Fantasy · Fiction · Short Stories · Young Adult

Book Review: How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air, #3.5)

Once upon a time, there was a boy with a wicked tongue.

Before he was a cruel prince or a wicked king, he was a faerie child with a heart of stone. Holly Black reveals a deeper look into the dramatic life of Elfhame’s enigmatic high king, Cardan. This tale includes delicious details of life before The Cruel Prince, an adventure beyond The Queen of Nothing, and familiar moments from The Folk of the Air trilogy, told wholly from Cardan’s perspective.

Cardan is one of the most hated faeries in all of Elfhame. This made me a little sad in the other The Folk of the Air books, as it seemed to me that Cardan was simply misunderstood. Sure, he says and does terrible things, but when you consider his upbringing, can you really blame him?

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is a collection of short stories, taking us deeper into the life and mind of Cardan. We get a glimpse of Cardan’s childhood, when he first meets the troll, Aslog. She tells him a story, which we soon realize, sticks with him throughout the course of his life. We also get to relive some moments that we’ve already seen, only this time they’re through Cardan’s eyes and not Jude’s. Telling the story this way definitely changed my perspective of certain key moments of Cardan and Jude’s relationship (in a good way).

I liked the way that each story was told in a faerie tale-esque manner, complete with beautiful and whimsical illustrations. Like with most fairy tales, these stories remind us that not everything is as it seems and that (sometimes) the villain really isn’t all that bad.

Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Fiction

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

My Rating: 6 out of 5

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

A young woman makes a deal with the darkness to have more time. What she ends up with is three hundred years. Three hundred years where nobody remembers her name or her face. Three hundred years and absolutely no way to leave a mark upon the world.

Then, one day, Addie stumbles into a bookstore and everything changes…

This was a beautiful – tragic, but beautiful – story about life, consequences, and the gift of time. It is a story about how far humans will go just to be remembered.

This story blew me away. I was expecting more of fantasy story, but this was part fantasy, part historical fiction. We get to glimpse Addie’s life over the course of three hundred years, from her early years in France to modern day New York City. Addie has lived through it all. She’s fought her way through wars, has watched the world grow and change, has watched history and culture being made. Addie has lived a dazzling, yet lonely life, with no one’s company except for that of the devil who cut her a deal.

When Addie meets Henry she finally finds someone who understands her and sees her for who she truly is. Their story is a touching one, about two people struggling to be loved and to be seen in a world that too easily forgets.

The relationships in this book are deep and complex. While I loved all of them, my favorite was that between Addie and the world itself. In the course of three hundred years she learns to navigate the world, survive during harsh times, yet still finds beauty and awe everywhere she looks. Addie has such a realistic and humble perspective on what it means to really live and I greatly admire her for it.

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Fiction · Sci-Fi

Recent Reads (and Half-Assed Excuses)

Hey. Is this thing on? *taps mic* It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I wish I had some positive news to share with everyone. I wish I had a dozen fabulous book reviews to post. I wish I had pictures from all the fabulous vacations I’ve been on. I wish the Doctor had whisked me away in the TARDIS six months ago and took me to another planet…one without COVID and burgeoning fascist dictators. I wish I had something vaguely interesting to share. Alas, I do not.

I’ll write a separate post soon about everything that’s been going on, but for now let’s talk about books! I’ve been really slack on my book reviews the last few months, not because I haven’t been reading, but because I’ve been re-reading a lot of old favorites. Here are a few of the newer (new to me, anyway) titles I’ve read and really enjoyed this year:

Tithe by Holly Black – “Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms- a struggle that could very well mean her death.” (My Rating: 4 Stars)

Unbreakable Storm by Patrick Dugan – “After escaping the deadly Gauntlet, Tommy Ward and his friends struggle to come to terms with the price they paid for their survival. Still on the run from The Protectorate and Reclaimers, a visitor appears with a dire warning about their missing friend, dragging them into a conflict that has raged since the beginning of time. To rescue his friend and protect everyone he cares about, Tommy must face his toughest foe yet – the revenge-obsessed Grim Reaper.” (My Rating: 4 Stars)

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri – “Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited. When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda. Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance.” (My Rating: 4 Stars)

I promise there will be some actual book reviews soon! What are some of your favorites from 2020 so far?

Books · Life · Television

The latest in nerdy COVID fashion

In my last couple of posts I mentioned some of the things I’ve been doing to help pass the time during quarantine. Since then I have found another new hobby: making masks. It’s practically impossible to find disposable masks anywhere unless you’re a healthcare or food service worker so I made a couple of my own for those times where I am forced to be in public. Luckily I already had lots of fun fabrics on hand for this project!

Check out my Avengers and Explodng TARDIS masks!

In addition to creating masks, I’ve been working my way through a couple of books. I just finished Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows last week. (Yes, I read it again. Stop judging me!) This week I’m reading Empire of Sand, which has been fantastic so far.

39714124._sy475_

I also finished binge-watching Marvel’s Runaways. Even though the last season wasn’t quite as good as the first two, I still really enjoyed this show. I wish it hadn’t been cancelled already. I guess I’ll have to go re-read some of the comics to hold me over.

runaways-1024x1024-1

 

Did you watch Runaways yet (It’s available on Disney +)? Let me know what you thought!

 

Life

Isolation Update

Yesterday I sprained my toe and today I accidentally dyed my hands purple. How’s your self-isolation going?

I’ve been thinking of something to post for days, but with all that’s going on in the world right now it’s hard to even know what to say. So I’m not going to. You’re all aware of COVID-19 already and are being affected by it without another reminder from me.

90264587_10105534088948605_957748166222938112_n

I hope you’ve all been finding ways to stay sane and healthy during this crazy time. I’m hanging in there, although I confess that I’m getting a tad cranky about being stuck in the house so much. I’m a really weird introvert. I don’t necessarily like interacting with people and being social, but I can’t stand being cooped up either. (Hence the reason most of my out-of-the-house activities involve going to bookstores or drinking coffee somewhere. By myself.)

When I’m not working I’m trying to keep myself occupied with books, yoga, taking walks outside, and cooking up a storm. I also touched up the purple in my hair since I won’t be able to get it done for like another month. I wish I could say that I’ve been doing more writing and work on my book, but things have been at a standstill for a while now. *sigh* More on that later.

91372193_10105570764166175_134304263001079808_n

For now, I’m just checking in. I just finished re-reading a couple of favorites to give me some comfort. Now that I’m done with those I’ll be starting on something new and will hopefully have some book reviews to share.

What are you guys reading at the moment? What other things are you doing while you’re stuck at home? 

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites

Book Review: Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

44804083

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

When Jack left Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister–whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice–back to their home on the Moors.

But death in their adopted world isn’t always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome.

Eleanor West’s “No Quests” rule is about to be broken. Again.

Goodreads

I was pretty excited when I heard this book was coming out and that we would be returning to the Moors – the setting we had been first introduced to in Down Among Sticks and BonesWhile I have immensely enjoyed all of the books in the Wayward Children series, I felt like the Moors was the one world that was still shrouded in the most mystery. Getting to go back and discover a little more of it was an absolute treat.

The tables have turned and Jack is no longer trying to save her sister, Jill. The complicated and strained relationship they already share is further explored in this book in a way that will make you question who you’re supposed to be rooting for. In addition to Jack, some familiar faces from Miss West’s school make a reappearance. Christopher, Sumi, Cora, and Kade once again jump into the role of playing the fearless heroes, even though it’s not their own worlds they are trying to save.

As always, McGuire does a spectacular job at immersing the reader in a world that is both beautiful and terrible. The concept of death is fleeting. Love knows no boundaries. And there is nothing that a little bit of lightening can’t fix. By the end, you’ll wonder if everything you thought you knew about “monsters” has been wrong.

 

 

Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Fiction

Favorite Books of 2019

Hello, friends! I hope you’re all surviving this holiday season. I know I’ve been on the quiet side lately, in terms of blogging, but I hope to get back in the swing of it next year. I guess I just haven’t had much to talk about lately. This time of year usually stresses me out quite a bit, so I tend to be a little more reserved. I don’t even have any new book reviews to share at the moment, as I’ve been rereading a few of the Harry Potter books in preparation for my upcoming trip to Wizarding World. (Omg, I can’t wait!)

goodreads

Since we’re about to start a new year, how about a little recap of my favorite books from 2019? As of right now, I’ve read 53 books out of my Goodreads  goal of 47 books. I’m hoping to finish up Half Blood Prince over the next couple of days and bring that number up to 54.

I read some fun books this year, but not too many of them blew me away. (Was I just being picky or did I just miss out on some good ones? I’m not sure.) In no particular order, here were a few at the top of the list:

 

What were your top books in 2019? Anything great that I missed out on and need to check out next year?

 

Books · Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

Book Review: The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

26032912._sy475_

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

More of a clash of Faerie and the mortal world in this book

After devouring the first two Folk of the Air books last year, I was dying to get my hands on the third and final installment. While I enjoyed reading this one, I have to admit that it did not suck me in the way the first two did.

The plot of The Queen of Nothing started off solid, but everything moved along too quickly and the pacing felt off. I suppose that this was due to the shorter length of this book. I did like the fact that the story intertwined the faerie world with the mortal world more than the first two books. I also liked that Jude’s sister, Vivian, became a more prominent character this time around. Sadly, despite being Jude’s twin, I always find Taryn a bit lackluster. Vivian is far more interesting and engaging than Taryn. (Sorry, Taryn.)

It was fun to experience Jude’s character development from book one to book three. I was surprised at how much less dark her personality was this time around, especially considering the events that happened at the end of book two. I felt like the author did a great job at weaving both Jude and Cardan’s personalities together into a very convincing, albeit bizarre, relationship.

The familiar plot twists and character betrayals that we’ve all come to know and love from Black’s books were present in The Queen of Nothing. I just wished there had been a little more meat the the story and a little more time to devote to some of the other characters.

Books · Writing

Redefining NaNoWriMo

As book lovers, writers, and bloggers, I am sure that most of you have heard of NaNoWriMo by now. (For the noobs: NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month.”) The last few years I toyed with the idea of jumping on the NaNo bandwagon, but always dismissed it as not being my thing. As November approached this year and NaNo fervor began popping up all over the blogisphere, I began asking myself “Why isn’t it your thing?” I’m a writer. I wrote an entire novel last year and am currently working on the second one. How is a month celebrating book writing not my thing?

giphy

This year I decided to give it a shot. I know for some the premise is to start a new project, but considering that I’m still in the early stages of book two, I figured just focusing on that would be enough. Well…as of today we’re halfway through November and I feel like an update is necessary.

NaNoWriMo: The Bad

By the beginning of week two I started remembering all the things that turned me off from NaNo in the past. Blogs, podcasts, and Twitter are rampant with talk of progress – specifically fixating on word count. According to the NaNo gods, everyone participating should be aiming to write at least 50,000 words (basically the entire draft of a novel) in one month. That’s 1,500- 2,000 words a day. No excuses. It doesn’t matter the quality or how good it is, you just put the words down anyway. You can delete it all later and start over if you have to. Just get the words down so you can brag about how many you wrote.

Obviously I’m exaggerating a teeny bit, but this is honestly what in hear when I listen to a lot of people talk about NaNo. It feels like the focus is on the word count, not the content itself or the process of writing a novel. Personally, I find it hard to wrap my head around this one. If I’m going to invest a good chunk of my time working on something, I want to put out something with a little more thought and quality. I know myself well enough to know that if I squeeze 50,000 words out in a month, most of it is going to be dribble. Maybe some people can use that dribble later and turn it into something fabulous, but for me it almost feels like I am just pushing myself to reach an arbitrary number. I like to take my time to do things that are important to me. I like to think, then overthink, then plan, then overthink again, then carefully pen things out. That’s just how the process works for me.

nanomeme

Another thing that irks me about NaNo is the fact that you’re expected to have enough time to pump out an entire draft in a month. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but having a full-time job (that isn’t writing) takes up the majority of my day. Then there are those other pesky things that get in the way: cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids/animals, reading/other hobbies, exercise, personal hygiene, sleep, etc. Some days it seems virtually impossible to sit down and squeeze out more than a few hundred words, if any. I suppose if your lifestyle gives you more free time this might not be a problem, but for me time is the biggest limiting factor when it comes to writing.

NaNoWriMo: The Good

I’m sure it seems like I’m bashing NaNoWriMo, but I promise you I’m not. I love the concept of writers all over the world supporting each other and mutually making an effort to write new novels. It’s a terrific thing. The gripes I have lie mostly within the pressure surrounding word count and the notion that you’ve basically “failed” if you didn’t write an entire draft. After a week of pushing myself and realizing that NaNo just isn’t my style I decided that I wasn’t going to completely abandon ship. Instead, I’ve been using NaNo as an excuse to push myself a little harder than I normally would. Some evenings that means writing for 30 minutes when I would normally say “eh, I’m too tired.” It might mean writing some lines or ideas down on my lunch break when I’d normally be reading or messing around on my phone. It might mean forcing myself to edit something I’ve been putting off or writing a short story set in the world of my novel. At the end of the month, I most certainly won’t have finished my second book but I will have done a lot more work than I normally would have, which is awesome.

To those of you doing NaNoWriMo and are diving hardcore into it: Great! Good for you! I hope something comes from all your endeavors, even if it’s only personal satisfaction.

To those who think they’re failing at NaNo or were too intimidated to even try: YOU CAN DO IT. Don’t let others’ goals, accomplishments, or word counts deter you. Get whatever you can out of it, regardless of what it looks like. YOU GOT THIS.

~~~

What are your thoughts on NaNoWriMo? Are you participating this year?

Books · Favorites

Spooky Book Recs (pt. 3)

Greetings ghouls and gals! I hope spooky month is treating you well so far. I’ve been keeping busy making new decorations for the house and getting my costume ready. Anyone want to take a stab at what I’m going to be this year? I’d give you a hint, but my choice is a pretty ineffable one. 😉

I’m not ready to give my costume away yet, but check out the new skeleton earrings I got:

72291013_10105142657979405_2803742805308997632_n

Need some more suggestions for spooky reads for this month? It’s time for spooky book recommendations, part 3! (Check out pt. 1 and pt. 2 here)

22136611The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – You guys knew this one was coming, didn’t you? This book is one of my favorites of all time, not just during Halloween season. The Graveyard Book tells the story of Bod, a young boy who is raised by the ghostly inhabitants of the cemetery after his parents are murdered. It’s a beautiful story about life, death, and all the lessons learned during both. Bod’s journey from childhood to adulthood, aided by his ghost friends and family is a beautiful and creative one that will leave you wanting to read it every year.

17873946

 

 

Marina by Carlos Ruiz-Zafon – When Oscar meets Marina at the creepy old house down the street, he’s taken on a wild and unexpected journey into the macabre. After witnessing a mysterious lady in the cemetery shrouded in black, they get thrown into a web of mystery and horror as they try to discover the woman’s bizarre secrets. If they can’t uncover her secrets soon and stop the forces working against them, the city of Barcelona and their own lives may be at risk. (Check out my full review here)

 

Honorable mentions for the vampire enthusiasts:

  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice