Saturday, August 19, 2017

Under the Pendulum Sun | Jeannette Ng

*Image and book provided via NetGalley for an honest review.

Summary:

Catherine Helstone has gone to Arcadia, land of the Fae, in search for her brother Laon, a missionary who has failed to follow up with her or his church in some time. Considering the mysterious death of the previous missionary to the Fae Lands, she is anxious to find him. Unfortunately, her long stay in Arcadia is riddled with riddles of a dangerous variety. She must find a way to navigate them while holding onto her own soul. 

Review:

Let me start out by saying: Holy wah. Holy wah! Holy WAH! This book was an amazing read! I can't remember the last time I was tempted to take a day off work just to finish a book! There were so many things to think about and work through! I generally highlight parts of a book that make me think, or to look up later, or that might be clues for the overall story. Usually I highlight just a few things overall. I swear I highlighted almost half the book just because there was so much that struck me! 

You can tell Jeannette Ng has done the research on this. Not just because she has her Master's in Medieval and Renaissance studies (by the way this book takes place in 1800's) but also because of her mastery of the language. She uses the terminology these characters would have used in their time, in their place. My favorite part was that the Fae tell how long it takes to get somewhere, not with time or distance, but stories. For example, the Pale Queen commented to the Salamander that it had been too long since they'd last seen each other.
The Salamander bowed deep, her wet-seeming scales glistening. "It has been as long as it takes to tell a tale, neither long nor short."
And this really gives you an insight into the Fae mindset. If one doesn't measure time by seconds and minutes or distance in feet or meters, it really affects your interpretation of the world around you.

The best part, for me, is that everything ended up making perfect sense. When I got to the end of the book and saw the full scope of this story my jaw dropped in awe. I don't want to give any spoilers, but I will say that the Mastermind of it all has much more power, influence and insight than I had EVER thought to give them credit for! I was floored by how little I had comprehended! Don't get me wrong, the story's only told from Catherine's perspective, but still! I ended up falling into the same thought trap that she did and I almost never do that! I was so caught up in this story that I was unable to predict, unable to see, except as hindsight. IT WAS AWESOME!

I'll admit, the dark, gothic fantasy genre isn't for everyone. If you are interested in true fairy tales, like the original dark Brother's Grimm stuff, you'll probably like this. There's a lot of theology mixed with mythology that does such a wonderful job of tickling one's curiosity.

I am so in love with this book that I'm pre-ordering it (click the picture above to go to the book's page). I happily give this book 5 hoots and look forward to more books from Jeannette Ng!

               Hoot!Hoot!

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                    Hoot!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Actually. Best. Jokes. Ever | Chantelle Grace

*Image and book provided by NetGalley for an honest review.

Review:

This was a cute little book of knock knock jokes, tongue twisters and puns, definitely meant for a younger audience. A lot of the jokes I had heard before, but I still got quite a few chuckles out of them, as well as several groans of annoyance from my husband when I read them out loud. I do wish the book had more illustration or more to it than just a long list of words, but that's a personal preference. If you're looking for a cute little joke book for a younger child, this is a nice choice. 3 hoots!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Mirror Empire | Kameron Hurley


Summary:

The star of Oma is rising for the first time in two thousand years. As a result, many who were considered ungifted are finding their magic. At the same time, a new enemy has been terrorizing the Saiduan to the North. They look like the Dhai, but that is all they have in common. This book follows many characters in their attempts to understand and survive in the time of Oma.

Review:

Even before I finished this book, I knew I was going to buy the next one. Or at least add it to my wishlist in case someone wants to buy it for me (Fluxxdog?). This book was bloodier than I thought it would be, but that's what happens when you have characters who can use blood magic. At the same time, it was so very, pleasantly different that I kept reading and enjoying myself.

I absolutely loved the fact that there is no one standard for "civilized society" in any of the countries represented in this book. The Dorinah are very strictly matriarchal (it's actually very dangerous for a man to go outside by himself). The Dhai are less strict on gender roles and even have five different pronouns that you can choose from for yourself. The Saiduan are more patriarchal and you will have your gender pronoun assigned to you from the three options.

As nice as those sound, the men in Dorinah are highly uneducated and are possibly even lower than the dajian (enslaved Dhai). In Dhai society the new Kai is covered in the blood of the old Kai while a feast is made from her entire body. And The Saiduan find glory in death.

There is so much of this world to learn and all of it is incredibly interesting. It wasn't just politics, either, which was my absolute favorite part of this book. The world it takes place in has very actively carnivorous plant life. There are riddles. There are magics based on the ascendance of stars and technologies and medicines built off of them. There is so much to this world and there is clearly so much more to see! This is why I need to get my hands on the next book.

Additionally, I appreciated that I never felt the need to smack sense into a character. The main reason these characters do something stupid or naive is because they've had information withheld from them. The new Kai, Ahkio, is never given the full account. Roh is never told about one of his most potent abilities. Lilia is made purposefully ignorant of her homeland. I read these characters and I think they're doing the best with what they're given.

This is a longer review than I was expecting and I still haven't said everything I want to say. To sum up, this is a great book full of dark fantasy and amazing world building. I'm very interested in seeing where this world goes. 4.5 hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

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                    Hoo

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The New Voices of Fantasy | Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman

*Image and book provided by NetGalley for an honest review.

Summary:

A collection of short stories written by some of the best new talent in the genre. Edited together with forewords written by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman. Topics and stories range from a humorous story of a vampire trying to blend in to a dark story of a woman who lives off of other people's negative thoughts. 

Review:

Probably the biggest compliment I can give this anthology is that I can no longer say there's always one story in every anthology that I don't like. I greatly enjoyed every story in this collection. Every. Single. One. That has never happened before! 

This is an eclectic collection of fantasy, though I will say that, with one or two exceptions, these are all more Urban Fantasy than anything. The tones and moods of the stories, though, are delightfully all over the map. You have silly stories. You have scary stories. You have serious but heartwarming stories. I really feel there's a story for any fan of Urban Fantasy, maybe even all Fantasy fans.

I have added so many new authors to my Goodreads list. Admittedly, these are all short-story authors so I may have to consider joining up with Tor.com to get more regular access to them. If you know anything about Tor.com, please let me know in the comments below.

This anthology was a delight to read and I highly recommend it for fans of the Urban Fantasy genre. More general Fantasy fans may enjoy it as well. There are a couple of stories more up your alley. Fans of the Supernatural genre will also find plenty to enjoy in this collection. For me, I happily give it four hoots!

               Hoot!Hoot!

               Hoot! Hoot!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Cake Flavored Books Tag


Hello everyone! It's been a while since I've done a tag post and I found a very nice one over at Pirates and Pixie Dust: The Cake Flavored Books Tag! Now, she took a couple liberties with the tag that I won't be following, but I will make some changes to the original. I like that this tag can change with your tastes. See if you can spot the differences. I'm also adding a bit of a challenge to myself in that I'm only selecting books I've read in 2017.

Chocolate Cake - A Dark Book

I've read several dark books. They're not my favorites. But one dark book that I genuinely enjoyed, that got me to cringe and cry, was United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas. This book starts out dark and does not stop, though there was the occasional humor. 


Vanilla Cake - A Light Read

For me a light read is something that may not be particularly engaging, but is still enjoyable and kinda short. For this, I'm going to pick a more recent read, Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge. Definitely a pleasant read with a lot of charm.


Red Velvet - A Book That Looks Good

Gotta give this one to Clockwork Dynasty. The cover was a big part of the reason I chose to request the book from NetGalley. I'm a sucker for the steampunk design and it is drawn so well!


Cheesecake - A Book You'd Recommend to Anyone

Earlier this year Fluxxdog asked me to read his new copy of Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries, based on the web comic Schlock Mercenary. Though I had never read the comic (working, very slowly, through it now) I really did enjoy this book. It is pretty self contained, you don't have to know the comic to be able to enjoy it and it's full of a lot of good advice and even more humor.


Themed Birthday Cake - A Book That Was Made For You

If I could go further back, I'd say Icon of Earth by Demethius Jackson. For 2017, though, it's gotta be Sungrazer by Jay Posey. This book had everything that I love. Military Sci-Fi, amazingly cool technology, intelligent and engaging characters, and more. It was so much my kind of book that I went ahead and bought the book that came before it as well. Don't worry, Sungrazer is definitely a stand-alone sequel. I'm reading the first one for fun more than for filling in plot holes.


Coffee Cake - A Book That Made You Fall Apart

There have been a few books this year that have made me cry (new record!) but I'm using many for other categories, so I'm going to give this one to City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett. While it didn't make me cry as much as others, the ending was just so beautiful and perfect. It was a great way to end things. 


Carrot Cake - A Collection of Short Stories That Totaled a Great Book

Yes, I had to change this one. My husband LOVES carrot cake because of all the different flavors and textures. As for this category, I'm going to say The Sea Is Ours edited by Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng. A collection of steampunk stories from Southeast Asia that introduced me to a lot of new authors. While there's always one story in every anthology I don't like, the remainder of the stories in this were more than enough to make this a great read.


Cupcakes - A Series With 4+ Books

No question, I give this one to the Lives of Tao series by Wesley Chu. I had started with a later book last year and I caught up with almost the entire series this year. I still need to read The Days of Tao which is a novella that takes place between the last book of the original trilogy and the first book of a new trilogy within the same world. I cannot tell you how much I've loved this series. It's made me laugh and cry and I'm a fan for life.


 Fruit Cake - A Classic That Surprised You

I haven't finished any classics this year but I am in the process of reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I'd never read it before and it's nothing like I had thought. I blame Disney!


Marble Cake - A Book That Gave You Mixed Emotions

Hands down, this one goes to The Rebellion's Last Traitor by Nik Korpon. I can see why some people would think it would be a happy ending. I can see what the author was going for. But there was a lot of...collateral damage (trying to avoid spoilers) that left me feeling less than enthused.


Hummingbird Cake - A Book Outside Your Usual Genre That You Loved

I'm not usually a murder mystery reader, but Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente was quite the gem! The "who" was kinda easy to figure out. The "how" was so much fun to read about. I don't normally read murder mysteries, but I really loved this book.


So that's my take on the Cake Flavored Book Tag. Do you agree or disagree with any of my choices? Have you done this tag too? Let me know in the comments below!