Romance Reviews

From Far Away Volume 2

[openbook booknumber=”1591166012″] [rating:4/5]

Transported into a fantastical world of high adventure, a confused and frightened teenager discovers she holds the key to a profound power born of an age-old prophecy.

Scared and on the run, Noriko strikes up an alliance with a mysterious rogue swordsman named Izark. But now, weakened from a recent battle, this swordsman has become dependent on his young charge to nurse him back to health.

Trapped in a strange world and unable to speak the native language, Noriko must find a way to save her fallen warrior… and save herself, too!

I was expecting things to maybe slow down a little and we step back and really get to see this world poor Noriko has gotten plunked down into but unfortunately for the characters, and fortunately for us, the adventure picks up. Izark is struck by a strange, sudden illness and Noriko finds herself floundering in her attempts to help him because of the language barrier in place. She is forced to mime her intentions and more often than not she misinterprets what is being said around her and reacts inappropriately.

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[openbook booknumber=”9780547258300″][rating:4/5]

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po’s friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.

When you are as much of a fan of fantasy as I am you end up reading about a lot of awesome adventures, surreal magic, fantastical worlds, and thrilling battles, you also unfortunately read a lot of sexist crap. Women can do this, they can’t do that. Women either marry or go into the convent or become a shrew. Women can’t fight, can’t defend themselves, can’t learn certain trades, can’t rule, can’t lead, can’t strategize, can’t go anywhere alone, or do anything without men’s approval. It. Gets. Grating. This coming from someone who loves fantasy but who also gets a little sick of being told what her gender can and can’t do all the time.

Then comes Graceling. What am awesome, surreal, fantastical, and thrilling breath of fresh air! Graceling is set in a medieval era Europeanish world called The Seven Kingdoms. There are wonderfully complex politics at play and fiendish plots afoot and then we get to the people. Certain people within the various kingdoms are called Gracelings, these people have been Graced with a specific talent. Our main character, Katsa, learns at the tender age of eight that she has been Graced with the talent of killing people when she accidentally kills her step cousin who was making unwanted advances.

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From Far Away Volume 1

[openbook booknumber=”1591165997″] [rating:4/5]

On her way home from school one day, Noriko is unexpectedly plunged into a strange and extraordinary fantasy world. Her troubles compound exponentially when she is rescued and befriended by a handsome young man by the name of Izark.

He may be brave and courageous, but inside Izark lurks the darkest evil imaginable. And according to an ancient prophecy, Noriko possesses the power to unleash that evil. Now, inexorably bound together, these two unlikely allies must navigate a world both wondrous and hostile.

The one thing I love about Japanese fantasy is that while it may contain a few of the familiar fantasy tropes we know and love there are still many surprises and unexpected twists that keep the story fresh, interesting, and enchanting. From Far Away has all of this and more as young Noriko falls victim to a terrorist attack, a bomb left in an unattended bag in the street goes off and sends her flying into a magical world far away. Many things are the same as our world and yet there is an eerie difference in the golden forest she finds herself in that manifests when she is set upon but huge flesh-eating worms! Luckily at that moment she is saved by a handsome but mysterious man named Izark. Who is this man? Who is this Awakening everyone is speaking of, in a language that Noriko can’t understand? Most importantly, where is she and how is she ever going to get home?

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These Old Shades

[openbook booknumber=”9781402219474″][rating:4.5/5]

A notorious duke with a devilish bent…

Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon, is called “Satanas” by enemy and friend alike. In the aristocratic circles of both London and Louis XV’s Paris he has a reputation as a dangerous and debauched rake.

A cast-off urchin with a secret past…

Late one evening, the Duke stumbles upon Leon, a red-haired urchin fleeing a certain beating at his brutal brother’s hands. On a whim, Avon buys the boy and makes him his page. But it soon becomes clear that Leon is not what he seems…

When the grubby Leon turns out to be the enchanting Leonie, the Duke is nor prepared for the breathtaking transformation or the tender emotions she awakens in him, or the unconditional love she had for the man who saved her.

I admit it, I have a bit of a kink when it comes to girls masquerading as guys and managing to pull it off. Especially during times when, historically, it was believed that women were incapable of even a fraction of what men were capable of. To shed the dress and don some breeches and go about the country side takes moxie and young Leon, er, Leonie has that in spades. Her story is wildly entertaining to read about and yet Georgette Heyer manages to kick it up another notch by adding in court intrigue, a debauched rake, and an ancient score that needs to be settled. Little Leonie finds herself in the middle of a whirlwind of scandal and only with the help of her savior, the Duke, does she have a chance to survive.

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[openbook booknumber=”9780399254826″][rating:3/5]

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

This book left me feeling half and half about it. On the one hand there is this super strong heroine with this wicked awesome back story and world built around her that is fascinating to read about. On the other hand, there were some unrealistic elements and some of the character building left something to be desired. The plot was super fast paced and it was an awesome page turner, but the fast plot left out some elements that could have made this story a lot better. So, I’m torn on a lot of it.

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