Welcome to Dragons & Jetpacks!

Dragons & Jetpacks

Welcome to the brand new blog for Dragons & Jetpacks! A book group for science fiction and fantasy based on Goodreads, the moderators of the group thought it would be fun to make it even more accessible to all. So, here we are…

If you’re wondering what we’re planning on sharing on the blog, here’s what we’re thinking:

  • Book Reviews: an opportunity for members to share their book reviews of our Books of the Month on the blog
  • Books of the Month: we’ll share the ‘Books of the Month’, as voted by the group on Goodreads, at the beginning of each month
  • Yearly Reviews: what has the group been up to over the past year? Which books proved most popular?
  • Challenges: one of the best features of D&J is the regular challenges, particularly those organised by MPauli – now we can share and discuss them on this blog
  • Sir…

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The Lies of Locke Lamora

Locke Lamora

Blurb:

An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.

A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying…
I feel like this series is going to be my new guilty pleasure. It reminds me of a cross over between The Three Musketeers and Mission Impossible.

The story begins with Locke as a child, providing a brief history of his sketchy upbringing by a local thief who trains children to steal for him. Locke has an uncanny talent for stealing, but instead of using slight of hand, he uses showy theatrical productions to con people. His absurd antics eventually gets him in trouble, and he is sold to another master who masquerades as a priest named Chains. From Chains, Locke learns, masters, and polishes the craft of coning and stealing.

Here’s what I liked: This book was incredibly entertaining. From the world building to the plot line to the characters, Lynch doesn’t disappoint–something is always happening. The ploys and cons the Gentlemen Bastards pull on people are so well planned, thought out, and executed that it makes me think the author himself has done things like this in real life. I thought it was unique that although Locke steals for a living, over all he is not a repulsive, dislikable character. In fact, I thought the opposite. I found myself liking him more and more the further the book got along. Lynch did a great job creating a feeling of brotherly love between all the members of the Gentlemen Bastards, and you really feel as though they are family and would give their lives for one another.

Here’s what I didn’t like: I thought that the Gray King was just an ok protagonist. He wasn’t much different than other gangsters Locke has faced, with the exception of employing the use of sorcerers. I was hoping that Lynch would set up the stage for a larger story surrounding the Gray King, but it seems like this novel will be his only appearance. The depth of the characters was kind of shallow. If you’re looking for a deeply emotional, character driven book, this probably isn’t it.

Their should be a disclaimer for the language of this book, since the author throws around f-bombs quite frequently, at least every other page. While the crude language ( and sometimes subject matter) are used to bring the reader into Locke’s world, in my opinion it’s too much. I almost always avoid books with an overuse of foul language( just my preference), but somehow this one was too good that I let it slide.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

red rising

 

Red Rising started off great and had a very exciting premise. The main character, Darrow, works under the surface of Mars, helping to terraform the planet for future colonization. In this world, castes are differentiated by color. Darrow is a Red, the lowest rung of society, while Gold is the highest. Darrow, and the rest of the Reds, think that Mars is uninhabited, when in fact it had already been colonized and they are initially slaves mining helium for the upper classes. Darrow’s wife, Eo, suspects that something isn’t right and pushes Darrow to take action, which eventually results in her death. Darrow is eventually smuggled out of the mines and transformed into a Gold so he can infiltrate their society and eventually lead a revolution of Reds. After his transformation, Darrow get’s excepted into the institute of elite Golds and the rest of the book delves into his experiences there.

I was very confused on what type of book Brown was trying to write here. The plot was a whole mash up of genres and other novels that made no sense being put together. For starters, I was expecting a totally awesome sci-fi, filled book (I mean, it takes place on Mars!), but after the first few chapters, there was absolutely no science fiction to speak of. In fact, the setting and characters seemed to go back in time to something resembling ancient Rome. The Golds are physically perfect, and Brown often hints that they resemble something like ancient gods. Every Gold carries the name of a god or goddess. I understand the theme, since Mars, Jupiter, Venus were all named after Roman gods, but it was a little much.

The second thing that really confused me happens after Darrow is accepted into the Gold’s institute. Basically, all the students are dropped off in the wilderness as a ‘test’ to see who will survive and as a chance to weed out the weaklings( cough, cough…Hunger Games?) But what weaklings? These are Golds here. Physically and mentally superior to all other classes. Bred to rule. Why would the leaders be trying to kill them? The rest of the books delves into how the students form their own societies, kill each other off, starve to death, rape each other…and other grisly acts that are in complete conflict with the beginning of the book. The Golds hate the other colors, not each other. I felt like I had time traveled back to high school and was re-reading Lord of the Flies all over again. IT MADE NO SENSE!

While Red Rising wasn’t a bad read, I felt like it carried no identity of its own. There were too many similarities to other books and there was no consistency in what the author was trying to accomplish. I probably won’t read the rest of this series because I was so frustrated with the Red Rising.

2 stars

Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Iron Fae

2 out of 5 stars

I really couldn’t get into this book, which surprised me since it got good reviews.

To begin, I found Meghan’s sob story very childish and immature. Other than normal petty high school stuff, she had no real life problems that make me sympathize or care for her. Her griping was annoying after a while.

The first whole part of the book, for me, served no purpose. Here, Puck and Meghan are exploring Nevernever, and to me it was a hot mess. There were way to many magical creatures involved in these scenes that it made it hard to keep up with. It could’ve been skipped entirely and the story wouldn’t have been impacted. Not until the second part did the story start to get kind of interesting.

I really enjoyed the character of Puck. He was light hearted and funny, which provided relief from the rest of the plot. He had a few one-liners that were pretty witty.

Ash, on the other hand, I could never warm up to. He’s cold, insulting, and looks down his nose at everyone. I still don’t understand why these YA authors make these teenage girls fall head over heels with boys that treat them like crap. It’s okay that he has no respect for you, because he’s charming and good looking.

Overall, I didn’t find anything special about the Iron King.

 

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty cover

 

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: YA

I really wanted to like this book. A Beauty and the Beast retelling but with magic and demons–sounds awesome! Unfortunately, this book did not meet my expectations and I lost all interest by the middle of it.

I’ll start with what I liked:
Hodge really created a unique world that is different from anything I’ve read before. It’s complete with its own history, religion, culture, and customs, and you can tell she put a lot of thought into its inception.

What I didn’t like:
Ok, so for the first quarter of the book, the main character, Nyx, goes on and on and on about how she hurt her sister, hates her sister, and is angry at the world for loving her sister. We get it. You have family problems. You don’t need to repeat the same thing every other page.
The second quarter of the book, Nyx is married to the Gentle Lord and is living in his castle. Instead of focusing on the relationship between Nyx and her husband, the author decides to make every single page about Nyx exploring the castle. She describes each and every room in annoying detail that just takes up space and has absolutely nothing to do with the plot.
Also, Hodge has a tendency to somehow incorporate every single god and goddess in Arcadia’s history into every single one of Nyx’s inner monologues or even the conversations she has with people. I could care less about her mythological deities. It’s really quite pointless.
And finally, the thing that made me feel absolutely no connection to this story or its characters was the lack of emotion and feeling Nyx has with her husband. And to be frank, the Gentle Lord was an over all horribly developed character. He has no personality and hardly any dialogue worth reading. Hodge does not do a good job conveying the romance between these characters either. They are supposed to be married and entirely attracted to one another, but the most passionate scenes went as followed. “I kissed him. And he kissed me back.
Boring.
Overall, I feel like I would’ve liked this story better if it was focused on the main characters and their relationship with one another.
2 stars!

Jaded by Kristy Gillespie

Jaded.cover.photo

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Genre: YA dystopian thriller

My Review: Jaded is a story about sixteen year old Jade who lives a community called Nirvana. In Nirvana, people are classified by their color. Once a child turns seventeen, they choose the life path of one of their parents and get an eye surgery to reflect their decision. Right before Jade’s grandmother dies, she gives Jade her diary which exposes the dark secrets of some of Nirvana’s citizens. The rest of the book basically focuses on developing that plot.

This novel is a combination of several genres: mystery, thriller, dystopian, and YA. I liked how the author continually sets up clues surrounding Nirvana’s secrets. Just when you think you’re one step closer to finding out the truth, she throws another curve ball. For me, the characters of Jade, Ty, and Peaches were all very likable; I hate reading about despicable protagonists.

One thing I would’ve like to have seen was more history about Nirvana –where and why is was founded. Nirvana also borders ‘The Outside’. Other than slightly dated technology and eye surgery, Nirvana doesn’t seem that different from the Outside. That part didn’t make much sense to me, because why then have a separate community. I hope the author expands on this in the next few books.

I recommend this book mostly for middle grade and YA. It’s a quick, clean, and enjoyable read.

Crik by Karl Beer

crik.cover.page

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: fantasy

My Review: Wow! What a creepily awesome novel this is! I absolutely loved the world Mr. Beer created and found myself quickly drawn into it. I can definitely describe it has a dark fantasy with elements of horror woven into it. If you like Tim Burton movies and Joseph Delaney or Stephen King novels, then this is for you.

Crik is about a boy, Jack, who lives in Crik village where every inhabitant possess a unique Talent. Jack’s Talent is his shadow, Yang, who is ever present, mischievous, and unable to be controlled by Jack despite what everyone else believes. One night, Jack accidentally witnesses the origins of these Talents, and wanting to know more about his shadow and how Talents came to be, he begins on a journey of discovery. While the main characters of this novel are children, for me the content and themes are written more for adults.

Mr. Beer is a very talented story teller and this novel was beautifully written. He has a vivid imagination that doesn’t conform to the norm and is easily transferred onto paper for readers to enjoy. While this book is a bit long, there is always action leading to the next scene. I recommend for anyone who enjoys dark fantasy.

Thank you to the author for giving me a copy to review!