Reviews

Another Magic School novel: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Overall Enjoyment: 3.5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 2/5

Diversity: 2/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

Review

I picked this book up because of the cover. I was interested in the possibility of there being a dragon-type character. Well, there really wasn’t, but this book was still pretty good. I’m going to be honest and say that at first I did not enjoy this book. I’m not a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell. I think most of her books are boring and this just seemed like a stereotypical magic school book. BUT, if you can make it to the middle of the book and especially the end then you find a little bit more substance to this book.

Let start with the characters. There’s Simon, the chosen one who can’t actually control his own powers. He’s impulsive and fiery and that normally gets him in trouble. Simon also has the typical orphan chosen one status. Every summer he goes from foster home to foster home without true family. I really enjoyed this part of Simon’s character. Now because I like orphan stories, but because it explains a little bit around why he may be so fiery and impulsive. Then, you have Baz who is about the exact opposite. The relationship between them was okay. I wouldn’t say it’s anything too crazy simply because it seems pretty quick to me after years of antagonism, but most say love and hate are closer than we usually think. Rowell does do a great job though of filling you in on the characters history together. You get to read a lot about their feuds and pranks. What really kept me reading though was the villain. The villain that has the face of Simon as a child. Just think about what that could mean for a second. There’s not a ton about the villain, but how he’s connected into the story really moved me into thinking about the cost of power and what some people may be willing to pay for it.

The world building was almost nonexistent. There was a magic world, but it is basically like ours and so didn’t really contain anything new or unexpected from our own world.

The diversity was mainly with Baz and Simon would were lgbtq+. Others most characters are white and pretty uneventful.

Overall, I rated this book so high because of the final half of the book. It does have some interesting plot elements that I didn’t expect and there are some twists that I didn’t expect right away. I would say if you really enjoy magic school novels than you could really enjoy this book. If you’re looking for a new and exciting spin on the magic college thing or an epic romance this probably is not the book for you.

ARC

A Fantastic Political Fantasy- Master of Restless Shadows Book One by Ginn Hale

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 4/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Freshly graduated Master Physician Narsi Lif-Tahm has left his home in Anacleto and journeyed to the imposing royal capital of Cieloalta intent upon keeping the youthful oath he made to a troubled writer. But in the decade since Narsi gave his pledge, Atreau Vediya has grown from an anonymous delinquent to a man renowned for penning bawdy operas and engaging in scandalous affairs.

What Narsi―and most of the larger world―cannot know is the secret role Atreau plays as spymaster for the Duke of Rauma.

After the Cadeleonian royal bishop launches an unprovoked attack against the witches in neighboring Labara, Atreau will require every resource he can lay his hands upon to avert a war. A physician is exactly what he needs. But with a relentless assassin hunting the city and ancient magic waking, Atreau fears that his actions could cost more than his own honor. The price of peace could be his friends’ lives. “

Review

I received this book as a free ARC from NetGalley and all opinions are completely my own.

People, this book was SOOOOOO amazing! The beginning is a little shaky. Nasri is a bit too idealist for me at the beginning, but he grows on me. The fantasy aspect of this book is based mostly on spells and magic with more fantastical beasts being in the far off distance. The intrigue though. It’s amazing, there’s some death and darkness in this book, but for a political fantasy this book is very light. I mostly don’t like political fantasy, because the dark plotting against each other and graphic nature is too much for me. However, this book has the intrigue without the graphic and/or gratuitous violence.

Let’s start with the characters first because characters are always what really are the draw for me. First, we have Narsi. He’s the optimism in our story, a bright young physician who may be a little too trusting for his own good, but is smart and sincere. Then, Atreau, who is a talented spy who poses as an author of smutty, but historical novels. Fedeles who was once possessed by dark magic and is still trying to recover from the trauma and Atriz, a man who is controlled by another through a mark of obedience. These are just our four mains, there are even more characters that we learn and see that are interesting as well. But, these characters are interesting. They all have their different personalities with secrets and stories to tell. I thought that the attraction between Narsi and Atreau was weak. It’s not really based on much, but a meeting or two. I feel like that about their characters in general. Not that they’re weak or poorly written, but more that we didn’t get a ton of time with them learning their stories. They move along most of the action of the book and so there is minimum development of them. However, Fedeles and Ariz, I yearn for them! Their relationship and what they’ve both experienced is a large part of their part of the story and I love it. I’m a sucker for hurting, but strong men and I want them to make it both out of this alive.

The world building is great, but a bit overwhelming at times. This definitely reads like a story that’s part of a series. Which after doing some more research there are definitely books in the same world as this new book that I think if were read first could make this book a bit easier to understand. There are rich characters with interesting stories that are just mentioned in passing and that can make stuff a bit confusing or hard to follow. There are multiple characters with similar J names not to mention there is also the medieval fantasy problem where one person has multiple titles and names which can make it even more confusing. However, there are written religions in this book that have a well describe history though it slowly is revealed to the reader. I also enjoyed the magic in this book. It’s glanced over a lot, but whenever its included I’m also curious to read more on it. There’s also some mild racism and hints at homophobia. Honestly, it was the worst in the beginning and honestly wasn’t really necessary for the novel to be honest. It’s just kinda shaken off and then never much mentioned again so I think the author could have ditched it all together and it really wouldn’t have been a big deal.

I would say the diversity in this book is pretty good. One of the main characters is a man of color, all of our four main characters appear to be at least bisexual. We also have a side transgender character which I was very impressed with how the author handled to be honest. There was no misgendering or anything. Just comes out as part of the story so I liked that. There are also multiple character characters dealing with trauma. It’s not heavily explored, but is definitely there.

If you enjoy political intrigue, LGBTQ+ representation, and a rich world then this is a great book for you. If you’re looking for a gay Game of Thrones this is not for you. There is as mentioned before lots of politics and scheming even some minor death. However, the intrigue and plots are the main draw to this story as well as the characters not lots of fighting, backstabbing, and generally horrible people.

Master of Restless Shadows will be available soon! October 8, 2019 to be exact. I really loved this book and would highly recommend it!

Book Haul

My Summer Book Haul

So, this summer has been pretty crazy for me. However, when I have the rare day off I often find my way back into the book store purchasing books I have no time to read. Whether I can read them or not though I am nonetheless super excited about them! Check out my summer book haul! All title contain a link back to Goodreads if you’re interested in summaries and ratings.

My Physical Books

Spin the Dawn: I got this book as an ARC from Netgalley and I couldn’t be more thrilled by this book. If you enjoy beautifully written mythology and fantasy adventure quests then I really couldn’t recommend this book enough to you. I honestly can’t wait until the next book.

Once & Future: I’ve been waiting for this book ever since I heard about it. I’m not really a big fan of SyFy, but a gender bent Arthurian tale? I’m just too intrigued to pass it up. I’m so excited to read this.

This Time Will Be Different: Not a fantasy novel, but the summary about flower shops and historical inequality seemed so soft, but powerful to me that I wanted to give it a shot.

Gods of Jade and Shadow: Much like Spin the Dawn I got this as an ARC from Netgalley and I just fell in love with it. If you’re interested in some Mayan mythology and some ideas that make you think you’ll fall in love with this book as much as I did.

Kings, Queens, and In-betweens: I tried to get this as an ARC on Netgalley, but unfortunately didn’t get access to it. This seems like the best type of story that anyone whose different might be interested in reading. It seems to be about finding yourself, but without the limitations of labels or expectations.

The Candle and the Flame: I wanted this book if nothing for its beautiful cover, but I kinda lost track of it until I saw it in the bookstore. I’ve always been interested in the silk road and if you’re going to add a fantasy element I can’t wait to see how it reads.

Nocturna: I really hadn’t heard of this story anywhere, but I saw it in the bookstore and it caught my interest. Gods of Jade and Shadow definitely peaked my interest in Latinx-inspired stories and I’m excited to give this story a read.

The Wise Man’s Fear: There is probably going to be zero diversity in this novel, but it’s a continuation of a book I’ve already read and really enjoyed. The storytelling and world building is just phenomenal.


My Netgalley E-books

Blood of the Pack: I can’t really recommend this book. I struggled to get through it, but if you’re intrigued, but lesbian werewolves you may want to check it out.

Wildflowers: Allaha of the Mountain: The summary sounded interesting and it was lgbtqa, but I’m struggling to remain interested.


Have you read any of these book? What do you think? What books have been in your recent book hauls?

lists

Must Read: My Top 10 Books with Strong Female Leads

I don’t know about you, but I love a well-developed, strong female main character. As a woman myself I love the positive representation. Below are my top ten fantasy books with strong female leads.

  1. Selene from The Olympus Bound Series
    by Jordanna Max Brodsky. I’m in love with everything about this series, but I think Selene is definitely what sold me to begin with. Selene in the fallen goddess Artemis. She strong, tough, and a little emotionally distant at times. I kinda want to be her.

2. Zélie from Children of Blood and Bone from Tomi Adeyemi. Zélie is one tough cookie. She has grown up where her people are oppressed, but instead of giving in she fights all the more. Mentally, physically, and magically strong. A role model for us all in a lot of ways.

Art by Megan Ward. Find it here.


3. Jude from The Wicked King by Holly Black. This girl has been fierce her whole life and though she may be scared at times she doesn’t let that stop her. She’s Queen of Shadows and usually a step ahead.

Art by Wictorian_art. Find it here.


4. Alina from The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. Alina, weak and sickly until she allowed herself to use her power. If that isn’t a metaphor for us all I don’t know what is.

Art from Golden Rose. Find it here.


5. Laia from An Ember in the Ash by Sabaa Tahir . She started out scared and a little helpless, but for those she cared about she accomplished some truly daring tasks.

Art by Tpiola. Find it here.


6. Agnieszka from Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Agneiszka might be a bit of a mary sue, but she came from nothing and then she saved her kingdom. It was dark, but she makes it.

Art by Taryn. Find it here.


7. Meg from The Others series by Anne Bishop. Meg is not what I would consider physically strong, but she’s a strong female lead nonetheless. Meg like most of these ladies has been through a lot, but her force will and kindness alone make her a great pick for this list.


8. Wren from Girls of Paper and Fire. She’s the last remaining member of a special warrior family. Physically and mentally strong. She’s a powerhouse.

Art from Laya Rose. Find it here.


9. Fatima from The Bird King. She goes from concubine to runaway to leader. A hard choice in order to save a friend. She doesn’t have a lot of physical strength, but she has a strong will.


10. So many women in How long ‘Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin. Normally I wouldn’t put such a vague answer here, but there are just so many strong women throughout this anthology that I feel like I would be doing all you readers a disservice by not mentioning them.


What about you? Do you agree with the list? Do you have any other strong female leads you really enjoy?

lists

My Top Three 2019 Books…So Far

When you read a lot of books throughout the year it can be hard to keep track of them all not to mention come up with a short list of your favorites. One of my goals this year was to do a top three list of my favorite books for each quarter of this year in order to more easily share with you some books I really enjoyed. This list is only of the books that I’ve read and have been published this year.

  1. Fever King by Victoria Lee. This book is all about power, immigrants, and choices. I think it speaks powerfully to the current political climate the USA is experiencing. This is not an unbiased book. This is a clear calling out in many ways. But, I loved that about it.

2. The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson. This book I think asks the deep question of would you rather have freedom or be well provided for? Maybe a simple question for some, but I appreciated the strong female characters with the traces of fantasy woven in.


3. The Wicked King by Holly Black. There might not have been any large thought provoking questions here, but dang do I enjoy Jude. She’s scrappy and not always morally clean, but I think that’s why I enjoy her so much. The twist always make me happy as well.


Are any of these books among your favorites? If not, what books are on your 2019 top three so far?

Friday Feature

Friday Feature- Marlon James

Marlon James, photo taken from Wall Street Journal

Marlon James is a Jamacian-born author who works in both Minnesota and New York as a professor. In New York, he works as an adjunct lecturer at St. Francis College. In Minnesota, James is associate professor in the English department. He has published four novels so far. Two novels have received multiple awards.

What’s so great about him?

He is taking a different perspective to writing a book series than I’ve seen before. Marlon’s most recently published novel Black Leopard, Red Wolf is the beginning of a series. This series is going to be telling the same story, but with each book being from a different perspective. He says it is then up to you to decide which character you choose to believe. There may be other book series that do this, but I haven’t heard of them and I’m very excited to see where this story and this changing of perspective goes.


His Published Books

John Crow’s Devil

The Book of Night Women

A Brief History of Seven Killings

Black Leopard, Red Wolf


Most information came largely from this wikipedia post. All source information on this post was checked and proven accurate, but in order to not write a large list I direct you to a single post.

Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday-Favorite Couples

Hello everyone! Today I’ve decided to participate in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl! I don’t usually participate because I have trouble following prompts, but I found this week’s prompt enjoyable. So, let’s talk about my favorite book couples! Note: This is a fantasy blog and most of these characters will be from fantasy series, but there is at least one couple that I just couldn’t help but add to my list. Also, my main draw to fiction has never been romance so be prepared for light romances with lots of other main plot.

1 Selene and Theo from the Olympus Bound series. In my opinion one of the best couples I’ve ever read. They’re definitely not perfect, but they also recognize that and work on it. There’s a maturity there that I appreciate.


2. Lei and Wren from Girls of Paper and Fire. There’s a sizzle there that just makes me makes me dreamily sigh.


3. Clare and Henry from The Time Traveler’s Wife. It’s been awhile since I’ve read this book, but I still remember it very fondly. Clare and Henry have known each other most of their lives though not in the way you would traditionally assume. Time travel and romance. mmm.


4. Gordo and Mark from Ravensong. They make my heart hurt. They have such a complex history. They’ve really hurt one another, but then they have each other’s backs. So many feels!


5. Jude and Carden from The Wicked King. These two are definitely a guilty pleasure. They’re a complete disaster, but there’s also something there that if they would just give it time I think could grow into something better.


6. Xio Voe and Kudorin from In This Land series. Holy crap, what a power couple! I love all the relationships in this series, but these two are on another level.


7. Lucas and Noah from Strength of the Pack. They’re a solid couple that can literally rely on each other in matter of life and death. military couple.


8. Magnus and Alex from Magnus Chase and The Gods of Asgard. You want love and acceptance? You’ve found it. It’s a light romance. Not the focus, but still definitely worth it.


9. Meg and Simon from The Others series. This isn’t heavy romance and it doesn’t really hit a good romantic point til the very end, but the growth is slow and sweet!


10. Chise and Elias from Ancient Magus’ Bride (Manga now anime). This story hurts my heart, but also warms it that they care for each other like they do.


Have any of our choices matched? Are there choices here you like that didn’t make your top ten? Do you hate some of these couples? Let me know what you think!