Book Review: Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie

Review News

 

If you’ve noticed, I’m putting out one book review a day until I get caught up with them.  Recent (maybe not the most recent) books are reviewed first.  Then I’ll get to the older books I’ve already read.

Burning Glass

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

 

Burning_Glass_coverAmazon described this book a cross between Red Queen and Shadow and Bone.  I’ve read both and I would have to disagree with at least one.

Red Queen is a post apocalyptic novel that has no relevant relation to Burning Glass.  I have no clue why they made the reference, unless they were comparing the complicated love triangle between a girl and two brothers.  If that’s the case, I’ve already covered the fallacy of comparing one small aspect of a novel with another in my Red Queen review.

Shadow and Bone is a better comparison because Shadow and Bone and Burning Glass are steeped in worlds based off Russian culture.  Also, both heroines struggle to control extraordinary powers while battling handsome, crazy evil dudes who think they’re doing good when they’re actually greedy.

The truth is, this book doesn’t have a second adequate comparison.  At least, none that I’ve read so far.

Sonya, our lovely heroine, has spent most of her young life ducking the Riaznin government.  She has an empathic gift, which means she can sense other people’s emotions.  The government uses such people to sense threats to the Emperor.  This position is called Sovereign Auraseer.

This novel starts after Sonya is captured and sent to a special convent that trains seers to control their gifts so they can be used for the good of the country.  A few months into her stay, tragic circumstances made Sonya the new Sovereign Auraseer.

Politics and court intrigue begin when Prince Anton does a little coup planning during their journey.  He doesn’t want Sonya to know, but he’s not exactly smooth with the subterfuge.

Anton and Emperor Valko were separated and raised apart as young children.  Each were taught to be emperor of the land, Valko became emperor because he was the oldest.  This is the basis for the strained relationship between the brothers.

Sonya’s situation brings her into the brother’s strained relationship.  Valko sees her as an understanding confidant among people who couldn’t possibly understand his situation.  While he doesn’t perceive Sonya as an equal nor does he entertain the possibility of raising her station through marriage (that’s just preposterous to marry a commoner with no dowery), he mistakes maniacal dependance for love.

Meanwhile, Anton, the brother Sonya is actually in love with (or so she guesses), exhibits contradicting emotions whenever Sonya is around.  One minute he’s hot, the next he’s cold, and most of the time he avoids her so she can’t read him at all.

As Sonya attempts to control her powers, she must make a moral decision between duty and revolution.  The first will lead to madness and possible destruction of the country.  The other will lead to love and chaos.

First, I have a small technical issue with the book before going into my critique of the characters.

The author’s mistaken use of the word aura to describe Sonya’s abilities.  Purdie confuses the term’s public use as an instinct most humans possess.  For example, When Jane stepped closer to Sam, she could feel is tense aura.

To describe a highly developed sixth sense few people possess, she should have used the word empath.  Aura, in terms of a developed sixth sense, has everything to do with sight.  Someone who has this sixth sense views the energy surrounding each person in terms of colors.  These colors depict what a person is feeling or the state of a person’s health.  Hence, Purdie’s term Auraseer.

The term Purdie should have used for the Auraseers is Empathics.  An empath – person who can feel another person’s emotions in depth – is a more apt description of Sonya’s powers.

I know, it’s a little nitpickie and a debatable topic, but I had to get that out or obsess about it later.

Now to the characters!

I liked Sonya as a heroine.  She was thrown a quagmire of difficult situations and managed to come out stronger for the experience.  Anyone who can handle those two brothers without committing suicide and keeping her sanity is virtually superhuman.  Someone weaker would have given into the Emperor and ended up lost within his emotions.

Valko was a complicated character.  Like Sonya, a reader doesn’t know what to make of him when he’s introduced.  Yet, he allowed greed to make him mentally unstable and blamed everyone else for his actions instead of owning his insane greed.  As an older brother with the weight of a country on his shoulders, I found him very childish, weak, and manipulative.  Furthermore, his irresistible vortex of emotions had a hint of sleaze throughout the book.

Anton was only slightly better than his brother.  He obviously would make a better emperor because he cares for his people.  Unfortunately, the man is confused when it comes to trust.  In my opinion, he trusts normal people easily.  When it comes to a Sonya, he has trust issues.  The author explained this little issue between Anton and Sonya by blaming his upbringing and basically saying he had trust issues with everyone.  That was an extremely faulty explanation.  While his brother didn’t own his greed, Anton didn’t own the fact that he thought Sonya was mirroring his own emotions.  That her love for him wasn’t actually hers.

Honestly, there were parts of the book where I wanted to kick one or both of the brothers in the nuts.  That’s how frustrating they were.

Despite my frustration, technical pet peeves, and wondering why Sonya doesn’t walk away from both brothers, I liked the book.   It started slow.  The story picked up in Chapter Five and I couldn’t put it down after that.  (Usually, I only give a book three chapters, but these chapters were relatively short, which is why I stuck with it longer).  It has earned it’s rightful place on my bookshelf.

I don’t think this book is the start of a series.  Although, I said the same thing about A Court of Thorns and Roses and it’s sequel, A Court of Mist and Fury is due out May 3rd.

Future Book Reviews

***Will not be reviewed in this order.Books-2-icon

  • Insanity (Mad in Wonderland) by Cameron Jace
  • The Glittering Court by Rachelle Mead (April 5th)
  • A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses Book #2) by Sarah J. Maas (May 3rd)
  • Ruined by Amy Tintera (May 3rd)
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts I & II by J. K. Rowling (July 31st)
  • The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles Book #3) by Mary E. Pearson (August 2nd)
  • Witch’s Pyre (The Worldwalker Trilogy Book #3) by Josephine Angelini
  • Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas
    • The Burning Sky
    • The Perilous Sea
    • The Immortal Heights
  • Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
  • Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
  • The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine
  • The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
    • Ruin and Rising

Want to see what I’m currently reading or curious about past book reviews?  

Go to my Reading Common Sense page.

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Remember to vote!

If you live in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri, or Illinois, remember to vote today!

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Exercising Your Fundamental Right: Go Vote!

It’s the day before the Presidential election and if most Americans are like me, they’re ready to hang themselves by their own entrails.  Sure it’s a gruesome death.  Yet, it’s preferable than being subjected to the barrage of campaign commercials.  I find the ones that blatantly lie to be the very worst.  To the fellow Americans that happen to live in swing states, I feel for you. The amount of campaign ads aired are likely ten times worse.

Despite the sickening multitude of campaign ads, I urge my fellow Americans to vote.  If they haven’t taken advantage of early voting in their state, then they should consider dropping by the poll on election day tomorrow, take some time, and cast a ballot.  I’m not going to tell you who to vote for.  Like religion, it’s a personal choice and nobody’s business.

Although, while I tell my own joyous voting story, my personal preferences will be revealed and it may offend Republican, or Tea Party, readers.  (If I haven’t already done so in previous posts.)

I took advantage of early voting the weekend before last like most Americans did last weekend.  The Rachel Maddow Blog has posted many pictures and videos of early voting lines from their readers and they’re absolutely amazing.

Through the years, I’ve heard concern for lack of voting participation. I’ve even explained why people feel an absence of motivation to vote.  They perceive whatever happens in government doesn’t effect their personal lives or that all politicians are corrupt.  Why bother?

Since the beginning of the 21st Century (more accurately 2001), American have discovered that the Federal Government does affect them in several ways.  The government declares wars that risk the lives of fellow Americans, they provide disaster relief when it’s desperately needed, they can make college financial assistance more difficult, they can restrict women’s preventive health services, etc.  Increasingly, Americans are discovering the government can interfere or assist our lives in fundamentally profound and frightening ways.

Recently, the American people paid closer attention to the candidates.  I would never want to run for government office because everything in the lives the candidates are scrutinized.  Most of the microscopic lens is necessary to get a feeling for the candidate in question.  What are their personal morals?  How close are they to their religious affiliation and are their beliefs going to affect a state or country filled with people of differing religions?

Yet it isn’t as simple as choosing a candidate that seems to have the best interest of the American people at heart.

***Even I question the motives behind those running for office except a few like Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).  Sadly, the truly awesome politicians don’t represent me.

It’s the instances of voter suppression by the Republican party that are galvanizing citizens all over the country to vote.  Americans are contrary by nature.  Try to revoke our fundamental right and we’ll exorcise that right in droves.  We’ll even begin spontaneous protests in front of the polling places if we must.

Florida Voting

It’s this very contrary nature I witnessed when I voted.

When I use the early voting option, I prefer to go to my local court house.  They usually open at 8 am and close at noon.  I like to vote around 11 am and the whole process – standing in line included – takes roughly 5 minutes.

This year was another story.  I arrived at the court house and was greeted by a line.  Not a flimsy line with a few people, but an actual long line!

Perhaps in a normal situation, long lines would mildly annoy me.  Instead, I was elated.

Before, voting was an obligational job, and a form of protest against our elite two-party mentality.  Now, it’s a patriotic duty I was honored to participate.  I happily stood in line for half an hour while watching it grow even longer behind me.  As I stepped up to the voting booth, I slipped my card in the slot, voted on a state constitutional provision, and proceeded to vote an all Democrat ticket.  I didn’t look at the name of the person I was voting for.  To me, this year’s vote was personal.  I’ve spent more than a year being sickened and insulted by the Republican party.  As President Barack Obama stated recently, voting was a form of revenge.

Yes, I knew about most of the candidates I voted for.  I also knew about the Republican agenda, what they’ve tried to do in other states, and the damage I perceive they would cause if given complete Federal control.  Headlines raced through my mind as I marked each of those Democrat boxes:  Restriction of women’s rights, “getting rid” of the Affordable Care Act, the force feeding of religious ideals against my will, the multitude of shameful lies, etc.

Voting was a highly cathartic experience.  As I returned my card to the attendant, I picked up an “I Voted” sticker and proudly wore it for the rest of the day.  (Now it adorns my iPad case.)

My only regret is that I had to pick between two elite parties as a matter of survival.

Monday afternoon as I was driving home from work, I saw a sign on the front lawn that said, “Vote all incumbents out!”  I loved that sign and everything it said to me.

Unfortunately, I could’t do that in this election.  I feared the Tea Partiers that are challenging incumbent Democrats and the Tea Partiers already infesting our government too much to indulge in such ideologies.  After all, I set aside my own ideology for this election.

Among all the lies, the mudslinging, and fear mongering, I was happy to find a positive that was the euphoric feeling I received from voting.  I try to block out the past months and subdue my anger at the continuing political battle by remembering that my vote is already cast.

Yet, I sometimes wonder what I would do if the Republicans took over out government and dramatic changes were to occur.  Would I leave the country and change my citizenship?  If the opportunity presented itself, I would.  Otherwise, I’ll likely fight back through my words and signing as many petitions as necessary to subvert Republicans and any unscrupulously radical laws they try to enact.

Note: I have changed my comment settings.  It is no longer necessary to be a member of WordPress.com to post a comment!  I look forward to reading many more comments from my readers!