What I’ve Been Reading…

Things have been busy in my corner of the universe lately and, while the reading hasn’t stopped, the recording of it definitely has.

In my reading update posts, I normally do an Inbox (what I’m about to read), an Outbox (what I’ve recently finished), and sometimes add a Currently Reading section.  Because I haven’t done one of these in a month or so, I’m going to switch things up and talk about all the things I’ve finished.

Over the past couple of weeks, soooo many of the books I’ve been excited for have come in for me at the library.  My pile is at least ten books high.  It’s a bit overwhelming, but very fun.

So here’s what I’ve been reading lately! Continue reading

Top Ten Books that Feel Like Summer

I’m joining in Top Ten Tuesday once more, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s theme is a summer freebie.  I’ve decided to do my list around books that feel like summer–which, for me, means a lot of things.

Some summer reads actually take place in the sunny season–featuring fluffy, light romances that are prefect for reading on the beach.

Others are funny and fun, which put me in the mindset of summer no matter the season.

Something about summer always puts me in the mood for epic fantasy… or just something really long that I can sink into.

And then there are the books that are a summer tradition.  Not a year goes by that I don’t listen to Tolkien on audiobook.

Here’s the list…
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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Couldn’t Put Down

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s theme is books that you read in one sitting.  Now that I’m working full time, I’m not able to read for hours on end anymore.

So here is a list of books and series that, if possible, I would have consumed in one sitting.  I couldn’t limit it to just ten.

  1. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  2. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  3. Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
  4. Green Rider series by Kristen Britain
  5. The Evermen Saga by James Maxwell
  6. His Fair Assassins series by Robin LaFevers
  7. Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
  8. Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
  9. The Selection series by Kierra Cass
  10. Everything Rainbow Rowell has written
  11. Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier
  12. Saga comic series by Brian K. Vaughan
  13. Everything Morgan Matson has written
  14. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  15. Everything Sarah J. Maas has written

Have you read any of these?  What books have you read that were so addicting you couldn’t put them down?


Like bookish travel?  Read about my Literary Pilgrimages

Check out my biweekly Inbox//Outbox to find out what I’ve been reading

For more of my reading adventures, add me on Goodreads

Black, White, and Shades of Grey: Morality in Fantasy Literature

Who wouldn’t want to hear their favorite authors speak together on the same stage?

Recently, I was inspired by staff at Eventbrite about putting together a dream panel of authors I’d like to see at a conference.  Eventbrite is an organization that helps people create and share events that bring communities together.  For more information about their conference management tool, check out their website.

I love attending conferences, but have sadly never been to one that is book-related.  (That is likely to change now that I’m working as a librarian.)  Still, I assume that most events follow similar structures and that there is a great deal of freedom in what goes on in a panel.  That being said, I spent some time brainstorming what group I should bring together.  There are so many genres that I love and so many topics that would be interesting to explore.  I ended up settling on…

dreamconferenceblogbanner

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Inbox // Outbox 1/23/16

Inbox

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

I’ve been on the list for this at the library for quite a while.  I’ve never read anything by Fisher before and, in honor of her passing, am looking forward to exploring what she has to say.  In addition, I’ve been engaging with Star Wars a great deal lately and this fits right in.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

This memoir has been on my library list for a while… I’m not really sure what to expect, but am going to give it a chance.

Darth Vader, Vol 1-4 by Kieron Gillen

This graphic novel series takes my current obsession with graphic novels and combines it with my Star Wars kick.  Vader isn’t my favorite character, but my brother told me these were good, so I’ll see how this goes.

inbox12316 Continue reading

Top Ten Books in Worlds Not Our Own

This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is to generate a list of books that take place on X.  I decided that X would be worlds that are not Earth.  Here we go…

  1. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
  3. Symphony of Ages trilogy by Elizabeth Haydon
  4. Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
  5. Green Rider series by Kristen Britain
  6. Evermen Saga by James Maxwell
  7. The Silmarilion by J.R.R. Tolkien
  8. Perelandra by C.S. Lewis*
  9. A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin**
  10. Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey

Continue reading

On the Shelf: The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

This is one of those books that have been sitting on the shelf for years, waiting to be read.  I knew I’d get to it eventually… and now I have.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

My Rating: 4 / 5

Here is the magical legend of King Arthur, vividly retold through the eyes and lives of the women who wielded power from behind the throne. A spellbinding novel, an extraordinary literary achievement, THE MISTS OF AVALON will stay with you for a long time to come….

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On the Shelf: Fantasy Trilogies Galore

I’ve been reading a lot lately, but have totally shirked my book reviews.  Oops.  The stresses of my new job have me spending evenings rolling around on the couch in a sweater and leggings, avoiding anything that requires thinking.

So, until I’m able to write any focused reviews, here’s a bit of what I’ve been digging into over the past few weeks!

His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers:

I’ve been seeing things about this trilogy for quite a while, but never engaged until now.  I downloaded an ebook version of the first novel, Grave Mercy, from my local library and was off to the races.  I completed the trilogy in five days and loved them so much I ran online to order physical copies.

These books aren’t the most well-written in the world, but they’re incredibly fresh and original.  The premise is a convent in medieval France where they are dedicated to serving Mortain, the patron saint of Death.  Novices are trained as assassins and sent into the world to do Death’s bidding.  Each book is very different in flavor, although all have their share of romance.  Grave Mercy is, in many ways, a political thriller.  Dark Triumph is very dark and personal.  Mortal Heart is a coming-of-age tale.

If you like historical fiction, fantasy, and romance, these books are a must-read.

The Symphony of Ages trilogy by Elizabeth Haydon

I read the first three books of this now-longer series in high school and have been hankering to revisit them ever since.  That being said, I picked up Rhapsody on a Friday and had all 2,000+ pages of the series read ten days later.  You’d think that a series this long would have dull points, but I couldn’t put these down.  (And this is my second time through!)  Haydon has created a story that suck you in and doesn’t let go until the ride is done.

The books tell the story of Rhapsody, a young singer who finds herself swept into an adventure across Time to learn of a prophecy that foretells her destiny to be a key force in destroying evil.  Through her journey, she encounters a vast array of characters that are diverse, complex, and wonderful.  Haydon’s universe is vast, with deeply structured, believable cultures and religions.  Her world-building is top-notch.  The scope of the story is epic, leading up to a satisfying, memorable conclusion.

If you’re a fantasy fan, add these to your list.

Right now, I’m also re-reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  I’m loving it even more this time around.  Maybe I’ll make a focused On the Shelf discussing it in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, when I finish that, I’m going to dig into Winter by Marissa Meyer.

Here’s to more books!  Keep an eye out for more On the Shelf posts in the coming weeks.

On the Shelf: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Apparently, I’m on a Brandon Sanderson streak.

My Rating: 3 / 5 stars

Summary from GoodreadsElantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.
Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.
But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.
A rare epic fantasy that doesn’t recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It’s also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.

My Thoughts:

This was a quick read.  I started on a Thursday and finished it by Sunday.  Most of what I had to say in my discussion of Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy rings true here.

Sanderson is massively talented when it comes to world building.  His characters tend to be politically minded and the atmosphere he creates is diverse and realistic.  I can tell that this is his first published work, though, because although the world is a good one, it could use more depth.  I got the sense that all the countries and cultures had differences, but I didn’t quite know what those were.  The biggest strength was the allure of the fallen city of Elantris and I enjoyed watching Raoden discover its secrets.

As far as pacing goes, this book could be a lot tighter.  At one point, the focus was on rebuilding society within Elantris.  At another, it was on overthrowing the king of Arelon.  A few chapters later, the massive problem were fighting off the invading religion.  Then, suddenly, the characters rebuilding Elantris were doing completely different things.  The focus kept changing, which I found distracting.  There were also pages upon pages where it felt like nothing was happening.

Although I liked the characters for the most part, they felt a bit too perfect.  I’ve noticed Sanderson favors political idealists who have an intrinsic ability to lead and lead well.  Raoden and Sarene were like this.  They were so good at politicing that they didn’t feel real.  They also lacked major flaws.  Raoden was more interesting, as an Elantarin, his body couldn’t heal, but couldn’t die.  Any scratches or injuries were permanent, leaving him in constant and growing pain.  Sarene, though, was really cool, but also boring.  She had all the makings of a “good” heroine–outspoken, strong, intelligent, good ad fencing, etc.  But she was too stereotypical and really had no weaknesses, unless you count being crap at painting and embroidery.  Her struggles mainly came in the form of loneliness–because being so strong and independent isolates you from others.  I felt bad for her because she had pinned all her romantic hopes on her marriage with Raoden only to have them shattered.  But, besides that, she was difficult to relate with.

Elantris was an enjoyable read, but I didn’t fall in love.

Check out my On the Shelf page for more reviews and stop by my post on Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy as well!

On the Shelf: Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

It’s been far too long since I’ve read a fantasy trilogy.  Brandon Sanderson’s name seems to be cropping up everywhere lately–from fellow bloggers to my brother.  After poking around his different work on Amazon, I settled on the Mistborn Trilogy.  (My main motivation was that I could buy all three in a package on my Kindle for relatively cheap.)  I feel weird lumping three books into one post, but don’t have time to discuss them individually.

I actually finished the third book last night and DANG. What an ending!

  

Summary from Barnes & Noble: Brandon Sanderson, fantasy’s newest master tale spinner, author of the acclaimed debut Elantris, dares to turn a genre on its head by asking a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails? What kind of world results when the Dark Lord is in charge? The answer will be found in the Mistborn Trilogy, a saga of surprises and magical martial-arts.

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

My Thoughts

I realize that the summary isn’t very helpful.  I usually use summaries from Amazon or Goodreds, but there just weren’t any good ones out there.

The first thing I can say about this series is that it hooked me immediately.

This is my first exposure to Sanderson, but it didn’t take long to see he is a master at world building.  These books take place in an empire where the ash falls from the red sky, plants are brown and shriveled, and the land is covered in mysterious mist at night.  The majority of the population, known as skaa, are enslaved by the mysterious Lord Ruler and oppressed to the point where they don’t even try to fight.  Until one man, Kelsier, “snaps” and discovers he has the powers of a Mistborn.  Mistborns can consume and burn metals in their stomachs, which results in a bunch of super cool powers.  Despite impossible odds, Kelsier has had enough of oppression and assembles a team of thieves and begins a plot to overthrow the Lord Ruler.  Along the way, he recruits Vin, a young, distrustful street thief and fellow Mistborn.

As I said, Sanderson’s world building is fascinating.  The whole feel of his universe is so foreign that it’s compelling.  As the series goes on, he reveals more about the world’s history, religion, and systems of magic.  It’s all very well developed and engaging. Sanderson is also an excellent planner. He inserts seemingly insignificant details early on that frequently become huge plot points.

For the most part, the narrative structure is a little slow, but solid.  Hundreds of pages of exposition pass that aren’t uneventful, but not necessarily important.  Sanderson builds his story brick by brick and delivers a smashing climax.  Once you reach the last hundred and fifty pages, you can’t put the book down.

Although I am deeply attached to all the characters, the biggest weakness of these books is that the emotional components fall flat.  We know that certain characters have chemistry, but I rarely FELT it oozing through the pages.  I wouldn’t go so far as saying interactions feel forced, but they certainly lack depth.  Even in the poigniant, significant moments, the dialogue is lacking.

What Sanderson lacks emotions and dialogue, he more than makes up for in action scenes.  The series is filled with satisfying fights, chases, and show-downs. 

As a reader, I’m usually hard to surprise.  With most books, movies, and television shows, I can see the ending a mile away.  These days, just watching a trailer or reading the back of the book tells me exactly how the thing ends.  This trilogy didn’t shock me at any point, but it definitely kept me on my toes!  Each chapter had me wanting more, wondering what would happen next.  Sanderson frequently flips the tables–taking actions we perceive as good and twisting them. By the third book, he had me eating out of his hand, second-guessing everything. This doesn’t happen often and, boy, what fun it is!

One of the salient themes throughout these books is power.  When dealing with overthrowing empires and re-establishing rule, lots of questions are asked.  What makes a good ruler?  Where is the line between giving people power and taking it for the greater good?  Do people prefer enslavement because it’s easier?  Can people even rule themselves effectively?  Lots of politicking goes on and one thing Sanderson makes very clear is that, despite an overarching battle between the polar forces of Prosperity and Ruin, there is no black and white.  Even the most honorable characters are proved hypocrites–which I love. Other important themes include love and trust. One of my favorite characters is a man named Sazed, whose job is collecting and keeping safe the history of hundreds of dead religions. Through Sazed, Sanderson explores the importance and role of faith.

Overall, I REALLY enjoyed this series. I’m a big fan of well told stories and these books fit the bill! They’re excellent brain candy.  I’ll definitely be reading more of Sanderson’s work in the future.

You Will Like This Book If You Enjoy: Fantasy, engaging stories, world building, magic, action.

I believe this is from the Brazilian edition of the series. Source: Google images.