mattiedancer's reviews
81 reviews

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

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adventurous slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

Writing: 3.75⭐️/5 
This is a 1600-page first novel of a fourteen-book-plus-a-sequel series. Sometimes, the writing is nearly outstanding. At other times, it feels redundant and repetitive. It’s like a love-like-don’t-like smoothie of writing. Overall, it’s adequate, bordering on good. I applaud Jordan’s ability to work within Tolkien’s conventions, nearly calling him into the novel without actually doing that. As a Tolkien fan, I appreciate the nods to Lord of the Rings you can see here and there as well. These incredibly cute Easter Eggs were appreciated.

Characters: 4.5⭐️/5
I like the characters, and I like that – as far as this one goes – they do feel relatively different. I could feel the intention Jordan put into his characters, even minor ones, even near-NPC ones. I felt deeply that if he’d had the time or the desire, he could have written a whole tale on each of the people the crew meets along their journey with ease. Despite relying on a few sexist and/or misogynistic tropes to propel attributes of his female characters, Jordan also created compelling women. Moraine, Nynaeve, and Egwene are all wonderful to read about and have in this tale. 

Plot: 4⭐️/5 
Think Lord of the Rings, but not. We have a chosen group – an unlikely band of heroes – who embark on adventure after a party goes wrong, compelled to chase after the Dark One, a presence threatening the entire world. It’s a sweater made from LOTR material, but it fits differently. The complexity of the world is just as thought out as LOTR, branching into its own tale in the details. A few qualms I had with the plot: the predictability of the Chosen One made me hope Jordan was going to “pull one over on me” (he didn’t) and the final battle felt a bit odd in pacing. Also, the reliance on “the Pattern” or “the Wheel” felt far too convenient, almost pulling at the threads of our story and unravelling it into a bundle of “so what?” When everything is dictated by the Pattern, then what’s the point of the story? 
All in all, I enjoyed reading it, and I am excited to start book two.

Who Should Read This Book? 
  • Fans of LOTR
  • Fans of lengthy high-fantasy novels
  • Fans of Sanderson, who don’t mind a bit more exposition in their worldbuilding
  • Someone without commitment issues (fourteen books and a prequel require commitment)

Content Warnings? 
  • War, blood, injury, injury detail, gaslighting, gore, murder, sexism, misogyny, grief, 

Post-Reading Rating:  4⭐️/5
Let’s start book two! 

Final Rating: 4⭐️/5

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Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong

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adventurous dark medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.75

Writing: 5⭐️/5 
I love Chloe Gong’s writing. I think she has immaculate control over her language. I love her descriptions, even when they’re dark or gory. In this novel, her writing really brought the world to life. I felt like I could see the city, see the participants running about, could smell the food and the stink in the alley. I enjoyed reading this novel thoroughly.

Characters: 4.75⭐️/5
Now again, I’m a big Chloe Gong fan, so maybe there’s a bit of bias here, but Gong writes characters incredibly well. Specifically, she writes morally grey characters with pure ease, crafting their motives, their situations, and their desires into the story with ease. I would’ve loved a touch more from our side characters – as well as to not have our background characters feel so background – but these are small gripes. 

Plot: 4.5⭐️/5 
Alright, Antony and Cleopatra retelling. How does Chloe Gong just reimagine Shakespearean tales in the most interesting way possible? I don’t know, but I do love. The longing, the love, the competition, the forced trust, the game: all of it is so brilliantly written, you can’t help but love it. My only gripe is with the ending, with her twist which leaves us wondering how are two main characters will move forward in love (because they will, right?). I felt like it didn’t need to happen in the way that it happened, strictly for the sense that I knew exactly what had happened to Anton, and I don’t know why that wasn’t a plan Calla and him created, instead of it being a betrayal. I understand that it echoes the betrayal Antony goes through at Cleopatra’s hands, but it felt forced the way it happened – and a little obvious. All in all though, this is a small complaint for a brilliant plot.

Who Should Read This Book? 
  • Fans of Chloe Gong
  • Fans of Shakespeare and fantasy novels
  • Fans of enemies to lovers
  • Fans of Hunger Games, but want it magic

Content Warnings? 
  • Death, murder, blood, injury, injury detail, gore, child death, sexual content, death of parent, cursing, suicidal thoughts, toxic relationship

Post-Reading Rating:  5⭐️/5
Hi, Chloe. Um, I need the next one pretty, pretty please.

Final Rating: 4.75⭐️/5

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The Curse of Saints by Kate Dramis

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adventurous medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.25

Writing: 4⭐️/5 
Alright, the writing is above adequate. At times, it really pushes the characters and plot in a nice, even beautiful, way. I think there were a few moments where the writing fell a bit flat, but overall, I had few issues with the writing.

Characters: 4.5⭐️/5
**Spoilers Below**
Kind of split on this one. On one hand, the characters were incredibly rich and interesting. On the other, it fell a bit into the trope of near-teens being incredibly powerful quickly. Both main characters hold head positions in the kingdom and, at times, act incredibly childish in spite of such prestigious positions. However, the three main characters we follow were fairly well-fleshed and fascinating, making their little immaturities a small issue that I was ready to ignore/accept. I liked the relationship between the characters and how slowly it grew – though maybe that also carried on a bit too long. I did like the fact that the enemies portion of the enemies-to-lovers trope felt real and raw. I really believed that these two people would not love each other. 

Plot: 4.5⭐️/5 
I want to give the plot a better mark, but the beginning was a lot of convenience in order to get our characters into another country. It was nice to see everyone in their element originally, but, plot-wise, it felt a bit weird where the novel started. I liked the second half of the book a lot more. The stakes increased, the drama unfolded, and our slow-burn romance finally ignited. I will also say there were some twists and turns I wasn’t expecting, or didn’t really think would happen, and I loved not knowing anyone’s next move.

Who Should Read This Book? 
  • Fans of romance-fantasy novels
  • Fans of ACOTAR, TOG, Fourth Wing
  • Those looking for plot-first books that still provide a bit of spice 🌶️

Content Warnings? 
  • Sexual content, blood, violence, murder, death, death of parent, war, torture, kidnapping, grief, vomit

Post-Reading Rating:  5⭐️/5
I am ready to watch this girl burn the world. 

Final Rating: 4.25⭐️/5

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On Balance by Sinéad Morrissey

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emotional reflective
  • Plot- or character-driven? N/A
  • Strong character development? N/A
  • Loveable characters? N/A
  • Diverse cast of characters? N/A
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? N/A

4.25

Writing: 4.75⭐️/5 
Morrissey maintains a captivating claim on the poetic language. I enjoyed reading this collection, always curious about the diction Morrissey would choose to convey her images and emotions. Several times throughout this collection I had to stop to consider the language used, and many lines I wrote down, keeping close for later. During some poems, Morrissey lost me a bit – a very small and slight complaint.

Approach: 4⭐️/5
I’m torn on this mark, because so many times did Morrissey choose brilliant approaches to her work, crafting her themes, her meanings, her emotions carefully in partnership with the poem. However, some poems fell short for me, falling back on a lack of or a looser form that didn’t always help the poem hit as hard. Overall, still enjoyable.

Who Should Read This Book? 
  • Fans of poetry
  • Those interested in history and poetry
  • Those who love somewhat narrative poems with strong imagery 
  • Those who like a touch of feminism in their poetry

Content Warnings? 

Post-Reading Rating:  4⭐️/5
A hopeful feeling.

Final Rating: 4.25⭐️/5
The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

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adventurous mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.75

Writing: 4.5⭐️/5 
On the cover of this book, it claims to be a book “in which to wallow.” I would say the writing is a decadence in which to wallow. Genevieve Cogman nails the voice of Irene, a woman dedicated to the study and preservation of language and books. Several moments of the novel were truly stunning in the prose. A few mistakes and awkward moments close to the end of the novel are the only reason this writing is not a five. Well, that and the fact that the plot required more exposition than I might have loved.

Characters: 5⭐️/5
I actually loved nearly every character in this story. I felt the history, the motivations, the development, and deep thought behind each character. Irene was a fascinating character through and through. Kai was interesting as well and I can’t wait to learn more about him. Even **Spoilers** Bradamant was fascinating to learn about and, even as she was betraying our crew, I couldn’t help but like her in an offhanded way.

Plot: 4.75⭐️/5 
The world (see below) is nearly as complex as the plot. I was fairly hooked from the moment Cogman had her character’s main mission be all about attaining and retaining one-of-a-kind literature. Where I felt slightly confused, I feel Cogman did a decent job of explaining, even when she had to sacrifice a bit of fluidity in the prose to do so. Thoroughly fascinating and enjoyable.

World 4.75⭐️/5 
The world is as fascinating as it is large, complex, and completely weird. I loved the alternate dimensions, loved the state of the library being at the crux of it all, and I loved the fact that the book had everything from fae, vampires, and werewolves to zeppelins, alligators with laser beams, and computers. The breadth of the world was remarkable and always interesting – however, it definitely could feel overwhelming and a bit confusing, which is my only small, wee, teeny-tiny complaint.

Who Should Read This Book? 
  • Fans of fantasy mixed with sci-fi
  • Fans of complex fantasy worlds
  • Fans of characters who love (or live in) academia
  • Lovers of books and fantasy novels
  • Someone looking for a new, unique read and isn’t afraid of a complex world state. 

Content Warnings? 
Body horror, blood, death, injury, injury detail, toxic relationship, murder, animal cruelty (minor), animal death (minor), violence, gore, sexual content (minor)

Post-Reading Rating:  5⭐️/5
Pretty much immediately knew I was ordering the whole series. And I’m excited to return to this world.

Final Rating: 4.75⭐️/5

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A Witch's Guide to Fake Dating a Demon by Sarah Hawley

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funny lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

Writing: 2.75⭐️/5 
The book started with some fine writing, and quickly fell apart. In terms of getting the plot across, the writing did an adequate job, but it didn’t really do ranything else.

Characters: 3.5⭐️/5
The characters were fun, but felt a bit flat and/or cartoonish.

Plot: 3.25⭐️/5 
Again, while the overarching plot is incredibly fun, it definitely felt like it had a few more than a few holes. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the demon and the witch attempting to work together and eventually falling in love. 

World 3⭐️/5 
The world is fun but predictable. 

Who Should Read This Book? 
  • Fans of romance genre
  • Fans of fantasy romance with spice
  • Fans of a fast enemies-to-lovers trope

Content Warnings? 
Sexual content, child abuse, dysfunctional family, stalking, toxic relationship, bullying, animal death, emotional abuse, 

Post-Reading Rating:  4⭐️/5
I had fun.

Final Rating: 3⭐️/5

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Seasons Edition -- Spring) by Victor Hugo

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Did not finish book. Stopped at 8%.
not the right time, extraordinarily slow start
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

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Did not finish book. Stopped at 6%.
Could not deal with the cousin-to-cousin/brother-to-adoptive-sister incest. 

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Dracula by Bram Stoker

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Did not finish book. Stopped at 44%.
switched to physical copy
Cruel Illusions by Margie Fuston

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adventurous emotional mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75

Writing: 3.5⭐️/5 
Not brilliantly written, but also not lacking anything. This is a (my fave word) serviceably written novel.

Characters: 4⭐️/5
Okay, not gonna lie, fell in love with both of the potential love interests. Loved that for our main character, and loved that for me. While our main character is very angsty as well, I actually really appreciated it, as it made her age a bit more believable. I would have loved a bit more depth and such from a few side characters, but if you’re looking for some cute, unique, and overall interesting characters, the book will not let you down. 

Plot: 3.5⭐️/5 
I might just be growing out of YA a bit too much this year but, while the plot was incredibly fun to read, it did leave me feeling a bit lacklustre by the end. I wanted a bit more for our intense moments and I wanted a bit more from the villains, who fell apart rather quickly at the end, much like a cheap sweater unravelling with a single pull of a loose thread. However, like I said before, I had fun.

Who Should Read This Book? 
  • Fans of vampire stories – but who want something fresh
  • Fans of circus and magician stories
  • Fans of Hunger Games, but want something less political, more magical

Content Warnings? 
  • Blood, death, injury, gaslighting

Post-Reading Rating:  4.5⭐️/5
Terribly fun. I love the uniqueness of this book so, so much.

Final Rating: 3.75⭐️/5

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