The Mark of the Tala (The Twelve Kingdoms #1) by Jeffe Kennedy

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A quarter of the story I really thought it was a Young Adult Fantasy novel by the writing style until I realize it was a Fantasy Adult Romance novel. I am not sure whether it was significant to me knowing it but I think the book reminded me too much like Kristen Ashley’s Fantasyland series which further reduce my initial acceptance of the book because it is a fantasy novel with an emphasis on romance between characters that are too sparsely crafted to be enjoyable.

Princess Andromeda aka Andi was the middle child of a high-king who controlled several kingdom with a deep prejudice against the magical folks called the Tala who inhabit the neighbouring country beyond the mystical border. She was the invisible princess who was supposed to be a wallflower until the moment when she was assaulted by one shapeshifting Tala who turns out to be the King of Tala who tasted her blood by biting her lips and recognized her as his mate. Basically, half the story was about Andi arguing and hiding against the Tala and half of it was her embracing her lineage and becoming the focus of everyone’s attention because she’s the chosen one. You can assume the rest of the story at this point.

One of the things that really bothers me was the character inconsistencies and the insta-romance. I just don’t buy the ‘romance’ between Princess Andi and King Rayfe. The basic premise of this book around that plot was he assaulted her and she fought him and they tasted each other’s blood and immediately they think they’re meant for each other except that she knived him and he aggressively stalked her in her dreams and wanting to kidnap her afterwards and in her dreams, he continuously sexually assaulted her until she relented and basically gave herself up to him despite it being a bad idea for both of the kingdom and her family. That being said, I also don’t suddenly buy into this mysterious prophecy between two kingdom and her father irrational hate and her sisters treating her like an insect and actually describe her as a cross between butterfly and the crawling feels you get from a spider.

But I was remain interested with the worldbuilding and the whole irrational hate thing which never fully explain in this book because its a trilogy and despite the superficiality of the plot and characters in this book, I actually like Princess Ursula more and kinda wish the next book was about her (so I might read the third book instead of the next book). But if you like mostly romance or sex in a shallow confusing fantasy novel without character development whatsoever like Fantasyland, maybe you’ll enjoy this book more than I did. It wasn’t that bad but its too darn predictable for me.

The ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Doctor Who: The Bog Warrior (Time Trips) by Cecelia Ahern

22047671 ScreenHunter_71 May. 29 21.57 I have a big expectation from this story and the author. But I can’t help feeling disappointed by this story. Much like the rest of 10th Doctor stories, the Doctor went into a planet to observe but inexplicably got himself into trouble and then resolve the problems and happily ever after. The problem is, the story lack the essence of Russell T Davies’s Doctor. Since this 10th Doctor was without any companion and without backstory what so ever, you can easily assume this story is set before the regeneration episode. But without a hook to bring the readers into the story or a clue to where this story may pick up from, The Bog Warrior was just another novelization without substance and the plot was rather threadbare to be a canon. I think the story gave too much focus to the ‘romance’ aspect of the 10th Doctor story which was like “The Day of the Doctor”, both writers just skip three season worth of character development just to flesh out the superficial attractiveness of 10th Doctor. Since this is a science fiction Cinderella romance story that centered around a masquerade ball, forbidden romance and stuff, very predictable and its not hard to feel being cheated by it. While there’s some technobable from the Doctor (who is curiously a side character), most of the gruff I had with the story was the thin characterization themselves. 10th Doctor story tend to have a history with a lot of character deft and I guess the new character introduction made the story severely lacking. It felt like it was written as if it was out of habit rather than genuine interest. In fact, I’ve read better fan fiction by famous author that encompass all these Tenth Doctor feels without intentionally being a Doctor Who fanfic i.e: Fortunately, the Milk. Unless you’re a Cecelia Ahern fan, this book might not sooth your mid-season coma. The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

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The saving grace of this book is that Deborah Harkness is a legit historian which she researched a lot especially about science especially Darwinism and genetics that made the some of the info dumps within this book tolerable. I tolerate this book enough that I was interested enough to read the continuation (which is why I read this book in the first place) but as far as the book goes, this book superbly and example of how good someone’s writing was, even as a first novel, it failed in many ways of storytelling and characterizations that made the book painfully predictable and the series painfully overrated. 

First of all, it was unnecessarily too long. I have the physical hardback copy of this book and it was thick, the size of my head and the font was the size of a regular paperback which means its a nearly 100k words book for a book mainly filled with fillers with a story I can safely concise everything in 100 words. It was a torture to go through the first 200 pages and I only like the scene where Diana and Mathew went to his lab where they talk about genetics and origins of species and the book did improve over 200 pages mark. Normally, that was half the length of an average book and also the DNF benchmark for most readers and also the sign that despite all credibility as a non-fiction writer, this book should have undergo extensive editing as any book normally do and seriously, for a fairly new novel written in 2011, does anyone never discuss with the author about this book being a Twilight fanfiction being superimpose over a fairly good worldbuilding about a mysterious book? I like a story about old books and history but I wish I could surgically cut out the trope characters for another readable and hopefully original characters. 

A Discovery of Witches is about the story of a lot of people talking to each other because it is written in first POV of the character Diana who basically is a very very special snowflake who was lucky enough to be born into two very powerful wizarding families and possess unnatural superwitch powers which she unknowingly and subconsciously using it when she found a missing alchemical manuscript which was hidden for centuries in Oxford library. Since she was the only one who can access the hidden manuscript, she was being targeted by every kind of supernatural creature who thinks the manuscript was the solution to everything in the world about them. So, she went to the most approachable and still creepy supernatural character which turns out to be a millennial and half old vegetarian vampire as her overprotective super-stalker-bodyguard who have many more brooding issue condensed in his long centuries of living. Plus, he have an unhealthy obsession with Diana’s apparent overexpression of adrenaline which made her smell wonderful for vampires alike. Of course, both of them conveniently fall in love although relationships between different supernaturals are frowned upon by some pact between the supernaturals millennial ago by this covenant of supernatural. To avoid more supernaturals trying to harm her, Diana and Matthew had to travel all the way to his fortress in France where she met with Matthew’s family and learn more about the man himself and his vampiric nature.

The book was intriguing and sometimes well-written but it still have a problem of expressing itself intelligently through Diana who in a lot of way, partially Mary Sue and partially the ultimate character the author fantasized herself to be – a superpowered gorgeous blue eyed blonde goddess historian. When I say superpower, I really mean Mary Sue with omni-level god powers that its unbelievable. Also near the end of the book I was reminded of Kerstin Gier’s Ruby Red trilogy and it gets even more predictable in that way