The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (by Theodora Goss) – ★★★★

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter book cover

Interesting premise and framing device support a pretty fun and intriguing story. The daughters/creations of classic literary characters (scientists and “monsters”) come together, become unlikely friends, and adventure and mystery solving ensue.

Not sure how much of the characters and their personalities come directly from their sources (I’m not super familiar with the source material), but they were all pretty interesting and meshed together well as a group. The way the characters interrupted the narrator and had side conversations was something I haven’t seen before and work really well for added color especially in audiobook format.

After checking reviews, I probably won’t keep going on with the series, but I enjoyed “Alchemist’s Daughter” a good bit and recommend it to anyone who finds the basic plot summary intriguing.

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Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3) – ★★★

Joe Abercrombie's Last Argument of Kings

Definitely my least favorite in The First Law trilogy. I think in general I like Joe Abercrombie’s writing and world building but I don’t think I liked a single decision he made with the character direction in this conclusion to the trilogy. I don’t need everything to be wrapped up with a bow, but every single character is less likable by the end of this story and for the last book in a trilogy too many threads end without much of a conclusion.

I think Ninefingers’ arc was probably the least satisfying and the measly three female characters in either get short shrift or actively punished for just trying to exist.

Spoiler warning
Throughout the series, Sand dan Glokta is developed as pretty much evil incarnate, hideous on the inside and out, and you have Ardee West end up with him and act like she’s okay with it? And I’m not 100% confident Abercrombie is aware or sensitive enough to the fact that he’s condemning Queen Terez to a lifetime of being raped nightly by her husband Jezal dan Luthar, the rare character from this book I was actually growing to like.

Steven Pacey, who reads the book on Audible, is absolutely fantastic and his narration throughout the series goes a long way in really making the entire trilogy as engrossing as it was. Overall a disappointing enough end to the trilogy that I don’t plan to check out any of Abercrombie’s follow up books set in world of the First Law.

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Lost in Time (by A.G. Riddle) – ★★

Book front cover for AG Riddle's Lost in Time

I’ve listened to a bunch of A.G. Riddle books and enjoyed and/or really liked them. This one I just don’t know. While being a page turner and generally entertaining, it had some real problems I just could not get over.

Spoiler filled book review continues...
Lost in Time misrepresents how death penalties, criminal deterrence, human nature, society, the justice system, and the Supreme Court work all at once. I’m not sure if this is trying to be propaganda for capital punishment or just a careless misstep in the pursuit of context for the story.

The book constantly states the prisoners the “worst of humanity” despite also being a story about the judgement of innocent man and never once mentions that others our heroes blink out of existence maybe just maybe might also have been unjustly accused.

(Also, time travel stories are hard. So many examples of “I can’t do anything different without destroying the universe” comments while constantly making a bunch of huge and small changes.)

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