Niki’s Book Journal: August 2018

Niki’s Book Journal [August 2018]

I realize we’re already 1/3 of the way into September, but I’d been keeping this journal through August and it would really bug me to combine it with September and have a month missing. So here we are, lol.

August was a weird month of reading. I started out with a bang – sticking to a schedule (without it feeling like it was an obligation), and crushing my time spent reading from previous months. And then the last week or two of the month approached, and I realized three things: a bunch of high-priority new releases were going to hit the market, I’d signed up for several buddy reads (without writing them down or, you know, actually planning for them), and several of my library holds had just come in much earlier than planned. I felt overwhelmed and inundated with good books (#firstworldproblems) and it kind of paralyzed me a bit. I went from finishing 6+books a week at the beginning of August to barely completing a single one in almost 2. I also lost my writing voice and couldn’t wrap my brain around composing a review. The whole situation was weird – I haven’t had something knock me off my game this bad since December of 2013 (yeah, I remember the date haha. This bout wasn’t nearly as weird as that one). Sometimes I guess my brain just needs a break. I only wish it had let me know it was tired ahead of time so I could have at least planned for it a bit, lol. I seem to be back into the swing of things now. :)

Mini Reviews!!

Sword-Bound by Jennifer Roberson

Sword-Bound (Tiger & Del #7) by Jennifer Roberson [3.5/5 stars]

I wouldn’t call anything in this series groundbreaking for the genre, but for the pure fun-factor, it gets an “A” from me. Sword-Bound is a bonus book of sorts, published over 10 years after what I thought was the final book in the series. I really liked how the story arc in the first 6 books ended, so that’s probably why it took me a while to pick this one up. It read a bit like an extended epilogue (and I hear the author is working on yet another continuation), but I found a ton of enjoyment in the familiar banter between Tiger and Del, the infamous sword fights, and the setting and culture that makes these books so memorable. If you’re interested in a light fantasy read, this series is a great pick.

Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

Black Powder War (Temeraire #3) by Naomi Novik [4/5 stars]

Another enjoyable installment in the Temeraire series. The military angle became a little more prominent in this book, but I didn’t mind it as much as I might have in most other circumstances because of one important thing: no matter what else is going on in the story, Novik never forgets to keep the dragons at the center of attention. She always brings it back to them, highlighting the novelty and fun, and I’m certain that’s why I’m always engaged during sections that would be a detriment to any other story (lengthy travel scenes, lots of dialogue, and battle sequences – I should clarify that I love military strategy and combat in general, but after the thousandth and one battle scenes in all things fantasy, they start to sound the same… I lose interest unless it’s done with a unique twist). Overall, I’m still very much in love with the dragons in this series, and am eager to find out where the story goes next. I’ll be picking up a copy of book #4 as soon as possible! :)

Eulalia by Brian Jacques

Eulalia (Redwall #19) by Brian Jacques [3.5/5 stars]

My expectations for Eulalia were simple: I wanted lots of hares, lots of badgers, and lots of scenes within Salamandastron. I mean, just look at the book title! And the cover! Yeah…. all of that not so much. This is the first Redwall book in a while where I feel a little let down. It had a lot of great moments within it, and the one hare within the story has become one of my favorites from the series (Maudie – she’s the bomb lol), but overall my expectations fell victim to some bad marketing choices. Even so, any time I get to spend in this world is good time, so I’ll give it a pass. The new characters and conflicts were as good as ever, and I find myself eager to dive into the next book (I can’t think about how close I am to the end… sad!).

How did your August go? :)

Coming Soon: Sword-Bound (Tiger and Del #7)

feb 5Title: Sword-Bound

Author: Jennifer Roberson

Series: Tiger and Del #7

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: February 5, 2013* Now Available!

As one of the most memorable series I’ve read over the last ten years, Tiger and Del will always have a warm place in my heart. After finishing the final book back in 2003 (SwordSworn) I was content with where the author left things and considered the story complete. This new release really took me by surprise, and I can’t tell you how tickled I am to go on another adventure in this world! Thank you, Roberson!

For some information about the series up to this point, here’s a link to a review I posted a few months ago: Sword-Dancer/Sword Singer

*Unless there’s an error, it looks like the release date for this title is a soft one, and you may be able to order it now… I’m getting one.

Book Review: Sword-Dancer/Sword-Singer by Jennifer Roberson (4/5 stars)

Title: Sword-Dancer/Sword-Singer

Author: Jennifer Roberson

Series: Tiger and Del #1 & 2

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The OverviewHe was Tiger, born of the desert winds, raised as a slave and winning his freedom by weaving a special kind of magic with a warrior’s skill. She was Del, born of ice and storm, trained by the greatest of Northern sword masters. Together, they discover a kinship and friendship that grows to love while facing dangers of both sword and sorcery.

The  Review:

It’s been several years since I first read Tiger and Del, and I still remember them with fondness. Roberson has a strong first-person narrative not often seen in fantasy novels. It’s a unique blend of characterization and culture-building that really helps get you into the story. The character-development was really successful, and arguably the best element of the series. The protagonists are incredibly engaging and I think a lot of the appeal comes from stereotypical manners expressed in constant opposition to one another; a sort of man vs woman relationship that was surprisingly charming and oftentimes downright hilarious. It wasn’t just the main characters that were great, as Roberson even manages to give the horse a memorable personality.

As much as I enjoyed it, there was a weakness. Apparently, the author wrote the manuscript for the first book in about a week… and you can sort of tell. That’s just simply not enough time to develop a complex plot, so the storyline is fairly straight-forward. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, because I found some of her other works to be a bit long-winded. A shortened writing schedule means she really had to play to her strengths and jump right into the main plot. As the series progresses, it gets a little more dynamic, but not by much.

Overall, all six books have their own appeal, and I found my excitement for the story as a whole grew with each one. While it’s not the best from a craft standpoint, it was definitely one of the most fun to read. I laughed, I cried, I loved every minute!

by Niki Hawkes

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