Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *96*

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine where book bloggers spotlight an upcoming release we're especially looking forward to!

Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland
by Catherynne M. Valente - (Fairyland #4)
Expected Publication: March 3rd 2015 by Feiwel & Friends

When a young troll named Hawthorn is stolen from Fairyland by the Golden Wind, he becomes a changeling – a human boy -- in the strange city of Chicago, a place no less bizarre and magical than Fairyland when seen through trollish eyes. Left with a human family, Hawthorn struggles with his troll nature and his changeling fate. But when he turns twelve, he stumbles upon a way back home, to a Fairyland much changed from the one he remembers. Hawthorn finds himself at the center of a changeling revolution--until he comes face to face with a beautiful young Scientiste with very big, very red assistant.
Full disclosure: I still need to read the third Fairyland book - so I'm not quite sure what brought on the change in the main character from our beloved September to this new boy.  And to be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about it.  I'm hoping September will make some sort of an appearance...unless things get explained and settled in the third book, in which case I have total confidence that Miss Valente will deliver an equally engaging and whimsical foray into Fairyland!  I spy a Wyvern there on the cover... so all is certainly not lost!  These books have a very special quality to them that makes the truly unique and heartwarming so I don't think I could ever get enough. Valente's writing style is superb so if she's offering up more books, I'll be reading them :)

Have you read the Fairyland books? What do you think of the MC switch?
Let me know :) And don't forget to link me up! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Words of Radiance

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
The Stormlight Archive #2
Published March 4th 2014 by Tor Books

In the first volume, we were introduced to the remarkable world of Roshar, a world both alien and magical, where gigantic hurricane-like storms scour the surface every few days and life has adapted accordingly. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic, humanoid Parshendi, with whom they are at war. Among those caught up in the conflict are Highprince Dalinar Kholin, who leads the human armies; his neice Jasnah, a renowned scholar; her student Shallan, a brilliant but troubled young woman; and Kaladin, a military slave who, by the book’s end, was beginning to become the first magically endowed Knight Radiant in centuries.

In Words of Radiance their intertwined stories will continue and, as Sanderson fans have come to expect, develop in unexpected, wonderfully surprising directions. The war with the Parshendi will move into a new, dangerous phase, as Dalinar leads the human armies deep into the heart of the Shattered Plains in a bold attempt to finally end it. Shallan will come along, hoping to find the legendary, perhaps mythical, city of Urithuru, which Jasnah believes holds a secret vital to mankind’s survival on Roshar. The Parshendi take a dangerous step to strengthen themselves for the human challenge, risking the return of the fearsome Voidbringers of old. To deal with it all, Kaladin must learn how to fulfill his new role, while mastering the powers of a Windrunner.
Words of Radiance is the mind-blowingly epic follow up to the brilliant The Way of Kings. I've been craving to get back into the world of The Stormlight Archive pretty much since the moment I finished the first book...but I held off a bit.  I already knew that once I read this one, I'd be left with a massive book-hangover and the absolute NEED to read on. Which is hopeless, for the time being of course, since book 3 doesn't even have a cover or an official release date yet. *sobs* Nonetheless, I simply could not resist Words of Radiance any longer. Short version: Words of Radiance is absolute perfection in a sequel.  It took the already epic setting, concept and characters from TWoK and brought them to a whole other level! I have no words except to say that fans of high-fantasy owe it to themselves to get into this series.  There's simply no excuse why everyone is not gushing about these books just as much as I am right now!

*Warning: there will be gushing and fangirling in this review. Proceed at your own risk.*

The world of The Stormlight Archive is unlike any other magical world I've ever come across. It's detailed, multi-faceted and so amazingly complete that I almost think that if there was a way, we could search the cosmos and find Sanderson's Cosmere across the stars somewhere. You know, just existing; like an actual, proper thing!   The world-building is never heavy-handed or obvious.  You just sort of find yourself discovering it as you go.  Being the second book in a planned ten-book saga, it obviously didn't answer all the questions one has when reading these - BUT, there is a tangible progression when it comes to discovering this strange world with it's unique power sources, weather patterns, animals, plant life...not to mention the different species, social classes, kingdoms and mythology. Everything fits together in such a way that I can't help but (once again) sit back in amazement at Brandon Sanderson's sheer skill at weaving such an epic tale! The man is a wizard, there's no other explanation for all of THIS.

The characters are obvious highlights for me, being the huge character reader that I am. Where The Way of Kings had my beloved Kaladin front and center, Words of Radiance is definitely Shallan's book. We are treated to flashbacks from her dark, mysterious past and I have to say that her character growth surprised me more than any other.  I never expected her to take the direction she took here, nor did I expect her to evolve the way she did throughout this book.  Her skills grew in leaps and bounds compared to what they were, but that was nothing compared to how she grew on the inside. Despite the switch in perspective, Shallan had no problem keeping my attention throughout her parts of the story.  Like TWoK though, Words of Radiance is told in alternating perspectives, so we also got to enjoy quality time with all our other favorites like Jasnah (feels!!!!), Adolin, Dalinar and of course, my perennial favorite, Kaladin Stormblessed ♥.

For his part, Adolin definitely grew on me this time around. I liked him well enough in TWoK, but that was it.  Now I feel like I understand him much better and I respect him more as a character too.  I did feel a distinct lack of Dalinar's presence though, compared to the first book...but that's probably because I looooove Dalinar so much. Nonetheless, his parts were compelling and satisfying. And then there's Kaladin.  Man! That guy brought ALL.THE.FEELS.  AGAIN.  His evolution throughout WoR seemed slower compared to the first book - or even compared to Shallan's in this book -  but it was no less satisfying. He's come a long way from when we first met him at the beginning of this series.  He almost seemed more flawed as Words of Radiance progressed. All the damage he's suffered since the beginning weights on him and clouds his judgement at times but his character arc was phenomenal!!! Gods, I LOVE HIM SO MUCH *fangirls*  BOTH Dalinar & Kaladin are such admirable men of Honor - decisive men who are flawed yes, but inherently good. In TWoK I longed for the two of them to join forces and seeing them together in action here was everything.

The magical system in The Stormlight Archive is, as it is in every high-fantasy I've read by Brandon Sanderson: Stunning. Mind blowing. Amazing. EPIC. See, there's this thing called Stormlight. Basically, it's like this glowing energy that comes from these colossal storms. They use it to charge glass spheres for lighting and the like, BUT, Stormlight can also be inhaled or absorbed by certain people. Which gives them magical, super-human abilities. The best part is that those select few that can absorb Stormlight don't all get the same sets of powers/skills.  I'm not going to get into classifying the different sorts of magic but suffice it to say that all of it is amazingly well put-together.  And with the sequel, we see those powers growing in new and exciting ways! It was both fascinating and thrilling to read about.

The action in Words of Radiance does NOT disappoint.  Spectacular showdowns are abound and there's one in particular that had in the making since the beginning of book one.  Needless to say it was all kinds of epic.  That, combined with thrilling battles had me literally sitting on the edge of my seat frantically turning the pages throughout this bad boy. The pacing was your typical high-fantasy fare. With such a huge book, there was bound to be some world-building and some plot setup but once it got going, it could NOT. BE. STOPPED.  That last 100 pages should have come with a warning: 


So... here I am. Right where I knew I would be: in the midst of a MASSIVE series hangover with nothing to do but bask in all the feels -of which there are MANY. (OMG KALADIN!! ♥♥♥) Well that, and wait. Wait for Brandon Sanderson to finish up with Skybreaker. Gah! O.O And of course, I have no one to blame for the situation I'm in but myself for all of this.  Well. Me and Sanderson, the evil genius responsible for my suffering. Seriously though, if you're a fantasy reader and had any doubts about reading this series. Take my fangirling straight to your nearest bookstore. You'll thank me later.

(infused with Stormlight!)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #63

Harry Potter Moment of the week is a weekly meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share one favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself!    For information on how to join up & for upcoming topics, click here.

  Where would you live as a Wizard?

If I woke up tomorrow and had magic, I would want to live smack dab in the middle of a magical community. No trying to blend in with the Muggles for this Witch, I've been doing that for long enough as it is!  Now sure, I could see myself living in any number of magical wizard dwellings: Godric's Hollow for one. Imagine living where BOTH Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore were born!? Wow!! And then of course there's Diagon Alley.  I know it's mostly a shopping area but I'm pretty sure I'd feel right at home there!  All things considered though, there's still one place my heart belongs to above all others...

Hogsmeade Village, or simply called Hogsmeade is the only all-wizarding village in Britain. It was founded by Hengist of Woodcroft. Students may sometimes come on weekend trips, but only third year students and above with guardian permission are allowed to visit[1]. Mainly, students frequent the High Street in the village which contains the named specialty shops and pubs such as Zonko's Joke Shop and Honeydukes. Otherwise, they wander on to observe the infamous Shrieking Shack.
Hogsmeade is a picturesque little village of cottages and shops, with enchanted candles hanging in the trees during the holidays. It is also near the location of the train station used by the Hogwarts Express.-Source
Living so close to Hogwarts sounds like perfection to me. Imagine the view (whatever the season) ♥

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *95*

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine where book bloggers spotlight an upcoming release we're especially looking forward to!

Here's my pick this week:

Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish
Expected Publication: January 13th 2015 by Simon & Schuster

Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.

Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.
So this is a fairly new discovery for me, but how could I not fall under it's spell?!  It features a strong, kickass female protagonist, who's called Owl, by the way (which I think is a pretty cool name) who's being compared to a female Indiana Jones. She was an archeologist. And now she's a thief. Again I'm loving it! It kind of reminds me of Lara Croft - Tomb Raider.  But then they threw in supernatural stuff. Aw hell no! Dragons and Vampires to start, plus a whirlwind adventure that spans from Vegas, to Japan, to Bali...

That's it. I'm sold. Owl and the Japanese Circus sounds like the perfect combination of adventure, mystery and questing.  Just the type of elements I look for in Urban Fantasy. Count me in!

Thoughts? Let me know when you link me up!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #62

Harry Potter Moment of the week is a weekly meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share one favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself!    For information on how to join up & for upcoming topics, click here.

  Quibbler or Daily Prophet?

This one's an easy one for me, hands down: The Quibbler.  Sure they have flaky, sometimes crazy stories and theories but at least they're not a propaganda paper owned by Ministry officials covering up truths as they see fit. *seethes*

The Quibbler gave Harry Potter a chance to tell his side of the story when no one else was willing to listen which seals the deal for me.  Plus it's run by The Lovegoods. Gotta love that! Thinking of our lovely Luna reading the thing upside down always brings a smile to my face :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *94*

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine where book bloggers spotlight an upcoming release we're especially looking forward to!

Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
A Darker Shade of Magic #1
Expected Publication Date: February 24th, 2015 by Tor

From V.E. Schwab, the critically acclaimed author of Vicious, comes a new universe of daring adventure, thrilling power, and parallel Londons, beginning with A Darker Shade of Magic.

Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes—as such, he can choose where he lands.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there’s Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne—a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London...but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see—a dangerous hobby, and one that has set him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations, who first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces him to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—and that is proving trickier than they hoped.
Uhm...have you read the synopsis up there? If not, go on. Don't worry, I'll wait.  You really need to read the thing.
RIGHT?!!  This sounds so far beyond brilliant, I can't even think straight!  Parallel Londons. Magicians. Travelers with the ability to go between parallel worlds.  Thieves. Kingdoms. Adventures. Everything! This book has EVERYTHING. GAH! Considering how Schwab impressed me beyond words with Vicious, I am 100% ready for A Darker Shade of Magic.

Who else is over the moon for this one?
Don't forget to leave the link to your WoW post below!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Review: The Beautiful Ashes

The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost
Broken Destiny #1
Published August 26th 2014 by Harlequin

In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate.
Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.
Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn't mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn't: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…
*An ARC was provided by Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.*

The Beautiful Ashes is the only book I started to read when I was at BEA this year.  Granted, I only got through the first four chapters, but I was already intrigued and wanting to know more, which is a good sign.  Needless to say, I was looking forward to getting back to it and seeing where things would grow from there.  This was my first foray into the New-Adult genre, but considering it's a paranormal with demons and angels that offers up a fresh twist on old mythology, I was excited to see how everything would fit together.  This was also my very first Jeaniene Frost book, despite owning some of her other books and her being on my tbr shelf for ages.  I'll definitely be reading more books by her... but at the same time, I don't think this one is likely to be her strongest work. I definitely did enjoy myself, but I had some concerns as well.

The Beautiful Ashes sucks you in right from the first pages with a mystery and a feisty heroine determined to get to the bottom of things.  We meet Ivy in the midst of searching for her sister who's gone missing.  The local police don't seem to be doing much to help and fresh off the heels of another tragedy, Ivy will stop at nothing to find her sibling.  Trouble is, Ivy has always seen things that weren't there and when we meet her, it happens again. One thing leads to another and Ivy gets kidnapped by this guy.  This stunning, hot, smooth-talking guy who seems to be going out of his way to be nice to her and who tells Ivy her visions are real and that if she wants to ever find her sister alive, she should come along without a fight.  Say whaaaa?!!

Ok. So this polite kidnapper, who is the epitome of hotness (did I mention?) - his name is Adrian, by the way - and Ivy have an instant-attraction.  It's not insta-love, but there's definitely some sexual attraction and already it's clouding Ivy's judgement. Too soon for my liking to be honest but I went along with it anyway, because I was more interested in what was up with Ivy's strange visions.  Since she was a child she's had these sudden sort of double-image visions that she could never explain. Well, it turns out what she's seeing are demon realms. From the synopsis it isn't made clear, but those 'parallel-realms' are demon realms. And of course, Adrian knows all about those.  So once again I was reading a story where the hot guy knows all the answers, and our female heroine becomes dependant on him to move along the plot and get to the bottom of things.  Have I mentioned how this trope bugs me sometimes? I have huh?  Ok, moving on...

I guess it's around that point where I began to have a few issues with The Beautiful Ashes.  Where the plot itself started off promising enough, the characters felt like they were lacking proper development on their own.  The focus was on the development of their attraction for one another and that certainly escalated quickly.  Still, there was a sort of prophecy tied to Adrian and his past which also ties into Ivy and her lineage, and I was curious about those parts enough not to let the romance issues deter me.  The mythology at play here works by incorporating Judean and Davidian elements which was something I'd never come across, especially in a paranormal setting so that was definitely something new and exciting!  The bits about Adrian's past were intriguing too, but I wonder if maybe his character could have benefited from getting his own POV in the story. It might have helped me get a better feel for his character.

Unfortunately, even the plot of The Beautiful Ashes itself started to get redundant after a while, Ivy and Adrian's adventures into demon realms all began to blur together until it all felt like the same thing over and over. Honestly though, I think the ending sort of saved it for me.  I'm curious enough about the mythical weapon quest aspect of it all to want to read on. And I am a sucker for a nice paranormal with demons after all!  So despite my issues with this one, I'd still recommend it to adult paranormal readers who don't mind these types of Twilight-ish romances. Hopefully the next installment puts to rest any concerns I had with this one.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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