Monday, 16 July 2018

#musicmonday: Broken | Lifehouse

Old gold.

No relevance to current life circumstances except the fact that I won't be at Realm Makers Conference this week.

Also, it was recommended for me on YouTube and I don't know why. What do you know, YouTube?! Huh?

Boooo T.T

Thursday, 12 July 2018

#coverreveal: Spice Bringer by HL Burke!

It's cover reveal day for Spice Bringer by H.L. Burke! Isn't that just so pretty :) I can't wait to get my hands on this.

A deadly disease. A vanishing remedy. A breathless journey.

All her life, Niya's known she will die young from the fatal rasp. She survives only with the aid of vitrisar spice and a magical, curmudgeonly fire salamander named Alk. Then an ambitious princess burns down the vitrisar grove in an effort to steal Alk so she can claim her rightful throne. Joined by Jayesh, a disgraced monk, Niya and Alk must flee to the faraway Hidden Temple with the last vitrisar plant, or all who suffer from the rasp will perish.

But even as Niya’s frustration and banter with Jayesh deepen to affection, the rasp is stealing away her breath and life.

For a girl with limited time and a crippling quest, love may be more painful than death.


Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.


Regularly 17.99, autographed paperback preorders are 14.99 with free shipping discount (free shipping to US locations only).

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

#bookreview: Flame by Selah J Tay-Song

Flame: Tales of QaiMaj Volume IIFlame: Tales of QaiMaj Volume II by Selah J Tay-Song
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where Frost: Tales of QaiMaj Vol I told tales of Iskalon, Flame tells the stories of Chraun. Flame focuses quite a lot more on King Dynat with 3 of the 6 stories (Orphan, Kinyara, General) exploring his background and his ascension to the throne, including his relations to those closest to him.

Tanner was a bit more of a Chraun folk tale--and it's not clear whether the tale is true or an exaggeration.

Semija felt a little jarring at first, with some non-standard grammar, but later proved to be a rather tragic story of the slaves of Chraun.

The final story, Khanten goes back to the founding of Chraun--and explores how and when everything first went wrong.

Personally, I think I prefer Frost--probably because I liked Stasia and Glace more--but Flame works out to be a pretty interesting read as well. So overall, a good way to get to know this series just a little better.

Note: I received a digital copy of this book from the author. I was given the book with no expectation of a positive review and the review is my own.

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Wednesday, 4 July 2018

#bookreview: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes #netgalley

FawkesFawkes by Nadine Brandes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars. I was initially going to only give it a four, but oh my the emotional pay off at the end. So yeah.

An alternate history of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 in a magical Britain, Fawkes follows Thomas Fawkes, the (maybe imaginary) son of Guy Fawkes and his desperate attempt to gain his colour mask from a distant father. Fortunately, you don't need to know any history to follow this story! I only had a sketchy idea of Guy Fawkes Night based on Enid Blyton stories and V for Vendetta... but after finishing Fawkes (and before starting this review) I went to google Guy Fawkes to find that almost everything in the story is accurate. Well, except for Thomas (though rumours say Guy had a son), the magical Stone Plague, Emma and colour magic.

Kicked out of school, Thomas sets off to London in search of his father, the only one who can give him the mask that will enable him to use colour magic and ensure a place in society. Fawkes is a coming-of-age story, with Thomas learning to search for the truth and stand for his beliefs--though it will ultimately either set him against the estranged Keeper father he so desperately yearns for approval from or against the Igniter girl he has come to love. Whichever side he takes, there is no going back in this war.

The story is gripping and the stakes are high, though there are some draggy-ish bits here and there. It's everything you could want from a Historical Fantasy, probably (I don't read enough of these to really say). Brandes describes the difference between Igniters and Keepers by paring down the differences between Protestants and Catholics into something simple to understand: direct access to God (or in this case White Light). It felt really blatantly obvious to me at first, which led to some impatience--and the primary reason it's a personal 4-star--until I realised that this is something the general reading (i.e. non-Christian) public wouldn't pick up on (or would they? I dunno).

Fawkes ultimate provides a balanced view of the reasons behind a religious war in an exciting novel. No one group is right or wrong--each has their legitimate worries and issues--but everything is muddied by personal agendas, politics, and disinformation. The novel manages to get its point across without being preachy and without pushing one group's view above another, showing both group's strengths and weaknesses as Thomas grapples with the issue in a personal capacity. Because that's what faith is about, isn't it? A personal conviction that made in spite of opposition?

I loved seeing Thomas grow and change throughout Fawkes--and that his greatest wish was finally fulfilled. :)

Note: I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley. I was given the book with no expectation of a positive review and the review is my own.

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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

#bookreview: Kingdom of Ash and Soot | C.S. Johnson

Kingdom of Ash and Soot (The Order of the Crystal Daggers, #1)Kingdom of Ash and Soot by C.S. Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Right. I think I'm gonna put this at something like 3.5 stars.

Kingdom of Ash and Soot starts off with a very Cinderella vibe. After the death of her father, Eleanora and her brother Benedict are treated as servants by their (evil) step-mother. The plot does veer away after that, but the Cinderella-ish undertones remain throughout the rest of the story, especially when she's later given the nickname "Ella." Lady Penelope appears on the scene, the siblings are invited to join a secret society, spying and shenanigans ensue.

The novel's written in the first person, so obviously the character of the main protagonist is going to be a big deal for me--Eleanora is almost on that edge of annoying-idiot-kid but just mature enough that I'm not exasperated by her, which is probably why I'm not super over the top about this, and yet I don't hate it. Let's just leave it as Johnson's got a pretty good balance going.

Overall, it's enticing enough to keep reading, but the politics are a little dense. And since I'm not super invested or super interested in European politics, I ended up skimming a bit. Main point to keep in mind: the revolution removed the monarchy, now someone's plotting to put a prince back in power... resulting in a lot of dead bodies.

Anyway, politics aside, there's this Cinderella thing going on, right? And there's this love triangle thing, right? (Duh, it's YA, what do you expect?) I had my guesses and it was partially correct but the final twisty revelation at the end!!! Was twisty! And unexpected! And of course, Johnson then had to end on a cliffhanger. So it's like, darn it, I DO need to read the next one. Hopefully, it will arrive before I've forgotten everything about this one.

Note: I received a digital copy of this book from the author. I was given the book with no expectation of a positive review and the review is my own.

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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

#bookreview: Lost Gods by Micah Yongo

Lost GodsLost Gods by Micah Yongo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There are books you like instantly and there are books that grow on you. Lost Gods is more of the latter for me. It sounded intriguing enough that I requested a review copy via NetGalley. And I liked it, it's not that I didn't. It was exciting and mystifying enough that I kept reading, though it wasn't gripping enough that I couldn't put it down. Yet after finishing it, the pervading feeling isn't one of satisfaction--it's one of confusion and mystification, if that's the right word. I feel lost.

Maybe it's the way Yongo writes. Backstories sometimes appear out of nowhere, triggered by a single random thought; the paragraphs, and even sentences, are long and dense; it's very rooted in African legends. I have not read enough African writings, so there is no ready shorthand that I am used to, not like when I read a "standard" Euro-centric fantasy and I already know what things are--or figure out what things are not--because it's what they've always been. This is good--I like it because it is new, it is fresh, it is exciting, and it's truly fantastic--but it is also not so good--because I don't always understand. Meanings flitter away from my grasp.

Still, it entertains. The mystery draws me in. I re-read parts of the beginning to find a better way to write this review, and I find myself finding gems and going - ah, I missed that the first time, that's what it means! So evidently there are layers to be uncovered here. I guess it is the journey of discovery that makes it hard for me to get this book as much as I would have liked.

I want to know but despite a revelation of sorts at the end, there is still much that seems shrouded in mystery. It's not a full revelation either--the major arc is mostly resolved, but the "bad guys" (so to speak) are still at large and there are warnings of devastation to come and vague hints to what Neythan is supposed to become so there's obviously going to be a book two.

Overall, I'd say Lost Gods might probably appeal more to readers who like more classic/literary/older fantasy styles, and not current YA readers who want quick, flashy and exciting. Though there is a lot of death, assassinating and betrayals.

Note: I received a digital copy of this book via NetGalley. I was given the book with no expectation of a positive review and the review is my own.

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