Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Starlings

Starlings
Jo Walton
I received an eGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
(This also means that any quotes may not read the same in the final copy.)
"[...] a universe without pain is a universe without change, without movement, without stories [...] What you have to ask yourself is whether the pain is necessary for the story."
Sometimes I request a book, receive it, and then forget why I requested it. It's a bad habit of requesting every shiny book that comes across my path and something I'm trying to stop doing. This book, though, was the most magical surprise and the best thing to come out of my bad habits. In fact, Starlings may be my favorite read of the year. It's definitely up there and it's definitely been something that changed my life for the better.

This book is a collection of short stories and poems by Jo Walton. I've never read Jo Walton before this (though I promise I'll be devouring everything she's put out). I do, however, work on a genre literary magazine for my school, and the stories here (the fact that they are not at all conventional short stories and genre short stories on top of that) reminded me of Quiver (my magazine) so much. It made my heart soar to find that in the wider world there is a home for stories like these.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Assassin's Apprentice

Assassin's Apprentice
Robin Hobb
This is one of those series' I've had on my shelf for way too long. I bought them with the intention of reading them pretty much immediately and then never actually did. But a few weeks ago, in Gatwick airport, I was anxious for my flight and needed to buy something to calm myself down so I bought another copy of this book. And then I actually did immediately start reading it. I think I read more on that flight than any other flight I've ever been on, I was that engrossed in the book. And this book was nothing like I expected it to be. Not only was it a really good fantasy novel, but it was deep and dark and beautiful and it made me cry because of how close the story touched me. I don't think I've been this moved by a "traditional" fantasy novel in a long time.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Writing Update

Hello dear readers! I actually wrote a version of this post three weeks ago but I never published it because it had ceased to be accurate. Like most times I had bitten off more than I could chew and had really grand plans to write a novel this summer. One can dream, can't they? Well, my new job, while only part time, does take more energy than I had planned and every time I sat down to work on my novel words would not come out at all. It was a terrible case of both writer's block and lack of motivation to write anything, so I stepped back and reevaluated my plans because I still wanted to write this summer and I settled on a happy medium that I couldn't be more excited to share with you all, now.

Quick digression: I do plan to try and do writing update's every month or so because I like the idea of keeping you updated with how this is going. Both for my own motivation and because it's fun to talk about my current projects.

I've decided to work on a passion project of mine that I've been too afraid to try and attempt because it at once seems like a huge task and a very personal one because it definitely deals with a lot of the internal things I deal with. And that project is a collection of original fairy tales.

So far I know three of the stories that will be in there. One of them is a novel I worked on and finished last year (or maybe it was two years ago at this point). You may remember me talking about a project called The Queen's Ransom. Originally the idea for that was a novella but I reshaped it into a novel with really poor results. I want to take it back to the original novella format and high light the fairy tale aspects like it originally wanted to be. (When I wrote it as a novel it became more focused on a quest portion and not the Grimm fairy tale vibe I really wanted for it.) The other two are more traditionally structured fairy tale stories. The first one I'm working on is tentatively titled The Winter King and the other very, very tentatively titled The Thames Spirit.

I've begun writing The Winter King and have been handwriting it on scraps. I want to finish handwriting it before the end of the day on the 12th and I think as long as I put time aside I should be fine, I'm already about a third of the way through. I'm then going to type it up and edit it a bit as I type, make it more cohesive and such. After that I'll do a proper edit and send it out to some friends I trust.

That's where I am with writing so far this summer and I hope to finish at least two of the stories in the collection before I have to go back to school. As of right now I don't really have a title for the collection (though I would like it to be an ode to Midsummer Night's Dream, I think) so I'll probably just continue to refer to it as my fairy tale book.

I'd love to talk shop with people so feel free to hit me up on twitter or even in the comments here. I hope everyone is having a great summer so far and thanks for sticking around!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

To Kill A Kingdom

To Kill a Kingdom
Alexandra Christo

I received an eGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This book has gotten a lot of love from the community lately. I keep seeing it appear on my feeds when people tote it as one of their favorite reads of the year so far. I really wish I could have been one of those people because I was looking forward to it. Sirens are pretty much always a win with me, so are fairy tale retellings. AND pirates. But even though it had all three the book just failed to grab me the way I wish it could have. I will say, it was a good book in the fact that it told a story beginning to end and was satisfying with it's conclusion. There are so rarely standalone novels in YA and I do appreciate that this did a good job in that category. I will also say I wouldn't say no to a spinoff featuring Madrid... but that's just me.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Tess of the Road

Tess of the Road
Rachel Hartman
I read Seraphina a while ago, back when I first got my Net Galley account, so I think it’s safe to say I have a bit of a foggy memory on what exactly happened during it. I still remembered, roughly the world of the book… okay, no, that’s kind of a lie I only remembered that there are dragons that look like people and that Seraphina herself was a half-dragon, which was not a good thing for her. And then I never read the sequel, even though I really enjoyed the first. Because it was so long between Seraphina and Tessthere was a lot of important world building I had completely forgotten, or even missed because I skipped book two, and I will admit that it hindered my experience of the book a bit. There were just some tidbits that it was expected the reader to know going into it, and while none of these were plot-changing, they were plot-relevant, so I’d recommend reading the originals (which are an absolute treat) before diving into this one.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Summer Comment Challenge Participation & Life Updates!

Hello lovelies, it's been some time! I didn't intend for such a large gap in my blogging to happen (it's been a week and a half but it feels like much longer on my end) but it did because my time in London ran short and quickly. Right now I am actually writing this from my own bed, in my own room, surrounded by all my books, with my window open. It's so surreal to be back here and I am so happy about it. But traveling, plus packing, plus unpacking has led to little reading and even less blogging. I feel bad about it especially considering how many blog posts I have planned! In fact... here are some of the posts you should be able to expect as the month winds down:A general life update (talking about time in London and looking forward towards the future)
  • The Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down review I promised here
  • A spoiler-filled review of Avengers: Infinity War
  • mini reviews for I Kill Giants & Coco
  • Tess of the Road book review
  • writing update
I'm also currently powering through Assassin's Apprentice (a very unexpected book I picked up in the airport) and can guarantee a review for this one sooner than later. After this I'll be reading Starlings (an ARC I have), finishing up Leviathan Wakes (it's really good I just got pulled away and distracted), West (an ARC I have; I read East last year and enjoyed it), Blood Rose Rebellion, Letter for the King (an ARC I have), and Bluets (it was my secret Santa gift last Christmas but sadly didn't arrive until I had already left for London). Barring Bluets I think it's safe to say you can look for reviews of all of these (though since West and Letter for the King come out much, much later in the year those reviews may be pushed back quite a bit).

Something else I'm participating in this season is the comment challenge hosted by Lonna @ FLYLÄ“F and Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense! I participated for a bit last summer (or was it two summers ago?... I've lost track of things so badly) and loved it. I'm so happy to be able to participate again and will be partaking every month this summer. The Comment Challenge is one of my absolute favorite ways to connect to the book community and make new friends and I 100% recommend participating! Sign up here; you won't regret it!


I hope you all join in on the fun because it really is a blast. And I promise to be better about posting going forward into this month.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Introduction to Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Welcome to a new feature on this blog! Normally I wouldn't do a whole post talking about the why's and what's of a feature, but because this isn't like anything I've done here before I thought it would be a good idea to preface it. Basically, thumbs up/thumbs down is going to be a unique rating system used when rating and reviewing a certain type of book. This isn't replacing my old way of reviewing, it's just supplementing it in a way.

So, what's this idea? Well, I'm glad you asked. The basic idea is I go hunting through used books for a book that meets these qualifications:
  1. I've never heard of it
  2. It's a sci-fi or fantasy published before 2000
  3. It has a corny cover
  4. It has a corny description
  5. I can go into it a blank slate with no expectations
Basically, it's a campy old SF&F novel that's probably out of print and may not even be that good. And then I read and review it. How is this a feature or that different from a regular review? Because I'm going into this novel expecting nothing but hoping to have a good time. Even if it's awful I want to read it start to finish and then discuss. And discuss in pretty good detail as if it's a classic novel they might teach in school. Because of this, the reviews are going to look different than normal reviews, also. Structured like:
  1. Anecdotal where I got the book/first impressions
  2. Summary/spoiler filled explanation of what happens in the book
  3. Basic review: did I like it, was I surprised, would I recommend
  4. Detailed discussion, possibly with quotes and proof
So, yes, that's the plan. The first of these will be up tomorrow and I'm hoping to do about one a month maybe. I won't say much about the book yet, but I hope you all stick around to see what this feature turns out to be. And, if you have a book recommendation that you think will fit the qualifications please let me know and I may try to hunt down a copy.