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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Monday 18 June 2018

#musicmonday: Forward Motion | Relient K


I'm in the midsts of freaking out with all the paperwork for my Chevening award and university unconditional award letters, but I guess now's a good time as any to announce:

I've gotten a place at Brunel University London to do an MA in Creative Writing (The Novel) under a Chevening Scholarship so yes. Freaking out and pushing on and trying to make sure all my dragging jobs get closed up. Besides wondering what else I need to buy to survive four seasons in London when I'm a tropical city girl (but also YES COLD WEATHER YAY)!

I am also about two posts behind in my supposedly twice monthly posts over at AND overdue to finish A Still Small Voice and like super slow in actually finishing April's camp nano novel which I said I was going to finish in June. HA

Yeah. Forward Motion needed.

Friday 15 June 2018

Down the TBR hole

Time to kinda go down the TBR hole again. I found it off one of the blogs I've been following sporadically, and since my "to read" shelf on Goodreads now stands at 444, it might be time to pare it down a little.

So yeah, it works like this:
  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf. 
  • Order on ascending date added. 
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time. 
  • Read the synopses of the books 
  • Decide: keep it or should it go? 

Picking up from where I stopped the last time:

The Silence of the Lambs  (Hannibal Lecter, #2)The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

There's a killer on the loose who knows that beauty is only skin deep, and a trainee investigator who's trying to save her own hide. The only man that can help is locked in an asylum. But he's willing to put a brave face on — if it will help him escape.As famous and classic as this one is... I don't think I'm really that interested in it.

Verdict: Delete

EnchantmentEnchantment by Orson Scott Card

In Enchantment, Card works his magic as never before, transforming the timeless story of Sleeping Beauty into an original fantasy brimming with romance and adventure.

I probably added this when I added everything of Card's. Still, it sounds pretty interesting. I'd like to read it, but I won't go so far as to start tracking it down, so I guess I'll keep it off the TBR for now.

Verdict: Delete

Red Prophet (Tales of Alvin Maker, #2)Red Prophet by Orson Scott Card

Come here to the magical America that might have been and marvel as the tale of Alvin Maker unfolds. The seventh son of a seventh son is a boy of mysterious powers, and he is waking to the mysteries of the land and its own chosen people.

Prentice Alvin (Tales of Alvin Maker, #3)Prentice Alvin by Orson Scott Card

The Tales of Alvin Maker series continues in volume three, Prentice Alvin. Young Alvin returns to the town of his birth, and begins his apprenticeship with Makepeace Smith, committing seven years of his life in exchange for the skills and knowledge of a blacksmith. But Alvin must also learn to control and use his own talent, that of a Maker, else his destiny will be unfulfilled.

Alvin Journeyman (Tales of Alvin Maker, #4)Alvin Journeyman by Orson Scott Card

Alvin Miller, a gifted seventh son of a seventh son, utilizes his skills as a Maker to help create a brighter future for America, but his task is further challenged by his ancient enemy, the Unmaker, who plots to end Alvin's life.

Doing this as a set because I have read book 1 and skipped to like book 5 or something, because I couldn't find these three. I probably have them in one of my shelves by now (not sure if all, but at least some) so I guess I should get round to reading this set soon just so I can mark it as read.

Verdict: Keep all three!

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3)The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

The stunning third and final novel in Stieg Larsson’s internationally best-selling trilogy

Lisbeth Salander—the heart of Larsson’s two previous novels—lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She’s fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she’ll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot revenge—against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.

Once upon a time, she was a victim. Now Salander is fighting back.

I also see the rest of the series in my TBR and I actually bought the set a while back with the intention of reading it. When... is just the issue here.

Verdict: Keep all three!

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. 
Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

A little ambivalent about this. It was never high on my to-read list, but you know, it's one of the "big names." Kinda.

Verdict: undecided.

Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Beautifully written, Water for Elephants is illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that few can afford.

This got on my list because of the nanowrimo thing. Without that link, I don't know if it will really pique my interest.

Verdict: Delete? Maybe? Yeah, I guess.

AAANNNDDD my TBR is still at 441. LOL

Wednesday 13 June 2018

#bookreview and launch: Priceless by Janeen Ippolito

A little ambition can turn into a lot of trouble, even for the city’s wiliest double agent.

After years of rebel spywork in the dragon-human war, Nula Thredsing is ready to claim her legacy.

As the Scepter of Commerce’s new liaison to dragons, she’s one step away from the old family seat on the city council. But during her first meeting with dragon diplomat Tiers Sunscaler, they are attacked by rogue dragons—one of them Sunscaler’s former tactical partner, who is bitterly determined to keep the sham war in action and turn the diplomat to his side.

At the same time, Nula and Tiers discover a startling connection: an embermate bond. While a political marriage suits Nula, the bond’s side effects are obnoxious—and potentially deadly.

Aided by an unexpected cat-dragon and a mysterious unicorn, Nula and Tiers must track down the rogue dragons before their dangerous bond tears them apart.

Fortunately, Nula is used to impossible odds—and this time, she has a dragon on her side.


Priceless: An Ironfire Legacy NovellaPriceless: An Ironfire Legacy Novella by Janeen Ippolito
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, I pretty much loved Lawless to bits, so when I was offered a review copy of Priceless it was all *grabby hands*.

Priceless is not as... involved, since it's like an in-between-novella that focusses on Nula Thredsing, one of the minorish characters in Lawless, and Tiers Sunscaler, who if I recall correctly hasn't quite showed up yet, other than in a few mentions. So yeah-- if this is a tactic to make readers excited for book 2, then Ippolito has nailed it. Because Priceless...

- is snark and craziness
- a little bit of Deus ex machina, but not really, once everything is explained
- spies
- cat-dragon
- bloody unicorns
- like wth cat-dragon
- all these helpless people falling in love but is it love if they are, like, embermates and have no say?

Oh gosh, why am I reading a romance? But you know, it's dragons. And cat-dragons . And all these lovely snarky people ignoring the festering deep, dark desires they've shoved aside for politics and appearances. Until it's almost too late.

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.

View all my reviews

*squints at date*
Yeah, you should still have at least half a day-ish to grab the preorder swag deal thing because I was too lazy to do two posts and I'm playing hard and loose with timezones here. But grab it quick before midnight! It's a Cinderella deal! :p
Or just be boring and head to Amazon to get a copy if you read this too late. 

Janeen Ippolito believes words can (and should) transform worlds. She writes urban fantasy and steampunk, and creates writing resources, including the reference book World Building From the Inside Out and the creative writing guide Irresistible World Building For Unforgettable Stories. She's an experienced teacher, editor, author coach, and is the leader of Uncommon Universes Press, a small science fiction and fantasy publishing house. She’s also the cohost of the podcast Indie Book Magic. In her spare time, Janeen enjoys sword-fighting, reading, pyrography, and eating brownie batter. Two of her goals are eating fried tarantulas and traveling to Antarctica. This extroverted writer loves getting connected, so find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and at her website:

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Wednesday 6 June 2018

#bookreview: How to Be a Perfect Christian

How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual LivingHow to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living by The Babylon Bee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Alright, I generally enjoy a little satire and usually find The Babylon Bee pretty hilarious. So when this came up on Edelweiss for review, it was pretty much asdfghjkl;omgineedtoreadthis.

As it turns out, I prefer my satire in small, concise soundbites (see: The Babylon Bee website), not in full-length, dense-ish, how-to-like books (see: How to Be a Perfect Christian). Some of the snark is spot on, but when it's in an endless stream like this one, it just gets a little too overwhelming. Or maybe it's a little too over the top that it ceases to stay funny after a while. Either that, or I've reached my eye-rolling quota for the week/month.

So yeah, if you really, really love satire (or you really, really hate super religious people and churchianity and want to laugh your head off at them), this is the book for you! [5 stars! Best ever!]

But if you're a new-ish Christian, easily confused, or you don't understand humour, you're pretty much going to be burning this book at the stake. [1 star. What rubbish is this! *angry face*]

Final star rating: 3, because I don't know how to rate things anymore.
Personal verdict: amusing, but eh.

Though I have to say that the ending does have pretty solid theology--if you get the roundabout way it's being said.

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

View all my reviews

Monday 4 June 2018