New Graphic Novel/Short Story - Becoming by Kelley Armstrong

A special Halloween graphic novel by Kelley Armstrong about the Elena's first couple months after she became a werewolf. She's released it for free so you can get it online from her website!

NaBloPoMo in November!

I'm going to take part in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) for November, which basically means I need to post at least one post per day!

If you have a blog, you can sign up too (before the 5th of November hmm... remember remember the fifth of november~~ anyway...), and post once a day, every day in November and voila!

Halloween Edition: The Candy Witch

The Candy Witch by Steven Knoll

In honor of Halloween I'm introducing you to a Halloween picture book. This was one of my favorite childhood picture books. A young witch steals trick 'o treaters' candy because she feels neglected. The story is very sweet, and the illustrations are great. Kids and adults alike will enjoy it.

Review: Waking the Witch (Women of the Otherworld #11) by Kelley Armstrong

Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong

Savannah is the latest main character of the Women of the Otherworld Series. If you haven't read any of them I would suggest starting at the beginning of the series although it is not necessary to follow along as this one reads well by itself. Savannah is trying to prove herself capable of handling cases or at least field work in private investigates (those of the paranormal variety) so she takes on a case while her adoptive parents are away.

This latest installment has the same template of something bad happening in the paranormal community, and this time at least, Savannah is trying to figure out what is happening. Unfortunately for long-time fans, there is much less sex (read none) in this book than in previous books. The romance is lackluster at best although the mystery was interesting.

The various villains and the way the unfolding of their roles in the crimes was fun. It was also nice to see Savannah's personality unfold with a depth we haven't seen up to now because she was more of a side character before. kelley has indicated that there will be 2 more books with Savannah as the main character so there is plenty of time for the romance that was hinted at in this book.

This is worth reading if you are a follower of the series, but I wouldn't pick it as a first book as it gives a somewhat different picture than the rest of the books. Start with Bitten the first book or Dime Store Magic (book 3).

Star Rating: 3.5/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

Check out prices for Waking the Witch at Amazon

Mistborn Novella

I forgot to mention when I read it but Brandon Sanderson is writing a Mistborn novella (conjectured at about 45k words). He has 22k words done, and no announced title. Hopefully it will get picked up for publication soon!

For a list of information on other book publication date go here.

(via Sanderson's Twitter)

Update: To be published next year.

Review: Searching For Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #2) by Patricia C. Wrede

Searching For Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Mendanbar, King of the Enchanted Forest, has a small problem. Someone is destroying parts of the Enchanted Forest. This, being his jurisdiction, is really quite unacceptable, and signs seem to point the dragons being the troublemakers. Wizards seem to be popping up all over the place too.

The second in this series is just as charming as the first one. The villains in Wrede's YA books are again somewhat simplistic in their bad doings. This is a very much a classic YA fantasy title without the moral angst that many newer titles or perhaps teenage angst titles deal with.

It's an enjoyable read with characters that are fun and easy to ride along with. Cimorene makes another appearance along with Kazul although they don't take as much screen-time (err page time?).

Star Rating: 3.5/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

Check out prices for Searching For Dragons at Amazon

Review: The Lifecycle of Software Objects

The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

This is the longest work of Ted Chiang's who is a really good short story writer, who has yet to write a novel.

Digital pets have gone through several iterations of popularity. This book speculates about digital pets with superior learning algorithms in a very comprehensive virtual world. Their growth and questioning feels much like interactions with a baby, but these pets don't need to be fed and can be turned off at any time.

The lifecycle of this particular brand of digital pets is much like that of any other product it rises and it falls. The heart-wrenching part of this process though is that you start to feel that these pets are children to be taken care of. When they get turned off, it feels like they're being killed.

I feel that this had the potential to be an absolutely fantastic full length novel. As a novella it was still really good, but the end felt somewhat short-changed.

Star Rating: 4.0/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

Review: Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) by Patricia Briggs

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Mercedes Thompson happens to be familiar with werewolves. She grew up with them, and there's one living next door. Now a new werewolf wants to work in her car repair shop (German cars only please). Trouble ensues because if there wasn't trouble, what would be the point?

There are some sexy werewolves in this book, and the appeal is definitely for urban fantasy fans although this first book doesn't actually delve much into the actual sex part. The hinting is definitely there, and I like that there's a but of setup for what may happen in the future.

The pacing of the book is slower than most urban fantasy novels, which I appreciate. Most of them, in my opinion don't take the time to tell a good story, set a proper background, or give time for breathers. This mood setting makes the story a cut above the usual urban drivel.

Granted, the ending is a little silly. The solving of the mystery is just not that mind-blowing or perhaps well-thought out, but that's not really the point of books like this so I'll let it slide.

Star Rating: 3.5/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

This is one of the books I've read and reviewed for the fantasy mini-challenge. Progress 4/13 books.

Check out prices for Moon Called at Amazon

Teaser Tuesday (Oct 26)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"I shivered and moved closer to Samuel's warmth. He gave me an odd look, doubtless scenting my unease, but set his hand on my shoulder and pulled me closer" -Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Feel free to leave a comment with a link to your own teaser post or just the teaser if you don't have a blog.

Song of Ice and Fire - A Dance with Dragons

Even though I haven't started the series yet for fear of it never having an ending, I feel obliged to post an update. George R. R. Martin has only 5 chapters left to write before A Dance of Dragons is finished. Granted, this mean that it still has revisions to go through, but fans can take heart that this book may actually be published.

Edit: via Westeros

Review: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

The end of the world is about to happen. The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse are converging (well more like the four motorcyclists of the apocalypse). Unfortunately, the Prince of Doom is missing and the angel and demon who are in charge of setting the Apocalypse in motion aren't sure they want it to happen. Welcome to Pandemonium-calypse!

The most esteemed messirs Pratchett and Gaiman have teemed up to deliver a good amount of hilarity for the events of a modern era apocalypse. For the most part, it is quite amusing although there is a slight feeling of tedium at times.

Most of the story focuses on Aziraphale and Crowley (angel and demon respectively), who seem to like being on earth having stayed there for the last 4004 years. They try to delay the Apocalypse much to the dismay and wrath of their superiors.

The book is not an in-depth look at the end of the world, rather it is a comedy as with all works I have encountered of Terry Pratchett. It's fun and lighthearted but perhaps not quite special or absurd enough to be great.

Star Rating: 3.0/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

This is one of the books I've read and reviewed for the fantasy mini-challenge. Progress 3/13 books read.

Check out prices for Good Omens at Amazon

Review: Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #1) by Patricia C. Wrede

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Cimorene is an atypical princess in a very typical prosperous kingdom. Unfortunately, this means she gets bored a lot because well regular princess things are boring (seriously who wants to play with their hair, ballroom dance, and curtsy all day). Her parents think this would all go easier if she were married off so she runs away to see some dragons (with dragons in the title what did you expect ^.^).

The lament about being a princess being a boring think might be a bit stock, but Wrede pulls it off with a surprising amount of humor. I love Cimorene; she's got a certain no nonsense attitude that goes over well with YA readers. The other characters, Kazul and Morwen are also quite entertaining.

This is a great intro book into fantasy even if it does make fun of some classic fantasy elements such as melting witches with soap and water. The main bad guys are the wizards, and they have this classic oily sheen of the type you might see on a con-man. What happens to them is hugely satisfying for the reader.

There are 4 books in this series. Reviews for the other ones are forthcoming.

Star Rating: 4.0/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

Check out prices for Dealing with Dragons at Amazon

Review: Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson

Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson

This is a re-imagined fairy tale; the one where a pair of girls have toads/diamonds drop out of their mouth. The one who treated the old lady well had diamonds come out of her mouth, and the one who didn't had toads. Tomlinson turns the tale into a full length novel where both sisters' gifts serve a higher purpose for the goddess who granted the gifts.

The sister who speaks toads also speaks snakes, and the author makes this into a good thing. Granted, making this into a good thing is not an easy task, and Tomlinson has a pretty good crack at it although the result still seems contrived.

Both sisters go on a journey, and their stories are intertwined. The transitions between the stories are pretty well done. Other than the twist of the fairy tale, the story is somewhat standard in the story concepts it uses. There are some slaves, a lot of running, and haughty nobles.

This was a pretty interesting book which I liked although it was not fantastic.

Star Rating: 3.0/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

Check out prices for Toads and Diamonds at Amazon

Angry/Cute Kitty

Kitty is super angry at the printer.

(via Whatever)

Review: The Call (The Magnificent Twelve, #1)

The Call by Michael Grant

This is a YA novel about 2 different sets of people although later books in the series may only focus on the second set. Mack is afraid of everything. He's got a whole host of phobias and weird things are happening to him. Grimluk lives before big numbers (things like 12 are considered big) were invented, and he is running for his life with his family.

This was quite amusing and cute. In some ways it reminds me of the juvenile fiction by Brandon Sanderson (Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians). The pretend portentiousness was fun.

I love the main character - Mack. His upside down weirdness is a lot of fun to follow, and his inner thoughts are fun to read. Grimluk's story is also amusing to follow since the author puts in a lot of jokes about how unsophisticated his time is.

The book in general though seems to be a tad choppy in the reading, and I'm not as drawn into the story as I want to be.

Disclaimer: I won this from First Reads.

Star Rating: 2.5/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

Fantasy Mini-Challenge

I'm going to taking part in a fantasy mini-challenge being hosted here. Basically, this challenge is to read 13 books with titles or author names beginning with the same letters that holidays (US, UK, and CA) in these next 4 months beginning on Oct 3rd. I will be keeping this post updated with how far in this challenge I've gotten

Tentative List

Blood Bound - Patricia Briggs
C x 2
Calling on Dragons = Patricia C. Wrede
Coraline - Neil Gaiman
H x 2
Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb
Handmaid's Tale, The - Margaret Atwood
The Summer Tree - Guy Gavriel Kay
Moon Called - Patricia Briggs
N\Y x 2
Good Omens - Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb
T x 2
The Thirteenth Tale- Diane Setterfield
Mort - Terry Pratchett
The Way of Shadows - Brent V. Weeks

This challenge runs until Jan 31, 2011.

Looking through the books on the list to choose from. It's kind of tough to choose books since I've read many of them, and other I have simply no interest in. I think I've managed to compile a few that I want to read and that fit the requirements of the challenge.

Star Ratings

To give you a better sense (or perhaps a more standardized sense) of what I thought of the book, I am going to start putting a star rating out of 5 at the bottom of reviews.

Example: 4.5/5.0

Chart of what the stars mean:

0.0, 0.5 = Just terrible.
1.0, 1.5 = I didn't like this book.
2.0, 2.5 = It was ok.
3.0, 3.5 = I liked it.
4.0, 4.5 = I really liked it.
5.0 = OMG you have to read this.

Review: Matched (Matched #1) by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie

Cassia is safe and happy with her life. Everything is chosen for her, and all she has to do is follow along. Her "match" is her best friend, and that's great. It all feels right. That is, until she briefly sees that her match could have been someone else. The walls of safety begin to crumble, and the world is a less sure place.

This is part of the new craze of dystopia fiction which was lead by the phenomenon known as The Hunger Games. Cassia's journey from a trusting sheep to someone who questions is nicely documented.

Be warned though that while this book is billed as the new generation of dystopian literature, it is in fact a romance novel seen through what an illicit affair might be in a controlled society. Granted, the worldbuilding of the Society has a certain thoughtfullness to it despite the similarities to other dystopian worlds.

I do think this would have been good as a standalone novel with a semi-open ended ending. It would achieve what a lot of dystopian stuff does, which is a sense of hopefullness but twisted by the Society it has to grow in. This is, however, a trilogy so I would imagine that the author will somehow topple this Society.

The second book in the trilogy is being written. (For a updates to the status of the second book and other books go here.

Check out prices for Matched at Amazon

Teaser Tuesday (Oct 19th)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Sato Kenji looked up from his book and into Sei’s eyes. She knew her face was flushed and red — she did not care." -Palimpsest by Catherynn M. Valente

Review: The Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks

Azoth is an orphan on the streets and is a part of a guild of street rats. This is a guild which is only a small part of the underworld of Cenaria. Azoth faces certain annihilation from Rat for humiliating him. In a desperate bid to save everything close to him, he tries to become a wetboy's apprentice (think assassin with magical powers). He seeks the best in the city - Durzo Blint - to apprentice to.

The book runs very long on violence, and repeats the mantra of life being empty far too often. The author definitely achieves the feeling of emptiness as death in this book with commonplaces-ness and utter lack of achieving any other story points.

There is very little in the way of the deaths building a political picture, which I had somewhat expected since there is a lot of power play in the book. From Azoth's point of view though, the deaths are simply done and don't seem to have much meaning besides furthering his education and as a point of contention while he continually tries to believe that all life is meaningless.

At the end there is a feeling that the epic this story was supposed to achieve somehow fell short and was not so epic after all. There is a hint of grandness with a long timescale and flashy powers just rising to the surface, but it hasn't come to fruition. Perhaps the next remainder of this trilogy will be more satisfying.

This is one of the books I've read and reviewed for the fantasy mini-challenge.

Check out prices for The Way of Shadows at Amazon

Review: For the Win by Cory Doctorow

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

There are a lot of MMO's being played, and this story is about those who work in the MMO's - gold farmers, enforcers, game masters, and contracted game designers. Their stories collide over labor issues. This is a journey of unions as a concept for these various workers as they clash with the game owners, gold company owners, and police states.

For those perennial players of MMO's this is actually an easier story to get into since you can skip the many explanations of in-game mechanics and slang of MMO's, which are provided for those non-gamers. Some of the economics explanations were helpful though.

There were a lot of viewpoints and not all of them were as fully fleshed out as they could have been, but the collective story they told was well thought out. The ending is what one would expect of a dystopia book and was actually quite fitting if not entirely satisfying.

Be warned there is actually quite a bit of violence. Doctorow is again wonderful in his portrayal of an only slightly altered present day. He take today's societies and tech affixations and adds a dose of need to control opposed by a rebellion element and creates a very interesting world to read about.

Check out prices for For the Win at Amazon

Review: The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

*Warning* If you haven't read Mistborn #1, please don't read this review. *Warning*

The Lord Ruler is dead, but now there's an empire to run. Kelsier can't run it since well he's dead, which means Vin has to step up to the plate. Most of the book focuses on the armies parked outside Luthadel.

Elend has to learn how to not only be a scholar, but also a leader. Unfortunately theory and reality are not close enough together. He is also somewhat of a pacifist and given to spending a lot of time debating rather than deciding which becomes somewhat of an issue. You really want Elend to figure it out though since he's such a loveable character.

This book is a bit slower than the previous one since the planning is part of the thrill in the first one, where this one is about finding out what to do. Vin's encounters with Zane are weird to say the least, and although there is a certain appeal to Zane, the downward spiral of madness is not as skillful as it might have been.

The second book is not quite as good as the first one although it is still pretty good.

Check out prices for Well of Ascension at Amazon

Status of Various Books

I always have to check a lot of different places to keep track of upcoming books. Some authors update frequently about the publication dates and/or written status while others are much more mysterious. This will be a list of statuses of upcoming books I'm interested in.

I will keep the list updated here.

In order of publication. Those with no publication dates at end.

Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens (Alcatraz, #4) by Brandon Sanderson
Being printed
Coming December 2010

Wise Man's Fear (Kingkiller Chronicle, #2) by Patrick Rothfuss
Revision in progress
Coming March 1, 2011

Spell Bound (Women of the Otherworld #12) by Kelley Armstrong
Being Written
Coming July 1, 2011

Heartless (Parasol Protectorate #4) by Gail Carriger
Final draft in progress
Coming July 2011

Saints Astray (Santa Olivia #2) by Jacqueline Carey
In Revision
Coming October 2011

Mastiff (Beka Cooper #3) by Tamora Pierce
Being Written
Coming in 2011 (has been pushed back many times)

A Memory of Light (WoT #14) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Not yet written
Coming March 2012 (speculated)

Way of Kings #2 by Brandon Sanderson
Not yet written
Coming Late 2012/Early 2013

The Daylight War (Demon Trilogy #3) by Peter V. Brett
Being written
Coming unknown

The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard, #3) by Scott Lynch
Stalled indefinitely
Coming unknown

Review: The Wee Free Men (Discworld #30 & Discworld Children #1) by Terry Pratchett

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

We get to meet Tiffany Aching in this installment of Discworld, which is actually the start of a new story arc within the Discworld. She's sensible and has guts, which means she might make a good witch.

Some characters from other story arcs show up, and it's always fun to see the intersections as well as Pratchett's footnotes which lead back to his other books. I think this is one of his more amusing books. Some of Pratchett's stuff is not as funny, but this one is quite good.

Tiffany does stuff like hitting a monster with a frying pan and attracting the attention of an amusing tribe of little men known as the Nac Mac Feegle. The little men are integral to the fun with their boisterous ways. Her foe is creepy, but still an amalgamation of "typical" villains with a Pratchett twist of course.

I'm looking forward to the next book with Tiffany Aching and of course the Nac Mac Feegle which is "A Hat Full of Sky."

Check out prices for The Wee Free Men at Amazon

Review: Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Miri just wants to work in the quarry, but her dad won't let her. In a strange turn of events, the prince of the country her village supposedly belongs to, has to marry a girl from her village. In order to make sure the girl is up to the job of being a princess, an academy is established.

Miri may be considered a little too perfect although her insecurities are endearing and her small triumphs are heartening. This book is not exactly special in the way the characters are but it's written nicely and the interactions are mostly believable.

The only point where I felt the story was incomplete was at the end. One of the character's twists requires somewhat of a suspension of belief although it could be believable because the story doesn't go into the daily lives of nobles very much.

This is definitely a nice stand alone YA novel. It deserves the Newberry Honor.

Check out prices for Princess Academy at Amazon

Review: Girl Genius Vol. 1: Agatha Heterodyne & the Beetleburg Clank by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio

Girl Genius Vol. 1: Agatha Heterodyne & the Beetleburg Clank by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio

Agatha has been trying to build awesome steampunk machines, or well to be more exact she's been trying to build ANY steampunk machines. Much to her chagrin, however, she hasn't been able to make anything that's worked. Then things explode. There are a lot of explosions.

The first volume of this series is not actually that good. To be honest, it was somewhat boring because of the time spent setting things up. It's like rating a book if you've only read the first 3 chapters. It might be interesting, but it's probably not all that exciting.

Agatha has promise to be a very amusing character. The steampunk has promise to be pretty awesome, and I'm looking forward to explosions. Thus, I will continue to read this series because it has promise. This first volume though, don't expect it to really blow your mind away unless I'm missing something crucial.

This comic is available online for free at, but the writers/illustrators have also produced dead tree versions.

Check out prices for Girl Genius Vol. 1: Agatha Heterodyne & the Beetleburg Clank at Amazon

Review: The Thief (The Queen's Thief, #1) by Megan Whalen Turner

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Gen is a thief that has been caught boasting about stealing the King's Seal. In exchange for being let out of prison and not killed, he must steal something very important for the King. Gen takes the deal, and an adventure ensues.

The story was pretty slow the first half of the book although it picked up after awhile. Unfortunately Gen was really annoying all throughout the book, and that detracted from the journey a lot. I'm not sure the ending justifies the amount of annoyance there was.

Throughout the book are sprinklings of stories of a creation myth which is based on the Greek creation myths which were interesting. I liked that they were put in there to give more flavor to the world.

I think I will still read the next book to see what happens as the ending leaves some interesting possibilities for the next one even if this one had annoying moments.

Check out prices for The Thief at Amazon

Review: Princess Bride by William Goldman

Princess Bride by William Goldman

So the premise of the book is that the author is abridging a classic written by St. Morgenstern by taking out all the boring parts (things like clothes packing). The actual classic is about a girl who becomes a princess and is the most beautiful woman in the world, and is supposed to be a satire of noble life.

Warning: This book is amusing and is in many ways a satire of epic fantasy. Along the way there is lots of adventure, revenge, torture, danger, swashbuckling, and hilarity ensues. You will love the characters and their quirks.

The book was made into a movie, which is actually a pretty good portrayal of the book, so if you are not inclined to reading (in which case I'm not altogether sure why you are reading this post on a book...) the movie is good.

Check out prices for Princess Bride at Amazon

Review: Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin

Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin

This is a book about a ballet dancer who started his life as a poor boy in rural China. He goes on to international ballet stardom after managing to leave China. I thought that some parts of this book really dragged but perhaps this is because it is an autobiography so can be excused a bit.

In some ways this was a remarkable story, but the tense moments with defecting from China didn't seem to really be emphasized that much. Granted, the fear of being returned to China later on did permeate many later chapter.

Cunxin is really lucky is the upshot of this story (yes, he worked hard but the chances provided him were many many parts luck). It was still a good story nonetheless.

Disclaimer: I won this from First Reads.

Check out prices for Mao's Last Dancer at Amazon

Double Ten Day

So, today there isn't going to be a post on a book because I want to note that today is Double Ten Day aka Taiwanese Independence Day. Wikipedia has an explanation of course. It commemorates the start of the uprisings which ended the Qing dynasty and established the Republic of China (the official name of Taiwan) which is not to be confused with the People's Republic of China.

There are some parades that go on in US cities with sizable Taiwanese populations. There is a lot of patriotic sentiment for Taiwan expressed as with the patriotism on American Independence Day, and I just wanted to take a moment to reflect.

You may now get back to your previously scheduled lives.

Review: Leviathan (Leviathan #1) by Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Basically this is an alternate history of WWI steampunk style. The fighting countries either have giant robotic mech type machines or monstrous biologically engineered animal amalgams. The main character is the "heir" to the Austro-Hungarian throne Prince Aleksander. He is a really cute character who starts off the book fighting out battles with toy soldiers and various other objects.

One of the best parts of this book are the various images which are included throughout. The pictures are very well drawn, and definitely add a certain amount of flavor and flair to the novel.

Aleksander is a bit imperious although it is entirely within character since he is a prince. Through the imperiousness though you get a sense of a child trying very hard to cope with a changing reality. There are times when you want to yell "NO!! Don't do that," but at the same time you feel as if it's only human that he should.

I would say this is mostly a read for a young adult, but can still be enjoyable for adult. The next book - Behemoth - just came out.

Check out prices for Leviathan at Amazon

Review: Graceling (The Seven Kingdoms #1) by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa has been blessed with a gift for killing, "a grace." She is forced to play the role of thug enforcer for the king. She ends up fighting a different battle.

I think I would have liked Graceling more a few years ago in my teen/pre-teen era. It was somewhat sanitized since its target audience is younger than me. It's a great start for a series and I felt that perhaps the story itself could have been longer, but again it's for a younger audience so I understand. Unfortunately, it lacks a certain amount of intensity and depth, which make some other YA books much better.

The magic system in this book isn't so much magic as it is simply those who have special abilities so perhaps more akin to super heroes rather than a magic system. It's certainly an interesting take on how something like this would impact a world.

Check out prices for Graceling at Amazon

Review: Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb


Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

A young boy without a name is dumped unceremoniously on the steps of the Royal Keep with the declaration that he is the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, King-in-waiting. His arrival throws a lot of plans into chaos. Through a series of events he finds himself apprenticed to be an assassin (you didn't think the name was just being coy now did you?). There is also the requisite kingdom to save.

This was actually a pretty good read (I suppose it may be a cliche maker rather than an actual cliche since it was published quite awhile ago). Fitz's, as the boy is later named since it means bastard, lack of a real name seems to cause a lot of characters some consternation much to my amusement.

Perhaps due to my perception of this book as older fantasy, the point of view in the book, and maybe because the author wanted it to feel so the whole story feels ancient almost a myth perhaps. This doesn't really detract from the story in some senses it adds to the feeling of mystery which I enjoyed.

This is one of the books I've read and reviewed for the fantasy mini-challenge.

Check out prices for Assassin's Apprentice at Amazon

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Review: Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Yelena, the main character, gets a choice between being hung for the crime of murder or being the new food tester for the Commander of Ixia right before she is to be executed. She chooses to become a food taster, and the training she goes through is what the book is mostly about.

The interactions Yelena has with her "mentor" and the actual training are the best part of this book although the side characters Janco and Ari are amusing. I hope to see more of them in the later books.

There are some hints of magic, but it doesn't take center stage as the world they are in is opposed to magic and for the most part it seems to be an aside to the lessons, which may or may not have a bigger role in later books.

The writing style is not bad, but there is a certain lack of depth and the pacing was a bit faster than I would have liked.

Check out prices for Poison Study at Amazon

Review: Fire Logic (Elemental Logic #1) by Laurie J. Marks

Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks

I wanted to like it more. I really did especially because this is one of a few fantasy books which explores queer relationships in a world where they are accepted. The characters were sweet, and the magic was interesting (which was based on an elemental division of power). Also, what element (fire, air, water, earth) your magic was based on also tended to hint at the character's personality although there is no real mention of whether the personality causes the magic or if the magic causes the personality to form in a certain way.

Unfortunately, I felt like the plot dragged and too much time was spent on troop movements. Still, this is an entertaining if somewhat forgettable read, which makes you want to root for the survival of the love of the characters if nothing else.

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P.S. Today marks the first full month of blog posts!

Review: Holy Hullabaloos by Jay Wexler

Holy Hullabaloos by Jay Wexler

This book takes complex court cases involving religions vs the state and breaks them down into something easy to understand. Along the way, the author is quite amusing. I find him amusing probably because religiously, I am the same alignment as the author. I imagine many of those who are far "right" in their religious views will not be as amused as I was.

This book is definitely a great overview to the many court (read Supreme Court usually) cases which shape our nation's policies toward the separation of church and state and religious freedoms. It also gives a fascinating glimpse of the characters behind these court cases.

Disclaimer: I won this for free as part of First Reads.

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