Steal the Dragon

Steal the Dragon

by Patricia Briggs

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Mercy Thompson series and the Alpha and Omega novels…

Slave. Swordwielder. Spy. Some girls have all the luck…

When Rialla was young, slave traders from Darran ambushed her clan, killing all the men and enslaving the women and children. For years, Rialla lived in bondage, until she escaped and fled to the mercenary nation of Sianim.

Now she can strike back at her former masters. A lord in Darran seeks to outlaw slavery—but there are plots to kill him before he can. Rialla is chosen by the Spymaster of Sianim to prevent the murder—and is plunged into a world of deadly magic…

Last week I decided to reread some of my favorite fantasy novels, and I have a story to share about Steal the Dragon. I first found the novel perusing the fantasy shelves during a family trip to Hastings (if you’ve never heard of Hastings…google it! they are in Texas and were epic!) This was the version I picked up.

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I think I was a freshman in highschool and who knows how many times I read it during those four years. About ten years later, my copy of the book was gone and I couldn’t remember the title or the author. But I needed to read it and I remembered the cover art. All I can say is thank goodness for Google! I have my own copy once again!

I’m not going to provide a summary because the book synopsis covers everything. I LOVE STEAL THE DRAGON! I continue to reread it, and somehow, it’s as if I am reading it for the first time each time! I love how Rialla stubbornly makes herself overcome the torment of her past.  And she is one kick butt heroine! I enjoy how kind and funny Tris is, and how he is the only one who is forward and open with Ria. And their relationship? Still one of my favorites after all this time because it is a solid relationship between two strong characters. The magic system is different but reads organically. And I enjoy how the plot unfolds.  

Technically, Steal the Dragon is the second book in Briggs’ Sianim series, but I prefer to read it as a stand alone. Because, my main complaint is that the rest of the books in this series are not near as good as this one! I also have to note that certain large story points, such as the end of slavery and the prophet, are left open at the end of the story. This doesn’t bother me because the story is actually about Ria’s journey, but many other reviewers have mentioned it. 

This review is short and to the point because I am having a hard time not fangirling over here. Seriously, I could gush about Steal the Dragon for hours! of course I recommend it! Anyone else a Patricia Briggs fan? Have you read Steal the Dragon?

Lindsay

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The Realms of the Gods

The Realms of the Gods

by Tamora Pierce

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Daine and Numair are suddenly swept into the otherworldly home of the gods
after facing certain death on earth. But they cannot remain there for long,
because they are both needed to help fight the desparate battle raging in
Tortall. And so they undertake the dangerous journey back to earth…a journey
that will teach them a great deal about life and about each other, a journey
that will lead to the startling culmination of the conflicts, both mortal and
immortal, that have long plagued Tortall.

 Big changes are coming to Sand Between the Pages in the next week so I thought it was the perfect time to review a couple of my favorites. 

The Realms of the Gods is the fourth book in Tamora Pierce’s Immortals series. You can also check out my reviews of the first three novels: Wild Magic, Wolf-Speaker, and Emperor Mage. 

Stormwing Ozone has declared war on Tortall, leaving Daine, Numair, and their allies on the defensive. Daine and her mentor are pulled in to the realms of the gods by Daine’s parents during a losing battle. It is here Daine learns the goddess of chaos is backing Ozone’s fight. The pair must make it across the realms of the gods to the dragonlands and gain passage back home if they have any hope of stopping this war. 

Realms of the Gods is the exciting end of one of my all time favorite series! We are introduced to a new cast of characters (my favorite are the Darkings) and get to watch the development of old favorites. The settings are vibrant and colorfully written, and I like how we are just dropped with Diane in to this new world. And DRAGONS! The interactions with the adult dragons is the best but I won’t be sharing any more to avoid spoilers. As for the budding relationship between Daine and Numair….FINALLY! I shipped this before I even knew what a ship was. The two are perfect for each other and I love how Pierce gives them a very adult outlook on their future. This is rarely seen in young adult books, much less a book designed for preteens. 

I have a slight complaint about the pacing. I feel like readers are rushed through the majority of the book because we practically jump from setting to setting during the journey to the dragonlands. And then the pacing comes to a screeching halt when we come to that final battle. I just felt the novel should have been longer to even out the pacing. The only weird thing is the age difference between Daine and Numair. She is supposed to be sixteen years old while he is in his mid-thirties. Normally, big age differences do not bother me but this series is aimed at preteens and that made it a little awkward. I’ve always felt that Daine should have been a few years older than she is, which would have made the age gap less drastic. Don’t get me wrong; I adore the relationship between Numair and Daine! The age difference just made it a tad awkward is all. 

This is still a favorite series of mine, and I may end up rereading it, again, before the end of the year. I adore the world Pierce has built and I still connect with Daine years later. What is your favorite Tamora Pierce novel?

Lindsay

Prudence

Prudence

by Gail Carriger

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When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances – names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone’s secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

I picked up Prudence: The Custard Protocol because I had heard good things about Gail Carriger and it was the only audiobook the local library had of her work. I will eventually read her Parasol Protectorate series, but have read the first book of her Finishing School series. Feel free to check out my review of Etiquette and Espionage

The Custard Protocol series is the third in Carriger’s steampunk paranormal world (the other two mentioned earlier). Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama, or Rue, is the metanatural daughter of three high ranking members of the British paranormal community. Intelligent, head strong, and up for anything, Rue is given her own dirigible by her adopted vampire father and sent to India in search of some interesting tea. 

Ok, so let’s start with what I liked about Prudence. I loved how over the top it is! The exquisite wardrobe changes, the snarky banter, and of course the dirigible painted up like a giant ladybug are endearing. I can appreciate a woman who manages her own flying machine, and I liked Rue. She is stubborn, strong, and smart; which are the traits I prefer reading in heroines. She has a solid and uplifting friendship with Primrose. She is isn’t jealous or undermining when it comes to her friend’s beauty and talents, and they both do what they can to promote each other. I even found her budding relationship with Quesnel refreshing. Rue is intrigued and often annoyed at their flirty encounters instead of turning in to the typical star-crossed love stuck heroines of modern novels. Overall, it was just a fun quirky read. 

My only real complaint is that there really wasn’t a solid plot. Stuff just happens and we are left with a ‘and now what?’ feeling as we turn the last page. The story just seemed to ramble on. The quirky aspects I enjoyed also became tiresome at times; usually when a dumb decision is made because of propriety (such as leaving Europe early because Prim was wearing the wrong type of dress). I was totally fine with Rue’s impulsive nature because every character needs a few good faults, but certain choices just made her seem like an idiot. I do wish the plot had been a little more developed. 

I did enjoy Prudence and and plan to listen to the next installment. Sometime you just need something quirky to make the daily commute fun. What is your favorite Gail Carriger book?

Lindsay

 

The Light in the Ruins

The Light in the Ruins

by Chris Bohjalian

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls comes a spellbinding novel of love, despair, and revenge—set in war-ravaged Tuscany.

1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate’s gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa asking to see an ancient Etruscan burial site, the Rosatis’ bucolic tranquility is shattered. A young German lieutenant begins to court Cristina, the Nazis descend upon the estate demanding hospitality, and what was once their sanctuary becomes their prison.

1955: Serafina Bettini, an investigator with the Florence police department, has her own demons. A beautiful woman, Serafina carefully hides her scars along with her haunting memories of the war. But when she is assigned to a gruesome new case—a serial killer targeting the Rosatis, murdering the remnants of the family one-by-one in cold blood—Serafina finds herself digging into a past that involves both the victims and her own tragic history.

Set against an exquisitely rendered Italian countryside, The Light in the Ruins unveils a breathtaking story of moral paradox, human frailty, and the mysterious ways of the heart.

The Light in the Ruins is an interesting story of murder, revenge, art preservation, and survival during war-torn Italy. The Rosatis were once a wealthy Italian family of noble lineage that barely survived World War II. Ten years after the end of the war someone is determined to kill the remaining members and Serafina, the only female homicide detective in Florence, is assigned the case. What follows is a beautiful story of how war changes everything.

I love how the plot gracefully jumps between two time frames: 1955 and the last two years of the Second World War. Bohjalian expertly provides multiple character perspectives and utilizes the flashbacks to build the perfect level of tension and suspense. Usually it is the mystery that keeps me focused on a novel but The Light in the Ruins is different. Instead, I was focused on the moral questions presented by Bohjalian. These included: what do you do when you find yourself allied with the wrong people? And how do you move on when you’ve experienced so many terrible things? Don’t get me wrong; the mystery was good! And I even enjoyed the romance between Cristina and her German soldier, but it was the moral questions that kept me reading. I also want to note that the end tied everything together perfectly (which is awesome) and that I love how Serafina’s personal history wove in and out of the Rosatis’ story.

The only thing I can complain about is the pacing. The Light in the Ruins just reads slow. I first picked up the novel in hardback at the local library and eventually had to return it half finished. I am not normally the type who will go years without finishing a story but the pacing made it hard to come back. The good thing is the story was interesting enough for me to eventually come back and I finished it as an audiobook. This format was perfect in my opinion.

I recommend The Light in the Ruins for lovers of historic mysteries. The setting is beautiful and the topics thought provoking. It provides an interesting look at the struggle to protect Italian art during the war, while also forcing readers to evaluate the political, physical, and moral struggles of Italian citizens surviving the Nazi regime.

Have you read The Light in the Ruins? What are your favorite historic mysteries?

Lindsay