Wednesday, May 29, 2013

And thus concludes...

the Magnificent Devices series. Yet readers worry not, there is more! Shelley Adina leaves a very happy footnote that my dear Mopsies will be receiving their own tale! It will occur five years down the timeline after they have been educated in Germany. 

Brilliant Devices by Shelley Adina

I was slightly disappointed by the last words of Claire Trevelyan. After three books with cliff hangers, I did not expect the last of the series to include more cliffhangers. Now I will grant that the "series" is not over as the Mopsies take the center stage for the next novel. I do look forward to that and hope there is some clarification from Claire's life as well. I would not be able to forgive Ms. Adina if she doesn't let us know who Claire picked.

The rag tag bunch has surprised me with the many twists and turns the story has taken. Just when you think you have come to a logical conclusion about the storyline you hit a hairpin switchback. You have the world of the Bloods mixing with the Wits in a way Claire never quite anticipated could exist. She has learned some very valuable lessons in a very condensed time span; when you suddenly remember the whole series has only stretched six months. That is a rather abrupt introduction to adulthood and I think Claire has handled it triumphantly.

There are yet more new characters to keep the story fresh on steaming ever forward. I appreciate the constant introductions. These new characters do not detract from the main heroes of the novel but add a nice depth to the plot. They are not forced in or have pages dedicated to their history to make them feel burdensome. They fit seamlessly into an ever increasing puzzle. I find this writing achievement quite impressive.

While I didn't find this to be the best installment, I do look forward to future developments from Shelley Adina. We can't have a winning day, nor do they have to be failures. Some days just are, as this novel just is another published work.

Here is to attempting a best seller!

Holiday weekend makes for heavy reading

I was able to enjoy three straight days of sunshine, poodles, and reading. After weeks of rain interrupting some great outdoor time, there is now a lull to catch up on all the yard work. Trimming bushes, pruning roses, cutting and edging, etc. I watched my industrious husband from the porch with cold refreshments and my trusty Kindle. Now I am back to the grindstone refreshed and ready for a short week.

Magnificent Devices by Shelley Adina

New characters, new problems, new lands all add together for yet another fantastic installment in the world of Lady Claire and her rag tag party of orphans. With many more appearances from the Mopsies, I was a little disheartened to realize that many of the flock were left behind in Jolly Ole England to not have their stories told. None of it detracted from the big picture, though, and the story came out quite brilliantly. The conclusion left more questions than answers as a good middle novel should. I was ecstatic to have the entire 4-book set in one Kindle bundle, as I plowed straight to the concluding novel.

My history of the Wild West is sorely lacking, but I feel Ms Adina may have taken many artistic allowances with her creation of it to fit the steampunk genre. This is where I am not a fan of the alternate history aspect of fiction. I feel it clutters the knowledge base and many youths end up with a radically skewed perspective of the world. It is very important that we understand where we came from to know where we are going. So my tangent aside, it does not impact the overall joy of the novel (I just personally wish it were a little more accurate).

While Claire is not a lady to run from her problems, sometimes the best option for everyone is to get out of Dodge (or go to it in this case). Her latest endeavors at making a life for herself outside the Blood influence becomes an exaggerated mishap yet again. The Lady of Devices is required to set her balanced and steady in the Wit world. The pace of the story was remarkable. I never felt it lull, yet didn't feel it became monotonous with flowery description. The wit was quick and quite humorous. The serious moments were given perfect weight. 

These books are certainly outside the realistic with everyone clandestinely meeting each other or missing severe injury by mere breaths. Continuous happy endings tie up all the strings floating around in the plot to make a picturesque tapestry. Every now and again you just need a book where the hero/heroine does not die some painfully tragic death. I appreciated the goodness and positive outcomes that filled Magnificent Devices.

Here is to the conclusion of our rat race!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Building up steam

My momentum is definitely back on track. Another amazing book deal on Amazon made it irresistible to pick up Shelley Adina's whole collection of Magnificent Devices for $8.99. I was completely entranced by the first novel and can't wait to read the whole series in one mass sitting. I'm not very patient to wait for the author to publish every couple of years, but I am trying to get better about it (and am incredibly glad I don't have to work on it now).

Her Own Devices by Shelley Adina

I was not disappointed by the follow up to Lady of Devices. The charming rag tag party kept me turning pages. A book that entices you with the tagline "escaped lunatics" has to be going somewhere. I managed to devour the whole book in two days with breaks for the 8-5 and some household chores. Our heroine makes me appreciate the sensibility a woman can have while remaining feminine. The gentler breed has always been creative, so engineering seems like a very fine field for Lady Claire to aspire towards. Her progression from the first novel can clearly be felt as an excellent development of character writing.

Lady Claire makes the most of her sudden adulthood. Even though she struggles at times with how to best secure her station, she stands firm on her decisions and does not capitulate to bullying. The struggles felt very real to me and the moments of weakness something I have witnessed in every human. We, especially women, all care what others think of us. We crave others' fine opinion of ourselves. How do we judge if we have created the correct path for our lives without the judgment of others? An all-knowing overseer of the universe or the reflection of what is known to us? Shelley Adina has made a fine example of how to correctly address the urge to fall in with our peers. It is quite acceptable to want a good opinion but not at the abuse of others. 

The ending of the story was not what I was expecting. The author certainly made it obvious that something was slowly going amiss and by the time the end of the novel crept up on me I had been completely hoodwinked that there was no more book to read. Bravo! I felt a little lacking in Mopsie antics this go round, but the overall arch seems to include a bright future for the pair. With so many orphans (and rescued chickens) running around it would be hard to cover all their stories in 222 pages.

Here is to Magnificent Devices!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Back on the reading path

After a much enjoyed manga and video game divergence, I am back on the reading path. Every now and again, you get an author like J.R.R. Tolkien who comes along and creates an entire authorverse where characters, creatures, lands, and languages are created in depth with logic and supporting history. Brandon Sanderson is one of those authors. If you have yet to read his works, please go do so now. Start with the Mistborn Triology. 

Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

He is a favorite author of mine so it only seemed natural to pick up his new series when TOR put the first book on sale for $2.99. My first impressions were a little stumbling. It seemed difficult to get into the story initially. I do acknowledge that I was working on some home improvement projects during the first chapters. With such divided attention, I may have missed some of the flow to the book. Or, my favorite author fumbled as humans do. He picked up writing the Wheel of Time series finale, a YA novel, and another Mistborn installment while having this story floating around in his head. Maybe we were both a little to distracted to stay on the same page.

The ending of the book was enough to draw me back into the depth of world that only the truly imaginative can create as the various strings started to make a tapestry. 

As I write this and reflect back on the book, I realize that I really should have paid more attention right out of the gate. Initially, I was confused by the placement of the opening prelude and prologue. I had a hard time following where all the characters were tying in with one another. The fantasy genre is filled with authors who use the multiple characters for every chapter format. They usually don't string together until the very end as their spheres of influence draw ever closer to each other. This time around I felt that I was supposed to be seeing a connection from the start. We were jumping timelines as well as lead point of view. The flow just didn't seem smooth to me, but I shall repeat I was slightly distracted as I was reading. The interrupted breaks in picking up the book my have widened the cracks in my understanding. 

Another concept I just couldn't fall in line with were the interludes. They seemed to have little impact on the story line  but I'm crossing my fingers they will indeed be relevant in upcoming books. I tried to retain the information from them but glossed over the depth as I got further into the following chapters without any connections. 

So far, this is not the best creation from Brandon Sanderson. The foreshadowing seemed clunky and the timeline flow was more of a whirlpool. When the second novel is published, I might give this a reread to make sure I am up-to-date with the story. Perhaps it will make sense the second go around without distraction.

Here is to the Lady of Devices (Another kindle sale that brings me great joy)!

Friday, May 3, 2013

A break from the books

Since most of my books are still packed away and I do not have anything new on the Kindle, I have pulled out the Nintendo 3DS. Every now and I again I just crave some video games. I started playing Doctor Lautrec and just got hooked on the riddles and puzzles. I am a sucker for puzzles. So my reading has declined. On the plus side, I read so many mangas recently, that my list of 75 is a little ahead of schedule. I'll give myself the detour of some screen time.

The game itself is quite fun. The puzzles are not super challenging, but I don't feel like I'm rushing through the game. I get to take my time and enjoy the escape. The Lock/Smash puzzles are absolutely impossible and I hold little patience for the puzzle quality. 

Learning some of the 19th century history of France is fascinating. It is very refreshing to have a game set somewhere other than steampunk Britain, future America gone to waste, or alien planet. There are many other great countries on this planet with strong histories. We need to focus on them a little more. 

The standard comparison to Professor Layton arises from a puzzle-hunting mystery aficionado. I am a HUGE fan of the Professor Layton series. Doctor Lautrec is a similar feel with the puzzle adventure, but everything else about the game diverges well enough to make it an excellent competitor. I am interested to continue both series as they develop. The 3D aspect on Lautrec is very low budget and quite alarming to the eyes. I turned the 3D slider all the way to minimize the strain, but the "3D" scenes are still horribly blurry. I can quite easily see the ghost images.

Overall, I would give the game an A rating for its entertainment value and smooth flow through the game play. I lose sometimes but don't feel as if I have to struggle to win. The story cut-scenes and dialogue are humorous, though I am not sure if I have followed any semblance of a story line yet.

Here's to getting back to the books!