Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Queen of the Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling
By: Erika Johansen
The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)
On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

I let people talk me out of being really excited for this book. I did, and I'm ashamed. I LOVED THIS BOOK. There, now I've gone and said it outright, we can proceed.

No really, this book was so fantastic. I had issues with most of the world-building, but the story was told so well and so simply that I found myself overlooking those things and just falling in love with the story.

I love Kelsea! She reminded me a lot of Elisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns series, but less naïve at first. That's not to say she wasn't naïve, because she was, but she was also really authoritative from the very beginning, which I loved about her. It made the story interesting from the beginning that she wasn't willing to let herself be pushed aside. Her love for her kingdom also made me really love her. It's so important to me to know what characters are passionate about, and this book did that very well.

I had a few problems with The Fetch, just because he started the relationship by kidnapping her, which is kind of problematic. I like him as a character, however, simply because he's interesting. I want to more about him.

I loved Kelsea's relationship with her guards, too. The relationship felt right, in all the ways that count. It was a nice balance of her being in charge and having to prove that, but also an amiable sort of friendship. I love the Mace and Pen and their very different relationships.

The antagonist perspectives in this were so well-written and fascinating. There were so many kinds of antagonists in this story, which made the world feel so much more genuine. There was the Red Queen, who was freaking creepy as heck and so MESSED UP! But in a really interesting way. I want to know more about what is wrong with her and what that creepy guy she called was. Then there was the regent, who was so apathetic and absolutely disgusting. Just reading his sections, I wanted to vomit all over the book, but I like that it made me feel things, even revulsion. Then there was the gate guard, who got caught up in things too big for him. I just really liked how complex the plot was and how diverse the characters were.

The plot was great too. You can tell that this is an introductory book, but there was still so much that happened and so much being set up. I was a little bored about 50 pages in, but that stretch of boredom didn't last very long and then I was never bored again. I'm excited to see where the story is going in the rest of the series, and I sort of hope that the series goes more than just three books.

I had a lot of issues with the world-building in terms of the history behind the world. There was no solid explanation, just general mentions of things that made no sense. What is the Crossing? What in the world happened to all the technology? Why did some culture stick and some didn't? I came away with absolutely no concrete knowledge of what any of the terms actually meant. I have gigantic doubts about whether or not this world could conceivably make sense, but I love the story and that makes up for it.

Overall, I loved this story and these characters and I cannot wait until the next one.


“Even a book can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and when that happens, you blame the hands, but you also read the book.”

“The mark of the true hero is that the most heroic of his deeds is done in secret. We never hear of it. And yet somehow, my friends, we know."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ready Player One

Ready Player One
By: Ernest Cline
Ready Player One
It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune -- and remarkable power -- to whoever can unlock them.

This book is just a crapload of fun. There's no other way to say it, it's just a bunch of high-tech, high concept, and high action fun. There are so many references to classic pop culture games, shows, and movies. There's friendship, tension, and a great pace. That's not to say I didn't have problems with this novel, but none of the problems kept me from enjoying the story or the way it was written.

We start out with a lot of info-dumping. Like, a LOT of info-dumping. Almost too much info-dumping to handle. It helped that all the information was fascinating and really well conceived, but that didn't change the fact that this narrator straight up told you most of the relevant world-building information, and then oftentimes repeated himself about that concept later on.

But, like I said, the information was all really interesting, so it didn't kick me completely out of the story. I decided to keep reading, and I'm really glad I did. Once all the information was out there and out of the way, it got really good.

The Oasis seems so cool, like, it's only a matter of time before video games progress that far, but I really liked how this book explored both worlds since the creation of the Oasis. The world building, though not extensive about the outside world, is still really well developed, as was the world building inside the Oasis. I liked the different tones that each world gave off and how they were so different from one another.

I liked the characters. I can't say that any of them stuck out to me or were particularly fantastic, but they were passable. I liked them while I was reading about them and they served their purposes as vehicles to get into the world. I did have a problem with how Artemis was portrayed, very Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl in her archetype. But she had some agency, so it was more okay that I thought it would be when we met her in the story.

And the plot of this book was really, really great. Once I got past the beginning, I can't say there was a single time I was bored or uninterested in what was happening. The climax was constructed very well, like it really was the finish line of a year long race that the whole world participated in.

So yeah, I'm glad I read this book. It's everything that I heard it would be, if not quite as mind-blowing. Still a really great, really fun read.

Monday, August 18, 2014

TTT: Books People Have Been Telling You That You MUST Read

People Have Been Telling You That You Need to Read
Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they have a different Top Ten list topic that a bunch of bloggers take and make their own list of those things.
1. Cinder
By: Marissa Meyer

2. Code Name Verity
By: Elizabeth Wein

3. Brave New World
By: Aldous Huxley

4. The Lies of Locke Lamora
By: Scott Lynch

5. On The Jellicoe Road
By: Melina Marchetta

6. Just One Day
By: Gayle Forman

7. The Shadow of the Wind
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
By: Laini Taylor

9. Sabriel
By: Garth Nix

10. 1984
By: George Orwell

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rebel Angels

Rebel Angels
By: Libba Bray
Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle, #2)
Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. As she prepares to ring in the New Year, 1896, a handsome young man, Lord Denby, has set his sights on Gemma, or so it seems. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain... the lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship. But all is not well in the realms–or out.

I loved the first book, and hoped that I'd love this one just as much. Unfortunately, I didn't, for a load of reasons. It was still a solid read, but I was expecting more so it felt like less.

My main issue with this book was the pacing and the plot. There were so many repetitive sections and sections that felt pointless and superfluous. Gemma never actually figured things out, she just worried about whether or not she would be able to piece together the information she needed. It felt like there was never any progress. Gemma did the same things over and over again and just kept expecting change.

The characters were just as well-written as in the first one, but I found that most of the time I didn't care about them nearly as much. Though I did love hearing more about Felicity's past and her family, which sort of broke my heart. Other than that moment (and a handful more), I didn't feel anything about what was happening to the characters.

Another problem I had, was the plot twist. I figured it out pretty soon into the book, then I had to wait the entire rest of the book for everyone else to figure it out, which was really annoying. All in all, it was a pretty decent plot twist, and if I hadn't known what it was way too soon, I would have loved it.

I don't love Kartik as much as I always feel like I'm supposed to. He's too boring and predictable, I guess. I feel like I know how their relationship is going to go before its gone that way. It doesn't help that Gemma is the kind of naïve that frustrates me in books, because its the kind of naïve that makes no sense for her character.

The writing was okay, as well, but I didn't fall in love with the words like I did in the first book. I didn't feel a connection with the language of these girls' lives.

This is a pretty harsh review, but I have to be honest. This book disappointed me because I expected more from it. That's just how things go sometimes. I'm still going to read The Sweet Far Thing eventually and hope that it impresses me more.

Monday, August 11, 2014

TTT: Books I'm Not Sure I Want To Read

Books I'm Not Sure I Want To Read
Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they have a different Top Ten list topic that a bunch of bloggers take and make their own list of those things.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
This book is so hyped up, and I've read stories like it before. I'm just not usually a fan of high school books, so I really don't think I'd like it as much as everyone else.

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter, #1)

2. The Madman's Daughter
I've heard the sequel is horrible and I'm not sure I'm interested in the premise in the first place. The first book is highly praised, but I just don't feel that committed to reading it.

Cruel Beauty3. Cruel Beauty
This book has gotten incredibly mixed reviews, but some people really liked it. I generally love fairy-tale retellings, but (and please don't kill me for what I'm about to say, which I know is an affront to 90% of bookish girls) I never liked Beauty and the Beast, not as a child and not now. So this isn't exactly top priority.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide, #1)

4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
I'd love to read this science fiction classic. Mostly I'm afraid I won't find it as funny as most other people seem to find it. Hopefully I'll strengthen up and get to it sometime in the future.

Half Bad (Half Life, #1)
5. Half Bad
This was hyped before it came out, then more and more people were saying they hated this book. Too bad for me, I'd already got it as a birthday present. So now, I feel sort of obligated to read it, but I'm not at all excited about reading it, which makes me think maybe I should just skip it.

Sequels I'm Not Sure I Want To Read:

Altered (Crewel World, #2)6. Altered
I liked Crewel, but at the time that I'd read it, I hadn't read many other books in the genre. I don't remember most of the plot or hardly any of the characters, and I have no interest in rereading the first one. I could just try to jump in, but I have a feeling that wouldn't work out that well.

While We Run (When We Wake, #2)
7. While We Run
Wasn't in love with the first book. It was okay, but nothing special. I originally planned on continuing the series, but the more I thought about it, the more I dreaded it. I just have this thing where I feel obligated to finish series that I start, though I need to break myself of that habit.

The Lord of Opium (Matteo Alacran #2)
8. The Lord of the Opium
This is the problem of loving the first book, but also loving where it left the story. When I heard there would be a sequel, I was excited, but I also didn't understand why there should be one. I think I'll read this one eventually, I just need to prioritize it.

Rumors (Luxe, #2)
9. Rumors
Luxe was fun, but not anything substantial. I'll probably pick this one up if I ever get in the mood for light and catty historical, but my mood for light reading doesn't come around that often, so we'll see.

The Kill Order (Maze Runner, #0.5)10. The Kill Order
I've already made my peace with this series. I liked this series as a whole, but I'm just not sure I have any interest in going back to the beginning of it all with a prequel. I've heard from friends who have read it that it doesn't answer as many questions that it claims to. I can't see myself ever getting  to this one.

The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind
By: Patrick Rothfuss
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)
Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet's hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND. I. did. not. understand.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, who has read this book says that it is one of the best books they've ever read. I believed them, in part. But I didn't fully understand, not even a little, not even at all. This book blew me away. I did not understand how utterly and unbelievably fantastic this book was going to be. It's been a week since I finished, and I cannot get the words out of my head, I can't bring myself to leave the world or the characters.

This book is a work of art, absolute art. I'm definitely not going to find the right words to describe it or summarize it. Kvothe is a character for the ages, complex but understandable, clever but flawed. Sometimes you love him, sometimes you don't even like him, but you always root for him and you always want to hear the next part of his story.

Not only is there a wonderful and relatable hero, there's also gorgeous prose on a level that's not typically seen in this particular branch of fantasy. This langue is all about the storytelling, all about the emotional impact, and I couldn't get enough of it. Instantly the words transported the reader into the Kvothe's world, so that this massive 700 page book still felt too short a life to live inside it. This is the kind of writing that makes me despair at its beauty, that I'll likely never write a book like this. That I will never have the ability to tell a story like Patrick Rothfuss, but at least I can live in his worlds. That's when I know a book is truly wonderful, when it makes me sad and happy and jealous and enthralled, simultaneously.

The pacing is just as wonderful. This is a pretty sizable book, and not what I would describe as action packed. This isn't an edge of your seat read, it's a sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey book. And that worked PERFECTLY here. It never felt slow. I was never bored, not even for a single, solitary page. This is mainly due to the sheer beauty and wonder of the story crafting in this book. This story feels molded, like a sculpture that perfectly captures its subject.

 And if you thought that was all that made this book perfect, you'd be mistaken. Besides those things, there's a cast of complex, intriguing, and loveable supporting characters.

Auri: She's precious, and kind of reminds me of Ella the Harpy from the Heroes of Olympus series. Flighty and interesting, lovely and kind. I can't wait to see more of her in the rest of the series and I hope we hear more of her backstory, because I would love that.

Simmon: LOVE HIM. Oh my goodness, what a ridiculous person. He kind of snuck up on me, but then I found myself loving every scene he was in. Loyal and witty, kind of goofy. He's wonderful.

Denna: I have complex emotions about Denna, mostly because she's a complex character. I think I like her, but either way, I'm really interested in her. I love how complicated she is, and how rational, and how witty. I want to know what's going to happen between her and Kvothe.

Elodin: One of my favorite tropes, the genius madman. And this one is particularly well-written. He's only in a handful of scenes in this book, but he's already so unique and delightfully strange.

This isn't even half of what I feel for this book, but it's the only parts that I can organize in a coherent fashion. Basically, this book is beautiful and glorious and everything that fantasy should be. It's everything that fiction should be. Patrick Rothfuss, please never stop writing. Don't worry, I'll wait as long as you need to make another work of art like this.


"...remember that true stories seldom take the straightest path."

"You have to be a bit of a liar to tell a story the right way. Too much truth confuses the facts. Too much honestly makes you sound insincere."

"Our lives are composed of meetings and partings, with brief, bright acquaintances in-between. Because of this I knew the truth. I felt it, heavy and certain in the pit of my stomach: I would never see her again."

"To really fear something you have to dwell on it."

"I heard the silence pouring from them. The audience held themselves quiet, tense, and tight, as if the song had burned them worse than flame. Each person held their wounded selves closely, clutching their pain as if it were a precious thing."

"Go out in the early days of winter, after the first cold snap of the season. Find a pool of water with a sheet of ice across the top, still fresh and new and clear as glass. Near the shore the ice will hold you. Slide out farther. Farther. Eventually you'll find the place where the surface just barely bears your weight. There you will feel what I felt. The ice splinters under your feet. Look down and you can see the white cracks darting through the ice like mad, elaborate spider webs. It is perfectly silent, but you can feel the sudden sharp vibrations through the bottoms of your feet...I don't mean to imply I felt as if I stood on brittle ice about to give way beneath me. No. I felt like the ice itself, suddenly shattered, with cracks spiraling out from where she had touched my chest. The only reason I held together was because my thousand pieces were all leaning together. If I moved, I feared I would fall apart."

"The night is like warm velvet around them. The stars, burning diamonds in the cloudless sky, turn the road beneath their feet to a silver grey...The three not notice the night. Perhaps some part of them does, but they are young, and drunk, and busy knowing deep in their heats that they will never grow old or die. They also know that they are friends, and they share a certain love that will never leave them. The boys know many other things, but none of them seem as important as this. Perhaps they are right."

"There is much of you that is both shadow and light."

"So we danced very carefully, unsure what music the other was listening to, unsure, perhaps, if the other was dancing at all."

"How young I was. How foolish. How wise."

"When my blood tells me to wander, I know enough to trust it."

"Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts. There are seven words that will make a person love you. There are ten words that will break a strong man's will. But a word is nothing more than a painting of a fire. A name is the fire itself."

"Like a hind or a summer storm. If a storm blows down your house, or breaks a tree, you don't say the storm was mean. It was cruel. It acted according to its nature and something unfortunately was hurt."

"You see, there's a fundamental connection between seeming and being...We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be."

"It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

TTT: Books I'd Give To Readers Who Have Never Read Fantasy

Books I'd Give To Readers Who Have Never Read Fantasy
Sorry this is late! I'm traveling and have to use wifi just whenever we find it. But I'm really excited about this topic, so I wanted to submit mine anyway.

To Ease The New Reader In:
I was raised on fantasy, so the genre never felt that strange to me. But since I've noticed that there is a definite learning curve to reading and loving fantasy. You -can- jump into the heavy stuff, but I wouldn't recommend it for most people. Fantasy, as a whole, has very specific and pervasive tropes that take some getting used to, no matter which world you're in.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The obvious. This isn't high fantasy, of course, but it's the perfect starting place. (And to my continual surprise, there are still people who have yet to read Harry Potter). Getting absorbed into this world is exactly what fantasy, as a whole, is about.

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

2. Throne of Glass
Personally, I think the Throne of Glass series is a wonderful way to jump into fantasy, as well. The world isn't difficult or confusing. The characters are loveable and interesting and well-written. And the plot. THE PLOT. I just have a lot of love for this series and I think it's a great representation of this particular type of fantasy, assassins, princes, and political intrigue.

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1)

3. Alanna: The First Adventure
Another fun, engaging fantasy in a world that isn't overcomplicated. This series is full of adventure and magic and, of course, Alanna, a woman knight who kicks butt constantly. This is a middle grade fantasy, which highlights the romping kind of fantasy, full of wonderful characters (*cough*cough* George *cough*cough*). And it's so easy to blow through this series in no time.

To Expand Their Experience In The Genre:

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)
4. Shadow and Bone
When they've conquered those wonderful stories, I'd introduce them to the more complex magic systems and books with more ambiguity. The Shadow and Bone world is complex and interesting and the characters are phenomenal. There's still plenty of adventure, plenty of action, and the battle between good and evil. Enough grit and denseness for any now somewhat experienced fantasy reader to sink their teeth into.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)

5. The Girl of Fire and Thorns
A more complex world with a variety of settings and a very expansive plot (each book is a story to itself, really). But with freaking amazing lead characters and an intense and insanely political and action-packed plot, this series really distinguishes itself.

Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1)
6. Finnikin of the Rock
This series is completely wonderful, but really, really heavy. There's a lot of misery and suffering in these books, but also a lot of hope. The characters are realistic and heart-wrenching and varied. The writing is just gorgeous as well, in a way that's not typical of most fantasy.

When They're Ready For The Heavy Stuff:
And now we come to the tomes. Thousands of pages that make up some of the most epic and amazing stories I've encountered thus far. This is fantasy at its most fantastic and its most undiluted.

The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)
7. The Fellowship of the Ring
I'm just going to go ahead and say that to fully understand the fantasy genre as a whole and its origins, The Lord of the Rings series is an absolute must read. So much of past and present fantasy is either directly or distantly inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's brilliance. Plus this series deserves every ounce of praise it's gotten over the years, so yeah, you're going to want to read this.

The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)

8. Mistborn: The Final Empire
Epic and unique, the Mistborn series is a twist on the typical tropes of the genre. The inverted type of plot and the ragtag cast of characters is just perfect for anyone wanting to delve into a new world. And the magic system is sheer genius, just magnificent and unique.

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)
9. The Name of the Wind
Another book that has a focus on prose that's not typical in a bulk of the fantasy genre, but the plot doesn't suffer for it one ounce. This book is slow and not plot-driven in the slightest, but I love that about it. It masters its own form of storytelling and then utilizes it. A beautiful work of fiction and a new favorite of mine.