all of the jumping around and the number of characters briefly mentioned makes me hesitant to continue reading this series.  You never know, I may just suck it up and see how it turns out.