Fantasy · Favorites · graphic novels

Book Review: Saga (1 & 2) by Brian Vaughn

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Last weekend I attended the highly anticipated, annual HeroesCon here in Charlotte. It’s a 3 day event celebrating all things comic books, graphic novels, superheroes, and nerdy pop-culture. This was actually my first year attending and I’m now wondering why the hell I haven’t gone sooner. It was so much fun. There was some interesting panel topics, but I was so busy checking out all the graphic novels, merchandise, art, and amazing cosplay (HeroesCon takes its cosplay seriously) out on the floor that I only managed to check out one panel. I will definitely be attending multiple days next year.

While I was at the con I (obviously) picked up some reading material, including the first two books in the Saga series. I immediately devoured both of them and will be picking up more of the series pretty soon.

Saga (#1) – When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

Saga (#2) – The smash-hit ongoing epic continues! Thanks to her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana, newborn baby Hazel has already survived lethal assassins, rampaging armies, and alien monstrosities, but in the cold vastness of outer space, the little girl encounters something truly frightening: her grandparents!

This series has it all – outer space, plot, romance, weird ass fantasy creatures, raunchy sex, and comedy. It’s told from the point of view of Hazel, daughter of Marko and Alana, who was lucky to be alive. Her parents are from warring planets and have gone through hell to escape multiple assassination attempts. (The things we do for love, right?) We learn bits about where Marko and Alana come from – Landfall, the largest planet in the galaxy, and Wreath, satellite of Landfall. We see pretty quickly that not everyone is as ready to overlook centuries old feuds as the couple is.
The cast of characters in this story is brilliant, including teenage ghost Izabel (who makes one hell of a babysitter), a sidekick cat with the ability to tell when people are lying, and robotic royalty with televisions for heads.
Read this series. You can thank me later.
(Note: These probably aren’t suitable for younger readers, due to some pretty graphic sex illustrations)
Adult · Books · Fantasy

Book Review: Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

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My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

(Goodreads)

Ivy Gamble is a PI with a chip on her shoulder because her sister was born magic. The sisters’ worlds up colliding when Ivy is hired to investigate a case at the school where Tabitha teaches. It’s interesting to see how Ivy navigates the magical world, all while trying to solve a murder at the same time. As far as I could tell, the magical “world,” isn’t really different from the non-magical one (which, to be honest, I found a tad disappointing). There are some magical schools and whatnot, but beyond that we don’t really learn what all the mages go out and do once they are out of school.

The school had a lot of similarities to Hogwarts, albeit a bit less eccentric. My brain couldn’t decide if I liked this or not, though, as I kept thinking “Well, that’s been done already.” The magic system and way the students used magic was pretty cool, being a little more technical than just waving wands around and such.

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I liked Ivy and all her flaws. I even liked most of the other characters in the story. I kinda felt like maybe there should have been more mention of some of the other students, since it was all focused on a very select few, but that didn’t necessarily ruin it for me. I think the biggest issues I had with the story was the lack of world-building and the predictable plot. Overall, it was a quick, entertaining read. I’d recommend this one if you’re looking for something that you don’t have to dive too deep into.

Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Life

I’m a Geek! (And It’s Okay!)

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Last weekend Boyfriend and I were walking out of Gamestop, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild clutched happily in my hands, and he jokingly asked when I became such a geek. I brushed off the question, only for it to resurface in my brain later on. When did I become a geek? I wondered, feeling like it was almost a trick question.

In truth, I’ve always been a bit of a geek. For the greater part of my adult life, however, I’ve felt like I had to hide it. When I was a kid I owned a Sega, Playstation, and a Game Boy. One of my best friends was super into video games (and Hanson). I fondly remember sleeping over her house and staying up half the night to play Crash Bandicoot, while Mmm Bop played in the background. I’ve been a book nerd ever since I was old enough to read. My obsession with Harry Potter began when the first book came out, when I was around 11 years old. Those things alone were reason enough to make me feel like a geek. But this didn’t necessarily feel like a good thing. Twenty years ago, people typically used terms like “geek” and “nerd” in a negative way. Geeks were uncool, unattractive, and were supposedly destined to live in their parents’ basements well into their 30s.

I didn’t want that to be me.

As I grew older, I constantly felt like I needed to tone down my geeky side. In my twenties I started hanging around people who made me feel like that side of me was childish and undesirable, so I held back. If I saw a cool Harry Potter shirt for sale, I would look at it and think “I wish I could get away with wearing that,” then quickly dismiss the idea. Those types of things were meant for other people – younger people and people who went to fantasy cons, not for wearing in every day life.

Fast forward to now. We’re halfway through 2019 and I’m approaching 31 years old. I’m currently wearing a jacket with a tiny TARDIS pin on it. There’s another pin on my bag that says “Book Nerd,” which I purchased at BookCon a few weeks ago. There is representation of the fandoms I belong to all over the house. I talk about the books I love and other “geeky” topics on my blog frequently. I plan on attending HeroesCon this weekend.

So, what’s changed? you ask.

A small part of it is the fact that nerd culture and being part of particular fandoms is becoming more mainstream. There are comic and fantasy conventions all over the country, nerd makeup brands, Instagram pages dedicated to cosplay, shows like the Big Bang Theory, etc. Being a geek no longer has the same shameful connotation that it had twenty years ago. Not only is it acceptable now, but in a lot of ways, it’s cool. I don’t deny any of this, but at the same time, it’s not the only reason that I’ve decided to stop hiding my inner geek away from the rest of the world.

Ironically, despite all my griping about turning thirty, I’ve learned quite a bit about myself this past year. I’ve started focusing more on the things that make me happy and letting go of the ones that don’t. I’ve stopped trying to hang around people who make me feel like I need to change or hide who I really am and started spending more time around people who encourage me to be myself. I’ve stopped caring what people think of my pop culture shirts and anime pins. If they don’t like it or want to judge me for it that’s their problem, not mine. Finally letting go, not worrying as much, and just letting my inner geek out in all it’s glory has been a huge breath of fresh air. One that I didn’t realize I needed.

For anyone else out there feeling like they need to hide the things they enjoy: Let it out. Let your geek flag fly.

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Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Sci-Fi · Young Adult

Book Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer…

Emika Chen is pretty down on her luck when she accidentally glitches into the biggest Warcross tournament in the world. To her surprise, her small mistake is a ticket to the streets of Tokyo and a personal relationship with Hideo Tanaka. Emika was a great protagonist, with her badass hacking skills and funky appearance. She made some really good decisions and didn’t get overly wrapped up in the potential romance blossoming in front of her, which made me appreciate her even more.

Hideo is a fascinating character. The chemistry, the frustration, and the mystery surrounding him made it hard to tell if you were supposed to love or hate him. (I’m pretty sure this was intended though.) I enjoyed getting to see his relationship with Emika unfold and present some unexpected surprises. I liked the other characters of the story, also, but to be honest none of them blew me away. We didn’t get to know any of them particularly well, but it didn’t seem to hurt the story.

This was such an intriguing read. The way Lu blends the modern world (at least, I’m guessing it’s somewhat modern. We’re never really told this.) with a world set in a virtual reality really blew my mind. At times I found myself envious of Emika, wishing that my own life paralleled that in which she lived.

The ending surprised me and left me yelling at the book. You know, because I didn’t want it to end yet. I may or may not have already rushed out to the bookstore and purchased a copy of Wildcard. 

Adult · Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Fiction

Book Review: Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

King Shrewd is dead at the hands of his son Regal. As is Fitz—or so his enemies and friends believe. But with the help of his allies and his beast magic, he emerges from the grave, deeply scarred in body and soul. The kingdom also teeters toward ruin: Regal has plundered and abandoned the capital, while the rightful heir, Prince Verity, is lost to his mad quest—perhaps to death. Only Verity’s return—or the heir his princess carries—can save the Six Duchies.

But Fitz will not wait. Driven by loss and bitter memories, he undertakes a quest: to kill Regal. The journey casts him into deep waters, as he discovers wild currents of magic within him—currents that will either drown him or make him something more than he was. Goodreads

Overall, this series has become one of my favorites. The world of political intrigue, corruption, and the magical veins running beneath the surface far exceeded any expectations I had when I first picked it up. That being said, my feelings towards the final book were not quite as strong as the first two.

The story started out promising – Fitz just came back from the freaking dead! – and for the most part, I enjoyed it. As always, the storytelling and details are so stunning that it’s hard not to get sucked in. Poor Fitz, he’s gotten his second chance at life and, once again, he’s sucked in the middle of a political and familial shit show. The personal turmoil and reflections in this book definitely showed how much Fitz had grown since the first book. And how much he has lost.

Despite all the horrible things he’s witnessed and the arduous journey he embarks on, there is one thing that remains constant in his life: Nighteyes. Oh Nighteyes. I adore Nighteyes. He is, hands down, the best character in this entire series and even if this book had turned out to be horrible, I would have read it anyway because of Nighteyes. The relationship that Fitz has with his Wit companion is more touching than any other relationship in the series. Or any other book, period. The new characters we were introduced to kept things interesting, although I can’t say that I was particularly attached to any of them. (By the end, Kettle got on my nerves.) I loved that we got to see more of the Fool and learn about his role in Fitz’s life.

I appreciated this book for all it’s details and intricacies, but was left feeling a little disappointed with the last quarter of it. Without wanting to give too much away, I will say that there was a lot of big and important things going on. Unfortunately, I felt the explanations of these things were glossed over. Of the explanations we did get, they hardly scratched the surface. I kept itching for more and coming up with a million more questions that never went fully answered.

I felt like the ending was a bit bittersweet, although I’m not sure if that was intended or not. It definitely didn’t go in the direction I expected, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Despite the few things that bothered me about this one, I still really enjoyed it and would read it again in a heartbeat, if not for Nighteyes alone. ❤

Books · Fantasy · Fiction · Writing

How YOU Doin?

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I know, I know. I kinda suck at blogging as of late. Fortunately, we’ve finally finished up our crazy season at work, so I should be able to find more time for reading and blogging again. Now that we’e done with all that nonsense, I decided to take some time off to relax.

Bwahahahaha.

Just kidding. I’m terrible at relaxing. I actually decided to celebrate by beginning the rereading and editing process for the book I wrote! Since finishing the first draft  back in January (it feels like it was so long ago) I’ve been itching to reread the the entire thing from the beginning. Everyone advised me to give it time though, so that I can look at things with a fresher perspective. They were right, of course, and I’m glad I did wait. Hopefully I won’t run into too many snags while editing!

I’ve still been reading, even though I’ve been busy. I started book three in the Farseer trilogy this week and I’m already sad because I don’t want the series to end. I tried getting into King of Scars, as well, but I wasn’t feeling it and set it aside for now.

So how YOU doin’? What are you currently reading?

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites

Book Review: The Hod King

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Fearing an uprising, the Sphinx sends Senlin to investigate a plot that has taken hold in the ringdom of Pelphia. Alone in the city, Senlin infiltrates a bloody arena where hods battle for the public’s entertainment. But his investigation is quickly derailed by a gruesome crime and an unexpected reunion.

Posing as a noble lady and her handmaid, Voleta and Iren attempt to reach Marya, who is isolated by her fame. Edith, now captain of the Sphinx’s fierce flagship, joins forces with a fellow wakeman to investigate the disappearance of a beloved friend.

As Senlin and his crew become further dragged in to the conspiracies of the Tower, everything falls to one question: Who is The Hod King?

Every book in the Books of Babel series is completely different than the last, but, once again, Josiah Bancroft hits the nail right on the head. The structure of The Hod King is different than the previous two books. Each chunk of the book follows a different member of Senlin’s former crew and chronicles their misadventures in Pelphia.

I really appreciated the character development in The Arm of the Sphinx. This time around, the characters we’ve come to know and love throw some unexpected surprises at us. Of all the characters in the story, I think I was most impressed with Voleta in this book and how different she is now than she was when we first met her. Even Iren, who didn’t do much for me previously, has finally found a place in my heart now that we got to see things from her perspective.

Pelphia is quite strange. It’s definitely one of my favorite ringdoms we’ve gotten to experience so far, even though most of the people there are quite ghastly. Even after reading book three, I am still in awe of the incredibly unique and richly detailed world of the Tower that Bancroft has created. The story only gets better and better as it goes along and I already know that I never want it to end.

I want to say so much more about this book, but I don’t even know how to begin critiquing perfection.