The Great Library: Ink and Bone

In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…

WHY did it take me so long to pick up this series? Also…WHY HAS NO ONE PHYSICALLY THROWN THIS BOOK AT MY HEAD?

I mean, seriously, the third book is getting ready to come out and not a single person has said HALEY WHY HAVE YOU NOT READ THIS AMAZING SERIES LITERALLY CALLED THE GREAT LIBRARY.

*deep breath*

I could do this entire post in capital letters, not even kidding. I’ll spare you. Or at least I’ll try.

I had a really hard time putting this book down, and since I took it home for my grandfather’s funeral, it was kind of a problem. I had ZERO time to read it!

Even though the story is very much action driven–and there is definitely no shortage of it–the characters are extremely well fleshed out. Each of the postulants have swirling dramatic back stories which could merit spin offs of their own, and there is one pair off in the book that I won’t spoil but just…I NEED MORE OF IT.

Also, can we talk about how Wolfe is the dreamy Snape that we all actually wanted? Because this is how you do a Dark Mysterious Teacher Figure With A Dark Mysterious Past Who Also Cares About His Students. He’s so swoopy in his librarian clothes, with the hair and the looks.

OH and the diversity! The world building is fabulous, and it takes people from all walks of life–multiple races, religions, genders, and sexualities are included in her first book.

I actually had this book on hold at the library when it came available from Blogging for Books, so I even have a paperback copy in the mail. I am SO excited to have this on my shelf. Now I just need to get the second book too. And…AND! I have the third book as an ARC–which is the whole reason I started reading this series right now (again, WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME EARLIER??), so prepare yourself for the next two coming up soon!

Blogging for Books and Penguin Random House provided a copy of this book for unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.

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The Vampire Chronicles: The Queen of the Damned

Make sure to see what I thought about The Vampire Chronicles:  Interview with a Vampire, and The Vampire Lestat.

In 1976, a uniquely seductive world of vampires was unveiled in the now-classic Interview with the Vampire . . . in 1985, a wild and voluptous voice spoke to us, telling the story of The Vampire Lestat.  In The Queen of the Damned, Anne Rice continues her extraordinary “Vampire Chronicles” in a feat of mesmeric storytelling, a chillingly hypnotic entertainment in which the oldest and most powerful forces of the night are unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

Three brilliantly colored narrative threads intertwine as the story unfolds:

– The rock star known as Vampire Lestat, worshipped by millions of spellbound fans, prepares for a concert in San Francisco.  Among the audience–pilgrims in a blind swoon of adoration–are hundreds of vampires, creatures who see Lestat as a “greedy fiend risking the secret prosperity of all his kind just to be loved and seen by mortals,” fiends themselves who hate Lestat’s power and who are determined to destroy him . . .

– The sleep of certain men and women–vampires and mortals scattered around the world–is haunted by a vivid, mysterious dream: of twins with fiery red hair and piercing green eyes who suffer an unspeakable tragedy.  It is a dream that slowly, tauntingly reveals its meaning to the dreamers as they make their way toward each other–some to be destroyed on the journey, some to face an even more terrifying fate at journey’s end . . .

– Akasha–Queen of the Damned, mother of all vampires, rises after a 6,000 year sleep and puts into motion a heinous plan to “save” mankind from itself and make “all myths of the world real” by elevating herself and her chosen son/lover to the level of the gods: “I am the fulfillment and I shall from this moment be the cause” . . .

These narrative threads wind sinuously across a vast, richly detailed tapestry of the violent, sensual world of vampirism, taking us back 6,000 years to its beginnings.  As the stories of the “first brood” of blood drinkers are revealed, we are swept across the ages, from Egypt to South America to the Himalayas to all the shrouded corners of the globe where vampires have left their mark. Vampires are created–mortals succumbing to the sensation of “being emptied, of being devoured, of being nothing.” Vampires are destroyed.  Dark rituals are performed–the rituals of ancient creatures prowling the modern world.  And, finally, we are brought to a moment in the twentieth century when, in an astonishing climax, the fate of the living dead–and perhaps of the living, all the living–will be decided.

When I decided to set out on this Series…urm…Series. I wondered what would happen if I decided not to finish one. I did not anticipate getting to that point in my first go round. I loved the first two books in The Vampire ChroniclesInterview was fantastic, and Lestat blew that one away!

Maybe because the first two were so brilliant, the third book just couldn’t keep up the pace. I had pretty high expectations. From the title, I expected it to be either about Akasha–written in the same first person narrative style, with age and period-appropriate voice, that Rice had used for Louis and Lestat.

However, she flipped writing styles completely. Lestat gives an introduction, and forewarns us that he is handing over the book to all the other vampires. Right away, my inner reader went “OH NO.” This book is SO disjointed compared to the first two. It must also be leading to the concert at the end of The Vampire Lestat–running sort of parallel. Unfortunately, it’s just so hard to follow. There’s barely any direction, and aside from the weird dreams about “red-headed twins” and out of context mentions of Lestat, there are hardly any connections between the narrators.

I feel like most of these vampires have nothing to do with Lestat, and that the thought of him is just thrust in randomly. They will be having conversations or streams of consciousness and suddenly “la de da blah blah VAMPIRE LESTAT blah blah la de da.” Every single time I was so confused about where he came from. Lestat swears in his introduction that he DID NOT write these narratives, that this is how they were given to him but it sure seems like either his vanity is shining through with abundance, or I am missing something completely.

Either way, I hit page 150 and just could not make one more. I could not stand the idea of 433 pages of this disjointed nonsense. Have you read The Queen of the DamnedCare to shed some light on this confusing book?

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The Vampire Chronicles: The Vampire Lestat

Make sure to see what I thought about The Vampire Chronicles:  Interview with a Vampire.

Once an aristocrat in the heady days of pre-revolutionary France, now Lestat is a rockstar in the demonic, shimmering 1980s. He rushes through the centuries in search of others like him, seeking answers to the mystery of his terrifying existence. His story, the second volume in Anne Rice’s best-selling Vampire Chronicles, is mesmerizing, passionate, and thrilling.

After rereading InterviewI was really looking forward to moving on with the series. Anne Rice has such a mesmerizing writing style and and I couldn’t wait to peel back the curtain on the Lestat.

I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, The Vampire Lestat was even better than I imagined. This book is a unique sort of “time travel” story. We get to see across different centuries, without a time machine. Vampires are an ancient people, and that makes their stories so layered. Sometimes when we think of “period fiction” we forget that there are SO MANY PERIODS–and Anne Rice does such a fantastic job of separating them–not only crossing time borders, but continental ones as well.

At first I thought Lestat as a rock god was sort of weird. Why are we starting with an 80s hair band? But then, as we dove down into his days in the Paris theatre, it started to unwind and make a little more sense. I’m not saying I don’t still find that part of the book a little disjointed…but I can understand why Rice made that choice.

Rice’s vampirism is sexy–she took the metaphor she started in Interview all the way to actual sexual attraction and fulfillment in Lestat. And it was pretty freaking hot. I do not understand why incest is necessary–Rice’s fascination with perversion is probably the only thing I do not like about her books. I know becoming a vampire changes your relationship…but that is still is a no for me.

Lestats tone is incredibly poetic–much more than Interview–probably owing to the difference in the vampires’ eras. Also, Lestat was originally French, Louis American. That they are so different shows Rice’s skill as a writer. I can’t wait to move on to Queen of the Damned to find out the unique perspective that one will bring!

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The Vampire Chronicles: Interview With the Vampire

Series. The bain of my existence. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great series…but they are SUCH a commitment. And as a blogger, they are so hard to review, because do I a) read them as the books come out individually or b) wait until the full series is out? 

I almost never read a series when it is first out…but then I procrastinate reading the full thing in one go because then I have to forgo everything else I am reading. 

It’s such a challenge to fit everything in. TOO MANY BOOKS.

So, we are going to try something new here on ILR. I’m going to read full series, and review them, all in a row. I’ll post these on Mondays, and you can follow along with me as I read each book!

Up first:  The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. I have the big silver Omnibus from Barnes & Noble, so it’s a great place to start. I read Interview with the Vampire in 2015, so the below is an updated version of that review.

Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly erotic, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force—a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write.

Vampires have never held much interest for me in the supernatural world. I’ve always been much more interested in magic–witches and dragons and elves. The whole blood-sucking thing…not for me. It could be regional, I’m much more interested in old British lore than Germanic and Eastern European, which is where vampires reign supreme, so the ancient legends never made it into my repertoire. And the modern retellings…well…I’ll pass on Edward and Bella, thanks.

However, one can hardly be up to par on their literature lists without at least reading Anne Rice. Besides DraculaInterview with the Vampire is probably the most famous work on the subject. Rice’s lead character Louis gives an elaborate narrative to a young boy, detailing his life as an 18th century vampire in New Orleans and Paris. He tells how Lestat turned him in order to try and gain access to his property, and how they then took a child as their daughter. Lestat’s motives are always sinister, and Louis determines to get Claudia away as soon as possible. Thus begins a constant struggle for their eternal lives.

On my second readthrough, I picked up a lot more on the pedophilic undertones of the book. When I read Interview the first time, I thought Claudia’s age and relationship with Louis was weird–but it made sense in vampire-land, that she’d stay young. However, Lestat’s obsession with boys really creeps me out. I mean, Lestat is creepy all around, but why must he always “take” young boys? It would be one thing if it were just sucking their blood as food–but Rice clearly draws a relationship between the vampire lust for blood and human lust for sex–and so an older vampire taking children really messed with me.

By writing about these doomful creatures, Rice not only weaves an entertaining and dramatic novel. Louis has been written with quite they philosopher’s mind, and so the narrative thread weaves a tapestry rich with conversations about God versus Satan, morals and motives, and even a little creation theory. There’s no ignoring the depth in this one, and perhaps because you are encased in the world of vampires, it’s very hard to find the light.

I had originally given this 4 Book Dragons, but I’m going to drop it down to 3. I liked it, but not as much on the second read. Perhaps I went a little too far down into the dark. The next book is all about Lestat so…I have a feeling it’s about to get darker.

 

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Anne Bishop: Etched in Bone

New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop returns to her world of the Others, as humans struggle to survive in the shadow of shapeshifters and vampires far more powerful than themselves…

After a human uprising was brutally put down by the Elders—a primitive and lethal form of the Others—the few cities left under human control are far-flung. And the people within them now know to fear the no-man’s-land beyond their borders—and the darkness…

As some communities struggle to rebuild, Lakeside Courtyard has emerged relatively unscathed, though Simon Wolfgard, its wolf shifter leader, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn must work with the human pack to maintain the fragile peace. But all their efforts are threatened when Lieutenant Montgomery’s shady brother arrives, looking for a free ride and easy pickings.

With the humans on guard against one of their own, tensions rise, drawing the attention of the Elders, who are curious about the effect such an insignificant predator can have on a pack. But Meg knows the dangers, for she has seen in the cards how it will all end—with her standing beside a grave.

I’ve been waiting a year for the fifth and final book in The Others series to come out. And I’ve had the ARC in my collection for months–I had to have been one of the first to be approved for it. My willpower is SO STRONG, guys. Sometimes I don’t know how I manage to wait until the release month to read these. Probably because I just have way too many books in line.

Anyway, the anticipation was strong with this one. I’ve loved the first four, and the last one teased some mega romance. My body was ready.

But maybe my brain wasn’t? Or maybe it’s because I’m halfway through marathoning ASOIAF for trivia next week. THIS FELT LIKE SUCH A CHORE. I couldn’t make it halfway.

Something about Etched in Bone just didn’t measure up to the rest of the series. Slow doesn’t begin to describe it. It also barely focuses on Meg and Simon at all, which is what I was really looking forward to in this last edition.

One thing I noticed, in the slowness, is that Bishop is continually reintroducing characters to us, even though this is the fifth book. Really, if you’ve made it this far, you should know her world by now–how packs operate, why Meg is special, etc. A little bit of that is fine, but it shouldn’t still be happening more than 25% into the book. it makes the story/series seem very choppy and ruins the flow of it.

The plot also focuses around domestic abuse, and there is a LOT of victim blaming. For a series that unpacks mental illness and addiction, I was pretty grossed out by how this topic was being handled. Maybe it resolves itself later–but it wasn’t looking good.

I hated to DNF this, but I hated to finish it more. When a book becomes a chore, it just is not worth it, no matter how much I loved the rest of the series. I’m so disappointed.

NetGalley and Roc provided this ARC for an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.

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Review: The Magicians

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he’s still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. Something is missing, though. Magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he dreamed it would. After graduation he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin’s fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined. His childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.

At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing,The Magicians boldly moves into uncharted literary territory, imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions. Lev Grossman creates an utterly original world in which good and evil aren’t black and white, love and sex aren’t simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price.

I’ve heard so much about The Magicians, and most of it has been summed up in one sentence. “If you love Harry Potter, you will love this one too!”

…ok…well…I kind of see the resemblance, in that there is a magical school that normal people can’t get into, and there ARE three friends that get into trouble…but that’s really where the similarities end.

As far as the school goes, it is college vs junior/senior high. The result is a super fratty feeling, instead of Griffindor vs Slytherin. Everyone is drunk the entire goddamn book. And I do mean the.entire.goddamn.book. Also, sexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsex.

Please don’t tell your middle schooler that if they liked Harry Potter they should read The Magicians. This is not the book for them.

Once they graduate, all semblance to HP disappears and it becomes pretty much CS Lewis fanfiction. Fillory is Narnia and it almost feels like this is set generations after Lucy and her siblings rule.

I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. I probably won’t continue on with the series. To read it as fanfiction of two of my favorite fantasy sets–completely entertaining–but I have a hard time seeing it as anything other than that.

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I won this book in a Twitter contest.

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The Kingmaker’s Daughter

The Kingmaker’s Daughter is the gripping story of the daughters of the man known as the “Kingmaker,” Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick: the most powerful magnate in fifteenth-century England. Without a son and heir, he uses his daughters, Anne and Isabel as pawns in his political games, and they grow up to be influential players in their own right. In this novel, her first sister story since The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory explores the lives of two fascinating young women.

At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Married at age fourteen, she is soon left widowed and fatherless, her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Anne manages her own escape by marrying Richard, Duke of Gloucester, but her choice will set her on a collision course with the overwhelming power of the royal family and will cost the lives of those she loves most in the world, including her precious only son, Prince Edward. Ultimately, the kingmaker’s daughter will achieve her father’s greatest ambition.

I knew that Game of Thrones had been based on The War of the Roses, but I had no idea just how closely it followed it. From the very moment I started reading The Kingmaker’s Daughter, it was impossible not to compare the two–even though one is complete fantasy, and one is based on real history. It really shine a whole new light on the series.

But, this review isn’t about GOT. So that’s enough about that.

Since I love British history as much as I do–especially Tudor history–it’s impossible not to love Philippa Gregory. I’m pretty sure I have every one of her books on my Goodreads TBR. She is pretty much THE historical fiction author of our time. Her stories are thick with passion and drama, and she goes super deep into the lives of the women who lived in those castles and magnificent dresses. She reminds us that it SUCKED to be a woman back then–our idea of “princess”  today is not exactly accurate.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter takes us into a story of a relatively unknown queen, and through her eyes we see it all–war, treason, childbirth, witchcraft, and everything else a woman had to deal with while the men battled for power. Gregory writes the game of chess magnificently.

It’s been awhile since I’ve picked up a Philippa Gregory novel, and now I’m rehooked. Be warned. I know where her section of the library is now! If you love historical fiction, or you just finished GOT and are asking yourself “WHAT DO I READ NOW?”–this is a good choice! It’s also part of an overall Cousin’s War series, so there are more!

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The Winner’s Curse

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

THAT IS THE WORST CLIFFHANGER EVER WHAT THE FUCK MARIE RUTKOSKI.

I mean, I knew this thing was a series but god dammit. COULD YOU NOT?!

WAY TO MAKE ME BUY THE NEXT BOOK IMMEDIATELY WHEN I HAVE A MILLION OTHER THINGS TO READ RIGHT NOW.

Also, I’m out of Google Play credits AND SO I CANNOT BUY THE NEXT BOOK IMMEDIATELY.

Guys, I’m having a crisis. This wasn’t even a 5 Book Dragon rated book. It was just a 3.5 ish…4 maybe. It was a fun book. I read it all in one day, so it’s fast-paced. I wasn’t sure how I felt about a few things–the slavery, some of the racial references, etc. I did like that the women were trained to be soldiers, before choosing war or marriage (it would be better if they had more options, but at least they weren’t completely disregarded).

So this wasn’t a book I was super emotionally invested in. It was entertaining, but fairly predictable at first. Girl meets guy from different class, father gives ultimatum, girl falls in love with guy from different class anyway, war breaks out. The rest kind of sneaks up on you.

And then the ending. HOW COULD YOU LEAVE US WITH THAT ENDING? Oh man. That is the most cliffhangery cliffhanger ending I’ve ever seen.

Gotta go, I need to do a bunch of Google Reward surveys so I can rack up some Play points as fast as possible. I’ll be reading the next book the very second I have enough.

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Glass Sword

As wonderful as anticipation is in the Booklr world, it can also be a killer. When I read Red Queen, the sequel had just been announced, so everyone was talking about Glass Sword already. There was a pretty big divide on RQ–you ever loved it or hated it. I was in the love it category, so I was really looking forward to Glass Sword. And when we got the cover reveal, oh man.

I mean, look at this. It perfectly matches RQ.

The only word I can use to describe my emotion while reading this book is despair. I am despairing over how BORED I am. What happened????

In Red Queen, we have this fantastic, complicated character development in Mare Barrows as she discovers her powers, tears apart a kingdom, etc. In Glass Sword, Mare is demoted to The Little Lightning Girl–basically just the middle of a sad love triangle between two annoyingly distracted dude-bros.

All Mare talks about is Cal. Cal this, Call that. Cal, the fire prince, who burns so hot, blah blah blah. You’re the freaking lightning girl! You’re supposed to be a badass yourself–get over it! And Kilorn is JUST as moony and weak. He’s so goddamn pissy about being friendzoned that he can’t focus on the mission. What a mess.

I’m about halfway through this, and I’m so disappointed that I can’t continue it. The world that was built in Red Queen just falls apart here. I hope for Aveyard’s sake that it’s just the curse of the middle book and maybe a finished trilogy will complete the circle. But for me…it’s just not worth continuing.

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Marked in Flesh

I’m baaaack! Did ya’ll have a good Spring Break? I certainly did.

I keep thinking that I didn’t get much reading done at all–but in reality, I read THREE books! They were all just from the same series, so my brain counts them all as one. I mentioned this last week, but I was due to read Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop for its release on March 8…and then realized it was not the second book in her The Others series, but the FOURTH! Oh no!

I always hate being late on a deadline, but I was taking a hiatus anyway, so I’ll just play a bit of catch up with my reviews this week. You’ll forgive me, right? Thanks!

I read the first book, Written in Red, almost exactly a year ago, and loved it. Anne Bishop mixes fairy tale with indigenous culture set in a dystopian landscape. It’s pretty fierce. It’s been awhile since I’ve binged an entire series like this, and this was a great one to lose myself in.

When you get into the series as a whole, you really get to see the themes Anne Bishop pulls into her dystopian fairy tale. As I mentioned before, the main component is about prejudice between the indigenous race and the humans. The war between the HRL and The Others reads very familiar to those in America today (and heck, those in America throughout our bloody frickin history). Another very heavy theme is in regards to mental health. The first two books reference cutting and severe bodily harm quite often, even referencing it as an addiction–the other two books do too, but it’s a major theme in the first two. The third book is all about abuse:  getting away from the captor, healing after the fact, recovery. The fourth is war. All of them cover PTSD.

Sounds pretty rough, right? Did I mention that those big themes are wrapped up in a completely gorgeous, dark, dystopian fantasy series? GUYS GO BUY THIS SERIES IMMEDIATELY. The romance tension is so thick you will need Namid’s teeth and claws to cut through it.

This is the fourth book. And as it was getting closer and closer to the end I was thinking, this can’t be it, right? I mean, there’s only 5% left and not enough closure and I NEED ANOTHER BOOK! Goodreads says there’s an Untitled Book #5. All is well with the world. I only have to wait until 2017. GIVE IT TO ME NOWWWWWWWW.

Sigh. I guess I’ll just have to read something else. This is why I don’t binge anymore.

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