Reviews by Amanda G.
“I have a weak spot for strong female characters. This week was no exception when I listened to Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Katsa is a lady killer in the service of her uncle the king. He gives her orders of who to maim or kill and she does his bidding. However, she feels disgusted by the self-serving greedy kings who harm ordinary people. So she starts a Council that carries out separate missions to help people. While doing Council work, she runs into a highly skilled fighter. He recognizes her and to her own astonishment, she decides to let him live. This one moment of hesitation on Katsa’s part completely changes her life. As the story continues, Katsa grows from a cold, no-nonsense character into to a compassionate woman. She defies two treacherous kings and uncovers a 35 year old deception that has harmed thousands. The man she spared becomes her true companion. The full-cast audio production was a bit jarring as each spoken part was read by a different voice actor. When I read a book, I usually ‘hear’ the voices inside my head which are really just variations of my own thought ‘voice’ if that makes any sense! So to listen to a book with multiple voices was a strange experience. After a while, I settled into the story which I loved. This is possibly the best book I’ve read in a while – even beating out Seraphina for recent female-driven fantasy novels. The world building is realistic, detailed, and the struggles of Katsa and the people she encounters feel real. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants action, adventure, and a dash of romance.”
Feeling a little bloodthirsty? If so, follow Ismae as she escapes from an arranged marriage to become an assassin for the god of death. "Grave Mercy" is set in fifteenth century Brittany -- a kingdom exhausted from war. The French are hungry for land and are determined to prevent the duchess from taking her crown so her kingdom can maintain its independence. Ismae has sworn her allegiance to the god of death to take out his targets. Ismae has dual devotions -- to her god and the duchess. However, when an assignment puts her into the path of a political target, Ismae is given her biggest assignment yet -- discover who the traitor is amongst the Brittany court.
"Grave Mercy" is a thick book, but goes by very quickly. The details of Ismae's assassin training is skimmed over, but plenty of weapons are listed. I suspect most of the poisons are made up, but the dreadful death given to the victims are morbidly thrilling. Ismae struggles to fit into the court and play up a romantic deception in order to get close to the crown's traitors. She is young, but she is out for blood and death.
Thompson is known for his beautiful, imaginative graphic novels which are weighty in the hands and hard on your tear ducts. The book is a loose autobiography of Thompson’s childhood where he dives deep into religious feeling to overcome the isolation enforced on him by his peers and family. However, his faith starts to tremble as he grows up. He finds comfort in writing to a girl he met at a Bible camp. Thompson’s journey explores the faith we place in others and ourselves. How one grows and how nothing can stay the same. This is a beautiful work and is simpler in themes than his later epic Habibi (http://www.darienlibrary.org/catalog/record/159432). Both works explore the ties between religion, sexuality, and growing up.
Emily’s life was in shambles following the death of her father. Then along came the handsome friend of her youth, Stephen, the Earl of Whitmore. Their childhood romance is rekindled and they wed. Fast forward four months where Stephen has lost his memory and he does not believe he would have married Emily. Nor does he remember the brutal attacks that led to his amnesia. Will he accept his marriage or will he abandon his wife?
This is a quick, fast-paced murder mystery as Stephen tries to piece together his past. The author teases you with glimpses of the couple as happy lovers before returning you to the cold distance they must overcome in the present.
The Duke of Avon is a notorious rake in mid-17th century France. On a walk one evening, he rescues a fiery-tempered boy, Leon. Yet there’s more to Leon than meets the eye for he is actually Leonie, a beautiful girl in disguise. With possession of Leonie, the Duke has finally found a way to take revenge against his lifelong enemy. However, can the Duke carry out his devilish plans as he finds himself enchanted by Leonie’s devotion to him?
This book was written in 1925 and is considered by many to be the originator of the modern romance genre. The book’s themes are reminiscent of The Count of Monte Cristo and Pygmalion (My Fair Lady). While the Duke is described by modern readers as an alpha hero, I find him to be too much of a dandy while the women fling tears whenever they’re in danger of not getting their way. The relationship between the Duke and Leonie is unsettling as he intends to adopt Leonie as his daughter. However, the book is described by fans as being very romantic, so you may enjoy it. The highlight of the book are the cutting exchanges between the Duke and his enemy which are hysterical and clever. So while I dismiss the romance, the conversations are a must read for anyone fond of witty arguments.