Monsters of Verity Duology Review

In Verity, people’s crimes manifest as monsters. 

August is one of these monsters. He doesn’t want to be but didn’t have a choice in the matter. Besides, Verity doesn’t need another human. It needs a monster. It needs him. 

Kate is the daughter of the man who controls these monsters. All she wants is his approval, but approval is hard to get from a man who deals with monsters. 

Together, they make up two halves of a divided city. A city where both halves hang on the edge between order and chaos.  Continue reading

February and March 2017 Wrap-up

Reading Between February and March, I read six books, a novella, and an anthology. Title The Three Body Problem Short Synopsis Science fiction novel featuring China’s cultural revolution, a high tech video game, and aliens. Thoughts Slower paced than I … Continue reading

An Ember in the Ashes 4 Stars

Since I’ve read an ARC of the sequel, to be released in August, I’ve decided it’s about time I sort out my confused feelings towards this book so I can move on to writing an advanced review of the sequel. Continue reading

Beautiful People: June 2016

Beautiful People is a monthly meme hosted by Cait @Paper Fury and Sky @Further up and Further In in which writers answer questions about their characters. This month I’ve chosen Glenda, a major side character in my current work in … Continue reading

Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Title: Wolf by Wolf Author: Ryan Graudin Publication Date: October 20, 2015 Genre: Young Adult Alternate History, Fantasy/Science-Fiction Synopsis: In an alternate 1956 where the Axis Powers won World War II Yael, a teenage Jewish concentration camp escapee, enters an ambitious cross-continent motorcycle race. The … Continue reading

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

23437156Title: Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Published: September 29, 2015

Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy

Synopsis: When a substance is developed that turns magic users known as Grisha into mindless slaves of great power the world is put at risk. A crew of six thieves are hired to pull off the heist that could save the world.

Review: 

Six of Crows is a great book, and so much fun to read. It was very reminiscent of some of my favorite fantasy novels, but at the same time stood apart from others in this category.

Six of Crows Crew

The strongest aspect of Six of Crows is the characters. In spite of the fact that there are so many narrators, each one comes across as distinct. I especially appreciate the fact that the characters actually acted like thieves.

In many books the character will go around saying that they’re known as an assassin, an experienced solider, or have a lot of experience stealing from important people, but then when it comes down to the act of either murdering or stealing something they hesitate.

This has never come across as realistic to me. At the same time, however, I recognize why many authors chose to portray their “ruthless” characters in this manor. It is difficult to sympathize with a person who can harm or steal from innocent people and feel no remorse, but Bardugo managed to pull it off. 

The relatively small number of characters with magical abilities made them all the more impressive. The main characters in Six of Crows are highly skilled individuals, yet for many of them these skills are natural in origin (ie intelligence), but the characters use them in such a way that seems almost supernatural.

Six of Crows Map

That said, the magic that we did get to see was a great addition to the story. My favorite aspects of the first book and a half that I read of the Grisha Trilogy was the world-building, so I was more than happy to reenter that world in Six of Crows.

Bardugo has created a very complex magic system different from what I’ve seen in many fantasy novels (especially YA) where the magic is often glossed over. Though this novel has much less focus on the magic system than the Grisha Trilogy, it managed to further expand upon it by showing what a Grisha’s power can do when pushed to extremes.

The world itself was expanded upon as well. I really liked how many of the characters in this novel were from very different parts of this world as this isn’t something we often get to see in fantasy, which often focus on one region of the world the writer has created.

The only negative criticism I have to offer is related to the reason I did not finish the Grisha Trilogy. That is to say that a significant portion of this novel was spent on build up. This is not to say that nothing happens, quite to the contrary, things seem to go wrong quite often. What I mean is that I spent most of the book anticipating the climax of the actual theft as opposed to anything the characters were trying to overcome at that particular moment.

I really wanted to love the Grisha Trilogy because I have a signed copy (see the image below), but am so glad that I can now consider myself a fan of Bardugo thanks to this book. I was hesitant to read this one because I thought I might need to finish the Grisha Trilogy first, but was pleased to find that this duology stands on its own.

Siege and Storm

In any case, I managed to get a hold of a signed bookplate. Used as a book mark, really like the way my copy of Six of Crows looks:

Be Dangerous

What readers should know: Though this book keeps everything very vague, one of the narrators was forced to work in a brothel against her will. She has since left this profession behind, but still bares negative effects of her time there.

As stated in this review the thieves in this book truly act as thieves. This means that some of the narrators steal and kill people throughout the story. There is also some language.

Rating: This is a really great book. I highly recommend it to fans of fantasy and people trying to get into fantasy.

4.5 blue jays

August 2015 Wrap-Up

August was a great reading month. I read nine books: one adult sci-fi, three adult fantasy, and five young adult fantasy. I also started revisions on one of my writing projects.

From now on I’m going to be splitting my monthly wrap-ups into three sections: reading, writing, and blogging.

Reading

The Martian by Andy WeirShort Synopsis: Astronaut is stranded on Mars.

Thoughts: A very realistic, well researched portrayal. Though I really liked it, the book didn’t always grip me as much as I would like. Review to come.

Rating:

 4.5 blue jays

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Short Synopsis: A princess is forced into a marriage to the mysterious “God-King” in an attempt to prevent war between too nations. While this princess settles in to life in the foreign palace her sister tries desperately to free her.

Thoughts: Once again Brandon Sanderson’s world building proves extraordinary. The plot is captivating and unpredictable, the breath and color based magic system is well thought out and unlike any I’ve read before. For my full thoughts see my review.

Rating:

 five blue jays

Elantris by Brandon SandersonShort Synopsis: Elantris was once the city of the gods. Now it is a city of the living dead.

Thoughts: I can really tell this is the first novel Brandon Sanderson published. His prose were really clunky and this is the only Sanderson novel where I’ve skimmed sections. Still an overall enjoyable read though, it’s interesting to see how much Sanderson has improved over the years.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. SchwabShort Synopsis: Kell is one of the only people left who can travel between parallel worlds. Kell uses his ability to illegally smuggle objects between worlds. One day an object Kell smuggles turns out to be especially dangerous and it’s up to Kell to dispose of it before it’s too late.

Thoughts: I haven’t read a lot of books about parallel worlds, but when done right it’s a topic I find intriguing. There were times when I felt this story felt a little predictable and the characters not as developed as I would like, but it was an excellent read overall. Review to come.

Rating:

4.5 blue jays

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

Short Synopsis: A princess struggles to free herself from expectations of her. Book two in the Heart of Betrayal series.

Thoughts: I’m surprised how much I liked this one as I had mixed feelings about the first, but there were certain aspects I really liked. Review to come.

Rating:

4 blue jays

The Demon King by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

Short Synopsis: A thousand years ago one nation became seven and the world was shattered during a terrible disaster. Now Han, an ex-thief, and Raisa, the princess heir, must learn from the past in hopes of a better future. The entire Seven Realms series.

Thoughts: The pacing at the beginning was a bit slow, but once I got into these I just couldn’t seem to put them down. I read the last three over what was primarily a two day period of time. The world building is some of the best I’ve read in YA (in a lot of YA it tends to be lacking), and the characters were so much fun. I’m surprised this series isn’t more popular. Can’t wait for the spin-off series Shattered Realms.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

Currently Reading: 

13578175

Writing 

What I wrote last month: In August I started revisions on my high fantasy work in progress. It’s working title is A Rose Like Death, and it was my project for NaNoWriMo last November. Most of what I’ve been doing so far is rearranging the files of chapters and scenes into an order I think would better fit the story. (I use Scrivener.)

My main focus right now is big picture edits and making everything flow. I’m also doing a lot of rewriting to change my main character, Yuliana’s, voice because the narration feels too distant at the moment. Feedback from everyone who has read the first chapter has been very positive overall with most issues involving grammatical and sentence construction errors that I don’t intend to fix until far later. Everyone seemed to have a much better grasp of the world building and character dynamics than I expected by the end of chapter one, and each person who read it had a different theory about the direction the plot would take. Only one really got anywhere near to the truth.

What I plan to write next month: I plan to continue with what will become the second draft of A Rose Like Death. Now that summer is over progress is going to slow and the goal is to have it finished by October 31 so I can start a new project for NaNoWriMo in November, but I’m not sure if that is realistic yet.

Blogging

I know I’m behind on my tags. It might take me a while to get them posted, but I haven’t forgotten about them. I’ve been tagged for the quote a day challenge and my blog has been given the Liebaster Award, but have yet to post about them. I’m planning to combine the quote a day challenge into one day instead of three because I post once a week and like to keep it consistent.

Read or write anything interesting in August? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson 5 Stars

1268479Title: Warbreaker

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Published: 2009

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Synopsis:  Princess Vivienna grew up knowing that one day she would wed the God King, ruler of a nearby enemy nation, but when the time comes for the king to send Vivienna for her wedding her father decides to send her younger sister Siri instead.

Siri has spent her life rebelling and ignoring her tutors. She knows nothing about the Court of Gods. Fearing for her sister and not sure what to do with her new found freedom, Vivienna travels to the kingdom where Siri was taken to help her escape. If only freeing Siri were that simple.

Review: Brandon Sanderson has once again crafted a beautiful, captivating fantasy world with awesome characters and mind blowing plot twists.

Before continuing I’d like to point out that this entire book is can be read for free on Brandon Sanderson’s website.

The main characters in this novel are all very different from one another. There is Vivienna, the oldest princess of Idris, who spent her whole life being trained for her life in the court of their enemy after her arranged marriage to the God King. Vivienna holds firm to her beliefs and has a strong sense of duty. Vivienna’s younger sister, Siri, has grown up being rebellious and ignoring her studies, so when Siri is sent to be married to the God King in her sister’s stead Siri finds herself entirely unprepared for life in the Court of Gods. Lightsong, a god who doesn’t believe in his own religion, is my personal favorite. Then there is the mysterious Vasher whose motives are hidden from the reader for most of the novel.

These drastically different perspectives allow Sanderson to reveal the world and the magic system in ways that our judgement is not clouded by character bias in spite of some characters who have very good reasons to either despise the or appreciate the people around them.

The magic system in this book continues to be one of Sanderson’s strengths. The magic of Awakening uses something called Biochromatic Breath to do everything from causing a rope to come alive and strangle you on its own to reanimating dead bodies. The ways in which this magic has affected society and the limitations of said magic were all well thought out and explained.

Lightsong’s debates with his priests about whether or not he was a god was one of my favorite parts of this novel. Something about the concept of an agnostic deity is just so hilarious yet thought provoking at the same time.

I have enough experience with plots though reading and writing now that plot twists rarely surprise me, especially if I have read multiple books by a particular author before. Somehow Sanderson’s twists are ones I still can’t entirely predict though I have now read ten Brandon Sanderson novels.

This book is currently a standalone and reads like one, but I’d be more than willing to read a sequel if Sanderson ever finds time between his many projects.

What readers should know: This is a fantasy novel, so naturally it contains magic. This book also features the deaths of some relatively prominent characters, but the violence isn’t graphic. Sex is mentioned, but the characters involved are married and everything is very fade to black. It’s all in all relatively tame, for an adult fantasy novel in particular.

Rating: This book had great characters, an unpredictable plot, and world building. I highly recommend this book to fans of Brandon Sanderson, high fantasy, and/or trying to get into Brandon Sanderson’s novels.

five blue jays

Skylark Book Review


Title: Skylark (Skylark Trilogy Book 1)

Author: Meagan Spooner

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Synopsis: All her life Lark has lived sheltered within a dome enclosed city powered by magic. The last human survivors of a war of magic that left the land surrounding the city a barren, desolate place. All she wanted in life was to be “harvested” of her magic so that she could finally grow up and become a  productive member of the community, but when long buried secrets and lies come to light Lark must flee the city into the wilderness that Lark knows nothing about. If she doesn’t she risks becoming nothing more than the cities power supply. Lark has only two instructions: find the Iron Wood, and follow the birds. Only one problem, Lark has never seen a bird in her life. So far as she’s concerned birds are all but extinct.

Book Trailer: *Note: I did not make this trailer, Lerning Publisher did.*

Review: A blend of science fiction and fantasy, Skylark takes place in a future where everyone is born with a small amount of magic that is later “harvested” to power the city. The beginning of this story is confusing, and the middle was slow. So slow in fact, that I almost gave up on the book. Readers who are looking for a fast passed book should look elsewhere. The true genius of this book was in it’s ending. In the last third, I was able to clearly see how everything that had happened thus far had been building towards it. I just adore books where everything comes together at the end. As a result, if I was reviewing just the first two thirds of this book it would have a three rating, but if I was only reviewing the last third it would receive a four point five. So anyone struggling with this book should be sure to keep reading for the awesome ending.

The world building was done fairly well, although it was confusing at times. Lark wasn’t extremely aware of the world she lived in and readers had to find out facts about life outside the city wall with her. This led to many of Lark’s original assumptions being proven wrong. At the beginning the world seemed a little cliche (because of the dome city, the war that wiped out most of humanity, and the evaluation process that led to nothing good) but it moved away from that as the story progressed.

As for characters, Lark did get on my nerves sometimes (as in the whole of parts one and two), but her personality was what I would expect from someone in her situation. Which made her feel ultimately more  realistic than annoying. The author did a great job of giving the general personalities of her side characters that were in the book for a relatively short number of pages. There were also some very interesting twists to character development. Some of which were predictable to the well read reader and some that were not.

There’s no way I’m going to spoil the ending for any future readers but I will say this: there was no cliffhanger. Some questions are left unanswered, it’s true, but there is little doubt that those questions will come to play later on in the trilogy. The reader is also left with a general sense that the book is a complete story but the reader was still left wondering what happens next which is my idea of a perfect ending.

Romance in this book was kept to a minimum. Every time I had a feeling that a relationship might develop something seemed to prevent it. However, I suspect that there may be more romance in future books. For a while it even looked like there might have been a love triangle but then Meagan Spooner took the story in a whole new direction. It was also nice how Lark eventually got upset when boys tried to keep her safe. (As illustrated by the quote below.) So if you are looking for a series that doesn’t revolve around romance but it is not entirely absent this might be a good read.

Quote: “I don’t want to be kept safe! I don’t want to have someone constantly trying to keep me from tripping on my own incompetence. I want to live in a world where I know the rules, where people are just people. Not one where they keep trying to eat me. That’s the reason I left the city in the first place. I don’t want to be kept, not by anyone.”

Rating/Recommendation: There were enough interesting elements in this book to give me the impression that Meagan Spooner is indeed a competent writer, however, because this book lagged so much in pacing that it took me over a month to finish I feel as though I can’t give it above a 3.5/5. Although, after that ending I really wanted to give it a four. I recommend this book to readers of YA who are tired of recurring romance cliche but are willing to read through the slow beginning and middle for the awe-inspiring conclusion.

3.5 blue jays