Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June 2017 Book Review: Red Queen

Red Queen

By Victoria Aveyard

~Book Review~

 Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)

Warning! Spoilers!

MARE BARROWS IS A RED, which means she is a commoner, destined to serve the royal Silvers who have superpowers like mind control or fire. Mare is on the side to a budding resistance to this society until a turn of fate reveals that she, too, has magical powers. The Silver royal family responds by betrothing her to one of their sons and claiming that she is a lost Silver princess. However, Mare knows that the reality is nothing of a kind, and thus begins exploring her mysterious powers as the flames of revolution grow higher.

The training scenes of Red Queen were the best part, where Mare gets to test her lightning powers against other royals who can manipulate metal, have super speed, ect. She forms a bond with the down-to-earth Silver prince Cal, a formidable fighter with fire powers who gets all the attention. She also meets Maven, the younger prince and the son of the new queen who is more bookish, quieter, and jealous of his older brother’s feats.

Beyond the training scenes, it was hard to stay invested in this book. Mare is a generic passive heroine who reacts rather than acts; Cal has a non-existent personality; and I was about to give up all hope on the sniveling Maven as well until Aveyard’s twist at the end. That was a breath of relief, but I felt that it should have happened sooner. For me, the biggest problem was the lack of tension. There are seemingly no villains or anyone who is much of a challenge to Mare for three quarters of the book, which contributed to my rapid skim reading. There should have been; the queen reads minds, for heaven’s sake, but the complacency upon her and Maven’s side was pretty suspicious from the get-go. I was really hoping Aveyard would get there sooner, but instead it’s used as a catalyst to set up the rest of the books in the series.

While mildly entertaining, not much stands out to engross the reader in this world over the myriad of other YA fantasy offerings. The most intriguing dynamic is between Mare and Maven once his secret is revealed, but the other characters were all fairly forgettable.  

Recommended for fans of: Marie Rutkoski; Mary Pearson; Morgan Rhodes

Upcoming Book Review: White Cat by Holly Black 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ireland Travel Series: Sligo, Ireland

This is Part VIII of the Ireland Travel Series. Read Part I here.

ABOUT TWO HOURS NORTH of Galway lies Sligo, near the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. This town has a mix of the historical mixed with the industrial, as well as many neighboring country homes. We were fortunate to stay with a family friend who whipped us up some prime Irish coffees every night and introduced us to friends going out for the night.

We visited The Beach Bar (, which had the foresight to offer both surfing lessons as well as beer! Sligo is situated on a gray bay with loads dark, craggy sand and shells, but the waves make for good surfing. The Beach Bar offers lessons for all levels of surfer. I was extremely impressed with the trio of wet suited folks who trooped in from the pitch-black evening outside and ordered up a round. The autumn was so cold that the hot spiced whiskey I had really hit the spot.

We also toured the local scene to see the colorful array of houses and even attended a rugby match. Sligo is home to the Sligo RFC Team at Hamilton Park. Other sights include the beautiful St. John the Baptist Cathedral, Glasshouse Hotel, and the pretty Garavogue River that runs through the town. This can be a spot to launch your trip up to Northern Ireland, but at this time, we were focused on visiting family friends.

We ended the trip with a final round at The Beach Bar. Surrounded by good cheer (and good beer), there is no place the captures the wild, rugged human spirit like the rolling green hills of Ireland.

Sights of the countryside.

Here ends the Ireland Travel Series. Until our next adventure!

Disclaimer: the above is presented as fiction, not fact.