Thursday, February 5, 2015

MINI-REVIEWS: Desperate Duchesses, Avatar-The Search, A Tithe of Blood and Ashes

These three reviews have very little in common except that I don’t have a ton to say about any of them and two of them are YA and quite short.  

Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James
Original Publication Year: 2007
Genre(s): Historical (Regency) Romance
Series: Desperate Duchesses
Awards: None
Format: eBook (owned)
Narrated by: NA

I’m not sure whether I loved or hated this romance so it gets a 3 out of 5.  I dragged my feet to finish it and my enjoyment of the book fluctuated.   I did appreciate some of the more creative story structures that were attempted even though in the end it didn’t really work for me.  Ostensibly, Roberta St. Giles is the heroine; a member of the ton but with an unconventional father she is finding it difficult to find a husband.  She inexplicably decides, after laying eyes on him once, that she will marry the Duke of Villiers.  She sets off to London to achieve this.  Once in London she imposes herself on a very distant cousin, Jemma the Duchess of Beaumont, for lodging and patronage and meets the Duchess' brother Damon Reeve (Earl of Gryffen).  Even though Damon is handsome, charming, compatible and besotted with her she persists in pursuing the Duke of Villiers.

All well and good for a Regency romp.   The thing is, it becomes all muddled because there are all kinds of other storylines and characters that play pretty major roles.  So much so that it was unclear whether Roberta was, in fact, the heroine but her storyline is the only one resolved with any finality so it must be her story.  In the other storylines, Jemma is having an emotional wrestling match with her estranged husband and she is trying to help a friend who hates the Duke of Villiers by humiliating him.  And there is lots of chess.  Obsessive crazy chess playing. 

In the end it felt too unfocused but the real problem was that I didn’t care a whit about Roberta.  I was much more interested in Jemma and her husband and the Duke of Villiers who were all much more complex and interesting.  I’m guessing further books in the series focus on them so I may check those out but in general I would say this book tried some interesting things but wasn’t, I think, successful. 

If you want a much more articulate and more entertaining review check out Gossamer Obsession’s (she’s my go to for romance reviews – they are hilarious, accurate and well-written).  

Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search by Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino, Brian Konietzko, Dave Marshall (Writers) and Gurihiru (Illustrator)
Original Publication Year: 2013
Genre(s): Graphic Novel, YA
Series: Avatar: The Last Airbender (This is the second series of continuing story GNs and has 3 volumes within it – this is a review of the three volumes together)
Awards: None
Format: Paperback (from library)
Narrated by: NA

I love this show so much that I was super excited to find out that the creators were continuing the story in Graphic Novel form.  This is the second story and it is about Zuko’s search for his mother.  He enlists the help of Aang, Katara and Sokka and is also forced to bring his sister Azulla along.  The search is made more urgent because a letter his mother wrote has surfaced that claims that Zuko is not Ozai’s son but the son of a man from her village named Ikem.  This calls into question Zuko’s claim to the throne and it is this that Azulla hangs over his head. 

This is really Zuko’s story.  His family is more than a little screwed up.  His father is violent and hates him, his sister takes after their father and has become unhinged thinking her mother is haunting and undermining her.  Zuko’s mother disappeared without a trace when Zuko was a pre-teen and he’s never known if she is dead or still alive somewhere.  The struggles with Azulla and the mystery behind his mother’s fate are really interesting and we also get more detail about the circumstances of her leaving and of her life before she was chosen as Ozai’s bride. 

I love these characters and these graphic novels are a great way to spend a little more time with them!

A Tithe of Blood and Ashes by Alyxandra Harvey
Original Publication Year: 2014
Genre(s): YA, Fantasy
Series: Drake Chronicles (6.4 – Short Story)
Awards: None
Format: eBook (owned)
Narrated by: NA

I have an addiction to Alyxandra Harvey’s books.  I can’t get enough of them even when, quite frankly, they’re a little sloppy which they frequently are.  I just love her characters and her sense of humor that it seems to make up for any other shortcomings.  This is a short story (51 pages) in her Drake Chronicles universe about 6 months after the big battle that took place in the last novel of the series. In amongst trying to pass her exams, Lucy has inexplicably started to attract huge numbers of Hel Blar, which are sort of a cross between a zombie and a vampire – they are bad.  Her parents seem to know why but are keeping it to themselves so as per usual Lucy charges in to take care of things for herself.

I love Lucy and I think Harvey has resigned herself to the fact that Lucy and her vampire boyfriend Nicholas Drake are the stars of the Drake Chronicles show.  This gave me a little bit of everything I look for in Harvey’s fun-o-rama – tense fight scenes, smoldering hot Drake brother heroics and feisty, snarky Lucy keeping everyone on their toes.  If you’re a fan of the Drake Chronicles series you will easily fly through and enjoy this short little vignette. 

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