Friday, November 1, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Hawksong, Nine Coaches Waiting, and Crossing Stones

If you're seeing this post, it means I have fallen on hard times. Over the past summer, there was a time when I had a wealthy backlog of reviews (oh, how I miss those days!), which meant that I crusaded around GoodReads, writing brief, short sentence "reviews" conveying my thoughts on a handful of novels I was too lazy to review in their entirety. I've gone back through those "mini-reviews" and compiled a small list of the better ones to entertain you, dear readers, with until I can get around to writing and posting a proper review. Either way, I hope you enjoy. :)

Title: Hawksong (The Kiesha'ra, #1)*
Author: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Rating: 4 Stars

Hawksong is possibly one of the most under-rated fantasy novels I've come across. In fact, this book simply seems to fall under everyone's radar - much to their own loss, I must say. Atwater-Rhodes is a brilliant writer, creating a world rich in lore, myth, and tradition. Danica, the queen of her hawk people, and Zane, the king of the cobras, are shapeshifters who marry to end the centuries-old feud between their people. Both Danica and Zane are tired of war, but their marriage will prove more difficult than either can imagine. Both the hawks and cobras share different traditions and as Zane and Danica grow to fall in love with one another, they also learn to assimilate their cultures and their people. Atwater-Rhodes writes world-building as a mere extension of her story, not as an overwhelming portion of info-dumping. With subtle legends and traditions, she manages to create and encompass the depth of these two races. Although I felt as if Hawksong ended a little too early, with both Danica and Zane falling in love slightly faster than I wished, I cannot deny that this is solid fantasy, full of the characters and type of complex world I love. Atwater-Rhodes, my friends, is not to be missed.

*I did read the sequel to this novel, Snakecharm, but wasn't impressed. I would still highly recommend this book, though, as it can be read as a stand-alone and it definitely worth a read for fantasy lovers.

Title: Nine Coaches Waiting 
Author: Mary Stewart
Rating: 4 Stars

What do I possibly say about Nine Coaches Waiting that hasn’t already been said before? Mary Stewart is a legend; her books are classics when it comes to the genre of gothic mystery. Although Nine Coaches Waiting suffers from a slow start, it is a breath-taking novel, beautifully written with a strong-willed and courageous governess at its center. Stewart, much like Daphne DuMaurier, is an expert at building suspense and causing our minds to flit between one suspect and the next. Nine Coaches Waiting is a thrill from start to finish and I finished this in a record three hours flat, unable to let go of the book until I knew for sure who the guilty party was. And, admittedly, it is a little obvious from the start, but there are many layers of doubt that Steward builds and, all the more, with a romance at the center, this book lacks nothing. If you’re a fan of Jane Eyre or simply gothic mysteries in general, then you cannot go wrong with Nine Coaches Waiting. Very highly recommended.

Title: Crossing Stones
Author: Helen Frost
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I've been on a bit of a verse novel binge lately, not to mention one of WWI (especially since I finished all three seasons of Downton Abbey in a record three and a half days!). Thus, it's almost not a surprise that I enjoyed this; it's merely a surprise that I enjoyed this as much as I did. Frost writes beautifully, choosing three separate styles to bring us the story of Muriel, a headstrong girl who isn't afraid to speak her mind; Ollie, her older brother who enlists for war despite being underage; and Emma, the sweet girl next door. With this short novel composed of poems, Frost is able to relate the horrors of war, the struggles of women, and the tension of those who remain home in such a way that it is bearable to us as readers. Not only is Frost's tale historically accurate, but it is also unexpectedly heartfelt.

Muriel, a young Alice Paul if you will, was my favorite narrator in the novel. I loved her outrageous opinions, her inability to accept the reality of her time, and her courage in standing up for her beliefs. Muriel is easily the most flawed of our three narrators which makes her, for me, the most realistic. Ollie provides us with the sole male perspective in this novel, one filled with the harsh realities of war and the peer pressure that men face to enlist. Emma, on the other hand, is possibly the dullest character. Although her poems had substantial depth, she herself is a relatively simplistic character, representing the average American women who was comfortable with her role in the house. With this novel, what Frost excels at is building the era both with war and politics. Granted, the characters aren't as fully fleshed as they could be, but as a piece of historic fiction this is one of the better - and more creative - ones.


  1. I seem to be exactly one day ahead of my blog schedule so I am literally reading a book then reviewing and publishing the next day. If I get ill or something...I am so stuffed. I ought to do this as well!

    I haven't heard of any of those books so I am going to GR to check em out!

    Lovely reviews, Keertana! <33

  2. Keertana these reviews are gorgeous! I've never heard of anyone of these books before, but if I were to choose one I think that Nine Coaches Waiting would be more like my sort of read, I'm liking mystery books more these days and the way you've described the authors writing I find highly appealing!

  3. Ahhh girl I miss summer and days when I had like 20 posts ready and scheduled. Sweet times. Anyhow where did you find these? I haven't heard of them but I must say that Hawksong sounds so good. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and hopefully I'll get to read it soon! Great reviews Keertana :)

  4. I love how you say "proper" review Keertana when these are the length of my regular reviews and better written. Hehe:) Your "proper", and improper reviews for that matter, put mine to shame! I haven't heard of any of these books which makes me feel a little bit like I fail at life, but as always, your reviews make me want to give them a try:)

  5. I don't mind you writing "proper" reviews, but your minis are fantastic! You have me wanting all 3 of these and they weren't even on my radar before. Talk about adding to my wishlist!!

  6. I keep meaning to read Mary Stewart--I was telling you Angie from Angieville recd a few to me, and they sound like they're right up my alley! This may sound shallow, but it's really hard for me to read certain kinds of printed text, and when I look in secondhand stores, a lot of her books are really old, yellowing, with tiny print, and I just can't deal with it. So hard to get the ebooks here in the States, at least they were the last time I looked. I need to find someone to bribe in the UK.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  7. I'm laughing at what Jenny said because I'm thinking the same thing! Your mini/informal reviews are like one of my normal ones, lol! I think I've read a Mary Stewart novel, like a million years ago. I love romantic suspense so I'll have to check this one out.

    The fantasy novel sounds like something I'd like as well. The marriage to unite the different shifter clans sounds like a wonderful story.

    I need to catch up on Downton Abbey! I watched the first series in one day. I started in my PJs in the morning and remained that way the whole day! Lol! It was amazing but now I can't remember everything. Wonderful reviews, Keertana! :)

  8. @Wendy: I can't believe you haven't read Mary Stewart - I know you'd LOVE her! Apparently her Arthurian Saga is very famous too, so I have plans to check that out. I read Nine Coaches Waiting on my Kindle, though, so you can always read her books on your e-reader, Wendy. :)

    @Rachel: Aahh, Downton is so addictive! I can't wait for Series Four now and am so thrilled you enjoyed Series One. :D And I have a feeling you'd love Nine Coaches Waiting and definitely Hawksong - it's a really interesting romantic layout. (And I know how much you love your swoon!)

  9. Well done on marathoning all of Downton Abbey! I haven't been watching the latest season, I need to catch up.

    Also, I'm going to try Nine Coaches now because I love Jane Eyre ;)

  10. I'd read one (paranormal) book by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes and it was so ODD, I don't know that I'd dare to pick up anything by her again.
    I haven't had much luck with verse novels so far, but I haven't given up on the format. I'm still looking for the right one.
    Jenny is right, you know, you put us all to shame.

    1. Aww, thank you, Maja. (: I haven't tried Atwater-Rhodes's paranormal stuff, but I've heard they are odd, particularly in comparison with her fantasy novels. As far as verse novels go, I've been trying quite a few out and though the format isn't my favorite or preferred one, I enjoy it from time-to-time and thought it was particularly effective in Crossing Stones.

  11. I actually really love the sound of Hawksong. I find that fantasy, in general, is pretty underrated in this day and age. I'll definitely have to give this one a go, because the authors' other works have done well for me in the past! Great reviews :)

  12. OH, Nine Coaches is available on Kindle here now? *runs to Amazon* Thanks for the tip, Keertana!

    And yeah, I've heard great things about CRYSTAL CAVE, but I'm more mixed on fantasy as a whole, so...I'll let you guinea pig that. :D

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  13. So happy you enjoyed NINE COACHES WAITING as much as you did! You're right, Stewart manages to include doubt despite the fact that the villain is obvious. This is her only novel I've read, but I'd like to experience another. I don't know anything about the other two, but I like shape shifters - a Cobra and a Hawk is a very interesting combination! I love verse novels - how an author can convey so much in little words. This one sounds a little heavy for me right now, but glad you enjoyed it overall.

  14. Thanks for the reminder on Hawksong-I loved that book when I first read it and then kind of forgot about it until you reminded me how much I enjoyed it and reading about the two different cultures being brought together.

  15. I don't see very many people pick up Atwater-Rhodes books around the blogosphere. I was actually debating whether to give this series a shot or not considering I didn't like the first book in her other series, but Hawksong does sound promising. I'll have to check it out! Wonderful reviews, Keertana!


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