Sunday, March 30, 2014

Stacking the Shelves *33*

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 everyone, hope you're all having a wonderful week :) This week, I have a mix of Birthday Spoils and some ARC goodness that I happened to get approved for close to my birthday! YAY!

Mitosis (Reckoners #1.5) by Brandon SandersonBorn of Deception (Born of Illusion #2) by Terri Brown and Exiled (The Protector #1) by M.R. Merrick

Story time: As a Birthday gift from me to me (those are the best kinds right?... I always seem to know exactly what I want!) I decided to order myself up something nice and pretty.   I'd been wanting to get myself hardbound copies of Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight - mine were of the paperback/arc variety...Anyways with The Assassin's Blade coming in with it's gorgeous hardback recently, I (of course) wanted a matching set.

So. This post is over 2 weeks late - my birthday was March 10th - but there's totally a good reason for that.  Here's why: I waited until TBD delivered my ToG goodness aaaaaalllllll the way to Canada because I knew I'd want to take a picture of them all, together in their full glory!  And obviously I wanted to share the pretty with all of you :-D And so I waited.  Until finally, this week all my books showed up.

This is what I was expecting:

*cue angelic music and light shining from above*

This is what I got:

*womp womp*

D'oh!  Epic fail. *facepalm* Anyways... here's the deal: Both my local bookstore AND both list the Throne of Glass hardback with the old original cover (see it here)  The Book Depository was the only place to list a hardback with the new kickass covers.  Only it had been out of stock for ages.  I set up a 'notify me' alert after CoM came out and last month I finally got a notification that it was in stock!  Of course I was going to order right?  Needless to say I was pretty bummed out when it's a hardback, but library binding so the cover art is actually printed directly on the cover.  Plus it's so tiny haha!  It's leeeetle >.<  Oh well, I'll just keep hoping they come out with a mind-blowingly EPIC boxed-set once all the books are out.  This girl WILL be splurging on that. In the meantime does anyone know where I can get myself the proper hardcover edition? Do they even exist?  Am I searching for a mythical beast here?!  This could be like a quest...

Do you need to have matching editions of your favorite books?
Let me know in the comments when you link me up ;-)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: The Assassin's Blade

The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass 0.1-0.5
Published March 4th 2014 by Bloomsbury

Contains all five novellas.

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.
The Assassin's Blade is a prequel to the Throne of Glass Series that consists of 5 separate novella-length adventures featuring everyone's favorite assassin: Celaena Sardothien.  The adventures all have their own separate storylines but they're also all connected and work together to tell the story of who Celaena was before the events of Throne of Glass.  It truly is a must read for fans of the series, so if you haven't picked this one up already, than hopefully my review will convince you to do just that.

Usually, novellas tend to be like little extras for hardcore fans already obsessed with the series.  The Assassin's Blade however, is so much more than that!  First of all, the 5 adventures Celaena takes us on add up to one full sized book. Win.  And second,  combined together, these novellas make up a vital part of the story, one that should not be skipped or overlooked!  Don't get me wrong, you'll love the Throne of Glass series regardless but The Assassin's Blade simply takes the story to a whole. other. level.  It ties into the actual series in wonderfully tantalizing ways, and it lays the groundwork for some truly epic storylines that have yet to come!

Of course, the best part of The Assassin's Blade is the deeper insight it offers us on our heroine Celaena.  I'd always been immensely curious as to how exactly her life was before the events of Throne of Glass.  You have to admit that a girl like Celaena must have had one killer past. *ahem* So yeah, I went into this already expecting epic.  Was I let down, even in the tiniest way?  Hell no!  I honestly don't know how Sarah J. Maas does it, but she managed to blow away even my highest expectations!  The woman is a genius.  Every aspect of Celaena's personality is accounted for by the situations she gets put in, the people she encounters and the training/jobs she does.  Through Celaena's adventures, she reveals her true nature, she is tested beyond anything she'd ever imagined, and then she's put through hell for good measure.  It was an emotional roller-coaster of a ride but it was so worth it!

The secondary characters we get to meet throughout The Assassin's Blade are really all incredibly memorable : there's a Pirate Lord, a Healer, a band of Silent Assassin's led by a Mute Master...and then there's Sam and Arobynn.  Those who've read the ToG series will no doubt be familiar with both of them - Celaena references them quite a bit and I'd always wanted to know more about the pair of them.  Sam was easily my favorite of the two.  In fact, there's absolutely no contest.  Sam stole my heart quick and he kept it.  It's as simple as that.  But Arobynn...*sigh*  Let's just say, the man known as the King of all Assassins lives up to his reputation.  In either case, I was fascinated by Celaena's relationship with both Sam and Arobynn - it really added depth to our heroine's past; not to mention insight into her current self.

Bottom line: The Assassin's Blade is a collection of the best novellas I've ever read. Each new adventure fit in perfectly after it's predecessor, each encompassing a definitive moment in Celaena's history and with every new adventure, our beloved heroine adapts, grows and evolves.   To me, these short stories start off with a bang and simply keep getting better and better.  I loved the continuity of these five unique storylines and how they all work together connecting one overarching plot line.  The ending was an emotional affair in more ways than one.  I was completely shattered: I cried, I drowned in feels, and my love for Celaena grew infinitely - which I didn't even think was possible! These adventures are an essential part of the Throne of Glass story and one that needed to be told!  A must read!

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Harry Potter MotW #35

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself! Upcoming topics & how to join here.

  Favorite Moment in Book 7

Can I just pick Deathly Hallows as a whole?  This is my absolute favorite book in the series... I have whole two chapters that I think I could quote in their entirety and that give me goosebumps every time I so much as think about I guess that's a good a place as any to start:

The moment when Harry finally fully understands Dumbledore's full plan.  In the midst of all the chaos, he finally gets that he was meant to know about the Hallows but still continue finding Horcruxes.  That realization has always touched me right in the's kind of hard to explain.  I think it's  because for the entirety of DH (until this point) Harry was confused, frustrated and his doubts about Dumbledore just weighed on him.  So for him to finally get that clarity  :*)

Again a moment full of realizations for Harry, fresh out of Snape's memories fully aware of his destiny. *shivers*  Every single step after that fills me with all kinds of feels: Harry waking up in Dumbledore's office, the journey out of Hogwarts, the walk to the forest and, of course, the Resurrection Stone moment. ♥

Of course, I could go on: Godric's Hollow, The Silver Doe, The Tale of the Three Brothers, King's Cross, The Flaw in the Plan...the whole thing really.  I adore this book like no other book in existence.  The End.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *68*

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by  Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming book releases that we're especially looking forward to!

Here's my pick this week:

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jenson
The Malediction Trilogy #1
Release Date: April 1st, 2014 by Strange Chemistry

For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy...

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.
I have a confession to make.  It's kind of embarrassing.  Ok. Here goes: I still need to read both Graceling and Seraphina. Eeep!  There...I said it. Don't judge me >.<  I do own copies of both though...because when they came out I had to own them and felt sure I'd fall in love when I read them.  I feel similarly about Stolen Songbird.  Beyond the obvious draw (witches, hello!) this story also features trolls!   Trolls aren't really magical beings that I've encountered much in my fantasy reads...except for brief mischief in both the Harry Potter Series and the Lord of the Rings books that is.  I'm really intrigued by Miss Jensen's take on humanizing them; even making one of them a love interest *gasp*

What do you think about Stolen Songbird...and trolls?
Be sure to share your thoughts & link up below!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: Night of Cake & Puppets

Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2.5
Published November 26th 2013 by Little Brown Books

In Night of Cake & Puppets, Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike. Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him.
Night of Cake & Puppets is an absolutely perfect read for fans of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series - especially those who need a little something to hold them over until the last book in the trilogy comes out and we can compulsively read and re-read the entire series to our little heart's desire.  Despite being a quick read, I was surprised by  how invested I became in the adorable little love story of side characters Zuzana & Mik.  And to be honest, 'adorable' is putting it mildly...

Night of Cake & Puppets is ooey gooey romantic in the best. possible. way.  I had a big goofy smile plastered on my face for the better part of this entire novella and I'm not the biggest 'romance' fan out there!  I don't know how she did it, but Laini Taylor managed to mix the perfect amount of humor, charm...and magic to make this such an enjoyable, not to mention memorable read.

I think I speak for all the DoS&B lovers out there when I say I've always been a huge fan of Zuzana.  Her banter with the series's main character Karou is such a wonderful and important part of the series! I especially liked how the story tied in to the DoS&B story arc: in the actual series, we got Karou's side of conversations with Zuzana so it was fun to revisit some of those key moments from Zuzana's perspective... In fact, this new glimpse into Zuz's thought process made me love her even more.  Her voice is entirely different from Karou's so kudos to Miss Taylor for bringing the rabid fairy to life in such a vibrant and memorable way (especially considering the number of pages she had to work with).

The story alternated between Zuzana's voice and Mik's and both were equally fun to read.  Mik's voice was perfect as well - he was distinct from Zuzana's, perfectly boyish and thoroughly sweet ♥  Literally in an instant I felt completely re-emersed  in the world of Daughter of Smoke & Bone. The ambiance returned full-force, I could imagine the streets, the people and the action as they unfolded.  Another plus for all you Karou lovers out there?  We get to see Karou from someone else's perspective!!  Hint: she's just as mesmerizing as we imagined *fangirls* XD  Yup, Night of Cake & Puppets was a blast.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #34

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself! Upcoming topics & how to join here.

  Favorite Magical Disaster

Ha! This was a really fun topic to think of and I was surprised by how hard it was to narrow down.  It got me thinking about the terrible signing Valentine Ginny had sent to Harry that one year *snicker*  That scene with poor Hermione and the Polyjuice potion was a great moment as well but I think a standout magical disaster for me has got to be:

Ron and the Love Potion

I figured this qualified as a magical disaster haha!  The love-potion was meant for Harry but I think it was even funnier to have Ron end up under it's spell.  Everything just went down at precisely the right time: Ron was seeing Lavender so Harry naturally assumed Ron was talking about her at first - and just a bit more gaga than usual.  The confusion this caused at first was absolutely priceless.  It was such a memorable scene in the books and I think the actors here nailed it brilliantly!  As much as it ends up being a seriously close call for Ron (and not at all funny anymore by that point), the start there is one of the moments that made me laugh the most in the whole series.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *67*

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by  Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming book releases that we're especially looking forward to!

Here's my pick this week:

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch 
Snow Lie Ashes #1
Expected Publication: October 14th, 2014 by Balzer+Bray

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn't go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
I love me some high-fantasy (as all of you must have figured out by now hehe) and Snow Like Ashes sounds like the perfect combination of fantasy, dystopia and adventure!  I'm also really digging how determined and resourceful the MC Moira seems to be.  I'm also instantly curious to know all the details about how Winter lost it's magic...and the locked that could restore it! I really want to sit down with this one and start exploring this world :)

What's your take on Snow Like Ashes?
Don't forget to link me up to your WoW Post!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Review: AtLA -The Search I

The Search - Part One by Gene Luen Yang
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search #1
Published March 20th 2013 by Dark Horse

For years, fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra have burned with one question--what happened to Fire Lord Zuko's mother? Finding a clue at last, Zuko enlists the aid of Team Avatar--and the most unlikely ally of all--to help uncover the biggest secret of his life.

The Search is a three-part series that focuses on (finally) tackling the question that fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender  have been pining for since the animated series ended:  what happened to Zuko's mother?  Needless to say, I was dying to read this trilogy since I first heard it was coming out.  I was also excited that the same team that brought us the previous manga trilogy The Promise were returning for this story as well.  Yes, my expectations were up and with this first installment I can safely say that so far I'm happy with the outcome.

Part one of The Search starts off with a brief re-establishment of events past and the characters that will return for this story.  I was instantly drawn into this story because the focus is on our young new Firelord, Zuko who has always been a favorite of mine.  The glimpses into his life, not to mention the opening scene which featured both ex-Firelord Ozai and freshly derailed Princess Azula got me hooked quick.  More than that though, the promise of finding out anything at all about Zuko's mother was seriously exciting!  I mean, this is an huge unsolved mystery for fans and I, for one *need* to know every. little. detail.  Even though I knew that the answers I was after wouldn't all be revealed in the 1st book, I was eager to learn whatever I could.  I loved piecing things together with Zuko, Aang and the gang but I most definitely was not ready for the mind-blowing reveal at the end of this one!  Wow...I won't spoil it for anyone but hold on to your jaws guys - you'll be picking them up off the floor!

As with the previous Avatar mangas I've read penned by Gene Luen Yang, I delighted at how each and every one of the characters stay true to their essences - reading these stories really feels like you're watching the animated series in your head.  I loved getting glimpses of Zuko's early years as the new Fire Lord, Zuko and Aang's growing friendship, Aang and Katara's romance and even a little bit of Sokka and Suki goodness.  On the chilling side of things though, Azula's continued descent into madness and the aftermath of her downfall was especially dark.  She's more of a loose canon now than ever and that's say the least O.O

Part one of The Search was a really satisfying start to a promising trilogy. Character wise, all the favorites returned (except Toph! Boo!) and I love the added depth these manga series give all of them. The art work (done once again by the brilliant Gurihiru) truly brings the story alive; it sets the tone, adding humor to funny moments and amping up the intensity of shocking scenes.  It is a direct continuation from the animated series too!  The ending will leave you reeling though, so make sure you have the next books handy.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #33

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself! Upcoming topics & how to join here.

  Worst Spell

Well, I suppose ''worst'' could mean a lot of different things here but my mind instantly went to like the worst spell ever in life.  There are a lot of downright horrifying spells to choose from regardless.  Avada Kedavra is terrible, obviously.  Sectumsempra was clearly not the best idea O.O ...but when it comes right down to it, I debated the most between choosing the Imperius Curse or the Cruciatus Curse.  One of them robs you of your free will and shows no sign you've been hostage in your own body.  The other is a torture curse that can rob you of your own mind if someone is sick enough not to care...and just thinking of what was those Death Eaters did to Neville's parents sealed the deal for me:


To me this is scarier than death because death by Avada Kedavra at least is quick.  The pain it clearly caused that spider under fake Moody's power was clear.  Then we got to witness Harry's pain first hand when Voldemort used it on Harry in the graveyard.  For me personally though, the moment we learn the fate of Neville's parents - and Harry realizes that Neville had indeed had it worst than he had.  Harry's parent's had died quick but Neville's parents suffered and were never the same *sobs*
The Cruciatus Curse is one of the three Unforgivable Curses of the wizarding world. It is a curse of torture, inflicting excruciating pain on a victim. This makes it popular among the Death Eaters for use on both fellow wizards and Muggles. Considering the fact that this curse doesn't physically harm the victim, it is possible that it only stimulates pain receptors. When casting the curse one incants "Crucio."  
The two most well-known victims of this curse are the former Aurors Alice and Frank Longbottom, who were tortured into insanity with it by Death Eaters Bellatrix, Rodolphus, Rabastan Lestrange, and Barty Crouch Jr.
Harry Potter attempted to use this curse on both Bellatrix Lestrange and Severus Snape after people he cared about were killed. He later used this curse on Amycus Carrow, with a certain degree of success. -source

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *66*

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by  Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming book releases that we're especially looking forward to!

Here's my pick this week:

Sunrise by Mike Mullin
Ashfall #3
Expected Publication: April 15th 2014 by Tanglewood Press

The Yellowstone supervolcano nearly wiped out the human race. Now, almost a year after the eruption, the survivors seem determined to finish the job. Communities wage war on each other, gangs of cannibals roam the countryside, and what little government survived the eruption has collapsed completely. The ham radio has gone silent. Sickness, cold, and starvation are the survivors' constant companions.

When it becomes apparent that their home is no longer safe and adults are not facing the stark realities, Alex and Darla must create a community that can survive the ongoing disaster, an almost impossible task requiring even more guts and more smarts than ever — and unthinkable sacrifice. If they fail . . . they, their loved ones, and the few remaining survivors will perish.
This epic finale has the heart of Ashfall, the action of Ashen Winter, and a depth all its own, examining questions of responsibility and bravery, civilization and society, illuminated by the story of an unshakable love that transcends a post-apocalyptic world and even life itself.
So, I'm kind of cheating here - since I still need to read book #2 in the series Ashen Winter...BUT I am planning on reading it very soon and since I got approved for this one, I couldn't resist featuring it :D  I was truly blown away by the first book and honestly I can not take not knowing what's going to happen next for Alex & Darla; not to mention how their story will end!

Thoughts? Have you read any of the books in this series?
Don't forget to link me up to your post!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Review: The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
The Stormlight Archive #1
Published April 31, 2010 by Tor Books

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soiless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.
The Way of Kings is a gorgeously imagined, truly epic high-fantasy story unlike any other I have ever read before.  The sheer scope of the plot, characters and mythology introduced in the beast of a book - my paperback edition tips the scale at 1258 pages (which makes it the longest book I have ever read!) - are put together in a way that only Brandon Sanderson could achieve.  I was mesmerized from the first chapters by this new world, truly unique magical system  and engaging, complex characters and believe me when I tell you that my feelings for this book only amplified as I made my way through it's (many) pages...

In case it wasn't already clear: this review is going to be filled with gushing.  I will try my best to reign it in though, I promise.  So, as much as I adored it, I can see it scaring off some people; and not just because of it's size.  The Way of Kings features an elaborate world, brought to life in great detail.  There's war strategy, a complex and exciting magical system, unique currency, tons of different races and cultures...not to mention the ominous hints of a terrible past long forgotten.  It's not a light or quick read, but it's probably one of the most all-consuming reads I've stories I've ever read.  It never, ever felt slow, there are no info-dumps or lulls in the story.  The details came perfectly spread out, there was always enough plot or character development to keep the pace going.  To be honest reading this really flew by because the story was perfectly orchestrated from start to finish.

Told in alternating POV's, The Way of Kings focuses on four main characters with a few expertly chosen exceptions.  This is one of those cases where alternating between characters was necessary to the plot and honestly, the story just couldn't have worked otherwise.  The characters in question were all part of the greater story arc but not necessarily in the same area when the story kicks off.  Truth be told, I adored getting to know every single main and secondary character Sanderson threw at us.  I certainly had favorites among them: Kaladin, the surgeons forced to become a soldier and Dalinar, a high prince with a strong connection to the past. Kaladin especially is the kind of protagonist I tend to all-out obsess over.  Like: if he was real, I'd the first to rally behind him.  Or stalk him, whatever works. Nonetheless the other character's held my attention just as much and each and every one holds a special place in my heart.

Plot wise, I have no complaints either.  The big picture was obviously vague in the first parts there, since we still didn't know all that much about the world or characters in question but the intrigue was high and so were the stakes. The whole thing just grabs your attention from the start and does.NOT.let.go. It helps that there's a steady stream of action with plenty of jaw-dropping twists that were sure to turn around in my head for days and days after I'd read them.   Putting the elements of this story together was a truly satisfying experience, every single layer revealed new twists and new questions that needed to be answered.  At about the mid-way point, a lot of seemingly separate elements begin trying into one another in a way that truly blew me away.  It's so exciting to read something just so freaking good!

It's impossible to read an epic fantasy like this without talking about the action: the fight scenes, the battles, the full blown wars and the tactics and plotting in between.  And like the author's other epic series Mistborn, the action in The Way of Kings was absolutely breathtaking.  One of the aspect of the special powers a few of the characters have here involves the most epic fighting skills ever.  And I don't know how he does it, but Mr. Sanderson has a way of unravelling a fight scene in your mind; just like watching a movie with the most amazing moves ever. I'm not talking special effects and explosions here.  I'm talking about mind-bendingly well choreographed martial-arts style stuff that defies gravity and leaves you picking your jaw up off the floor.

I realize I've dissolved into a gushing fangirl right now, so I'll wind it down.  Suffice it to say I was blown away by the utter magnitude of  both the story and the world brought to life in The Way of Kings.  This wasn't just just a new world but it was filled with new races of people, new religions and beliefs.  It was filled with a new ecosystem, new weather, a new energy system (Stormlight!!) and new foods!  We're talking truly EPIC world-building, character evolution and plot development.  I'd highly recommend this one to any and all high-fantasy readers.

Did I mention: Epic? ;-)
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #32

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself! Upcoming topics & how to join here.

  James Potter VS Severus Snape

Oh, this is an interesting juxtaposition, both of them did some truly terrible things, along with some incredibly heroic things.  To be honest, I've always been conflicted about both of some degree.  Yes I'm grateful that Snape eventually did the right thing and from that point on, dedicated his life to protecting Harry.  Yes he was incredibly brave for risking his life every day playing a triple agent right under ol' Voldy's nose *ahem* (hehe, what nose?) and Yes I understand that Snape needed to play the part, so his jerk personality should be ok right?  Only it isn't. He was a terrible bully, not just towards Harry but all the non-Slytherin students.  The worst was how he terrorized Neville, not to mention poor Hermione and Ron.  Sure he gained sympathy from me when his memories were revealed in DH but I've never been able to say I love the guy so I'll pick:

James Potter

Sure he was a prat in his younger years, but all we know about that is something that came from Snape's own memories.  James certainly was good enough to attract two of my favorite characters ever (Sirius and Lupin) to him and keep their devotion for life.  I don't know but that seems like all the proof I need.  He was also a pure-blood wizard who dedicated his adult life to standing up for what was right...and I'm sure that was one of the many things that eventually won Lily Evans over.  Yes he bullied Snape and that wasn't cool but I don't know many kids who haven't acted  like jerks during their childhood.  Not to mention that little bit about dying to protect his wife and son (UNARMED nonetheless).  So yeah, I'm team James all the way!

"Lily, take Harry and go! It’s him! Go! Run! I’ll hold him off!"
—James Potter stands between Lord Voldemort and his family.
James Potter (27 March, 1960 – 31 October, 1981), also known as Prongs, was a pure-blood wizard and son of Mr and Mrs Potter. He attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from 1971 to 1978, and was sorted into Gryffindor House. When James started at Hogwarts, he met and befriended fellow Gryffindor students Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew. He also met Severus Snape, a Slytherin student whom he frequently antagonised, and Lily Evans, a fellow Gryffindor whom James fell in love with. - Harry Potter Wikia

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Way of Kings RAL - Conclusion

Wow, it's the 10th and final week of our Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings read-along!  Time flies when your having fun hehe!  I don't know about you guys but this was the biggest book I've ever read so I have a proportionately huge book-hangover D:  Alright so let's get to chatting so I can relive my favorite moments with you guys all over again:

*Week 10 - Chapters 66-Epilogue*
Caution: Major Spoilers Ahead!

1. Syl's true nature as an honorspren has been revealed! She once again asks the interesting question: are spren attracted to their element or do they create that element? What do you think? Do you think there are more honorspren or is Syl unique?

I think Syl is unique and directly related to whatever 'sort' of Radiant Kaladin is - or will end up being down the line.  I was pretty much blown away by that whole scene with Kaladin tapping into his power and all that but Syl's true nature reveal was emotionally charged.  It seems fitting too that an Honorspren would be bonded with Kaladin of all people in this world.  I think it's telling of what kind of Radiant Kaladin will become...and of course, it's making me adore him even more (I didn't even think it was possible!)

2. The Parshendi had a whole host of reactions to Kaladin's power, mostly including fear and awe, though they also seemed to recognize him or his power. Why do you think that is? How do you think the Parshendi hiring Szeth plays into it?

Since the Radiants seem like they were the only ones who could fight off The Desolation, I think the Parshendi (or Voidbringers according to Jasnah) recognized their nemesis from the old days.  It's like their rage towards him turned into an odd blend of awe, respect and fear after that.  As for them hiring Szeth, well he was probably like Christmas to them because 1. He had a Shardblade. 2. He has powers like Kaladin but he's clearly been trained up in their usage for a long time. And 3. Being Truthless meant he could be controlled completely and used as a hitman to gain power and control... 

3. Dalinar makes some pretty intense decisions towards the end of this book, including trading his Shardblade to free the bridgemen and completely changing how he wants to deal with the highprinces. Do you think these were good decisions?

What a freaking shocker to see Dalinar give up his Shardblade!  And in front of Kaladin - the one other person (I assume...other than the Radiants) to willingly give up his Shardblade.  Gah, it was all too much!  Honestly, as impressive as it was to see Dalinar mix things up like this, I think that on  the whole they were the right decisions to make.  Don't get me wrong: I also think they will cause him an enormous amount of grief in one way or the other but the were still the right choices to make so I'm glad he made them.

4. A lot of mysteries surrounding Jasnah are finally revealed! Do you think that she is right and that most Soulcasters do work? Why do you think Shallan and Jasnah both happen to have this soulcasting power? What is Shadesmar really?

I adored getting all that information on Jasnah, not to mention some answers for Shallan! I'm still worried about Shallan so now I guess I'll worry about Jasnah as well haha!  They both mentioned some connection to the Voidbringers and I very much doubt that could be a good thing.  Truthfully, I hope I'm way off base here but I can't shake the bad feeling I have about all of this.  There has to be something to the fact that they both have the same power and ended up together though, right??  I'm glad they have each other in any event because what they're trying to uncover is important and despite my worries about their powers I really do think both Jasnah and Shallan are trying to do the right thing with the information they're collecting.

As for Shadesmar, I'm kind of spooked and fascinated with the place to be honest.  I hope we get to explore it a lot more with Jasnah and Shallan!

5. Szeth is once again on a mission, but this time we really don't want him to succeed! What do you think is going to happen with him and Dalinar in the next book? Do you think Szeth and Kaladin will recognize each other's power?

OMG that mission!  NOOOOO!  Someone has to be able to stop him. Dalinar can't go down that way, he just can't. Kaladin needs to step up his training so he can stop Szeth in his tracks because...I can't even think about it!  Nope.  

*ahem* but yeah, Kaladin stepping up and fighting him off, maybe even talking to him, changing his mind about obeying orders blindly. That would be great.  Let's hope for that!

6. We finally have a better idea where the Parshmen and Parshendi came from! What do you think the real history is there? How did people possibly enslave the Voidbringers and why are the Parshendi now changing?

It all sounds like such a brilliant plan though when you look at it in retrospect!  They hid in plain sight.  They allowed themselves to be enslaved so they would be forgotten with time as the threat that they were.  And with time they were and they became integrated in every.single.aspect. of their enemies lives. And when the time was right, when humanity was weakened by war and greed, they'd awaken and tear the world down. Brilliant but also terrifying.  Eeeek, I need all the answers! Now!

7. The last chapter with the Almighty was pretty crazy. What do you think about this vision? What do you think this means for Dalinar's future and the world's (universe's??) future? What is Odium really?

Odium man. Woah O.O  I think Odium is like the flip side to the Almighty, the darkness to the Almighty's light...but he wasn't supposed to be able to win though...right??  I think things are a lot more critical than Dalinar could have ever imagined in his wildest nightmares. I also think it means that all of our heroes will have to work extra hard to win this war and save humanity.  It sounds like they'll have their work cut out for them though!

*Extra Bits*

* Can I just rave again about how Kaladin unbelievably epic Kaladin was when he fully tapped into his powers there to save Dalinar?!  That moment he had there completely floored me - I was so freaking excited for him :-D I was especially touched by how it was brought on by his most terrible memory: loosing Tien.  What an emotionally charged scene there. Wow!  And I adored Syl through all of it, they make such an amazing team ♥

* Sadeas standing in the center of the Justice glyph that Navani had done up for Dalinar and how Dalinar saw it as "magnificently appropriate"

* My actual reaction when Jasnah revealed the Parshendi to be Voidbringers: Whhhaaaaahhh!!!

* I'm curious as to why Syl dislikes Shardblades?  I always assumed that as a Radiant, Kaladin would inevitably end up with his own Shard but now I'm not sure I want him to...

Let me know what you guys though of the conclusion of this incredible story in the comments below.  It's been truly wonderful chatting with all of you throughout the weeks and sharing thoughts, feels and ideas! And if (like me!) you still feel like chatting about this amazing story, be sure to follow the link to weigh-in on my full review for The Way of Kings

PS-Hopefully all of you were smarter than me and pre-ordered Words of Radiance.  Initially, I wanted to wait for the paperback version to come out...since my copy of TWoK is a paperback and OCD me wanted my covers to match. But yeah, I doubt I'll make it to the end of the week without ordering a copy of WoR >.<

Happy reading! xx