Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 Booklist

Here's the 2020 List

# Title Author Completed
1 Uprooted Naomi Novik January 5, 2020
2 The Iron Trial Holly Black January 9, 2020
3 The Copper Gauntlet Holly Black January 15, 2020
4 The Bronze Key Holly Black January 20, 2020

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Bronze Key by Holly Black

The Bronze Key (Magisterium,  #3)The Bronze Key by Holly Black
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm going straight to pros and cons today.

Great read for the target age group.
Interesting story idea. Magic that can swap souls?
Good pace and length. Meaty enough to get into, but not a long term commitment.
Characters we can care about.

Inconsistent magic system. Knock people out with a thought, but still be crippled by your hands being tied together?
Goofy plot developments. Standing on a table and shouting your plan?

Yeah, I'm going to see this one through, but my epiphany for the day is that you don't have to be a perfect writer to be successful, especially with a younger audience. Focus on characters, and don't let your pace get too slow or your plot lines too deep, and younger audiences will fill in the gaps.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black

The Copper Gauntlet (Magisterium, #2)The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series continues and is going well. The best part about this is the pace. Things keep moving, and you go from major scene to major scene, avoiding potential pitfalls like dating the lectures and classes they are attending. The real payoff is at the end. Although this is only book two, major conclusions happen at the end of this book, and although there is a continuing conflict, you feel some closure. That is hard to do mid series, and as a reader I appreciate it.

To be fair, I will point out that this is written for a tween audience, and there are occasional shallow points in both plot and character. I don't see that as a drawback, since it fits the audience. This isn't a Wheel of Time or even a Harry Potter. Keep the right expectations, and you'll find that this book delivers.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Iron Trial by Holly Black

The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1)The Iron Trial by Holly Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just when I thought I'd never run into another trio of friends facing danger from a dark lord at a magic school, I found the Magisterium. (Previous encounters: Harry Potter, Charlie Bone, Michael Vey, Percy Jackson )

This book wasn't perfect, but it was pretty dang good. Most of the action and characters flowed along nicely with the telling. The magic system fits in fairly well, and the bad guys are threatening while still being real characters with goals. Adequate twists and turns, especially at the end, to keep readers of all ages engaged, although this is a solid early YA book.

My only issues area some of details here and there. A character named Warren that disappears half way through the book and doesn't reappear. A school made out of tunnels that still reacts to the seasons (underground temperatures are pretty constant.) The whole thing takes place in caves with little to no mention of the lighting challenges. A few balls of flame here and there are poor solutions to that problem. The almost instant acceptance of a beast that some characters had been brought up to fear their whole lives.

Again, I liked this book, but every now and then some detail would pull me out of the story, which was bothersome. Looking forward to the next book though.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was, in a word, meh. I really enjoyed the conflict, the setting, and the action in general. The rest was dismally disappointing: the characters, their relationships, the magic system, and the plot. Here are a few representative complaints:

Why doesn't Agnieszka have any homesickness or even mention her family when she is first taken to the tower? This is a huge miss and makes her a flat character. And seventeen seems too old for this role. Fifteen would make more sense to me, given the medieval setting.

She is always acting weak, which doesn't match her outspoken nature. Is it just the inaccurate trope of a weak female? In this book by a female author? Male characters push her around, even after she has come into her ability, and she shrinks when she should fight them. She allows herself to be bullied, if not outright abused, when her power easily gives her the option to stand up for herself.

Where are all the other wizards ? Only 5 are a part of the story, but apparently there are a whole book of them.

And after only 6 months of practice she can make oxen out of mud? And then she can teleport herself?

Sarkan can move people/objects around from a distance? There is no system to this magic. Limitless other than a little fatigue. What is the cost? What are the rules? There are so many opportunities for "The way it should have ended" videos with this one.

I often feel like my favorite fiction books wrap up too quickly, without enough explanation of what happened to the survivors of whatever destruction came upon them. Well, this book showed me why that might be the best solution. This book finished, and then went on forever with all kinds of details that I didn't need. Knowing that the action was over, this was annoying. It was nice to know what happened to the characters, but you have to give that info quickly and concisely, and let the reader enjoy whatever victory had been given them.