Friday, January 23, 2015

Review: Legion

Legion by Brandon Sanderson
Legion #1
Published September 11th 2012 by Dragonsteel Entertainment

A novella from #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, Legion is a fast-paced, witty, and supremely fun thriller with a psychological bent.

Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad.

A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems…for a price.

His brain is getting a little crowded, however, and the aspects have a tendency of taking on lives of their own. When a company hires him to recover stolen property—a camera that can allegedly take pictures of the past—Stephen finds himself in an adventure crossing oceans and fighting terrorists. What he discovers may upend the foundation of three major world religions—and, perhaps, give him a vital clue into the true nature of his aspects.
Legion is a short story that delivers in a big way.  At a mere 88-pages, it managed to draw me into a story that was unlike anything I've ever read - and leave me wanting more.  Once again, Brandon Sanderson delivers with addictive storytelling, unique characters and a premise unlike all others.  What's even more impressive is that this isn't Sanderson's usual fare; not by a long shot.

Legion tells the story of Stephen Leeds, who's known to most people as a reclusive put it mildly.  You see, Stephen has a variety of other personalities, or aspects as he likes to refer to them. He's been labeled as a schizophrenic by most, but that isn't quite right. Stephen knows it, and other specialists seem to suspect it too.  The thing is, Stephen's aspects can learn things.  Independently.  One aspect can learn a new language, or war tactics, or what have you and then transmit that information to Stephen without him having learned those things himself.  What's more is that he can summon new aspects as needed, if the situation calls for a particular skill-set that he or his current aspects don't possess. This in turn makes Stephen seem like an expert in any given field.  And it explains why outsiders see him as a genius.  Crazy too, but a genius all the same. Sure the guy may have some mental issues, but his abilities go above and beyond the usual, and to me that comes across as some sort of special power or even super-human ability.

The book kicks off with Stephen and his aspects being recruited by a government official to find a missing invention with potentially earth-shattering possibilities.  A camera that is able to take pictures of the past.  Like, let's say years later, you were to go to the exact spot your parents first met. You could take a picture of the spot in the present day and the picture would show your parents there, in the past.  Only you haven't travelled back in time, only the camera did.  In this sense, Legion deals with the wibbly-wobbly concept of time-travel, without straying too far from realism of actual real life.  It's easier to swallow a 'magical' item than actual time-travel...for the skeptics, I suppose ;)

I won't get into the finer details of the implications of this camera, or any more plot details for that matter. Considering this is a novella, any more info I'd want to share could be considered spoiler-ish.  Suffice it to say that Legion is a bit hard to classify.  It has elements of a psychological thriller mixed in with a dash of sci-fi and magical realism.   Classifications aside though, this was an engaging, wholly-original and quick read that left me wanting more.  Sanderson does it again!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Harry Potter MotW #74

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

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.

Best Spot to Chill at Hogwarts

Oh, to be able to attend Hogwarts. To get to explore all it's little nooks and crannies.  To find your favorite spot in the common room and make it your own. To have your own bed to call home. To dine in the Great Hall and attend classes and just wander around...that's my idea of heaven.

All swooning and dreaming aside though, the best spot to chill at Hogwarts proper is a bit of a toss-up for me. My initial thought is (obviously):

The Library

And I think my reasons would be fairly obvious: Books!  All of the books!  I can just imagine snuggling up in a quiet corner and reading the days away.  And it wouldn't be like Hermione always heading out there on her own. No, in my mind, we'd ALL be at Hogwarts and I'm pretty sure we'd all make good use of the library ;-D

But then I thought about it, and sure the library would be my favorite place to hang out, but as far as really chilling goes, there doesn't seem to be anyplace better than:

The House Common Rooms

..because well, look at them^^  Comfy chairs, fireplaces roaring, all the comforts of home in one convenient place.  I've always been partial to Ravenclaw's common room (because books) and indeed that house and Hufflepuff was where I'd get sorted the most with all those random HP sorting quizzes - until PotterMore sorted me into Gryffindor...but hey I'm not complaining, because that means I get to hang out in the Gryffindor Common Room with my favorite trio ♥

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday *106*

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we spotlight an upcoming book release we're especially looking forward to!

Here's my pick this week:

The Originals: The Rise by Julie Plec
The Originals #1
Expected Publication: January 27th 2015 by HQN Books

Family is power. The Original vampire family swore it to each other a thousand years ago. They pledged to remain together always and forever. But even when you're immortal, promises are hard to keep. 

Arriving in New Orleans in 1722, Original vampire siblings Klaus, Elijah and Rebekah Mikaelson believe they've escaped their dangerous past. But the city is lawless, a haven for witches and werewolves unwilling to share territory. The siblings are at their mercy…especially after Klaus meets the beautiful and mysterious Vivianne. Her impending marriage is key to ending the war between the supernatural factions—and Klaus's attraction to her could destroy the uneasy alliance. As Elijah works toward securing a piece of the city for his family, and Rebekah fights her unexpected feelings for a French captain, will Klaus's volatile desires bring their world crashing down—and tear them apart for good?
This week's pick is a little something different. I don't usually read books based off of television shows, but I'm not even gonna lie: I adore The Originals. Quite a bit more than Vampire Diaries to be honest, so when I saw they were coming out with books about my favorite vampires, I instantly added this one to my TBR shelf. Admittedly, I'm a tad bit worried that the author is a television writer, but she writes episodes of The Originals...that's gotta count for something right? And the synopsis is simply too tempting to pass up: it sounds like the origin story of the Mikaelson family's arrival in New Orleans. One doesn't just pass that up.  I love love love Klaus, Elijah (*sigh*) and Rebekah to pieces, so I'm game for any story involving them and The Rise sounds like it could be a thrilling addition to their history .

Fellow fans of The Originals, give me a shout!
Don't forget to link my up to your WoW pick this week ;)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Harry Potter MotW #73

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

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.

Scariest Moment in the Series

There are an awful lot of scary moments in the HP series if you ask me! I mean, just in Deathly Hallows alone...there are a ton of instances that could fit the bill. However, I've said it before and I'll say it again; there was one moment that literally had me chuck my book across the room in terror and run straight to bed - where the bf already was, so I'd be safe O.O

Voldemort flying - Chapter 4: The Seven Potters

Now, keep in mind, that in the books Voldemort is THE ONLY ONE who can fly without a broom. And he has those red eyes in the books too.  So that scene where he just appears to Harry out of the mist, red eyes, black smoke...and he's FLYING. *shudder*  I had just gotten my hands on DH, after a mad rush trip to the bookstore minutes before it closed.  So of course, I dove straight in at around 9pm and  I was determined to forgo sleep and read the precious straight through the night...until I got to that part^^  Then, I got paranoid, imagining I'd see a pair of red eyes floating outside my window...the window I happened to be reading next the dark...alone. GAH!!  I swear, I actually threw my book down (on the couch, I wasn't crazy enough to damage the thing of course!) and ran to bed.  >.<

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday *105*

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we spotlight an upcoming book release we're especially looking forward to!

Here's my pick this week:

The Wrath & The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
The Wrath & The Dawn #1
Expected Publication: May 12th 2015 by Putnam Juvenile

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
How utterly unique does The Wrath & The Dawn sound?!  I mean sure, it's a reimagining of The Arabian Nights but all the same, it sounds wickedly fresh to me. Mystery, murder, romance: what else could a girl want?   Admittedly, it does seem to have a touch of an insta-lovey vibe...but there might be a good reason for that.  So far, the early reviews have been nothing short of glowing, so I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt!

Let me know what you guys think of this one...
...when you link me up to your WoW post ;)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ARC Review: Owl & the Japanese Circus

Owl and the Japanese Circus
by Kristi Charish (The Adventures of Owl #1)
Published: January 13th 2015 by Simon & Schuster

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.

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.
*An ARC was provided by Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review.*

If I had to sum up Owl and the Japanese Circus in one word, that word would be fun. Just reading the synopsis was all I needed to know that this was a book for me: a modern day 'Indiana Jane', called Owl, who's a thief and archeology buff, navigating a supernatural world - in spite of herself.  A world which includes insanely unique creatures like Dragons, Nagas, Incubus, Vampires (legit vampires - not the romanticized sparkly variety), Nymphs and name a few.  Oh, and did I mention Owl has the best sidekick ever: a truly amazing Egyptian Mau cat, that goes by the name of Captain...and whose personality totally lives up to his name.  Yeah. This book had my name written all over it.

I went into Owl and the Japanese Circus pretty pumped, and for once, my high hopes didn't end up falling flat. Owl's adventures start off in Vegas, and she consequently journeys across the globe, from Japan to Bali and back to Vegas again as she hunts down an ancient stolen artifact, for one of the most fearsome dragons I've ever come across!   I truly enjoyed the mix of globe-trotting adventure, mystery and action blended into this supernatural world. Plot-wise, the story hits the ground running as Owl navigates through one escapade after another.  Some bits resolved themselves a bit too conveniently for my taste but honestly, I had no problem suspending my disbelief and just going along with the ride - and it is one hell of a ride from start to finish.

As a character, Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl was a breath of fresh air to me. Why? Because she was equal parts awesome and flawed, and to me that made her all the more real.  Owl is a smart mouth. She dives into danger head first and asks questions later.  She's got an attitude and she knows how to use it - usually at the worst possible moments.  I could see her penchant for trouble rubbing some readers the wrong way, but I found it refreshing to read about a heroine who wasn't perfect, flawless or admirable to a fault. Don't get me wrong: Owl is also brave, caring and smart, but her qualities are perfectly balanced with her flaws in a way that makes her incredibly human; especially when mixed in with the variety of supernatural beings found in Owl and the Japanese Circus. I was also pleased that Owl seemed to learn from her mistakes as she went along.  She never truly loses her inclination for diving head-first into trouble though, but hey, where's the fun in that?

Owl's reckless nature is tempered by her more level-headed companions, notably her best friend Nadya and Rynn, an attractive mercenary slash bartender.  Both of them were compelling and entertaining in their own right and I found them to perfectly complement Owl. Let's face it, Owl needed all the help she could get from these two on more than one occasion.  Their friendship wasn't without its bumps along the way but they were a solid trio and I enjoyed them all immensely.  However they all took a backseat to Captain, Owl's feline companion who easily steals the show.  Captain has a strong personality all his own and he isn't afraid to use it.  He's clever, cunning and as stubborn as his human which made me (of course) love him all the more for it.  It's clear that author Kristi Charish is a cat-lover herself, as she develops Captain's personality perfectly, as well as his relationship with Owl, as the story moves forward.

Being the first book in a planned series, the story does take a bit to settle into it's stride, which I find is mostly always the case when entering a new book series.  Nonetheless, Owl and the Japanese Circus  does a good job of setting the stage for our characters and the world they navigate.  I'm hoping the sequel will delve deeper into the exploration and mythology of it all but regardless, I'm already looking forward to following Owl as she gets into more trouble the next time around.  Side note: Owl also has a penchant for RPG gaming, caffeine and the occasional Corona. I can't imagine readers having a hard time relating to her in the least!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

*Psst: there's still a little time to enter my giveaway for a chance to win your very own copy of Owl and the Japanese Circus*

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Stacking the Shelves *44*

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews showcasing new books we've gotten a hold of (bought/given/gifted/trade/for review).

Hi hi!  I hope everyone's doing well post-Holiday madness! I've been super busy with work, so my reading has been suffering.  The blog's back to regular features and all that... but reviews have been slow going.  Anyway, this is my follow up holiday StS post, since my lovely mom got me Amazon gift cards for Christmas... bless her!  The wait for the books to arrive is finally over (excluding pre-orders) so let's get to the goodies:

*My prrrrecioussss*

Here's what was in that stack, in no particular order:

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle #1) hardback, The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle #2) hardback, Every Breath by Ellie Marney (Every #1) hardback

After I was gifted the gorgeous hardback of Blue Lily, Lily Blue over the holidays (Thanks again Lee ♥) I obviously had to upgrade my set to match!  And gift cards are the perfect opportunity to do some upgrading imo ;)  Same goes for Every Breath, I loved that book way too much just to have an eARC of it hehe.

 The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (The Heroes of Olympus #1), Scarlet by A.G. Gaughen (Scarlet Series #1), The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time #1)

It's been too long since I hung out with some Gods, considering my love of all things mythological, so I figured it was high time I start the Heroes of Olympus series. I find these books make the perfect fun, light read!  At this point, I might be the last blogger alive not raving madly about Scarlet, so clearly I had to fix that. And given how I was on such an epic fantasy kick in 2014, I decided that 2015 would be perfect to start in on the Wheel of Time series - it's only been recommended to me like, a million times so far...

Splintered by A.G. Howard (Splintered #1), The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike #1) & Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1)

Again, I think I'm the only person who hasn't read Splintered - and honestly, it's been on my Amazon wishlist for like 2 years, so that one was a no-brainer.  Even worst, I call myself the ultimate JKR fangirl, but I have yet to read any of her post-Harry works *gasp* - the horror!  I wanted to pick up The Casual Vacancy too but it was out of stock. I can't wait to sink my teeth into the Cormoran Strike series. And finally, I think Dealing with Dragons is pretty self-explanatory: Dragons! Enchanted Forest! Yes please!

Oh and since you guys seemed to enjoy the pictures my last few StS posts, I decided to add a shot of my complete Holiday stack this year:

*BRB, drowning in love, books and ALL the awesome*

That's it for me this week guys :D
Don't forget to link me up to your hauls!!
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