epic fantasy

April 2014 Book Reviews

Usually I aim to read a variety of fiction each month–maybe a young adult novel, an epic fantasy, and a thriller. I don't have a science to what books I read each month. I pick my next book based on how I feel at the moment of finishing one book and starting another. So the first half of this month, I found myself engrossed in the Matt Archer series. I read 3 Matt Archer novels and a novella (and can't wait for the 5th and final book in the series which releases this summer.) The second half of the month I spent reading the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) series which is really long. So April isn't the best month for variety, but here are my book reviews. Matt Archer: Monster Summer By Kendra HighleyMonster Summer is a short novella in the Matt Archer series. It takes place between the first and second full length novels in the series. Monster Summer develops Matt's character, along with some of the supporting cast, making it a worthwhile read. Don't skip over it especially since it's free on kindle! 5 stars

Matt Archer: Blade's Edge by Kendra HighleyI enjoyed the first novel (and the novella) in the Matt Archer series, but Blade's Edge caused me to fall in love with Matt. Blade's Edge is much darker than the first in the series and Matt has to struggle with tough decisions, loss, and sacrifice. Highley mixes in moments of humor to lighten the mood. I also thought Highley did a great job with both the battle and military scenes. She throws in a few plot twists as well. 6 stars

Matt Archer: Legend by Kendra Highley - After finishing the second Matt Archer book, I jumped right into the third. The third continues to build on the themes in the second. Matt is learning how to cope with his role as a chosen knife yielder and the sacrifices that go with it. Much like Harry Potter, Matt and the characters mature as the series continues, and the themes get darker and more complex. Even with the darker themes, Highley blends in humor through the novel, especially in the dialogue between the characters. I also love how Matt continuously calls his aunt "Badass Aunt Julie." My only complaint is the cliffhanger at the end! Unlike the first two books, Legend ends on a complete cliffhanger leaving you wanting more. Lucky for me, I'm late to the Matt Archer party and I get to move straight onto the fourth in series! 7 stars

Matt Archer: Bloodlines by Kendra HighleyThe Matt Archer series continues with a strong 4th installment. Bloodlines begins with resolving the cliffhanger at the end of Book 3. Although this book seemed to be a little less action packed than 3, the plot is solid in this book. We learn a few more interesting revelations with Matt and his friends in their fight against the Shadow Man. I definitely noticed that Highley is gathering all the pieces of the puzzle for the series finale. (Book 5 releases the summer of 2014). I really enjoy and connect with the characters. Despite Matt's supernatural knife friend, he is still a teenager, trying to find his way with friends, girls, and life all while battling the forces of evil. I am looking forward to the finale. 6 stars

A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin - I have noticed a pattern when I read a novel in "The Song of Fire and Ice Series." The book starts off with an element of intrigue and mystery that hooks me. As the I plod through the many pages, the action slows for a hundred pages or so, then picks back up, and the cycle repeats. By the time I'm 2/3 through the book, I'm aggravated because 17 main characters have been killed, many of whom I liked. A reader never wants the good characters to die. But for some reason I keep reading, and I'm never disappointed. The last quarter of the book reveals new, stunning plot developments, and I'm reeled back in the series, ready for the next book. 6 stars


Rating System Guide

7 stars = Phenomenal book – one of the  best book’s I’ve read

6 stars = Great book – worth your time to read

5 stars = Solid book, if you like the genre pick it up

4 stars = Okay book, maybe lacking something in the way of language, character development, story

3 stars = I probably should have stopped reading this book.

1 or 2 stars = Serious issues with plot, structure, language, or not a book for me.

How Many Pages is too Much for a Book?

I am currently reading A Storm of Swords, the third book in George R.R. Martin’s "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. Each book in his epic fantasy series is long. Goodreads tells me A Storm of Swords has 1,177 pages (I’m reading on my kindle and it didn’t give me page numbers for this book). That’s a ginormous book. I’ve been reading the book for over a week and I’m only halfway through the book.

As I read this book as an author, I keep thinking about the length of the book. How many pages is too much for a book?

I know the "Song of Ice and Fire" books are long. Even though I enjoy the series, I find it challenging for me to start the next in the series because of its length. Therefore, I usually start reading when I have an excess of free time–maybe I’m on vacation at the beach or the time off between Christmas and New Year’s. I didn’t do that with A Storm of Swords.

I am on a pretty regular schedule, maybe even a bit busier than normal with finishing up edits for my novel, picking up more hours at work, and setting up workshops. I don’t expect to finish A Storm of Swords until the end of April. Since I enjoy the series, I suppose it’s fine, albeit a bit disheartening to slowly watch the percentage read tick by on my kindle. In a way that bums me out, I like being able to read many books in a month, and I’m not sure if that makes me an odd or normal reader.

Because I read a good amount of young adult literature, most books I read are between 250-350 pages. I can bust through a book that size in 3-5 days. The page count jumps to 400 or 500 pages if I pick up adult genre fiction–crime, historical fiction, or literary fiction. I don’t mind a 500 page book if I am engaged in the book.

When the page count hits 700, I start to grow weary. A few months ago, I read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Once again, I read this book on my kindle and it didn’t have number of pages. (I can’t tell you why some kindle books do and don’t). When I picked it up, I had no idea it was 700 pages long. I think the book took a week and a half for me to read. I didn’t like the book either and I felt it could have been trimmed to a more reasonable page count. (Maybe 500 pages). When I finished, I was disappointed with the time invested in the book. In retrospect, I would rather have read two great YA books instead of one long book I didn’t enjoy.

For me, I think 700 pages is my magic number. When a book hits that size, the book better be worth the time invested. I’m less willing to take chances on a new author or series with a book length that size.

How many pages is too many for you?  What are some great books over 700 pages in length?