Tag: fantasy

Dec 31

300 Followers Book Giveaway!

Books/Writing, Giveaways 24

I want to give a huge shout-out and thank you to everyone who has followed my little book blog in the past 5 months! In honor of ALL YOU WONDERFUL people I’m having a book giveaway. 😀 I’ve had a ton of fun and am continuing to have fun reading and sharing books with each and every one of you. I love getting to exchange thoughts and ideas with other bookworms, and there are SO MANY more reviews and thoughts I want to post! I’m hoping to add some more author interaction in 2017 as well as some more original content.

What: A paperback copy of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted or Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, shipped direct to you from The Book Depository! Winner’s choice. I wanted to let people choose between a standalone and a series starter, and I loved both of these!

 

 

Who: Any blog follower from ANY COUNTRY that TBD delivers to! You can see the list here.

When: Open from now until January 14th at 12 a.m., Seoul time.

How: Enter how you follow in the Rafflecopter linked below, subscribe via WordPress or Bloglovin’, leave a comment, Tweet and follow, share the giveaway on social media…lots of ways, and up to 20 entries possible per person! Links are in the right-hand sidebar. 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Dec 14

Book Review: Red Queen

Book Reviews, Books/Writing 10 ★★½

Book Review: Red QueenRed Queen (Red Queen, #1) by Victoria Aveyard
Published by HarperTeen on February 10th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopian
Pages: 383
Goodreads two-half-stars

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.
The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.
That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.
Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.
But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

I finally, finally got around to this book. With above a 4-star average on GoodReads and nearly 205,000 ratings, I thought for sure I couldn’t lose! Well. Erm. Behold my rather sad panda negative review of Red Queen. I honestly have NO CLUE how this book is so popular and I’m really kind of angry about that. I feel robbed.

Best Quote:

This world is Silver, but it is also gray. There is no black-and-white.

Feels:

I really expected to like this book more than I did. I saw SO MANY glowing reviews (which I avoided reading in their entirety because reasons), I loved the idea of silver blood vs. red blood + some unexplained combination of the two. And then…and then…and then this was me:

Actually, before the last couple of chapters I was more like:

Characters:

Main characters are Mare Barrow (a.k.a., Mareena Titanos), Kilorn (her best friend since childhood), Prince Cal,  and Prince Maven. Also a cast of side characters who honestly sound much more interesting. Julian, anyone? Colonel Ellyn Macanthos? Farley?? Anyway.

Our heroine, Mare, was a very hard person for me to connect with and mostly I just wanted to shake her until her teeth rattled. She reminds us at least a few times that she is trying to “save” people, yet she seems to be incredibly good at getting them in more trouble than they were in to start with (Kilorn might be the exception there). She’s completely out of control of her emotions. I know, she’s a teenage girl under an extreme amount of stress – I got it, really. But geez Louise, a girl with as much street smart as she supposedly has should know better than to trust to appearances as much as she does. She’s so extremely childish it’s disheartening. Like when her best friend/crush Kilorn joins up with the rebels against her wishes, because she’s trying to keep him safe.

“Mare,” he calls after me. “At least say good-bye.”
But I’m already walking, Maven by my side…I won’t look back, not now when he’s betrayed all I’ve ever done for him.

Yeesh. Control issues much?

Kilorn, I put in with the main characters because even though the role he plays in the actual story is small, his part in the back story is huge and I suspect (hope?) he will be more in the forefront of the next books. I like his stubbornness, though I’m a little less enthusiastic about his collapse in the face of conscripting. Like everyone in this book is a fucking drama king/queen. Give me a break.

The princes. Well. They are about as different as night and day, and yet they are both so perfectly predictable. Yawn. Had them pegged as good guy/bad guy from the second scene they appear in together. Which isn’t necessarily bad…except neither of them do anything unexpected, ever. They are literally just good guy/bad guy. I see the character development there, and I have some question if Prince Bad Guy could maybe, just maybe possibly, be redeemed down the road (maybe after his brainwave controlling mother is out of the picture). I liked Prince Good Guy. I think what he went through in the last couple of chapters will (or should) have a MAJOR effect on him and his actions in the future, which could also be interesting.

Plot:

“You want me to pin my entire operation, the entire revolution, on some teenaged love story? I can’t believe this.”

Oh, Farley, I couldn’t have said it better. Because yes. Best line of the book. That’s exactly what this is – and not only that, but trope  after trope after trope. Love triangle? Check – only because more is obviously better let’s make it a fucking LOVE SQUARE. Special snowflake? Check – and she is oh-so-special let us count the ways she is the ONLY ONE who can fix this.

“For hundreds of years the Silvers have walked the earth as living gods and the Reds have been slaves at their feet, until you.”

Insta-love? Check – because as soon as certain characters set foot on the page, I went “Oh, yep, there’s one…two…three…wtf?!?”

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I love this one. It’s so perfect.

The plot – obviously the oppressed Reds versus the godlike Silvers – has a decent start. But so many of the parts surrounding Mare are just extremely farfetched and had me squinting at the pages and saying “Really?” out loud. Like the fact that, the very first day Mare starts her job, she’s sent to the biggest Silver event in decades. Where she conveniently produces powers she never had even an inkling that she had. Suspicious much, I am. The queen, who has the power to read people’s thoughts and memories – why does she never catch on to the secret attacks? It just doesn’t make sense.

Also, there is way, way way way way WAY too much romance in this book. Has Mare never even seen a man before? Seriously? I nearly rage quit when I realized that yes, indeed, the Love Square was a thing.

Worldbuilding/Setting:

The setting here is X-men meets Lord of the Rings, which was actually pretty cool. Just…I need a map! Haha. Also more names. The descriptions are good, but I need names and big pictures to orient myself, even in a book, and that felt lacking. The world, to me at least, seemed like a combined setting of fantasy and dystopian, what with all the fancy clothes and crazy magical power yet also video cameras and other technology.

Final Rating and Thoughts:

2.5 stars. I tried, folks, I really did. But all the tropes, the sheer predictability, and my extreme dislike for Mare have me giving this one a no-go. I was considering a 3 star rating, but for me the shift to the better side of the middle of the road is whether or not I will read the sequel, and for this one I have to say no. I’m somewhat curious about a few things, but not enough to put up with Mare’s stupid self-centeredness for an longer.

two-half-stars

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Dec 09

Book Review: The Sword of Summer

Book Reviews, Books/Writing 0 ★★★★

I’m so excited to finally be writing a  review, almost a month after my most recent one. Talk about a slump! So without further ado, my review of The Sword of Summer!

“People have destructive impulses. Some of us want to see the world in ruins just for the fun of it…even if we’re ruined along with it.”

Feels

I’ve only read one of Rick Riordan’s other series, the original Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I actually read them back in 2014, at an extremely low point while I was away from home doing some rather strenuous training. Reading has always been my escape and those books – even though from a genre very different from what I was mostly reading at the time – were the absolute perfect thing for me. I think a re-read is in order soon.

Anyway, THIS book, brought back all the “falling into another world” feeling of those. Perfect slump-defeating read! I don’t remember laughing this hard during my Percy Jackson reads. From chapter titles like “I Do Mighty Combat with Eggs” and “Though Shalt Not Poop on the Head of Art,” to some of the most zany characters of Riordan’s creation I’ve met yet, it was a great mood lifter. It’s the dialogue in this story that really zings. It’s absolutely amazing and genius, even the minor characters. Like this little gem between Magnus and Valhalla Hotel’s manager.

“Then why don’t you just say A.D.?”
“Because Anno Domini, in the Year of Our Lord, is fine for Christians, but Thor gets a little upset. He still holds a grudge that Jesus never showed up for that duel he challenged to.”
“Say what now?”

I love Riordan’s blasphemy. LOVE IT. I love that he just takes shots at every religion and mythology out there, nothing is sacred – and yet he stops short of disrespecting the people who hold actual beliefs.

Characters

Magnus Chase is hilariously snarky, with the balls to talk back to both bad guys and gods – who are sometimes one and the same. His initial circumstances are horrifying, yet he never completely lets it snuff his desire for life. I loved Samirah al-Abbas (Sam), the Valkyrie – she has attitude for miles, spunk, and drive. And a sharp wit, which results in more hilarity.

“You named your tree.”
“Most important things have names.” She frowned at me. “Who are you again?”

Blitz and Hearth, Magnus’ best friends on the streets, are such unique characters in their own right too. While they were frequent comic relief they also put SO MUCH heart into the story. There’s quite a slew of other minor characters, and I hope some of them show up in future books! I do have to say…the story doesn’t end happily for all of them. I was inordinately pleased with that (yes, I’m a horrible person), because I strongly believe even middle-grade YA books need to be somewhat realistic. Which yes, I also realize somewhat ironic to say about a fantasy book, but…it’s a GOOD ending.

Plot

Magnus is a clueless teenager in the beginning, propelled into events way above his pay grade by a series of crazy happenings including the death of his mother. After two years of hiding he is found and given a strange destiny that he can’t understand. Everything happens EXTREMELY fast in the beginning and in the whirlwind Magnus is suddenly thrown into the crazy world of the gods of Asgard. He isn’t the person he always thought he was, and he might just be the only person capable of coordinating all the necessary elements. Basically the world is about to end when the Fenris Wolf’s rope breaks. It starts off sounding fairly simple but gets convoluted rather quickly.

Magnus, Sam, Blitz, and Hearth go odd on several side quests that, while entertaining, seem to detract from the progress of the general story. I personally still enjoyed them, but I think the general age group that this book is aimed at might lose interest or get a little lost. Still, there were more awesome quotes, especially from the dwarves (because dwarves are always awesome).

“It is woven with the most powerful paradoxes in the Nine Worlds – Wi-Fi with no lag, a politician’s sincerity, a printer that prints, healthy deep-fried food, and an interesting grammar lecture!”

Worldbuilding/Setting

The world building is good, but it’s not the best part of this book. Like I said already, where Riordan really shines is in the snappy dialogue. The description and setting is exactly what this book needs but it’s not the standout here.

Final Rating

Overall I’m giving 4/5 stars. While I loved it, it definitely dragged a bit in all the world-hopping that they ended up doing and I think that it could possibly turn off a lot of its prospective audience. Not so much adults, but kids. When I was of that age I was already a voracious reader so it might not have bothered me but I think I might not have picked it up in the first place. Still, definitely worth reading and if you have an indefatigable young reader tell them to give it a try!

 

 

four-stars

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Oct 31

NaNoWriMo ’16

Books/Writing, Musings 5

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What’s that you say? What’s Lizzy up to? Writing? Writing FICTION?!? What is the world coming to? I haven’t written a line of fiction in…about 7 years, I think. If you’ve read my last few Something Sunday posts, you’ll know I used to write fiction all the time, just for my own fun and amusement. And now…I slowly feel the joy returning, like strength to muscles long seized by cramp.

But enough drama. Cait has inspired me with her continuos happy meanderings about her novels. These questions have stirred the creative muddle of my brain. Without further chatter…here are the  questions from the awesome Beautiful Books meme, hosted by Cait at PaperFury and Sky at Further Up and Further In.

  1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea? For about 8 years, believe it or not. It was what I tried writing the last time I was writing fiction (did you follow that? if so good for you…haha)
  2. Describe what your novel is about! Medieval-type fantasy, elemental magic, overcoming prejudice and the trusty old good vs. evil…but what, exactly, makes something good or evil?
  3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like! Um…here, have a look at my Pinterest board for inspiration. Haha. 
  4. Introduce us to each of your characters! How about just the main two? At least the ones I think are the main two? Jaelle is the daughter of the overthrown king, a healer trained as spy. She is torn between what she sees as her duty to her family and what she sees as the best thing for her country and people. Her path is strewn with discovered secrets that make her doubt everything and everyone she ever knew. Denrilhan is the son of a duke, a hard charging battle captain with a disturbing disregard for his own life. His only care is for the people of his father’s province.
  5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?) Well, this time I’m outlining. IN DETAIL. ALL THE OUTLINE. I’m not even planning on writing any of the novel for NaNo. That’s right. Just the outline, some world-building and character worksheets if I’m inspired. I will not write the book itself, because the timeline will stress me out and kill my creativity, but I’m fairly certain I can manage the outline in a month.
  6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel? Seeing all the characters come together, and yet grow individually. 
  7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting. Medieval castles, dragons, secrets. 
  8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way? Jaelle wants to both save her family and prevent the genocide of her people by the rebel uprising. As the daughter of privilege, her motives are constantly suspect in the eyes of the people she is trying to help, and she is conflicted in herself because it seems that she cannot do both.
  9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel? In the end, she chooses to follow her heart over the traditions and expectations of her family. 
  10. What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over? Satisfied, but maybe a little sad. There won’t be happy ending for everyone here. Still, I hope that the deepest feeling is one of hope, the resilience of the human heart, and the power of truth.

 

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Oct 27

Blog Tour: Of Flame and Light

Book Tours, Giveaways 5

Announcing the newest release in the Weird Girls paranormal romance/urban fantasy series! I recently discovered these books and am excited to be participating in this blog tour. I’ll have a review up next week! Be sure to scroll down to read the excerpt AND enter the giveaway!

 On Tour Now!

Of Flame and Light: A Weird Girls Novel by Cecy Robson, a Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy Series is on tour now.


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About the Book

Taran Wird holds the unique ability to conjure fire and lightning. She is mated to Gemini, Second in Command to the Squaw Valley Pack of the Lake Tahoe Region, and the sole werewolf to possess the ability to split into two wolves. And although they are mates, Taran’s insecurities have driven them apart.

Devastated by an injury that left her with a zombie-like limb, Taran struggles to regain command over her magic. But when her arm and her power turn against her, lashing out on those she most loves, she knows she can no longer carry this burden alone. Not that she likes the alternative.

The only way to regain control of her magic is to align and learn from the local coven of witches―the very ones who sought to banish her when she and her three unique sisters first moved to the mystical region. But although Taran is trying, the teachings don’t come easy, and the tasks leave her weak and emotionally shattered.

Yet Taran must learn and learn fast. Time is running out. The fire she once mastered so easily has become her greatest adversary and is now slowly burning her alive

Purchase:
Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


EXCERPT:

Son of a bitch.

I groan as I roll onto my back. I’d like to say this is the first time I’ve been knocked unconscious. I’d also like to say my boobs are the same size, but hey, such is my life.

Dirt. All I sense is that and dank heaviness that accompanies a . . . cave? Through the fog taking up residency along my brain, I make out a dim glow. It takes me a moment to realize it’s coming from my light-saber arm. I push up on my hands, grimacing when my fingers sink into the soil. Yet it’s what I see when I glance up that has me scrambling to my feet.

A lonely hand scuttles by me, chasing after a rat. Oh, but it gets better. I press my back against a dirt wall as a foot hops by, chasing after the hand, that’s chasing after the rat, with a decapitated head rolling —I shit you not—merrily behind them.

It’s like some kind of fucked up nursery rhyme. I don’t want to know the next verse, especially not with the collection of zombies gathering from all sides. These are different from the ones who pulled us onto shore. Their grisly faces are more emaciated and their bodies are in a more advance stage of decomposing. As they shuffle toward me, pieces of their skin fall in small moist clumps.

I hold out my hand. “Stay back.”

They collectively moan.

And move closer.

I grit my teeth, summoning that spark from deep in my core. The dank air seems to enclose around me, giving me a chill and snuffing out my inner heat.

Shit, shit, shit.

On wobbly legs, I slide my back against the dirt wall, my hands out. The zombies gather closer, cocking their heads, their empty sockets mesmerized by the glow of my arm. At first, I think they’re simply curious. But then their short thick tongues push forward, appearing to lick what’s left of their lips.

I jump when another hand scrambles by, its pinky brushing against my foot. My back presses against the dirt wall as I slide against it. I’m not sure where to go. I only know I can’t stay here.

I bang my fists against the wall, trying to stimulate my fire. My left hand doesn’t react, tensing uselessly. But that spark I so need triggers from my right arm, igniting flames along the path of my blue veins only to putter out.

Come on, light.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR (Cecy Robson)

6177334Cecy Robson is an award-winning author of magical realms, to-die-for Alpha heroes, and young adult adventure. A double RITA® 2016 finalist for Once Pure and Once Kissed, and published author of more than fifteen titles, you can typically find her on her laptop or stumbling blindly in search of caffeine.

Author Links (Contact Links)

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Enter to Win the Ultimate Weird Girls Prize Pack, including a Coach® purse stuffed with an autographed copy of Sealed with a Curse, an audiobook of A CURSED EMBRACE, t-shirts, a water bottle, magnets, signed postcards, pins, and bookmarks!

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Oct 17

Book Review: Throne of Glass

Book Reviews, Quotable, Reviews 3 ★★★½

Book Review: Throne of GlassThrone of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's on August 7th 2012
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult
Pages: 404
Goodreads three-half-stars

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her ... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Yes, I’m just now reading this book. 😛 I was very late to the Sarah J. Maas train, only discovering her books after the publication of A Court of Mist and Fury. I was intrigued by reviews I saw of THAT book, and on the strength of those alone I read A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first in that series (which I wasn’t entirely on board with but then there was a horribly cliffhanger ending sooooo) quickly followed by ACOMAF, and I’ve been obsessed with the series ever since. Naturally I wanted to read her original series as well, but to be honest I’ve been a little scared. What if I don’t like it as much? What if I just think it’s crap compared to ACOTAR? Such high expectations. Honestly though, I was kind of braced to not like it, as everyone kept saying (as with ACOTAR) not to judge the entire series off the first book. So, SJM, I love you, but something about your first book game isn’t quite meshing with me…or maybe I just take a long time to fully commit to characters. Hrm. Anywho.

trick-or-treat

This is my Treat choice for the Halloween Read-A-Thon!

I have done my best to avoid spoilers and there are definitely no plot spoilers! However if you don’t want to know ANYTHING about the characters you might not want to read.

Throne of Glass launches us into what promises to be an epic fantasy adventure. I love the way we’re immediately thrown in with Celaena in a dangerous, scary situation because I, naturally, want to know HOW THE FUCK she ended up there. Also how she can seem to be so young and yet so skilled, so brutal…and yet so obsessed with frilly dresses.

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Both of these are totally Celaena. I’m still not sure how she does it or why, especially as she even notes that all the layers of skirts hamper her fighting skills. Only somehow she doesn’t seem to get caught in particularly bad situations while all dolled up. Hmm.

The forest was different here. The leaves dangled like jewels – tiny droplets of ruby, pearl, topaz, amethyst, emerald, and garnet; and a carpet of such riches coated the forest floor around them. Despite the ravages of conquest, this part of Oakwald Forest remained untouched. It still echoed with the remnants of the power that had once given these trees such unnatural beauty.

Maas has created a beautiful world that is by turns thrilling, intriguing, and terrifying. I would like to visit, but retain the option to return to my own world with the push of a button. 😛 Because Cain and those demon things were scary AF, and the king gives me nasty chills. I want to know all about it though, and I feel like there is SO MUCH that still needs explaining. Where did the current King of Adarlan come from? What happened to Celaena’s family and why? Why is Dorian so very unlike his father? Who is Chaol, really? How did the magic of Adarlan just…die? Where did the Faery people go?

The plot really moves along at a good clip. I loved the constant suspense of waiting for each new test of the Champions, and seeing who would be eliminated or die trying. I also really enjoyed the continuous building of tension in the court, as Celaena tries over and over to piece things together as she gains new information.  It all flows smoothly leading up to the final duel…except that Kaltain’s part seemed rather forced and contrived, to me…of course there is someone like her in EVERY court (usually several), but it was just very convenient and felt a bit out of place.  Maybe part of that was due to the influences on her, I’m not sure.

There are a couple of tropes here, and I spotted them almost as soon as the book started. I took notes as I rolled my eyes around page 47. Verbatim: “Celaena is naturally the most gorgeous woman at court, both the captain and prince will fall in love with her, and the prince is possibly/probably not the prince at all.” I was slightly annoyed.

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Not this AGAIN.

HOWEVER. The love triangle was handled much better than a lot that I’ve seen, and the special snowflake turned out to be a special snowflake through much hard work, not just being born to it. Why does she have to be so gorgeous that practically every man falls at her feet? With the exception of the other Champions, thank the gods that be. But the constant references to her beauty in the first part of the book were really annoying. Blah. The love triangle was slow in the build-up, and if I hadn’t already seen so many memes and fangirl sites over ToG I might not have been so sure about it early on (thanks, interwebz), but I still feel like it was pretty obvious.

As I’ve said many times, characters are what really make a book for me. This one is STUFFED FULL of wonderful amazing people that I want to go live with. They are flawed – each and every one of them. They do annoying things that make me want to choke them. (Chaol, anyone?) They also have pasts that I am DYING to find out about because they are such strong people but they have scars and tender spots that show through now and again and yet NO. Apparently I must wait for the next book (which, not to worry, has already been requested from the library).

“Second place is a nice title for the first loser.”

Ah, Celaena, our heroine. Despite her annoyingly perfect body and face (even with her time in the mines and the abuse to the rest of her body, her face was somehow left alone), she’s definitely someone I’d want in my corner. She’s got a backbone of steel, a quick mind, and…well, she’s The Assassin. She’s been hurt, and horribly. But she hasn’t entirely hardened herself again the entire world yet. She is, however, a badass with a flair for the dramatic, and she likes attention.

“My name is Celaena Sardothien. But it makes no difference if my name’s Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I’d still beat you, no matter what you call me.”

Also, she loves books and good food. Seriously, the descriptions of the library in Rifthold made me feel lightheaded and all delicious food she was forever gobbling down kept me feeling hungry. Thankyounotreally.

 “I can survive well enough on my own— if given the proper reading material.”

Girl after my own heart, I’m telling you. Such a fighting and adventurous spirit – and yet she loves books.

She had often wished for adventure, for old spells and wicked kings. But she hadn’t realized it would be like this – a fight for her freedom. And she’d always imagined that there’d be someone to help her – a loyal friend or a one-armed soldier or something. She hadn’t imagined she would be so…alone.

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No, they’re not brothers, but they might as well be.

Dorian and Chaol – best friends consisting of the crown princeling and captain of the guard – are…well, they’re just sweethearts and good guys. Dorian more openly so. Chaol is, to be honest, something of an ass, but underneath it is a soft heart that shows through from time to time and I just want him to be able to open up and trust SOMEBODY. Geez Louise, but the man seems to wear his tough guy armor 24/7 . Dorian, on the other hand, needs to grow a pair (he’s working on it, I know I know but come ON). I am solidly team Chaol, at the moment. Also, not going to spoil for anyone that hasn’t read it but…Celaena NAILED IT towards the end of the book, when dealing with these two. HATS OFF. YOU GO GIRLFRIEND. Now that, took guts.

Oh, but back to other characters. There is of course Princess Nehemiah, who is very intriguing indeed and has me dying of curiosity about her country and magic and all the sparkly creepy things she seems to know about. I’m sure we will see more of her. There’s also Nox, who I’m NOT sure we will see more of but I hope we do. The most intriguing side character by FAR though, is Elena…who I can’t really discuss without giving stuffs away. Mph.

“You could be great. You could rattle the stars. You could do anything if only you dared.”

SO MUCH POTENTIAL IN THIS BOOK. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Now that the competition is over but ALL the dastardly schemes are just getting started.

That said, I’m giving 3.5/5 stars. It definitely got better as the story progressed, but I did a lot of eye-rolling during the set-up, and still feel like the love triangle itself was/is unnecessary, even if the characters are definitely not. Also I’m still not sure on the prince thing, nothing else ever happens to make us think that Dorian isn’t the prince, but for some reason it’s still in the back of my mind.

 

 

three-half-stars

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Oct 11

Book Review: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic

Book Reviews, Books/Writing 4 ★★★½

This cover is horrible. Seriously, when I saw it, I thought the book was published in the 80s. WHAT WAS YOUR GRAPHIC ARTIST THINKING, YO.

This cover is horrible. Seriously, when I saw it, I thought the book was published in the 80s. WHAT WAS YOUR GRAPHIC ARTIST THINKING, YO.

Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman.  During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty.  Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her “real life” against the dangerous power of love and magic.

This book was recommended to me by one of my oh-so-awesome penpals (no, WordPress, I do NOT mean pencils…as I’ve spent 5 minutes trying to give a cease and desist letter to your autocorrect)! I’ve been on a real fantasy kick lately and she provided some spot-on recs…like Sabriel.

I was instantly doubtful of The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic. However, I am happy to report that the actual reading improved the impression I had drawn based on the cover (gag) and title (odd). Overall I’m giving it 3.5 stars…I am leaning towards 4, but…the sheer length of it is taking a half star off for me. I don’t mind longer books, as I read faster than average…but honestly this one could have been edited a little better, starting with less scenes of boring medieval castle chores. The writing itself is of excellent quality, I have no complaints whatsoever! Emily Barker has created a colorful world peopled with interesting characters. I finished it in about 3 days, despite the staggering 570 pages!

I’m a sucker for any books that have to do with books or bookish people, and Nora’s grad school/literary critic/teacher occupation intrigued me. Her personal life woes in the beginning are oh-so-very first world, but thankfully we don’t spend much time with that before she goes wandering and plunges headlong into the other world. The first, oh, about 60 pages…I felt like I was drunk and wandering around trying to figure out what was going on. At first I was extremely annoyed and though I wouldn’t be able to finish the book, but then as I kept going I realized that the feeling was intentional, to make us feel how Nora feels when she first enters the alternate world. Well done indeed. Maybe keep it to 40 pages next time though. 😉

The world she enters has a deep history and so many interesting characters – most of which are MUCH more interesting than Nora herself. There are stories within stories – both in the form of sub-plots, and actual stories characters are telling. I loved that part. I absolutely despised Aruendiel until the last 100 pages or so, but his story was just so DAMN INTERESTING I had to keep reading. So much intrigue – and so much innuendo and crimes hinted at but not fully explained. Which, I suppose, is quite in keeping with the medieval type society depicted. Oh…don’t even get me STARTED on all the patriarchal nonsense that Nora has to put up with. I did really like that she was constantly resisting all that malarky, even when it was shoved on her day in and day out.

The overarching conflict was very long in coming to its conclusion (see comments on editing). I could have done with a few more fight scenes. If the tempo of the last 200 pages had been over the majority of the book, it would have definitely been 4 solid stars. Emily Barker has, thankfully, avoided the dreaded tropes of either a love triangle or a special snowflake. Nora is underwhelmingly average, as she is frequently reminded. I can really appreciate that after so many books lately just chock-full of ALL THE SPECIALNESS.

Just when I thought the ending was resolving itself…oh, haha, nope just kidding! We’re left hanging by a thread and while part of the conflict was resolved we never find out what happens to some of the main characters. *flail* This is so unfair! Especially since there is no hard and fast date for a sequel. *cries* I. Must. Know. I actually checked my book to make sure no one had torn out the last chapter (I had a library copy). Nope. Just a massive cliffhanger. I will definitely be looking at for the next one, even if from the sounds of the author comments on GoodReads, it might be a long time in coming.

three-half-stars

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Sep 13

Book Review: Equal Rites

Books/Writing, Reviews 8

I’ve read a hodgepodge of the Discworld books over the years, enough to be completely and totally obsessed with Terry Pratchett’s whimsical, scathing, hilarious writing. I was so sad when he passed away last year. The world truly has lost a great soul, but I really believe he will live on in his writing for decades to come. Partly due to this, and also due to Gollancz putting out the gorgeous, drool-worthy new editions of some of his early works, I said in January that I wanted to read through the Discworld books chronologically. Obviously not going to happen entirely within this year, as I have a bad case of reading ADD (but it’s so much fun to…oh look, squirrel!), but I’m excited to finally be reviewing one! I re-read The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic earlier, but this one I hadn’t read at all yet. I was very excited to see the debut of Granny Weatherwax! While you can definitely read just about any Discworld book and enjoy it without having read the others (I started with Thud!, which is actually #34), seeing how the characters were introduced and how certain jokes come into being is really cool. Another thing about the Discworld books: while they are ALL in the same world and most of them overlap or connect, there are several little sub-series within the series.

204939141Equal Rites is the third Discworld book, but the first Witches book (the first two books were in the Rincewind sub-series). I was immediately hooked by the mildly hysterical battle of the sexes that takes place within the first few pages – a dying wizard tries to bequeath his powers (and staff!) to the 8th son of an 8th son…who turns out to be a daughter. Said daughter – Esk – absorbs magic in a slightly different but no less powerful way than a son might have done, resulting in a family and community that really has no idea what to do with her. A boy would have been sent off to Unseen University, but a girl…”Girls can’t be wizards,” everyone tells her. Thankfully, she has Granny Weatherwax for a guardian. Despite Granny’s slight misconceptions of children, they soon get along quite well.

Granny, in fact, was at a loss, but she knew she had to do something. “Didda nasty wolfie fwiten us, den?” she hazarded.

For quite the wrong reasons, this seemed to work. From the depths of the ball a muffled voice said: “I am eight you know.”

I’m quite sure only Granny would be capable of dealing with a small child with such interesting abilities and ways of dealing with seven annoying older brothers.

“Turning people into pigs is not allowed,” she hissed. “Even brothers.”

I don’t even have GIFs for this book. Call me a fangirl, but Pratchett’s prose is both so pointed and poignant that it really speaks best just by itself. I love Esk, and I love Granny, and watching them tear through Discworld was just a rollicking, fun ride (complete with flying broomsticks that have to be kickstarted). While Granny at first tries to insist that Esk study the traditional female magic, she soon realizes that Esk’s  gifts are quite different and she needs alternate methods of instruction. Eek and Granny share the stage and despite the multi-generation gap between them, make a great team. Of course, like any good guardian, Granny spends a good deal of her time chasing or getting Esk out of trouble, but Esk’s independent little self does fantastic on her own, most of the time. Her sometimes unwitting (maybe?) use of magic creates a variety of reactions from the people she meets, especially as they travel closer to Ankh-Morpork, the large capitol city.

Esk, in fact, moved through the fair more like an arsonist moves through a hay hayfield or a neutron bounces through a reactor, poets notwithstanding. 

Needless to say, they create QUITE the stir at Unseen University, break all sorts of rules, cause all sorts of upsets and feelings. But every insular world needs shaken up now and then, and I think Unseen University will definitely be the better for it. 😉

5/5 stars. Pratchett, as usual, manages to create his own very entertaining world and somehow have it be a satirical commentary on our own.  I throughly enjoyed this Discworld installment and it’s definitely going on my list of favorites! Highly recommend.

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Sep 03

Book Review: Imprudence

Reviews 2

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I’ve been waiting so long on this book! I had so many expectations. As I’ve stated before – I love the world Carriger has created. I’ve read every single book (not all the short stories yet, I’m working on those!) and enjoyed them all. I love the characters. I love hunting for references to the various storylines in the different series. When I sit down with a Gail Carriger book, it’s like sitting down with an old friend and hearing what they’ve been up to.

That said, I need to get something off my chest: I will never love Rue as much as I love her mother, Alexia.

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She’s charming and winsome in her own way but Alexia has my heart. The entire time I was reading this book and the first in this series, I was missing Alexia and the Alexia/Conall vibe. I have tried to get as much behind Rue as I did Alexia and…she’s definitely her mother’s daughter, but she’s not her mother. Which is a good thing! But I just wanted more Alexia. I need to re-read the original Parasol Protectorate series in its entirety. I’ve read Soulless I think 3 times but definitely time to go through all 5 again. Anyway, on to the actual review!

Imprudence picks up almost exactly where Prudence left off (WARNING: spoilers for the FIRST book). The queen is, as expected, rather displeased with Rue’s handling of the weremonkey situation, but that quickly takes a back seat to Rue’s family troubles. Perhaps it’s awful of me, but I was so glad that Alexia and Lord Maccon were more in the forefront of this one! We see them through Rue’s eyes, which was rather entertaining, but they are there for a good portion of the book. The family is struggling to deal with Lord Maccon’s oncoming Alpha madness. He’s slowly losing his grip on reality and becoming entirely werewolf. It was so sad. By the end of Chapter 5 I was bawling while reading in bed. My husband was very concerned. Thankfully they didn’t just sit around moping about it – this is Alexia’s husband, after all! They were very quickly off to do something about it, and rampages and capers ensued.

Well, Lord save anyone if a vampire tried to steal a werewolf’s prey, even if only to kill that prey himself. Especially then.

I love how Rue and Alexia share the tendency to go off on their own and drag everyone else along in their wake. Also have to love that Rue seems to be the only one capable of dragging Alexia herself around – Alexia is much more concerned about appearances than I remember her being, perhaps a by product of all her time serving the Queen. Rue…Rue gives almost no fucks. Especially where her relationship with Quesnel is concerned.

“Like to go somewhere more private and be scandalous some more?”

Ah, yes, Quesnel, the little Frenchman we all fell in love with when he was just Madame Lefoux’s charge and constantly running amok. Quesnel, as we saw in Prudence, has grown up to be a innovative inventor in his own right. He’s also quite the ladies’ man…but somehow Prudence has managed to twist him right around her little finger. Despite her repeated insistence that their relationship is only for “lessons” and her own experience…
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Ok. This is the big reason this book didn’t get 5 stars for me. I can’t get behind Rue and Quesnel. I wanted to. I really did. But I just…can’t. Quesnel is too much of a pretty boy for me…I am Team Big-hairy-dominate-but-gentle-werewolf (aka Lord Maccon) all the way and I guess I was hoping the same for Rue. Of course she’s entitled to her own taste! But it just…it seems forced. I didn’t feel it, and I’d like to think I can usually feel a character’s emotional involvement even if the parties involved aren’t to my own preferences.
Like Tasherit and Prim. I feel their attraction. I feel Prim’s confusion and anxiety and flutterings. And I’m very eager to find out what happens to them in the next book!
Gail wrote in one of her newsletters/posts that she was trying to wrap a lot of things up in this book, since there will not be a 3rd Custard Protocol book until at least 2018. I think she did that very well while still leaving several storylines open for exploration. Like Tasherit and Prim. Like the Woolsey Pack  – oh, I almost forgot.
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OMG, my beloved Woolsey Pack. I can’t believe what happened. That was also a large part of the tears.WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO WOOLSEY??? This was a huge turning point in the first third of the book and then…crickets. AAAAAHHHH. I think we were supposed to kind of forget but I can’t. Buffy. Lyall. Channing. And of course the Kingair Pack too, even though God knows they’re still off brawling in some distant land like good Scottish boys – capably led by their fierce female Alpha (who, thank GOD, will be having her very own novella some time in the near future). I really hope we have more werewolves in the next book too.
Anyway, overall, 4/5 stars. And I will be eagerly awaiting whatever comes from Gail Carriger’s pen next. 🙂
Book Review - Imprudence

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Aug 22

Mini Book Review: Sabriel

Books/Writing, Reviews 2

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Rating: 4 of 5 stars

I went into this book knowing pretty much nothing at all about it. It was recommended by a good friend who generally has good (i.e., similar to mine :D) tastes, so I felt good about picking it up! Funny enough, outside of Lord of the Rings, it’s the oldest fantasy I’ve read. Which, I know I know, is hilarious, because it’s only 20 years old. Haha. Fantasy isn’t typically my gig, okay? Though lately I’m enjoying it more and more. Anyway!

My favorite part of this novel was the collision of old world and new – the archaic, medieval world “across the Wall,” and the more modern, WWII type world on the other side. The world (or worlds, I guess, even though they are definitely interconnected) is very layered and complex. Color me intrigued. Intrigued enough to keep reading, even when I felt the characters were kind of flat. Sabriel, god love her, was just…eh. Touchstone was slightly more interesting but also…eh. Mogget was definitely the most interesting character of the entire book. I…well, I’m not sure what I feel about Mogget! I want to love Mogget, but I’m kind of afraid to because…what is Mogget? As it is, the chain of events, piling sinister and weird on top of each other, was enough to keep me reading. Characters are, honestly, the biggest draw of a book for me. To not be totally in love with these was kind of a downer. They’re sympathetic, don’t get me wrong! Just kind of two-dimensional. Also, the romance? Better left out entirely than the way it was just thrown on top like too-stiff frosting. It could have been written so much better. That’s really the only complaint I had about the writing though. The world descriptions were fabulous. I could see the gown Sabriel wore, could hear the winds behind the Paperwing and see its yellow eyes. I’ll definitely be continuing with the series.

Posting will probably be rather sporadic this week and next. I had to work part of the weekend, hence the lack of a Something Else Sunday post. And, I’ll have weird hours all the next two weeks. However! Next up reviews are (covers link to GoodReads):

Aiming for at least 2 of these this week.

 

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