Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 17 September, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 8 Comments

Another batch of mini-reviews! 🙂 Lots of Brandon Sanderson in this one, but there’s also a few other titles noted here in this post. Included in this batch are:


A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain
By: Adrianne Harun
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

In isolated British Columbia, girls, mostly native, are vanishing from the sides of a notorious highway. Leo Kreutzer and his four friends are barely touched by these disappearances—until a series of mysterious and troublesome outsiders come to town. Then it seems as if the devil himself has appeared among them.

I remember when I first heard of this book, the premise sounded intriguing and unique from some of the stuff I usually read. I picked it up some time ago and had started reading it but after almost 100 pages in, I decided to put it down. I’m not sure if it was the time that I had read it or that I had chosen it as the book to read when travelling to and from work, but I just could not get into it. Almost 100 pages in, I wasn’t even sure what the book was about or where it was heading, which was a bad sign. Hence the DNF.

Rating: DNF

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Firstborn
By: Brandon Sanderson
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

Of the son of a High Duke of the interstellar Empire, much glory is expected. And expected. And still expected, despite endless proof that young Dennison Crestmar has no talent whatsoever for war. But the life Dennison is forced to live will have its surprising lessons to impart.

As you can see in the later entries here I picked up all of Brandon Sanderson’s novellas and decided to kick off reading them by re-reading Firstborn. I first read this novella in 2011, delighted that he had written a short standalone. What is especially interesting about this story was that it’s a straight-up science fiction story, which was a nice change of genre, but otherwise it’s classic Brandon Sanderson with the personal conflict and the larger themes at work, as well as a twist I didn’t see coming but that sends the climax of the short story in a tailspin. If there’s any criticism I have about the story, it’s that I wished it was a tad bit longer!

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Sixth of the Dusk
By: Brandon Sanderson
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

Brandon Sanderson’s Sixth of the Dusk, set in his Cosmere universe shared by the Mistborn books and the #1 New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, showcases a society on the brink of technological change. On the deadly island of Patji, where predators can sense the thoughts of their prey, a lone trapper discovers that the island is not the only thing out to kill him.

I love Brandon Sanderson’s works, but I think this is the first story of his I’ve read that left me with a rather mixed reaction. I thought the premise of the story was interesting, with the deadly creatures that stalk the island and the way they sense you. The atmosphere of the setting was also really tense, really dark and foreboding, almost devoid of life save the characters and the creatures out there. I guess I didn’t quite engage as well with this book because it was a pretty slow grind for the first third of the novella, the character not really talking or interacting, just reacting to the situation around them. So yeah, not quite a 2-star meh read for me as the world had some very interesting elements to it, but not quite as engaging as his other works.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell
By: Brandon Sanderson
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

When the familiar and seemingly safe turns lethal, therein danger lies. Amid a forest where the shades of the dead linger all around, every homesteader knows to follow the Simple Rules: “Don’t kindle flame, don’t shed the blood of another, don’t run at night. These things draw shades.” Silence Montane has broken all three rules on more than one occasion. And to protect her family from a murderous gang with high bounties on their heads, Silence will break every rule again, at the risk of becoming a shade herself.

Probably my favourite from the three novellas I bought, the premise of this novel was really interesting, and the world could make for a great setting for a future novel of his. I can see how this book fits into the Cosmere universe that he’s constructing with the nature of the supernatural elements that surround the Forest (the bits about the use of silver in this world however was an interesting detail that ties itself firmly to the Cosmere universe and makes you wonder how close this world could be to that of the Mistborn stories). Actually, reading this novella I wished it had been expanded into a full novel because Silence Montane was a fascinating character that reminded me very much of Angela Slatter’s Of Sorrow and Such (review), I guess due to her age; she’s not quite as youthful or wide-eyed as other fantasy characters would be in such a situation. The story itself is grimmer as the shades and the eerieness of the forest really amps the tensions and the stakes up.

Anyway, it’s a novella to check out for yourself, really. I hope that Brandon Sanderson comes back to this world at some point because it’s a really interesting world that’s remote and reminds me very much of the Canadian praries or the more remote English or Northern European towns, that sense of isolation.

Rating: ★★★★★

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Perfect State
By: Brandon Sanderson
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

God-Emperor Kairominas is lord of all he surveys. He has defeated all foes, has united the entire world beneath his rule, and has mastered the arcane arts. He spends his time sparring with his nemesis, who keeps trying to invade Kai’s world.

Except for today. Today, Kai has to go on a date.

Forces have conspired to require him to meet with his equal—a woman from another world who has achieved just as much as he has. What happens when the most important man in the world is forced to have dinner with the most important woman in the world?

Hah, the premise of this novel sounds perhaps a little quirky for the genre–indeed, Kai wasn’t looking forward to this date–but it was fun, with a healthy dose of Brandon Sanderson’s hand at adding fantastical elements, running themes, and of course that twist at the end.

But while the premise of this novella sounds light-hearted, some of the themes that this book addresses are very serious: are we truly free with the decisions we make, the possibilities that are available before us? Who are we, really, outside of our status, our occupation, etc.? How do we define ourselves? Leadership, relationships, progress and civilisation (I admit, Sophie and her world irked me in their attitude of being advanced and Kai coming from a Fantasy realm; there are obvious differences but the ongoing attitude left me side-eyeing the lot of them, especially when all hell breaks loose). Perhaps a tad bit heavy-handed at times as they become the bulk of the conversation between Sophie ad Kai, bordering a philosophical read, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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And those are the mini book reviews! Have you read any of these titles? Would you read any of them at some point in the future?

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8 Responses to “Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews”

  1. My daughter is the Brandon Sanderson fan in the family; I haven’t read him yet but intend to read Mistborn at some point. I will definitely send her the link to these reviews! I might try Firstborn; I like the idea of dipping my toe into Sanderson’s works with a stand-alone to begin with.

    • Firstborn is a good novella to start with; a bit more on the sci-fi side but with his signature twists and turns and handling to themes. You’re in for a treat with Brandon Sanderson’s works, happy reading 🙂

  2. I know I read Harun’s book, but I honestly can’t remember anything about it. So perhaps you did the right thing in DNFing it. I know there is a review of it on my blog, but even I can’t be bothered to look it up.

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