Posted in Wrap up

May Reading Wrap Up #WyrdandWonder

“Lift had never robbed a palace before.”

First line in Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson

Hi, guys and welcome to my May wrap up. As you may know, May was the month of Wyrd and Wonder, an online blogging event with the purpose of celebrating all things fantasy. I had such a great time writing my own posts for this but also doing a lot of blog hopping. I found so many other blogs to follow and my TBR thank you and hate you at the same time.

About my reading this month… Just take a look at my stats:

It’s funny how I read one more book than my usual 5, but still had the lowest page-count of the year so far. I actually expected it to be lower because April was such an intense reading month for me with O.W.L.s where I read over 3,000 pages. So I felt like a needed a break at the beginning of May and also knew I had to spend a lot of time on Wyrd and Wonder. However, it’s always nice when the numbers tell me that I’m not the biggest failure.
My ratings have been great though with only one bad book and 5 amazing ones. Among the six book is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets but I won’t be reviewing that as it is a reread (there will be another post about it though). But let’s get to the other 5 mini-reviews of the month!

Chosen Ones (The Chosen Ones #1)

Author: Veronica Roth

Published: April 7th 2020

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Buzzwords: chosen one PTSD, urban fantasy, Chicago

Synopsis: A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

Goodreads

My thoughts

This book was kind of struggle for me to get through. I didn’t care about any of the characters but all for different reasons, and the plot set a snail-like pace. I have a full review if you’re interested in more of my thoughts.

The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow #1)

Author: Margaret Owen

Published: July 30th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buzzwords: caste system, runaway royal, social injustice

Synopsis:

A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

Goodreads

My thoughts

I was so invested in this story! The world and the magic system were incredibly interesting. I found it especially interesting how this world had a caste system and how the author used that to do social commentary. You really feel the social injustice that the lowest caste experiences and how prejudice and superstitions play a role in preventing change.

I also really liked this book because it had one of my favorite tropes in it, which is a runaway royal. It worked really well and I loved the overall dynamic between the 3 main characters. There were some complicated relationships that made this book interesting even when all the action had to take a break. My only criticism is that the pacing seemed to go down in the last half of the book which seemed a little off because there was so much action in the first half. Still really liked it though and would definitely recommend!

Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Published: November 22nd 2016

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read the synopsis of the first book in the series The Way of Kings.

My thoughts

Firstly, I need to thank this book for putting a smile on my face. The banter between the main character, Lift, and her spren, Wyndle, is such a delight to read. It’s sweet but also plays a big part in each’s characterisation. The only small negative thing I have to say is that it got a little repetitive towards the end. Some of the jokes were a little overused by that point and didn’t carry the same weight.

As this is a novella, my rating is pretty much only based on my own enjoyment. I really liked it, and especially enjoyed that we got to learn more about Lift but also got some more info about the world. It was a good mix of the two.

Chainbreaker (Timekeeper #2)

Author: Tara Sim

Published: January 2nd 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read the synopsis of the first book in the series Timekeeper.

My thoughts

This book has whatever the opposite of ‘middle book syndrome’ is! The way Sim opens up the world and the magic system had me hooked all the way through. You also get some interesting backstory on some of the side characters which was a pleasant surprise. If you’re interested in more of my thoughts, check out my full review.

The Last Sun (The Tarot Sequence #1)

Author: K. D. Edwards

Published: June 12th 2018

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buzzwords: urban fantasy, ruling families, unreliable narrator

Synopsis: Rune Saint John, last child of the fallen Sun Court, is hired to search for Lady Judgment’s missing son, Addam, on New Atlantis, the island city where the Atlanteans moved after ordinary humans destroyed their original home.

With his companion and bodyguard, Brand, he questions Addam’s relatives and business contacts through the highest ranks of the nobles of New Atlantis. But as they investigate, they uncover more than a missing man: a legendary creature connected to the secret of the massacre of Rune’s Court.

In looking for Addam, can Rune find the truth behind his family’s death and the torments of his past?

Goodreads

My thoughts

You know that feeling when a book is so different than what you expected but you’re still left with a sense of “Wow this is amazing!”.

It took me a while to really get into it, though, and I think that’s because the world building is this book’s main weak point. I was kind of confused about a lot of things in the beginning and still feel like there are a lot of questions I need answers to. The magic system is also quite detailed, and I had a hard time wrapping my head around it.

However, what I really liked about this book is that it’s made clear early on that we’re dealing with an unreliable narrator who withholds information from the reader. I love figuring things out anyway, and the author has definitely made it possible to do so.

Without getting spoilery, I just want to mention that I also really enjoyed the themes explored in the book. That’s really what make me itching for the second book. That and the great character work which I just need more of.

Those were all the books I read for Wyrd and Wonder month. Not that I’m going to stop reading fantasy in June. I need to read all the amazing books I added to my TBR this month (or at least try to). I hope you all had a great reading month whether you read fantasy or not. Let me know if you’ve read any of the books I read this month. Happy reading!

Posted in WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – May 27th 2020

“My name is Rune Saint John.”

First line in The Last Sun by K. D. Edwards

Hi, guys. It’s the final week Wyrd and Wonder which means that that we’re still in a fantasy mood for WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words, and it’s meant to give you all a little insight into my reading this week. I’ll answer the 3 questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish?
  • What do you think you’ll read next

What did you recently finish?

The Last Sun by K. D. Edwards which I gave 4 stars. The last half really did it for me. So much was happening so whenever I wasn’t reading it, I wanted to be reading it. There were some interesting relevations concerning some of the characters that make the sequel suddenly have high priority. I might pick it up in June if I can squeeze it in.

What are you currently reading?

I’m still on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets but I only have about 70 pages left. I like it of course, but I really want to move on to book 3 and move out of the Middle Grade category.

My commute book is finally The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan, book 3 in Wheel of Time. I’m 23% in and as usual when I read Wheel of Time, I love and I hate it at the same time. But I’ve accepted it. I don’t have many other thoughts about it so far. I still feel like I’m in the introductory part so not much has happened yet. So far I’ve only been reminded that I don’t like Egwene.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin. I was supposed to read this for O.W.L.s Magical Readathon in April buuuut due to a certain pandemic, I only now got it from the library.

Posted in Fun Lists

Intelligent Characters in Fantasy Books

“The letter had said to meet in a bookstore.”

First line in The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

Hi, guys. Another post for Wyrd and Wonder and for this one I’m focusing on the characters of our beloved genre. Specifically the smart ones. It’s one of those things that’s difficult to qualify because when is someone intelligent?
As someone who’s often appointed “the clever one” in friend groups, I’ve pondered that question a lot. There are many ways to be intelligent and by that I don’t mean that people can be experts on different topics. In my opinion, it’s more about how you think, reason, problem-solve etc. than how many facts you can list even though that’s part of it too.

To emphazise, I always find that Socrates quote inspiring:

“The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.”

With that in mind, let’s look at some fantasy characters who embody what it means to be intelligent.

Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)

Let’s just get the obvious one out of the way first. I think we can all agree that Harry would have died a lot sooner without Hermione as his friend. Voldemort would have defeated them all in book 1, and that would have been the end.
The great thing about Hermione is that she’s intelligent in so many ways. She’s at the top of her class every year and knows pretty much all there is to know about magic. Several times, she also proves her skills in general problem solving and deductive reasoning. Personally, I also appreaciate the moments where she proves to be emotionally intelligent. She’s able to read other people’s emotions very well, and we often see her giving advice on that account. This is something she learns as the books goes on, and it’s such a necessary skill when you’re friends with Harry and Ron.

Kvothe (The Name of the Wind)

Even though I’ve only read the first book in this series, it’s very clear to me that Kvothe is in love with knowledge. He seems to be willing to stop at nothing to learn.
Kvothe has several skill sets (which he won’t hesitate to point out to you) that make him highly intelligent in my mind. He understands the world’s complicated magic, he’s muscial and he has impeccable survival skills. Even with limited ressources, he’s able to rise in society and get what he wants anyway.

Quentin Coldwater (The Magicians)

Where to begin with Quentin? He might not be the most obvious entry on this list because his intelligence isn’t always at the forefront in this trilogy by Lev Grossman. He has his share of problems weighing him down but once in a while, we get a glimps of his cleverness.
First of all, magic in this universe is far from easy and requires the user to be an expert on topics such as science and langauges. And Quentin is one of the better ones. Throughout the books, you often find him trying to accomplish feats that very few other magicians has even tried. So even though he does fail once in a while, he also succeeds by taking an analytical approach to the problem.

Marasi (Mistborn: Second Era)

Marasi is badass for many reasons but most importantly because she’s smart. In her world, women still have to fight for their place in society and Marasi is one of the front runners. She’s one of the very few women who went to university, and so she’s very much what you would consider book-smart. However, that is not enough for her and throughout the series we constantly find her on a quest for knowledge. Even when that might put her in danger. She loves to do her research and will approach a problem from any angle possible as a true university student.

Victor Vale and Eli Cardale (Vicious)

I’m cheating and grouping these two together (although they would probably kill me for that). The whole plot of this book evolves around the two of them taking a very scientific approach in their efforts to get… superpowers. They believe themselves able to crack the code and begin extensive research and dangerous experiments to succeed. They are highly confident in their abilities and with good reason. They are the top 2 students at their school and not to be messed with.

Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard)

It’s not the conventional type of intelligence you find in Locke Lamora but it’s what makes him the best at what he does: stealing. As a renowned con artist, Lamora is an expert when it comes to researching and planning a con. He pays attention to the smallest of details because he knows their importance. As a result of this, he’s often able to manipulate people into doing what he wants them to do, even if that is to willingly give their money to him.

Jasnah Kholin (The Stormlight Archive)

Jasnah is a scholar down to the bone. She’s the one who people around her rely on for information on pretty much anything. She’s known for being meticulous in her research of historic events and won’t accept a truth until she has definitive proof. One of her greatest strenghts is her ability to engage in discussion with people she disagrees with. She realizes the potential these discussions have of giving her a new perspective to do research from. That is a great sign of intelligence: to recognize that you don’t know everything.

Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows)

Another entry that might not seem like the most obvious choice. However, don’t kid yourself into thinking that Kaz is stupid just because he lacks any kind of formal education. He grew up on the streets of Ketterdam and had to have a steep learning curve when it came to surviving. You can easily call him streetwise but Kaz is so much more than that. He’s able to manipulate both friends and foes in his efforts to execute his detailed plans. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to read people, meaning no one is able to lie to him without getting caught.

Tyrion Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire)

Finally, we have the political mastermind. Tyrion is not without flaws and you can question several of his decisions in regard to his personal life, BUT he knows how to talk his way out of a problem. He’s good with people. He knows the importance of good connections in times of trouble and uses those to protect himself. In the few occasions he’s given responsibility, he also proves himself able to rise to the challenge through scheming and talking.

That was 10 characters I highly admire. I always appreciate it when authors create smart main characters so I needed to celecrate to ones I already love. Feel free to write your own favorite smart characters in the comments. We can’t get enough of those. Happy reading!

Posted in WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – May 20th 2020

“The clock counted every painful second with ticks as thunderous and regular as a heartbeat.”

First line in Chainbreaker by Tara Sim

Hi, guys. It’s Wyrd and Wonder month which means that every book in this week’s WWW Wednesday is fantasy. WWW Wednesday a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words, and it’s meant to give you all a little insight into my reading this week. I’ll answer the 3 questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish?
  • What do you think you’ll read next

What did you recently finish?

Chainbreaker by Tara Sim, the sequel to Timekeeper and another book to add to the giant pile of ‘middle books’ that I freaking love! The scope of this book and what is sets out to do is incredibly inspiring. Sim clearly had something she wanted to share with her readers, and I really liked how she did it. I’m working on a full review for this and hope to have it up by the end of the week.

What are you currently reading?

The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards which I’m 40% into. And it’s kind of weird. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before and I’m not really sure what to make of it. I’m still enjoying it (I think). I’ve just accepted that it’s weird and I’m just along for the ride. It has funny banter so that’s always a great start.

Sunday evening I was struck with an immense craving for Harry Potter… so I dropped everything else, of course, and picked up Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to continue my reread of the series.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The possibly best thing ever happened this Monday: our libraries opened again! I can get physical books again!
But back to the matter at hand. My hold for The Dragon Reborn came in 20 minutes after the library opened so I can finally continue my Wheel of Time journey.

Posted in Book Tags

5 Star Fantasy Books in 5 Words

“Place ten dozen hungry orphan thieves in a bank burrow of vaults and tunnels beneath what used to be a graveyard, put them under the supervision of one partly crippled old man, and you will soon find that governing them becomes a delicate business.”

First line in Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Hi, guys. 5 star books in 5 words was originally created by Matthew Sciarappa over on Youtube and is actually a really fun tag. I’ve seen it around a lot as part of Wyrd and Wonder already and wanted to add my version. The rules are:

  • Pick 5 books you rated 5 stars.
  • Describe your love for each book by picking 5 words.
  • Don’t explain the words. To those who haven’t read the books, it might not make sense.

Since it’s Wyrd and Wonder month, I’ve of course chosen 5 fantasy books so let’s get to it!

The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith

Hell – Books – Friendships – Hero – Authors

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Doors – Volumes – Feelings – Honey – Destiny

Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Clocks – Spirit – London – Anxiety – Damage

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Light – Politics – Spren – Bridge – Swords

Half Bad by Sally Green

Witch – You – Heritage – Captivity – Betrayal

Were you able to make any sense of that? Well, it was fun to do so if you fancy doing it yourself, feel free to consider yourself tagged.

Posted in WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – May 13th 2020

“Pa was taking too long to cut the boys’ throats.”

First line in The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

Hi, guys. It’s Wyrd and Wonder month which means that every book in this week’s WWW Wednesday is fantasy. WWW Wednesday a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words, and it’s meant to give you all a little insight into my reading this week. I’ll answer the 3 questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish?
  • What do you think you’ll read next

What did you recently finish?

I managed to finish 3 whole books this past week. The first one was Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth which I already have a review up for. I had some problems with the book that meant that I was incredibly bored while reading. I’m not sure I’ll be reading the sequel.

I also finished The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen which I gave 4 stars. I’m such a sucker for fantasy that has a clear message about real life social injustice, and The Merciful Crow did it in such a cool way. I’ve never read a fantasy book with such a clear-cut caste system and I really liked how that was explored.

Finally, I also just finished Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson. I rated it 4 stars although I always find it difficult to rate novellas. That number is purely based on my enjoyment. I appreciated that it’s important to read. That it actually has a purpose. It includes both character development but also some “lore-info” which I really enjoyed. I often find that novellas are either/or and rarely contain both elements.

(Apparently, I had a thing for blue books this week)

What are you currently reading?

I’m only reading one book at the moment and that is Chainbreaker by Tara Sim. Currently at 21%. It’s great to be reading this series again. It has this certain vibe to it that’s kind of cozy even when it’s serious. I’m also really liking where the plot is going. I’m so intrigued.

(and the blue love story continues)

What do you think you’ll read next?

The only book I have left from my May TBR is The Last Sun by K. D. Edwards, the first book in The Tarot Sequence series.

(I’m going to cheat on blue with red lol)

Posted in Discussions

Wyrd and Wonder: Embracing the Nuances of the Fantasy Genre

“When the letter came I was out in the fields, binding up my last sheaf of wheat with hands that were shaking so much I could hardly tie the knot.”

First line in The Binding by Bridget Collins

Hi, guys. Welcome to this little discussion post about something I’ve noticed when listening to/reading general debates about fantasy (by “general” I mean not a specific sub-genre). That is that there’s a tendency to reduce the genre to something simplistic and thereby forgetting all the many types of fantasy books that exist.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m also guilty of doing this. We all are, because that’s how we discuss concepts as human beings. We simplify and generalize aspects of a topic or a group to make it easier to talk about. That’s how we talk about concepts and discuss them.

Now what I’ve noticed is that fantasy is often reduced to the same things. For example, I’ve often heard a sentence like this: “This fantasy book is like *insert famous contemporary/historical fiction novel* but with dragons!”. Dragons seem to be the most talked about when it comes to fantastical creatures and are often used as examples. I know fantasy creatures might not be the most groundbreaking topic but I’m just trying to prove my point with it. Because you see, by always mentioning the dragons, we exclude the unicorns, the trolls, the goblins and all the other creatures that are specific to certain books. Again, nothing wrong with dragons but we could get an entirely different discussion by talking about unicorns. This is getting a little abstract but it’s really just to say that I sometimes miss diversity in fantasy debates.

Another nuance I really want to discuss is the fact that not all fantasy falls under the category of epic fantasy. I think there’s a tendency to talk about fantasy in the way of how epic it is. Epic battles, epic quests, epic worldbuilding and magic systems. That’s all good. We all love that but a book doesn’t need a crazy and detailed magic system to be considered fantasy. It doesn’t even have to include a single battle (I know, shocking!). However, these topics are some of the most common when discussing fantasy in general. In these discussions, I believe we’re for one excluding the more atmospheric, slow paced, character driven books. They make up a large part of the market but are often forgotten and maybe not thought of as actual fantasy. Some examples of these kinds of books are The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Circe by Madeline Miller and The Binding by Bridget Collins (not going to talk about the fact that these are written by women because that’s a discussion I’m actually afraid of).

By forgetting these nuances, we reduce the fantasy genre to less than what it actually is and forget what it can do. I’m also sure that this has an effect on how non-fantasy readers think about the genre. That fantasy books are all 10-book series with lots of information and too many dragons. That could scare anyone from dipping their toes into the genre, and that’s a shame when there are so many different types of fantasy books.

All of this of course begs the question: is it even possible to discuss fantasy without specifying a certain sub-genre? I’m not sure I have an answer for that but I would love to know what you guys think.

I understand how easy it is to fall into the epic and high fantasy category when talking fantasy books, and maybe it’s because they don’t really blend in elements from other genres (at least not to a very great extent). They might even be considered the “true fantasy books” (in lack of a better term) and therefore more relevant in a fantasy debate. When a fantasy book also has elements from historical fiction, contemporaries or romance novels, everything just gets a little bit more muddied and harder to talk about in generalized terms.

Here at the end I just want to clarify that I’m not hating on anyone or accusing people of talking about fantasy “wrong”. I just think it’s an important discussion to remember all the nuances in the fantasy genre. But hey, chat with me in the comments. Let me know if you’ve noticed some of the same trends or if I’m just listening to/reading the wrong discussions. Happy reading, guys!