Friday, June 24, 2016

Review: Clariel

Clariel by Garth Nix
The Old Kingdom #4
Published October 14th 2014 by HarperCollins

Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilp. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her - and it is herself she must question most of all.
Clariel is technically the 4th book in The Old Kingdom/Abhorsen series by Garth Nix...BUT, it takes place about 600 years before the events at the start of Sabriel.  It was published 11 years after the end of the initial trilogy, so fans of the series waited a LONG time to go back to the Old Kingdom.  And sadly, many people were disappointed upon finally reading this one. I think a lot of them were expecting our new protagonist Clariel to be someone more like Sabriel or Lirael. But Clariel's tale is a far different one indeed...

We're introduced to Clariel right after a curious and rather ominous prologue, and straight away we learn that she's been forced to leave her beloved childhood home in a country for a new life in the city that is expected to further her mother's career.  Clariel is not happy about the move and never shies away from making her feelings known.  She's always wanted to go off on her own and live in the forest and this move threatens to ruin everything she dreams of.  As a self professed loner, there are far too many people in the city for her comfort and she's very worried her parents will try to marry her off, something she is vehemently against - since she considers herself asexual. (YAY for sexual diversity in fantasy!!) Try as she might to reason with her parents, they refuse to listen and honestly don't seem to care much about what their daughter wants because their own plans take precedence.  Soon it becomes clear to Clariel that her only way out of this is to run away and return to the forest, so she begins to attempt some kind of a plan that will allow her the freedom she craves.

It may have been luck that, in an attempt to see how many pages my edition of Clariel had, I stumbled upon author Garth Nix's author note at the end and discovered a huge spoiler for the titular character. I feel like knowing where her story was headed allowed me to be more accepting of her in general. In any case, because I'd read some reviews prior to starting this book, I was prepared to dislike Clariel, but I found that I couldn't. Where others criticized her for being selfish or immature, I was more sympathetic. Yes Clariel is selfish and immature, but she's sixteen! At that age, who isn't a little selfish and immature?  Clariel is also caring, resourceful, independent and brave. I found that I could sympathize and even relate to her. Unfortunately she's got a lot of hurdles to jump over: her parents for one, her total lack of training with Charter Magic and the fact that she's afflicted with a fury that turns her berserk when she loses control, which is common within the Royal and Abhorsen line...and since she's descendant of both, she might have gotten a double dose. Her path is far from easy.

''Does the walker chose the path, or the path the walker?''

Now I've talked about Clariel's character a lot, but this book is largely focused on the evolution of her character. Despite that, there is also quite a bit of world-building. Nix expertly introduces us the the world 600 years before the birth of Sabriel, fraught with turmoil. The Old Kingdom has always been dark and dangerous but here is a particularly tumultuous.  The current Abhorsen and Abhorsen-in-waiting shy away from their duties, the Royal Line has become powerless and the government is corrupt and vying for control.  All of this is supposed to be kept under wraps, but when Clariel is thrown in the thick of it, she is forced to uncover all of the secrets. In addition, Magic is seen as unseemly, which might explain why Clariel was never taught properly, which is a key focal point to her development and to the story in general.  Not knowing magic in a world full of dangerous magical beings is a pretty big disadvantage and it puts Clariel in a vulnerable position, where she must learn to fight back by whatever means she can manage.

''A passion thwarted will often go astray...''

When all is said and done, Clariel offers a unique and compelling glimpse into the Old Kingdom's history. It was heartbreaking, fascinating and inevitable all at once. The story ends with a definite conclusion, and yet things are also left somewhat open-ended which I thought worked well here. I'm hoping that this was done because there might be ties to the current-day Old Kingdom still left to disover.  There's quite a bit of action to be had, but the focus here is on the Clariel and her world. Despite being very different and less immediately likeable than Sabriel and Lirael were, Clariel carved herself a nice little niche in my heart.  I wish I could say more but we'd be going into spoiler territory. Anyone who's read this is welcome to DM me on Twitter and chat some more! 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Other reviews from the series:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Harry Potter Moment #148

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a  meme hosted by Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts  and Me @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself!  How to join up &  upcoming topics here.

Hi everyone and happy almost Friday!  I hope you've all been paying attention to Professor Binns in our History of Magic classes because this is right up his alley (Do ghosts have alleys? Like, I know they can haunt alleys but do they still fanghost over stuff? Yup, fanghosting is a thing. Bah! Nevermind...):

Favorite historical moment in the Wizarding World? 
(that happened before the books)


There are lots of different ways to interpret ''Historical Event'' Basically, it could be anything that happened in the past and was awesome. Like Dumbledore going to Hogwarts. The day McGonagall was born (BAM!) Voldemort going to Hogwarts. The Marauders making THAT Map, and becoming Animagi.  If we're doing straight up momentous historical even though, let's go with the obvious:

The Founding of Hogwarts

I mean that's gotta be the most epic thing to happen in the Wizarding World in the UK. The day Hogwarts opened it's doors and started training young witches and wizards in magic.  I'm not gonna lie, I will forever be waiting for my letter to arrive. Even though it's like 25 years late. No big deal.

In the context of our new film trilogy, one could argue that the adventures Newt Scamander will have that lead him to write his famous book could be defining historical events, but we'll have to wait for the films to come out before we can say for sure ;) 


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #46

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish which features a variety of bookish top ten lists!

Top Ten 2016 Releases So Far This Year


Most of you know that I read a lot of backlisted books mixed in with my ARCs and new releases so I tweaked this week's topic a bit, to give me a chance to feature everything.

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year



The Raven King - My most anticipated release of 2016 and so far my favorite of the bunch. I'm still hungover from this series ender and I don't think I'll ever fully recover.

A Court of Mist and Fury - Imagine following up your worst bookish hangover^^ with a second worst one. ACoMaF was above and beyond the first book in every.single.way. So when does book 3 come out?! O.O

Mistborn: Secret History - As a HUGE Mistborn fan, imagine my surprise when this little novella changed the game entirely and became my first 5-star read of 2016. Mind? Blown.

A Gathering of Shadows - If there's a Schwab book coming out, you can be sure it'll be one of the best of the year.  AGoS was spectacular and cruel.

The Bands of Mourning - Yup. Another Sanderson book makes the cut. Are you even surprised? No? Didn't think so. This one had lots of BIG reveals and twists! Eep.





The Scorpio Races - I waited far too long to read this gem by Stiefvater and though it will never replace The Raven Cycle in my heart, I loved this book all the same.

Illuminae - This book hooks you straight away and never.lets.go. Not until the very last page. The unique formating created a one of kind experience but the story speaks for itself.

Winter - We all knew the ending of The Lunar Chronicles would be intense but that didn't mean I was ready for it. Not even a little bit...

Fifth Grave Past the Light - Every time I go back to read on of Charley Davidson's adventures, I feel like I'm reuniting with a dear friend. Not to mention a sassy, snarky, hilarious and sexy friend ;)

The House of Hades - Apparently, the 4th books in a Riordan series are always the best for me. I think this one would have made a stronger series-ender than BoO - but that might be just me.

Have you read any of these^^?
What are your favorite reads so far in 2016?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Fandom Mashup #58

Fandom Mashups
Fandom Mashups is an original feature here at Lunar Rainbows Reviews.  The idea is that every week, I propose a unique fictional scenario and then build my personal dream team of five fictional characters from five different fandoms to complete the task!  Anyone is welcome to join in on the fandom fun - all I ask is that you link back to me somewhere in your post :)

Hello fangirls and fanboys! Are you ready to mash up your fandoms in a glorious mess of feels with me again this week? Let's get to it because we have a lot of work to do:

In your adventuring, you've decided to take up Sword-Fighting (as one does) to help defend yourself against threats - and dragons. Who will teach you this noble art? 

Firelord Zuko

Zuko can bend FIRE.  He literally had NO reason to learn to fight with swords. But he did. He learned to fight with dual swords! More than that though, he became a sword-master. He's a BAMF and I cannot imagine anyone better suited and teaching me how to handle swords.

Sabriel

As a light Necromancer, Sabriel might not be an obvious choice, but I always loved how she still wielded a sword with such skill.  And a girl with a sword is a winner in my book. Sabriel is an all-time favorite heroine of mine now so having her as a mentor is THE dream.

Aragorn

Aragorn is totally one of my heroes! Beyond being fierce, loyal and kind, he reforged THE blade and wielded it like a pro. He is truly epic and having him teach me the sword would be all kinds of amazing!


Aelin

You knew she was coming, right?  Swords are basically Aelin's bread and butter. She's the definition of badass and I want some of that good stuff to rub off on me. Please take me under your wing fire-breathing bitch-queen ♥ 


Arthur Pendragon

You can't think of a sword and NOT think of this guy - the one person worthy of removing THE famous sword from The Sword and the Stone. If he's worthy enough for Merlin, he's worthy enough to teach me some moves!


Friday, June 17, 2016

Review: Searching for Dragons

Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Enchanted Forest Chronicles #2
Published November 1st 2002 by HMH Books

Kidnap a dragon? How daring!
How stupid

Cimorene, the princess who refuses to be proper, is back--but where is Kazul the dragon? That's what Cimorene is determined to find out.

Luckily--or perhaps not-so-luckily--she's got help: Mendenbar, the not-very-kingly King of the Enchanted Forest, has joined her in her quest. So with the aid of a broken-down magic carpet, a leaky magical sword, and a few buckets of soapy lemon water, they set off across the Enchanted Forest to tackle the dragon-napping and save the King of the Dragons.
ATTENTION classic fantasy/fairytale fans: do you like stories about dragons, evil wizards, a good witch with clever cats, a feisty unconventional princess, a non-conformist king, magicians, a flying carpet, and a magical sword? If you said yes to any of those, then this series is worth your time. And the best part is, it won't take up a lot of your time because these books a quick reads and with only four books, you'd be caught up in no time!

I read the first book in the series, Dealing with Dragons last year - if you missed my review, you can read it here - and have been looking forward to returning to the series ever since. With Searching for Dragons, Patricia C. Wrede reminded me why her books are so much fun. Beyond being relatively short books that pack a lot of beloved fantasy and fairytale elements within its pages, these stories navigate the usual tropes expertly, avoiding the more tired or dated ones and giving them a fresh twist. I switched it up this time though and listened to the sequel on audio. It was performed by a full cast, which was a first for me. I have to say that most of the voice actors did superb jobs but a few of the voices annoyed me...which in turn, made the characters seem annoying, though they wouldn't have come off that way if I'd read them myself.

These books feature a straightforward writing style that doesn't take itself too seriously.  It isn't simplistic though, the storytelling is clever, humorous and thoroughly entertaining.  This time around, the POV switches to Mendenbar, the young King of  The Enchanted Forest. I was surprised that Cimorene didn't return as the main character but it isn't long until she and the King cross paths, brought together by separate mysteries that end up being connected. Mendenbar was a great narrator though and I got used to his voice quickly. As they set out to unravel the circumstances that brought them together, the make new friends, face new enemies and discover hidden secrets, even about themselves.

The best way to describe this series would be to say that the storytelling and plot have a classic fantasy feel, but the characters and tropes are updated to have more of a modern twist.  While the first book is still my favorite (so far), I enjoyed the addition of Mendenbar, the return of all my other favorite characters and being reminded how awesome Cimore is. Where were princesses like her when I was growing up? Also, Searching for Dragons features a cat hitching a ride on a dragon! I'm sorry but it doesn't get any better than that. Hello new favorite thing ♥ I've already started on the third books.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Harry Potter Moment #147

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a  meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts  and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself!  
To join up and for upcoming topics here.

Hello friends! How is everyone? I have to say, I love starting my day on Thursdays by hopping into the Wizarding World with you all - before heading out to Muggle work...it's the best way to take Ron's advice and not let the Muggles get you down LOL!

Would you have wanted to explore the Shrieking Shack?



I know that I'm a self-professed scaredy-cat, but in this scenario, I'd have magic. And hopefully backup. So HELL YES I'd want to explore the Shrieking Shack!  Haunted houses are inherently appealing and well, now that we know what gave the house it's reputation, I'd LOVE to get to explore the place. Walk where the Marauders and the Golden Trio walked...it sounds brilliant!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #45

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish which features a variety of bookish top ten lists!

Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half Of 2016



Goldenhand - This is a new favorite series of mine by Garth Nix and while part of me wants to kick myself for waiting so long to get acquainted with such a phenomenal fantasy series, the other part of me is glad that I didn't have to wait over to years for the next installment.

Empire of Storms - When there is a Sarah J. Maas book coming out, you will find me waiting on it with baited breath. I need EoS like air and since it's the penultimate book in the series, I'm equal parts excited and terrified.

Gemina - Illuminae rocked my world and since then I have been dying to get my hands on the sequel. I have no clue how the authors plan on living up to the first book but so far the early buzz has been explosive!

Strange the Dreamer - Laini fucking Taylor. Hell yeah I need her new release. I have missed swimming in her glorious prose and I have no doubt that whatever she has in store for us will be worth the wait!

Heartless - Whatever Marissa Meyer come out with has my full attention. In this case? She's taking on Alice in Wonderland. YES PLEASE.



This Savage Song - So many amazing authors have been very busy of late but you don't hear me complaining. Schwab won me over a long time ago and I vowed to gobble up whatever she comes up with ever since. She hasn't led me wrong so far!

The Girl Who Drank the Moon - Beyond that absolutely stunning cover, there's the promise of moon magic, tiny dragons and the bittersweet story of a special and power girl. Give us the precious!

The Throne of Glass Colouring Book - A recent WoW pick of mine, what's most exciting to me here is that we finally have official means to see the world of Throne of Glass for the first time and I want to explore ALL OF IT.

Kingdom of Ash and Briar - A fairytale retelling that mashes up lots of different classics with a shape-shifting main character. What more could anyone ask for?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - It's about Harry Potter. Need I say more?

Are you anticipating any all of these?
Please, gush with me :D