Two weeks ago, I was blessed with a family trip on a cruise ship to Mexico and Honduras. My husband and I had seven days of eating, sleeping in, snorkeling, swimming, and, of course, reading! I managed to get through three books!
Heart of Betrayal
It took me a while to get to this one because I didn't particularly love the first book. However, The Heart of Betrayal solves a lot of the problems found in The Kiss of Deception (namely, everyone has been identified).
The world-building went a little crazy here, with Lia diving into the history of each of the three countries with more detail. At times it was difficult to keep up with all the names and places, but for the most part it was interesting enough.
My favorite character in this series is definitely the Komizar, but he tends to lean too far into the cliche villain trope, where he does only bad things for bad reasons and has not a shred of humanity left. When he is given some dimension, he shines, and I wish there could have been a better balance to him.
Lia, on the other hand, is kind of boring and a bit melodramatic. She's good at everything but never does anything to help herself get away. She can sneak in and out of places but never bothers to try leaving. She can fight with a sword but never uses it to her advantage. She can speak all the languages but doesn't bother trying to convince people to help her at all.
Not a terrible read by any means, but it lacked that something that made me interested in continuing to read it. Had I not been on the pool deck of a cruise ship with nothing to do but read, I might have never finished it.
I'll get to book three someday...
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
This is a short little book (200 or so pages) that's told in a letter format, but it packs the punch of a full book. Charlie was a spectacular character and I loved him from the first page. His nerves and honesty were so endearing and it was impossible not to root for him. I also really loved the way the author dealt with issues like drugs, intimacy, loyalty, and self while showing Charlie interacting in a variety of quirky and real settings. Really a stunning book I wish I'd read years ago!
I really, really enjoyed this one! (And it's stunning cover!)
The Magicians easily breaks many rules of the fantasy genre. It has no definable plot (characters seem to roam around doing things for temporary reasons, but no real arc is present), it covers are large time frame (at least four or five years, rather than a few weeks/months), and the main character is an emotional wreck at times (not the 'strong' characters we tend to see).
But never mind all that. It worked. Quentin is moody, complicated, brilliant, and unhappy. He should be a boring, unrelatable main character, but he was also endearing, and hard-working, and I had no trouble at all rooting for him. He kind of reminded me of Ender in Ender's Game, in that he is wholly dedicated to the study of a discipline, and his objective in life is to be the best at it. I think a lot of readers can relate to that.
Some might (and probably have) compare this to Harry Potter, Brakebills to Hogwarts, Quentin to Harry, etc. But they'd find the comparison is short lived. The Magicians is full of sex, wine, cursing, devious misdeeds, and all manner of dark humor that would never survive at a sunny place like Hogwarts. They both succeed in nearly opposite ways.
Lev Grossman's prose is magical (no really) and I'll have no trouble adding the rest of his books to my TBR immediately. New favorite!