What are you reading – June 2018

One of the things I’m excited about with this trip is reading! I know, I do that anyway, but what can I say? I’m a serious bibliophile! I need my fix! Here’s what I’m reading right now. 📚

Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson. This is a collection of his shorter works related to the Cosmere. Some of them I have read before, but I just finished a longer story about Kelsier from Mistborn which made me even more excited to re-read that with by book club later this year.

Zero Limit by Jeremy K Brown. I found this one through Kindle Unlimited. It’s a sci fi set on the moon.

Academ’s Fury by Jim Butcher. This one I got as a digital audio book from the library, but my loan expired, so I have to put it on hold until I get another copy. Enjoyable magic based story.

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman. Creepy supernatural mystery about a woman whose husband buried her alive. Great premise, but I’m having trouble sticking with it.

That’s all for me. Too many at once really, but that’s how I roll. What are you reading?

Advertisements

The Archimage’s Fourth Daughter: A Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions remain my own.

36353709

The Archimage’s Fourth Daughter by Lyndon Hardy, Magics # 4

Excerpt:

Alodar placed his hands on Briana’s shoulders, paused for a moment more, and then said softly, “The answer is no.”

“You can’t do that!” Briana yelled back. “Even the Archimage has limits to his power. You admitted as much yourself. You cannot order me around like some serf of an Arcadian lord.”

“I do not order you to stay because I am the Archimage,” Alodar said. “I do so because I am your father.”

Briana felt the anger well within her like a brush fire suddenly out of control. She clinched her teeth so as not to say more. The library page had a key to this council chamber, she thought fiercely. It might take more than a single kiss to get it, but that is what she would have to do.

Brief book description:

A group of residents from a magical world have found a way to pass into another realm, but then lost contact. The archimage and his council need to find out what happened. They plan to send someone to find out, but his youngest daughter instead journeys there to discover a new world without magic. Instead the residents use technology. Briana has to find these offworlders and find out what they’re up to. Then she has to find a way to keep them from destroying her world.


Y’all. This book. I don’t even know where to start.

Let me start with the good: The part I really liked was when Briana came through to the “new world,” which was of course, modern Earth. Briana is has grown up in a medieval male-dominated style world, living a sheltered and privileged life due to her father’s status. She has servants, she has magic, and she has money.

When she gets to Earth, she has none of that. Instead she winds up living on the streets and in shelters at first, because she doesn’t understand how money works, she has no documents, and knows no one. She’s befriended by a homeless man named Eddie who takes her under his wing and shows her how to survive. Before long, she’s finds a place where she can wait tables and earn a little cash while she tries to figure out her next move. This was definitely the best part of the book. Not only was her struggle real, but it gave the author a way to discuss some modern day social issues, like the problem of homelessness, the divide between rich and poor, and problems with unjustified police engagement. I think this could have been taken even further, and really would have made a great book just by itself.

But it wasn’t the main part of the book. We then get into these bad guys. Who are they? Why have they been on earth so long and what is their problem? I don’t really know. They were just really unpleasant. I had a hard time seeing them as much of a threat. They never come above ground! How much damage can they do? And I’m not exactly sure what they looked like. The writer said they had tusks or something, they weren’t human. I’m not sure Briana was either, but she passed as human. I didn’t really get it. How had these dudes managed to survive for a hundred years, living underground with their weird wasp things?

Briana finally meets some humans who can help her with her quest, which I had almost forgotten by this point of the book, and that brings up the next set of problems I had with the book. Briana. I just didn’t like the girl. When she was lost on a new planet, I felt sorry for her. I could only imagine how disorienting that must be. But for someone who’s supposed to be smart, she sure took a long time figuring stuff out. She’s so stuck in her old world way of thinking, that she can’t tell when a man is hitting on her.

She chats up a guy because well, plot, and the next thing you know, she’s invited herself to move in with him. He’s kind of a creep, so he thinks, “Hey, hot girl I barely know, sure you can move it with me if you move into my bed.” Like she’s JUST introduced herself and he’s already trying to get her clothes off. But honestly, what would most guys think? This strange girl wants to move in with you? Slow down!

So sure, he’s a creep. But then she is all offended that he expects sex. She just wanted to move in with him and have him drive her places and buy her food. In return for what? Does she help with school work or house work? No. This other random dude who moves in too does that. She accuses him of using her, but he’s just there to solve her problems.

I really lost interest in the second half of this book. The plot sort of limps along and the bad guys are bad and we get an epic battle at the end, but it wasn’t worth it. I was really disappointed. This is book 4 in a series, but the series has been on hiatus for a long time, and I was assured I could jump in at this point, so I didn’t read the previous book. It might have made a difference to me, but I just can’t imagine that I’d want to go back and read them now. If you are into magic-based fantasy, I would say don’t start with this one. Try his first book, Master of the Five Magics, which I guess is about Briana’s father. But I’m moving on.

The Wandering Land: A Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions remain my own.

40003673 The Wandering Land by Jamie Killen

Book Description:

The Maze House. The Fox Woman’s Garden. The Caverns of the Queen. These are the things that await you in the wandering land. 

On a summer night in a sunbaked desert city, the wandering land appears. A fairytale village nestled in dense forest, it is a place of ruined castles, abandoned treasures, and strange creatures living in the shadows. Brought together by this impossible place are five visitors: failed painter Eli; art professor Amal; young lovers Darcy and Wes; and mysterious, haunted Coyote. Together they explore their own secret village, an entire world hidden in plain sight. 

But there is darkness beneath the magic, a force pulling the visitors deeper and deeper into the place’s mysteries. As the boundaries between the secret land and the outside world begin to collapse, each of the visitors is confronted with visions of an otherworldly child, a child whose existence holds the key to understanding everything about the place that has drawn them together. 

Who is this child? Why did she choose them? And will she ever let them go?

I love a good, creepy story. My idea of great horror is something that takes the familiar and makes it slightly but definitely other, then taking the story and letting the otherness grow until the whole story is just horrifying. It doesn’t even have to have supernatural stuff in it – a creepy, suspenseful story is always immensely satisfying. One example would be We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I loved the book description on The Wandering Land, and I was really hoping the story was just as good.

I was right. Killen delivers a very satisfying story with a truly creepy payoff. The story starts with five different people who all discover a way into a hidden world. Each of the five is creative in a different way – an artist, a writer, a cartoonist, an editor, and a musician – and they discover that through their art they can create new and sometimes unsettling changes to this hidden world.

As they redesign the world, they are given tasks to complete, all at the direction of a hidden queen. The further they progress in their tasks, the more the world begins taking hold of their every day life as well. Soon it becomes almost impossible to separate the two. They have to dive deep to uncover the history of this wandering land if they are all going to be able to free themselves from its spell.

There was so much to enjoy about this book. First, I loved the concept of a hidden world that chooses its new residents. It’s set in Tuscon, and I think that’s a great place to imagine a portal to a hidden world. The desert is definitely a landscape where you feel like anything could happen.

But my favorite part of this book was the characters. While the story was great, well-imagined and original, the characters were the part that really made this story shine for me. I loved that the author was able to get such diverse group of characters  without making it seem like she was just checking off boxes for the sake of diversity. Lovers Darcy and Wes work together on a comic, but they have to work hard to overcome the differences in their upbringing. Eli has a family to support but he can’t help feeling this connection to the wandering land that threatens to overshadow his responsibilities. Amal is a professor who has just moved in with her girlfriend. And Coyote has no family, only one friend, and lives only for her music. Each character has a compelling back story and a unique voice.

In short, I’m really glad I had a chance to read this one. I haven’t read any other books from this author, but I would definitely recommend this one.

 

A few reviews

I’m playing catch up with my reviews so I’m going to do a few today.

Let’s start with the one I didn’t like so I can finish strong. The Shadow Rises by K S Marden, Witch Hunters book 1. Witch hunters and witches and inherited powers. A little confused with poorly developed characters. DNF. Not much to say but at least it was free.

——————-

Adrenaline by Jeff Abbott, Sam Capra book 1

Sam works for the CIA. His wife is expecting their first baby. She also works for the Company. One day Sam goes to work and receives a call to from her to come outside right this second. As soon as he does a bomb goes off in the building and she disappears.

Sam is now the only survivor and the chief suspect. He only wants to escape custody and find his wife and baby. To do that he has to make some new allies and go on the run.

I love a good thriller and this one sounded really exciting. It has a great premise, as who doesn’t identify with wanting to find your family and keep them safe? The bad guys were pretty bad,the pace was goos. But the writing kept me from giving it more than 3.5 stars. Also I don’t enjoy political thrillers as much, so it wasn’t quite what I expected.


 

Goldmayne by Kate Stradling

Duncan escapes an abusive father to wind up servant to a witch. There he meets a talking 🐎 who helps him escape. They set off for a neighboring country and find work at the castle.

This was a fairy tale retelling of two French stories, Scurvyhead and Goldmayne. I was unfamiliar with either story, so I couldn’t tell at first how it was going to end. It has a happy ending, of course, and the hero gets the girl. Fun stuffstuff. This one is on Kindle Unlimited or it’s only $1.

——————-

Finally my favorite of the bunch, Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

“Far from city politics in the Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps. Yet as the Alerans’ most savage enemy – the Marat – return to the Valley, he will discover that his destiny is much greater than he could ever imagine.” Caught in a storm of deadly wind furies, Tavi saves the life of a runaway slave named Amara. But she is actually a spy for Gaius Sextus, sent to the Valley to gather intelligence on traitors to the Crown, who may be in league with the barbaric Marat horde. And when the Valley erupts in chaos – when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies – Amara will find Tavi’s courage and resourcefulness to be a power greater than any fury – one that could turn the tides of war.

I actually liked this better than the Dresden Files. I liked Tavi and Amara better than I like Harry Dresden. It still has some problems, mainly a hyper sexualized female villain (her character does get explained though), but I thought it was a lot of fun. Looking forward to the next book.I

 

Hope this have you done ideas for your next read. See you later!

 

Pirates AND Dragons!

518Fp82k6aL._AC_US218_

Are you looking for a great escape read? After watching Marvel’s The Avengers: Infinity War – no spoilers, I promise! – I *really* needed something light and happy. What could be better than a fantasy story with a love triangle, pirates, and a little dragon? How about a kick-ass heroine who gets in there and mixes it up? And how about doing it all for less than a dollar?

The book is Moss Forest Orchid, book 1 in the Silver & Orchids series by one of my favorite fairy tale writers, Shari L. Tapscott. I’ve talked about Shari’s books before on here, so you know that I love them, but these books are not based on a fairy tale. They are entirely new.

Lucia is from a family of chicken farmers, looking for a way into a better life. She teams up with best friend (and grandson of the local lord) Sebastian and sets up as adventurers. Unfortunately, she invests all their earnings with a man who turns out to be a con artist, and the two have nothing to show for all their hard work. Then they hear about a new job – bringing back a cutting of a rare flower, an orchid that only grows in a distant and dangerous swamp. The pay would be enough for Lucia to pay back Sebastian and make a new start.

There’s only a few problems with this plan. First, Lucia and Sebastian can hardly talk to each other without fighting, so teaming up is going to be rough. And second, there’s this distracting (and sexy) pirate captain who keeping turning up. Finally, Lucia has hm, acquired a dragon egg, which is going to be trouble. The whole thing is a bit of a mess. But hey, pirates are good!

I loved this one so much that the love triangle didn’t even phase me. Normally I avoid those books, but this one was just done right. I was really deceived by the first book, but as soon as I finished, I downloaded book 2, Greybrow Serpent, and completely switched my ship! The first book is available on Amazon right now for only $1 so you have no reason not to check it out. Love, love this series!

 

 

Blog Tour: Q & A

38363145 Hey bookies! Yesterday I had a review of Happily by Chauncey Rogers. Well, I’m back today with a Q & A with one of the main character, Luc! This interview with our happy-go-lucky merchant takes place before events in the book really get started, so there’s no spoilers!

What brings you to the capital?
Work! I’ve heard that this is the best place to sell fine cloth, and I come with nothing but the very finest. I’m hoping to establish myself in the royal market.

Is this your first time in the capital?
It is. It matches my mother’s description very well—as beautiful as she said it would be, if not more so. You really are fortunate here in Écarlate.

How long have you been trading?
A while, but to be honest, this is my first time really trading. Before it was just bartering. My family had quite a few nice things, once upon a time. Most of it’s gone now, traded away for things that we needed. But you do what you have to do, and life goes on, I suppose.

So, do you have a girlfriend? What do you look for in a girl?
No, no girlfriend. I mean, I have some friends who are girls, but it’s been a while since I’ve spent time with any of them. But if I were choosing a wife… I think I’d look for someone who could work hard. It takes a lot of work to build a future for a family. I’d want someone who I could work beside. The work has to be done anyways, so I guess you might as well do it in good company.

Tell me more about yourself. How would you describe yourself?
Hmmm… I’m not sure. I’m me? Haha. Uh, let’s see…. I’m a morning person. I like going to bed feeling like I got a lot done that day. I like planning, I suppose—thinking things through. I like to watch the stars come out, and just think. I don’t like fish very much? Haha, yeah, I guess I really don’t know what to say.

What are your long-term plans?
Well, I’ve got to get up this hill for starters, but that’s definitely short term. I have enough cloth in here, though, that if I get it all sold I’d be well set for a long while. I think then I’d be going out to restock at even lower prices—maybe travel closer to the sources, but perhaps get a horse so I can give my back a break from pulling this cart around myself. But if you mean really long term, I don’t know for sure. I just want peace and prosperity, really.

Thanks for dropping in and reading this Q&A with Luc. It’s been a while since I finished writing Happily, so it was fun to drop back into Luc’s head and think about things from his perspective for a little bit.

Luc’s positive nature and work ethic are endearing to some, and a bit annoying to others. How do you feel about it? Would you want to spend a week at a job with Luc? Let us know in the comments!

Day 7 of 13 of Happily’s Release Blog Tour. Seethe full schedule here.

Happily on GoodReads
Purchase Happily on Amazon!

Catch more of the blog tour here:

Blog Tour Schedule - Optional.jpg

And this tour is courtesy of R & R book tours.

r & r

2 Faery Tales

foggy-mist-forest-trees-42263.jpeg

I love some good fantasy involving the fae. I like fluffy happy fairy tales too, but sometimes I like the darker tales, the ones that remind you that those Fair Folk can be spooky and otherworldly beings as well as beautiful and kind. I just read two fae books in a row, and while neither was as good as I hoped, one was better than the other one. Neither of these were specifically YA books, but either one could be read by any age.

I’ll start with the one I am recommending (with reservations).

25761086

The Masked City by Genevieve Cogmon
Invisible Library book 2

I read the first one in this series, The Invisible Library, last month I believe and I thought it was quite fun. In that one, Junior Librarian Irene is given a new apprentice and sent into a world to retrieve a rare book. When she is there, she discovers that the fae are rather powerful in that world, which also has some steampunk aspects, and narrowly escapes being murdered by the one person to escape the Library oaths.

This book starts a little while after that one. Slight spoiler: she is assigned to remain on that world with. Her assistant Kai, who has secrets I won’t spoil, but trust me they’re big, gets kidnapped in this one and taken to an alternate Venice entirely ruled by the fae. Irene has to get him back before war breaks out. More noticeable plotholes than the first book, but more dragons, so it sort of events out. Irene is still awesome, but too impulsive. I liked the Train. If you’re looking for a fun series that sort of bridges the YA/adult gap, this one would be a good place to start. Right now this series is four books long, but it sounds like the author has even more planned, so this is a good one to check out if you want something you can really enjoy.

23500493

A Fairy Tale by Shanna Swendson book 1

This one was not as good as the previous book. You might know this author from her Rebel Mechanics or Enchanted, Inc series. This one was at the library so I thought I would give it a try. Emily gets kidnapped by the fae – there’s a lot of that going around – and big sister Sophie wants to get her back. Lots of faery politics, some romantic tension, and a bulldog. Not a lot to this book, and Sophie really takes her time, but I liked the picture of the fae world and I liked Emily. I didn’t like that it took Sophie so long to figure things out. Probably won’t read more in this series.

So that’s it for today. Also, I’m thinking of starting a BookTube channel. Let me know in the comments if you would watch and what you’d like to see from me if I do. Happy reading!

Muirwood – a Review

The Wretched of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler*

I have read Wheelers other series and enjoyed it, but I didn’t know much about these. When I saw the set at the thrift store I decided to snag all three. Later I read the rather tepid reviews. Readers described them as a rather predictable story of a Pig-Girl who saved the Kingdom, but I was kind of in the mood for safe and predictable, so I have it a try.

Lia is a Wretched, which is sort of like a foundling, except it’s an actual class in her world. One day a stranger arrives with an injured boy and asks her to hide him. She does. Turns out that he’s a knight in training and the evil Sheriff of Nottingham or so edging is looking for him. Meanwhile, Lia can do magic and stuff so she goes on this quest with him and fulfills her destiny and all that.

It was pretty unexceptional, but okay enough. Now I have two more books that I suppose I’ll read to see if it gets any better. We have yet to meet the Dude Who Wants to be King, but I guess he’s cooler than the actual 👑, so maybe that will be fun. IDK. I’m hiding from some real life worries in these books and I’m not up to any Serious Topics right now.

Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend them unless you were under 14. For everyone else, you’ve read this story before and seen it done better

Top 10 Tuesday – New YA

It’s Tuesday and I thought I would do a list of 10 new or new-ish YA books I’m looking forward to reading. I don’t read as much YA as a lot of bloggers do, but I do like some, so here goes!

35704397

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo. This sounds like a fun book with an #ownvoices author and diverse characters. It’s not available until May, but the reviews are really positive, so I think this one will be worth reading.

35750311

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis. Again, a YA contemporary with #ownvoices representation. I was sold on this because the description, a girl moving in with an estranged parent into a religious household. This one also releases in May.

36086513

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed. I love the cover on this one! I follow this author on Twitter and this story of a Pakistani girl forced into servitude sounds really compelling. I think this one will get a lot of attention. Out in May.

A Blade So Black by L L McKinney. This one has been getting a lot of buzz, not all of it positive, because of some controversial statements by author about race. However, I’m intrigued enough by the idea of Alice in Wonderland as a POC that I’m willing to wait until the September release and then decide for myself.

Veins of Gold by Charlie N. Holmberg. This one comes out in July, and it sounds like a Western fairy tale kind of thing. I like this author enough to put this on my list right away, without waiting for reviews.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw. Finally we come to a book that is actually available now! A stand alone book about three sisters who are witches and some creepy stuff going on. Reviews are good and it sounds like a cool setting.

Last Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron. Unlike the others, this one is the final book in a series that I’ve already read and enjoyed. Set in a future or parallel world where dragons live among humans and basically rule the world, I really hope this wraps up all the conflicts and has a satisfying ending. Also available now, but I haven’t downloaded it yet.

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton. I am a sucker for Shakespeare retelling and this one sounds promising. Add magic in, give the sisters more of a personality than in the play, and then a creepy poison ritual (according to the book description) and it’s no surprise that this goes onto my list.

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson. This one came out last month and the reviews are a little mixed, but I think it sounds interesting enough that I want to give it a try. I haven’t read all the descriptions, because everyone says it’s better to just jump in with this one, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young. A Viking- inspired story with a female MC. How cool is that? She’s fierce, and she’s angry, and there’s an girl holding an ax on the cover! OK, shallow maybe, but I’m still going to read it.

And one more, because I’m excited about this one and I just barely heard it was coming out!

36896898

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. I loved Uprooted, and it sounds like this one is set in the same world, although with different characters. I can’t tell for sure, but it sounds like there’s a Jewish MC, which you don’t see a lot (like ever?) in fantasy, and I think that’s really cool. But even if I’m wrong, I can’t wait to read it. But I have to, because it’s not out until July.

Wow, I’m kind of surprised that I was able to come up with 10 books for this list; I was afraid I would only have 4 or 5. But it looks like I will have plenty of YA to keep me happy, not to mention all the hundreds of other books on my list and the books I have piled up literally in every room of my house. What new books are you looking forward to reading? Let me know! Happy reading!

2-to-Read

pexels-photo-864938.png
This is not me. Just FYI.

I just read two fun books in a row, both YA, both ones I would recommend.

The first is The Plastic Magician by Charlie M Holmberg. I’ve blogged about her before, even did a giveaway of one of her books. (Speaking of which, I should do another giveaway soon!) So it’s no secret that I enjoy her writing. This book is an add-on to her Paper Magician series, but introduces an entirely new main character. Here’s the synopsis.

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Charlie N. Holmberg returns to the enchanting world of The Paper Magician.

Alvie Brechenmacher has arrived in London to begin her training in Polymaking—the magical discipline of bespelling plastic. Polymaking is the newest form of magic, and in a field where there is so much left to learn, every Polymaker dreams of making the next big discovery.

Even though she is only an apprentice, Alvie is an inventor at heart, and she is determined to make as many discoveries—in as short a time frame—as she can. Luckily for her, she’s studying under the world-renowned magician Marion Praff, who is just as dedicated as Alvie is.

Alvie’s enthusiasm reinvigorates her mentor’s work, and together they create a device that could forever change Polymaking—and the world. But when a rival learns of their plans, he conspires to steal their invention and take the credit for it himself.

To thwart him, Alvie will need to think one step ahead. For in the high-stakes world of magical discovery, not everyone plays fair…

My take:

Alvie is a young German American woman who can’t wait to learn magic. She’s even chosen her field – The newly emerging study of plastics. She gets chosen for a very prestigious apprenticeship in England and sets off. Not a lot of plot going on here, but Alvie was so much fun as a character and the world was so engrossing that it didn’t bother me that the villain was really obvious. There was a light romance – very light – but it was a sweet one. I would recommend it to lovers of light fantasy.

Which brings me to my second book, The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. I saw this recommended by a Good Reads friend, so when I saw a copy at the library, I had to grab it. It’s based on this extra-dimensional library that maintains the language and literature of the worlds. Cool, right? Here’s a synopsis.

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author. One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen.

London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested–the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something–secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself. Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option–because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself.

My verdict:

A fun romp that goes completely over the top. Vampires and airships and far and alternate worlds all combine in this crazy little book. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I was in the mood for slightly goofy fun and this book was just what I needed. Irene and Kai are great characters and there’s still plenty of mystery left for the next book. It’s the first in a series, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest.