Adult · Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Sci-Fi

Book Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1)

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

(Goodreads)

Holy mother of skeletons, this book was utterly brilliant. Gideon is the delightfully tough, raunchy, and sarcastic anti-hero that we all need. She’s gone from orphan, to warrior-in-training, to cavalier under the servitude of the Ninth House. Despite her hardships and her failed escape attempts, she remains motivated and strong when the weakest of bones would crumble. The relationship between Gideon and her necromancer, Harrow, is a rocky one, but the dynamic between the two characters is captivating. It’s disastrous and infuriating, and, yet, you can’t help but root for the two to get their shit together and get on the same page.

The competition and the events surrounding it are thrilling. It’s incredibly difficult not to get sucked into learning more about the characters of each of the different houses. The competition is shrouded in mystery and murder. It feels like a mash up of Clue meets Lovecraftian horror with a lot of skeletons.

I found it a little difficult to follow the backstory of the Ninth House and the empire in the beginning, which is my only real complaint. The story manages to be dark, imaginative, and hilarious with a main character you instantly want to befriend. Definitely my favorite book of the year, so far.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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

Spooky Recs: Movie/TV Edition

Greetings, guys and ghouls! Halloween is less than a week away. As the holiday falls on a weekday this year, this weekend we will be doing most of our celebrating. I’ll be attending a friend’s Halloween party, where I will finally be able to debut the costume I’ve been putting together. (And eating large quantities of candy, of course.) Are any of you doing anything fun this weekend to celebrate?

Even though I finished decorating the house weeks ago, I’ve still been getting in the spooky mood by reading and watching some creepy/Halloween themed media. Since we’ve been talking about Spooky Reads (see pt. 1pt. 2pt. 3, and pt. 4) the last few weeks, this week I’m going to share some of my favorite shows and movies that I enjoy watching this time of year. Most of these aren’t really that scary, but are more on the lightly spooky and/or weird side. (Confession: I’m a little bit of a wimp when it comes to watching really scary stuff, lol)

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  • Stranger Things – It’s not really a Halloween themed show, but it’s full of mystery, creepiness, and monsters, so it works.
  • Hocus Pocus – My sister and I watched this one every year when we were kids. Even 20+ years later, it’s still a fun one to watch. (Rumor has it that they’re going to be making a sequel soon.)

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  • Beetlejuice – My first introduction to Beetlejuice was the cartoon version, back when I was a kid. When I was a little older I got to see the live action version and immediately fell in love with Michael Keaton’s brilliant performance. This one always makes me laugh.
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Check out my post about the show verus comic. This is a great one for this time of year, as it contains witches, dark magic, demonic rituals, and a cute black kitty.

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  • Nightmare Before Christmas – Seriously, who doesn’t love this movie? The best thing about it is that it’s both a Halloween and Christmas movie, so you can just continue watching it a few months after Halloween and nobody will think you’re weird. 🙂
  • American Horror Story – This is probably the scariest one on the list. I haven’t seen every single season yet, but the few that I have watched were excellent. My favorite is the first season, Murder House.

What are some of your favorite Halloween shows and movies? 

Favorites · Middle Grade · Sci-Fi · Television

Strange Things, Indeed (Season 3 Review)

SPOILER ALERT. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED WATCHING SEASON 3! 

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Eleven and the gang are back for another season, only this time around there’s way more hair and bad outfits to go around. Everyone’s been busy since we last saw them: Eleven and Mike have been busy sucking face, Dustin has been off at summer camp, and Steve landed a job slinging ice cream at the brand spanking new mall, Starcourt.

Everyone is ready to have a normal summer, filled with teen love and angst when shit gets weird…again. Russian communists have infiltrated Hawkins and are trying to re-open the portal to the Upside Down, which had been closed by Eleven last season. On top of that, Max’s big brother Billy seems to be acting more douche-y than usual…

This season was amazing. I was worried that it was going to be lame, with all the teenage drama and whatnot, but I actually ended up liking this season better than the previous one. Despite the weird and sometimes horrific stuff going on, the writers managed to add comedy and lightness to this season that hadn’t been there before. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just watch any scene with Steve and Dustin.) The younger characters were a little more mature (except Mike, he was whiny and kind of annoying) and complex this time around, dealing with real-life issues that all teens experience: romance, strained friendships, boundaries, standing up for your friends, etc. There were some great new characters thrown into the mix, as well, like smart and sarcastic Robin. Of all the relationships we’ve seen evolve on the show, the big brother/little brother relationship between Steve and Dustin is by far my favorite. They are absolutely hilarious together and I just love them.

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The girls were more front and center this time around, too, which I really liked. Eleven finally gets to have a somewhat “normal” life and figure out who she is. It was fun to watch the friendship blooming between Eleven and Max and see how much Eleven changes throughout the course of the season.

Overall, this season was a huge win for me. I have some theories on that last scene we saw and what it all means, but I guess we’ll  have to wait and see if there is going to be another season.

Are you a Stranger Things fan? What did you think of season 3? 

 

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. 

Books · Young Adult

First Impression Friday: Warcross

It’s been quite a while since I did a First Impression Friday post. Now that I’m getting back in the swing of blogging after my unplanned, sorta-hiatus, I figured it’s time for another one.

First Impression Friday is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading. Share you impressions, predict what you think will happen, say whether you think you’ll enjoy it, etc.

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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…

I’m only about 60 pages into this one so far, but I already love it. Emika is very different than a lot of female protagonists that pop up across the YA genre. She’s run into a whole lot of bad luck and trouble with the law, but her heart seems to be in a good place, which makes me want to root for her. Plus, she’s got rainbow hair and tattoos, which is always a plus in my book.

I love the futuristic, tech-heavy world that the author has created. It’s not that far off from the current world we live in, but Warcross is an integrated part of society. I’m finding the whole concept of basically being able go about your daily life, while actively engaging in virtual reality quite fascinating. (Although, I’m predicting that there will be some pitfalls to this.)

I don’t know much about the other characters in the book yet. I’m guessing Hideo Tanaka will have some secrets up his sleeves…probably some that will be dangerous to the players of Warcross. Or maybe not. Maybe he’ll be the smart millionaire who becomes the love interest of this story. I kind of hope not, but I guess we’ll see.

I’m predicting that whatever Emika gets hired to do for Hideo, there will be other people out there, other hackers like her, who will be trying to thwart her endeavors.

Adult · Books · Fantasy · Fiction · Sci-Fi · Young Adult

T5W: SFF Authors on My Auto-Buy List

So, I got physically stuck behind the copy machine at work today and someone had to come free me. I’m still asking myself why they let me supervise other people…That was my day in a nutshell. How are you all doing today? Anybody get stuck anywhere interesting?

I finished up A Darker Shade of Magic and I can’t wait to share my review with you all, after I finish writing it, that is. In the mean time, let’s talk about authors!

This week’s T5W category is Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors on my “auto buy” list. While there are several authors that I really like, there are only a select few on my auto-buy list.

Neil Gaiman – You guys already know how I feel about Mr. Gaiman and his work. If he decided to publish the phone book I’ll be the first one on the waiting list.

V.E. Schwab – I’ve only read one of her books now, but I’m pretty sold. I can’t wait to read the rest of her books and see what’s in store.

Leigh Bardugo – I love the unique worlds and the complex characters she creates.

Patrick Rothfuss – Still eagerly awaiting the third installment of the Kingkiller Chronicle series. If he puts that or anything else out in the next decade I’m in.

Colleen Oakes – I love the way Colleen re-tells stories. Dare I say, she makes them even better than the originals!

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy

Book Review: Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Fragile Things is a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman. As always, Gaiman’s imagination runs wild with this collection, touching on the familiar and the totally weird. There are new spins on old favorites (“A Study in Emerald”), poetry, macabre tales, and even a novella based on American Gods. It’s definitely more “adult” than some of his other works, but that only made it more irresistible.

Some of my favorite stories in the book included “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves..,” “The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch,” “Harlequin Valentine,” and “How to Talk to Girls at Parties.”

There’s so much awesomeness packed into these pages that it was hard to put down. I may or may not have been late returning from my lunch break a few times for this very reason. Heh.

Adult · Books · Fantasy · Sci-Fi

Book Review: Robots vs. Fairies

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It’s a showdown between nature and science. Who will reign victorious: the robots or the fairies? 

I was SO excited to find this book in Asheville a few weeks ago. While I am a fan of both robots and fairies, I will admit that I’m Team Fairy all the way.

Robots vs. Fairies is a collection of short stories written by various popular fantasy/sci-fi authors. Rather than being stories of actual warfare between the two entities, each author chose a side (Team Fairy or Team Robot) and told their story accordingly. The layout and alternating views made this a fun read. It was easy to get wrapped up in a particular “side” based on the story you were reading, then do a complete 180 by the time you reached the next one.

The fairies were portrayed in all sorts of manners. Some were the fun, whimsical fairies of our childhoods, while others were dark and malicious. The robots gave you a glimpse at both the good and bad of technological advancement. While both sides were painted in an intriguing manner, the fairies were more diverse. The fae, Seelies, banshees, brownies, and pixies were all represented throughout the anthology. The robots were creepy and felt widely similar in nature after a while. (Which I suppose makes sense, as they’re programmed machines with no feelings or real human-like tendencies.)

My favorite story in the book was Sarah Gailey’s haunting “Bread and Milk and Salt.” (Seriously, this one will keep you up at night.) Some other favorites were Seanan McGuire’s “Build Me a Wonderland,” Kat Howard’s “Just Another Love Song,” Jim Hine’s “Second To the Left. And Straight On,” and John Scalzi’s “Three Robots Experience Objects Left Behind From the Era of Humans For the First Time.” The introduction to this book (a greeting letter, written sometime after the robot or fair overlords have already won and have taken over the human world) is unique and captivating. I was hooked immediately.

Definitely check this one out, whether you’re Team Fairy, Team Robot, or new to the world of sci-fi/fantasy.

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Are you Team Fairy or Team Robot?

Adult · Books · Fantasy · Sci-Fi

It’s Monday! How you doin’?

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I hope you’re all doing well on this rainy Monday morning. I’m a bit on the sleepy side. Boyfriend woke me up in the middle of the night to inform me that I was yelling in my sleep. Since injuring my shoulder a few months ago I’ve had to learn to sleep on my back more often. Apparently, when I sleep on my back I do weird things, like yell, laugh, and talk in my sleep. (Not too long ago I attempted to warn Boyfriend about the “tiny trolls” in our bedroom. I believe get me in my sleep last night and this is why I was yelling.)

So, what’s everyone reading this week?

I’m currently a little more than halfway through Good Omens. Even though I’ve read this one before I’m excited to review it for the blog. I also read a few stories in the new book I picked up while I was in Asheville this weekend, Robots vs. Fairies. I was so excited to see this one on the shelf! I didn’t even realize it had come out already.

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When I die, please put “Beware the Tiny Trolls” on my tombstone. People really need to know what they’re up against.