Friday, January 31, 2014

Challenges General Update for January

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Claire
(Read as part of the following challenges: Book Bingo & Key Word & Lucky No.14 & Series Challenge)

The Emerald Storm (The Riyria Revelations #4) by Michael J. Sullivan
(Read as part of the following challenges: Book Bingo & Series Challenge)

The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker
(Read as part of the following challenges: Book Bingo)

Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2) by Gail Carriger
(Read as part of the following challenges: Book Bingo & Series Challenge)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
(Read as part of the following challenges: Book Bingo & Fairy Tales Retold)

(Read as part of the following challenges: Book Bingo)

Links to my main challenge page:
Book Bingo Challenge
Key Word Challenge
Fairy Tales Retold Challenge
Lucky No.14 Challenge
Series Challenge

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury
Pages: 404
Genre: Fantasy (YA)
Rating: Awesome, Amazing, Astounding (I need another superlative that starts with 'a'...)
Add on Goodreads

Celaena Sardothien is given a choice: remain a slave in the mines of Endovier or fight in a tournament to becomes the king's Champion.

Even though the king in question attacked and then subjugated her kingdom, Celaena is wooed by the promise of freedom. But there is more to this assassin than meets the eye and when tournament competitors start turning up dead it's up to Celaena to discover what darkness is behind this.

Before she becomes the next victim.

'How difficult could it be to outshine, outsmart, and then obliterate her competitors?'

Oh, how embarrassing. I actually like this book. *clears throat* Okay, let's try that again. All the while wondering why it's so difficult to write a review of a book I like.

I didn't think I'd like this book. Heaven help me, I didn't think I'd like this book. I thought I'd buy it and if it was mildly entertaining and diverting, it would be time well spent. And I've got a bit of a thing for assassins, be they male or female - especially those assassins that are starting to thaw a little. There's just something about those type of characters that make me go all mushy. So, the main character being an assassin immediately caught my attention.

Celaena Sardothien did not disappoint at all. I mean, seriously, I first met this girl and she's prickly, she's arrogant and abrasive and so incredibly full of herself. Then I read another few pages and fell absolutely in love with this mouthy 'former' assassin. Celaena is so different than all the other lead females I've read about in fantasy stories. This here is a girl that's tough - and she knows it. Will probably rub your face in it. She stands up for herself but if she's ever put into a position that she cannot (IE: if she did, she's be executed) she stands there, seething. More than once, the thought of killing someone just to get them out of her hair crossed her mind.

I just don't think I can describe to you how much I love this girl. I don't often feel this strongly towards the main character if it's a female in stories (though I almost always like them more than the leading male) but Celaena is just so incredible and amazing and I now really need to quit gushing about her and talk about the other characters. Like, you know, the guys.

Right… The guys.

Dorian, Crown Prince… I really got a kick out of this guy. Him and Celaena had some great back and forth joking going on. He was a fun character for the most part, but I had a hard time with one aspect of his character. You see, Dorian was a bit of a flirt. I don't mind guys with that personality trait, in fact I usually quite like them - this time being no exception. However, for a character like this to work for me as a love interest, I need to feel that he views her differently than he does all the other girls - and I never really reached that point between him and Celaena. I do look forward to Dorian growing as a character in later books of the series, because there was this one personality trait he has that I am less than enamored with.

Chaol, the Captain of the Guard. I really loved watching him and Celaena forming a friendship and relating to each other throughout the story. I will admit, I was interested in him from quite early on in the story due to the way he reacted and behaved about certain things. I think he was supposed to be the more serious of the two guys, but I laughed as much at his conversations with Celaena as I did Dorian's. There was something about him that gave him this boyish charm. I will admit, there were several instances toward the end of this book that Chaol just really, really impressed me. I mean, the way he was acting, he was actually starting to give Celaena a bit of competition for my favorite character.

I do feel that special mention must be made of Nehemia, a young princess from another land. This girl was amazing. Though she doesn't play a particularly large and important role in the book, she absolutely does have her moments (like towards the end...). And she becomes a close friend to Celaena. One thing Ms. Maas seems to know how to do exceedingly well is make strong, likable females.

The  plot was quite cool. Having it slowly develop instead of everything slamming into you all at once was great. I know this story was inspired by Cinderella and, if you know that story, you'll be able to see a few instances of this inspiration. However, this story went off in it's own direction right from the start (and as someone that really didn't want to read about 'Prince Charming' or evil stepsisters at that time) I thought that was great.

While there were a few slow moments in the book - as in, not much fighting (yes, it is that type of book) - the down time was used wonderfully to develop the characters.

I honestly cannot wait to get a hold of Crown of Midnight because if it's close to as good as this book is, this series will be up on my shelf as one of my two favorite fantasy series, ever.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Booking Through Thursday - Jan-30th

Hosted here.
Really, really good question this week, I think.

Do you do other things while you read? Watch TV? Cook? Brush your teeth? Knit?
Or is it a quicker question to ask when you DON'T read?

Indeed, it is quicker to ask me when I don't read. However, I read while eating, while cooking, (I once burnt popcorn because I was reading...) while watching TV, (though that usually means I pay no attention to what I'm 'watching') while listening to music. I read while taking care of my pets, (two dogs and a cat) and I've been known to read while playing computer games (wouldn't recommend it, didn't work very well). Seriously, if I could, I'd read in the shower and while walking my dogs. Oh, and I also can and have read while walking. Just walking though, not walking my dogs.

When don't I read? Uh, well, I don't read while driving - but that's because I don't drive. I have however, read while riding in a vehicle - though I don't like doing it.

I've also read while carrying on a conversation with people. Thankfully enough, they don't mind because I don't (usually) ignore them in favor of turning my complete attention on my book. I'm sure there's other times I read as well, but I cannot think of any more right now.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mini-Review: Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Series: Finishing School #2
Published by Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 310
Genre: Steampunk (YA)
Rating: Good
Add on Goodreads

It's one thing to faint gracefully. It's quite another to faint gracefully with a vial of poison hidden in your skirts. Welcome back to finishing school. (from back cover)

Sophronia is back, along with her eclectic group of friends, in this second outing. First, let me say, I know about 'sophomore slump'. I seen in it shows and read it in books. I am pleased to say that this is not that. If anything, I would have to say I liked C&C a bit more that E&E. (Come on, I can't be the only one using these abbreviations.)

I still have some of the same issues as I did with the first in the series (lacking in plot, stereotyped characters) - but they were definitely fewer an further between. The story did improve, but not as much as I had hoped, and the characters were settling into their roles quite nicely. Surprising - at least to me - was how this novel tied into the previous in the series. And that was something that gave this story much more sturdy footing from which to tell its story. While this outing could have built on the series, it really didn't. Not saying it needed to, as I am genuinely enjoying this series, but, in terms of comparing this one to E&E... It neither made the series climb (as I had hoped) or fall. So, ultimately, I have to say that this is a solid edition to the series and I liked it.

Challenges this was read as part of: Goodreads challenge & Bingo Challenge & Series Challenge.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top Ten Worlds I'd Never Want To Live In

Hosted here.

The list prompt this week is:
Top Ten Worlds I'd Never Want To Live In

I really tried, but I couldn't come up with ten of these. I don't often read books whose setting I wouldn't want to live in - even if that wouldn't always be for the best. I am trying very hard to fight the desire to just turn this into a 'least favorite fantasy books/settings' kind of post. It would be so easy for me to just list ten books that I disliked and whose settings were unmemorable. I really don't want to do that though, it simply not fair. So, here's my top five:

Location: Krynn
Book: Dragonlance, especially those by Weis and Hickman
Now, you want to talk about a world that seems so incredibly depressing. So many books from this setting are of the 'we'll never survive' variety - even if they do survive easily. There's just this feeling of doom that permeates so many of the stories. I wouldn't like living in a world like that.

Location: Menzoberranzan
Book: (most) Forgotten Realms that deal with the drow
Okay, I cheated on this one. Menzo isn't an actual world but a subdivision of sorts of the Forgotten Realms world. However, Menzo is an area that is so insular that it never has visitors and, the few times its citizens leave on a trip, they only do so to capture people for slavery. I have mixed feelings about the drow, but that is one place this girl could never live. (Please note: I am only speaking in generalities. I do not include Drizzt in these statements, because he is the exception rather than the rule for drow.)

Location: Paris
Book: The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan
This might be cheating a little, because the setting for Page Morgan's gothic tale is actually earth. Granted, an earth that has many many things going on under the surface, but earth nonetheless. I chose this world because of the hellhounds that wander around at will and the angels that are less than benevolent.

Location: Vardia
Book: Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding
I would like to say, I like this book a lot. This is not commentary in any way, shape or form as to how much fun I had reading this book. However, and this may be because the story follows a group of less-than savory people recently turning their hand at sky piracy, I don't believe I'd last very long in this world. I suppose that's because I'm seeing myself as part of the Ketty Jay crew, and I just don't think I've got the mentality for that.

Location: Dhrall
Book: The Dreamers series by David and Leigh Eddings
I refuse to get into my feelings for this series - suffice to say that I had nearly forgotten about it before I started perusing my Goodreads list for this list. I hate, absolutely hate, the idea of living in a world where everything can be hand-waved away - literally turning back time - by some omnipotent being whenever said being feels like it. That is the stuff that my nightmares are made of. (Well, that and the first Matrix movie...)

Review: Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
Series: London Steampunk #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Pages: 423
Genre: Romance/Urban Fantasy/Historical (Mature)
Rating: Blech
Add on Goodreads

Honoria Todd, father recently deceased, is left to look after her two younger siblings. Unable to pay for the house that they live in, Honoria does the only thing she can think of, packing them up to live in Whitechapel. But, once there, she attracts the attention of Blade, the king of the rookeries. Blade says that he'll protect her but, with vampiric bloodlust humming for Honoria in his veins, he might pose the most danger to her of all.

'She'd accepted his protection. That meant that any trespass on her person by another man was cause enough to kill.'

I only read about half of the book and then, around page two hundred thirty-four,
began skimming. Because of this, some of the issues I had might be inapplicable to
what happens in the latter half of the book. Also, because of this, I will not be adding
this book to any of my challenges. Also, please note that this review contains a few
spoilers about the world and what some of the terms mean for this setting.

I picked up this book because I thought it was going to be a steampunk romance. How wrong I was. This book has a slight - very slight - level of steampunk, and that's mostly thanks to one character's automail arm. Oh, and the little automaton that reminded me of a robotic vacuum. What this book is, is a paranormal romance and little else. The romance, as it is, is expected to carry the whole book. Now, that probably works for some people - but I was misled as to what this book was.

I didn't realize that the main guy was a vampire - for all the author's unwillingness to use that word when describing him. There's two different types of vampires in this book: the vicious, blood thirsty creatures that are nothing more than a walking corpse (they even smell like one)… and the 'blue-bloods' that are every teen girl's dream. The term 'blue-blood' actually has double meaning in this book, both separating the vampires from the more 'in control' beasts, and because - at least in theory - only the toffs can be infected with 'the virus'. To me this book really sounds like Ms. McMaster wanted her cake and to eat it too. She's got the old-fashioned vampires - the ones that are nothing more than walking, rotting corpses that think of little else besides food, of which we are their primary source - however, that wouldn't make a good romance hero. So, she make vampires an offshoot of 'blue-bloods' - or, rather, what 'blue-bloods' become when they 'fade'.

There was also a lot of talk about 'a cure'. Now, I won't deny that I used to be easily taken by vampires - but that was before all this dark, brooding, 'the cure' business that seems to have been first popularized by Angel. (TV series of the same name. Spin off of Buffy: the Vampire Slayer.) I hate vampire stories where they are looking for 'the cure' as if being a vampire was a disease that has absolutely no upside. In the defense of this book, at least the 'virus' would kill the infected eventually - or, rather, turn them into raving, bloodthirsty beasts - so you can kind of understand people not wanting to be that. However, Blade is still alive and going strong fifty years after being infected, so you can expect at least a normal lifespan as well as one greatly enhanced in prowess and abilities. I would like to add that the ending and how they dealt with Blade's 'virus' seemed like a great cop-out to me.

The world was incredibly confusing and it took way too long to figure out what terms like 'Echelon' and 'The Virus' and 'Blue-Bloods' actually meant in this world. I will admit that I was intrigued by the world building - which was probably why I stuck it out as long as I did. However, once you actually understand what each of these terms mean, there just wasn't anything there for me.

I would love to say that the characters made it all worth while… but they didn't. Honoria was kind of stupid and way too quick to fall in love lust with Blade. And Blade himself…First I must mention how unfortunate the name is. Really? A vampire named 'Blade'? Now where have I heard that before? (If you don't know, Blade is a dhampir - a half-human/half-vampire crossbreed - in the Marvel Universe that hunts vampires.) So sorry, this Blade is a pale imitation (no pun intended, I assure you) of that Blade. And this vampire was really off putting when you first get inside is head. You see, Blade had just met Honoria for all of ten minutes - and he already decided that he would make her his. *shudder* That's pretty much the limit of his character thoughts, too. 'she's mine' 'I will claim her' and on and on ad nauseam.

(Ick, I'm feeling a little squicked out now.) This alpha male mentality is one reason I've never really read many romance novels. Not to mention the little habit many romance authors seem to have of using the 'no means yes' mentality. (Yes, this book has that too. Lucky me.)

I'm not really sure what was supposed to be the plot of this story as even the few romance novels I've read have more of a plot than this one does. It just seemed to boil down to Honoria having to let herself go enough to admit that she wanted Blade. (Admit that to his face, I mean. She already admitted it to herself the first time he pressed himself against her and held a knife to her throat. During their first meeting. Yes, I found it as pleasant sounding in context as out.) And Blade working on fattening Honoria up enough that he could make her his feed on her suck her blood aw hell, there's no way of saying that that doesn't make me want to cover my neck and run for the hills.

A couple of final notes now. First, I was enchanted by the cover. However, Blade looked nothing like the - admittedly handsome - guy on the cover. Even the hair color is wrong. And I surely never recalling reading Honoria dressed like that.

And, secondly: the technical aspects of the writing were good - and I'll willingly admit that they were. There were no confusion and needing to re-read a sentence five times until it, finally, made sense. I could easily picture the scenes and local. That's all to the good. Unfortunately, this is destined to be a good news/bad news scenario. While the technical writing was good, the creative aspect failed for me. It was almost as though a checklist was laid out for the best way to get readers. Something that, if I'm going by the books reception at Goodreads, paid off wonderfully.

Honestly, while reading this book it really felt like I was reading a poor knockoff/imitation of the Parasol Protectorate series. Victorian London? Check. Paranormal/Supernatural love interest? Check. 'Independent' female? Check. Steampunk aesthetic? Check. But really, this book failed in so many aspects and didn't even have interesting characters. Or even entertaining characters.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sunday Post (Jan-26-14)

Hosted here.

I seem destined to get this out a day late. I knew it was going to be difficult to post on Sunday, I just thought I might actually be able to manage it.

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Claire
The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger (mini-review)

Top Ten Worlds I'd Never Want To Live In
Booking Through Thursday (TBA)
Friday Finds
A General Update On All My Challenges

I cannot guarantee it'll happen, but if I can get it out, I have a special for the Chinese New Year (Year of the Horse) that I'd like to do.

What I read this week:
          Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
          Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster (skimmed half of it)
          The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan

Currently Reading:
The High King's Tomb by Kristen Britain

Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Haul

These are the books that I just ordered this week.
Yeah, there's not very many there, but I just got a big bunch of books in after the first of the year.

Heir of Novron
Invoking Darkness
Men at Arms

The first two I selected as they will help me complete several challenges that I'm currently working on. (That's kind of a lie about Heir of Novron. It will help me in the challenges, but I also just really, really, really want to read the next installment in the series.) I ordered the third because - well, because it's Terry Pratchett and Discworld and about the City Watch. And because I could use a humorous read.

Review: The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker

The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker
Series: The Emperor's Edge #1
Published by the author
Pages: 321
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: Good verging on Awesome
Add on Goodreads

Amaranthe Lokdon is a strict, by-the-book law Enforcer. While she might not be the best in a sword fight, she'll topple coffee canisters on any unsuspecting thugs with confidence in her principles. When Amaranthe is sent to kill the most notorious assassin in the kingdom, it appears someone has unprecedented faith in her abilities. Or maybe they just want her dead.

Amaranthe soon discovers a conspiracy that threatens more than just her life - one whose tendrils reach all the way into the palace and to the Emperor himself.

''All right, girl, we are not going to be attracted to the amoral assassin.''

(Right Amaranthe, let's not. *coughcough*)

Oh my goodness, I love this book. I really wasn't at all sure that I would. Actually, I bought it mostly because of the cover subtitle proclaiming it 'A High Fantasy Novel In An Era Of Steam' and me mistakenly thinking that meant this was a fantasy/steampunk amalgamation. It's not. Yes it has steam powered devices, but it takes more than just that to make a steampunk world.

The setting is rather unique. I've read a lot of fantasy novels and I don't ever recall coming across one quite like it. This is the type of setting you'd get if you take a typical fantasy and force it into the future. This is a world that is still having growing pains - as evidenced by a patriarchal society having to deal with women no longer being willing to stay at home. No, now they want to run businesses and, in the case of our heroine, work for law enforcement.

As far as I could tell, the Enforcers were like patrol cops. There were other branches and divisions - such as an Inspector that investigated a crime scene - and different ranks - like sergeant and lieutenant - but the Enforcers seemed to be patrol cops. Amaranthe is the only female Enforcer. In fact, she's the only female of any note in the story. I only learnt the name of two other females. That is probably my only complaint about this story.

It would have been nice, and wouldn't have taken away anything in the story, to make one of the other characters female. (I'm thinking Aksytr - that 'troubled/standoffish teen' works just as well for girls as it does boys.)

Now, as I'm on the subject, the characters… I really didn't think I would like Amaranthe much. When you first meet her she is such a straight-arrow and I was hoping she's be a little more rebellious. She really comes into her own as the book progresses though. She has a few odd personality quirks, (ex: an almost pathological need to have things perfectly aligned) a wonderful sense of humor and, for all her starched shirts and hair buns, she is such a girl.

Amaranthe tries hard to be straight-laced, especially on the job or during missions, but every so often, a remark of hers will slip by and it leaves her sounding like the twenty-five year old female that she truly is. This was quite refreshing for me as I've read some books that don't really have a gender voice for the characters - and even one book that was told in first person that took until the specific gender of the main character was mentioned for me to realize it was a guy.

Besides Amaranthe, the only other character to have any of the story told from their point of view was Sespian, the young emperor. And when I say young, he just ascended the throne last year, on his eighteenth birthday - after his regent ruled for three years following his father's death. He was a surprisingly entertaining character to read about - though we didn't spend much time with him - and it was interesting to see how he really started to… Well, I don't want to give much away. Let's just say he was noticeably different at the end of the book than at the beginning.

The other characters all comprise Amaranth's 'team'. Sicarius, the 'amoral assassin' who inspired the quote I used - and who I started falling for long before Amaranthe did. Maldynado, a particularly handsome male escort that seems to have a few skeletons in his closet. Books, the former professor turned drunkard with his own axe to grind against the empire. And, finally, the aforementioned Aksytr, a 'mental sciences' user who practically oozes troubled teen. They all had their purposes for being there and were different enough characters that I always got a real kick out of watching them interact.

The plotline was nothing new. I don't want to say much more than that because a couple of things did surprise even me a little. I'll just say that, if you've read enough fantasy books, you've probably already read more than one variation on this plot. However, that didn't effect how much I enjoyed this story.

While it's not 'original' or 'dark' or any of a dozen other words that the 'good' fantasy stories have to get these days, it was fun. I liked the team that was organized. I liked the way they played off each other. I liked how it felt a little like some of those Forgotten Realms novels I used to read. I liked how we had the truly hate-able evil villain (possibly a few, depending on your view) that we were so glad to see get his/hers/theirs/its - and not have that story dragged out for more books.

In short, I liked the book. Okay, I liked the book a lot.

Challenges this was read as part of: Book Bingo

Reading in 2013 Stats

Inspired by a set of questions for Booking Through Thursday, I decided to go through the books I read in 2013 and see how things matched up with this post of mine. Now, up first we have...

Books by male author's read in 2013: 20
Books by female author's read in 2013: 27
(This does not include the books that have two authors of different genders.)

Books with male main character/s read in 2013: 16
Books with female main character/s read in 2013: 24
(This does not include books that have more than one main character/view point character with different gender characters.)

Of the books I read in 2013, I rated them all on Goodreads and - not including re-reads:

Four received a 5 star rating:

Ten received a 4 star rating:

Eighteen received a 3 star rating:

Three received a 2 star rating:

Five received a 1 star rating:

Now, the number of books I read, by page number:
(none hit exactly on the hundred marks)

100-200 pg: Two
200-300 pg: Thirteen
300-400 pg: Twenty-five
400-500 pg: Six
500-600 pg: Three
600-700 pg: One

I actually found this quite interesting - though the only thing that really surprised me was the surprisingly high number of book I read that had less than three-hundred pages. I don't know that anyone else will be interested in this, but I thought - after going through everything to satisfy my own curiosity - I'd go ahead and post it.

Friday Finds (1-18-14 thru 1-24-14)

Hosted here.

Welcome to another edition of Friday Finds. I think I'm going to have to quit looking at books because my to-read list to over at Goodreads is getting books added to it much, much quicker than any are getting read.

The Lazarus Machine
The Sword and the Dragon
The Red Knight
The Kinshield Legacy

The Inventor's Secret
Steam City Pirates

While the first one and the last two are steampunk, the other three are fantasy - something that right now I want desperately to get back into.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Booking Through Thursday - Jan-23

Hosted here.

If there was one book you could make sure nobody ever read again … what would it be? And why?

I have hated plenty of books in my time as a reader. I've hated some because of the horribly shallow characters. Some I've hated because of the cruel way they killed off great characters. There are those that I've hated because the characters epitomized everything I hate. Others I've hated because the writing style gave me a headache. Yet others I've hated just because they weren't for me and every ounce of my body was telling me to hate them.

But, you know, I wouldn't choose to ban any book - because that's technically what this question is asking. It's not asking for your most hated book, or even what book you'd recommend that another living soul never read. No, it's phrasing is asking you to ban a book.

I am sure that there are books out there that are so twisted, so messed up in what it appears to advocate that no one should read them, but I've not actually come across any like that. Yeah I've hated books, but when I've heard about book burning's in the past, when I've heard about books getting banned - it makes me feel cold.

There are many books that I disliked or hated that have a fan base. That's fine, that's cool. The opposite is true too. As long as you don't rip on a book I liked too much, I'll leave you to like the books you do. I'll give you my opinion if you ask for it and want to know my thoughts on a book - and they will be my honest thoughts, not sugarcoated in any way. You'll be able to tell quite quickly if I liked something or not.

But I in no way do I feel comfortable choosing a book that no one should ever read. In fact, I personally don't think there is such a book. Even the books that are just wrong (advocating abuse, misogyny, misandry, or a dozen other things that have no place in a healthy society) are, if nothing else, a cautionary tale. 

So, if the question had been for me to name the worst book I ever read, or my least favorite, or the last book I read that I hated, the answer would have been quite different. But, I won't tell people that they should never read a certain book. I'd tell them it wasn't for me, but, if they're interested, I would not try to talk them out of it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Ten Things On My Reading Wislist

Hosted here.

The list prompt this week is:
Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist

1: Egyptian Fiction
I have a fascination with Egyptian culture and I would love if more authors would write fiction about Egypt, especially historical Egypt. I'd also love to find more speculative fiction based on Egyptian culture.

2: Time Travel Stories
But specifically time travel stories that take a group of people - that preferably don't get along - instead of just an individual character that time travels.

3: Less Ten, Fifteen an Twenty Book Sci-Fi Series
And more that are a trilogy or perhaps four books in the series. I love sci-fi, but I get so tired of looking at books, and finding out that this is already book seventeen in the series. I usually don't want to get involved in that long of a series.

4: More Gray Morality
Less Black-and-White. Less clear cut goodguys/badguys. More of a chance for the characters to switch sides and allegiances - but keeping the character in character so the readers still feel justified liking them.

5: Shorter Fantasy Novels
I love fantasy books, but have a hard time convincing myself to read six hundred page books - much less the absolute doorstops at a thousand plus pages. I'd like respectable four hundred pages books, especially if they're in a series.

6: Groups in YA
And less of the single main character having to carry the entire story. I'm not asking for loads and loads of semi-main characters. Six or so would satisfy me quite well.

7: Third Person POV In General
But especially in YA. Just don't like the format of first person and have passed on books I would have otherwise bought because of that. I've also went ahead and bought some of the books with first person POV and was almost universally disappointed.

8: More Urban Fantasy With Less Erotica
I like urban fantasy as a genre, but I don't read much of it because so many of the books are better described as romance or erotica with paranormal elements. I'd love to find some clean (perhaps even romance-less) urban fantasy.

9: Less Love Triangles In YA
This seems so prevalent in YA and I'd love it if there were less of it. I'd like to see a guy - handsome and all that - being completely uninterested in dating the main female but still wanting to be her friend. And the feeling is mutual! I'd also love it if the guy the girl winds up with isn't always (okay, okay,) most of the time, a complete jerk.

10: More Heroes That Aren't Pure White
(No, this is not about ethnicity. Though it does go hand-in-hand with #4.) I always find myself very interested to the heroes that aren't so clean-cut heroically. I like my heroes - or heroines - to have a bit of a dark side. A shadow about them that lets you know that they might not always do what they should. I also wouldn't mind if more protagonists were actual villains.

So, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Think I was too wordy? (I kinda do.)

Review: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Claire

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Claire
The Infernal Devices #3
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 570
Genre: Steam punk (YA)
Rating: Good
Add on Goodreads

'The Infernal Devices Will Never Stop Coming.'

Those words, written in blood, provide an unsettling prediction to what Tessa and the rest of the London Institute must face in the third an final entry in The Infernal Devices series. Mortmain's plans are nearly complete. He just needs one thing to bring about the fall of the Shadowhunters. He needs Tessa.

'It was a near incomprehensible tangle, the three of them, but there was one certainty, and that was that there was no lack of love between them.'
(Prettily sums up the love triangle.)

Honestly, I'm still not sure what to say about this book.

I did enjoy it, even more than I did the previous two. I'm not sure if that's because Ms. Claire's writing is improving or I'm just getting used to it. It did seem like there were fewer instances of eye color repeating.

To a degree, I liked the love triangle resolution as it really seemed like the only realistic way those three people would be happy - however, it did also feel like a major cop-out. I did occasionally wanted to rap Jem or Will over the head, because of the painfully honorable way they insisted on behaving. You definitely get the feeling that either of them would step back, letting the other be with Tessa, for the sake of friendship and the love of a Parabatai. Of course, their honor towards each other tends to ignore what Tessa herself wants, which was a little frustrating too.

I liked the addition of other characters to the story also. Of course, after awhile it did seem like every character was introduced just to be a love interest for another character. Thankfully enough, they didn't read that way.

One thing I didn't like was the epilogue. I've never been a fan of stories that feel the necessity to lay out a person's whole life in front of you. It often serves to distance me from the character.

On the plus side, my absolute favorite moments of these books are when the whole group is together, (whoever comprises the group for that book, anyway) usually eating, and trading witty barbs, snarking, and generally being absolutely hilarious.

If you've read and enjoyed the other two in this series, I'd recommend you read this one. ('Course, if you enjoyed the other two, you're probably already planning to read this book so my recommendation is moot point.)

My review for the first in the series (Clockwork Angel) can be found here.

Now, I will leave you with two parting words that I shall now find disproportionately funny for the rest of my life: Enormous worm.

This book was read as part of my reading challenges. It helped to complete: Goodreads Challenge & Bingo Challenge & Key Word Challenge & Series Challenge & Lucky No.14 Challenge

Sunday Post (Jan-19-14)

Hosted here.

Okay, this was actually supposed to be up on Sunday (obviously) but that didn't work. Then I was going to post it yesterday (Monday) but something came up and I couldn't. So, now, a very belated Sunday Post. This ends my first full week of posting things here and I'm really enjoying it. Right now I'm still working on building a decent base for the blog, deciding what I want on the blog and getting a readership. To help that last one, I've been doing quite a few memes.

Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina


Random Bookish Thoughts

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Claire
The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker

A Breakdown of My Reading Stats in 2013
Book Haul - What I Ordered

What I read this week:
          The Emerald Storm (Riyria Revelations #4) by Michael J. Sullivan
          The Emperor's Edge (The Emperor's Edge #1) by Lindsay Buroker
          Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2) by Gail Carriger)

Currently Reading:
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Friday, January 17, 2014

Book Covers that Made Me Go 'Ooh, what's that about?' (2014 only)

AKA: My 8 Favorite Book Covers from 2014

There are just too many gorgeous covers out there for books getting released this year for me to ignore them. While I don't often buy books as soon as they're released, that doesn't have to stop me for clicking on the books thanks to the snazzy covers.

Reason: Okay, might not be on many lists like this, but it's got such a cute dog on the cover that I cannot resist it. Really, it reminds me a little of one of my dogs, Axel.

Synopsis: Victoria Secord, a 14-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer, loses her way on a routine outing with her dogs. With food gone and temperatures dropping, her survival, and that of her dogs and the mysterious boy she meets in the woods, is entirely up to her.

Find it on Goodreads

Reason: Honestly, I think it's because of the font used and the building. I like the contrast and I like how it's pretty much white, brown and red.

Synopsis: Not every fairytale has a happy ending.
This is the story of a princess who became a villain.

A Father’s Betrayal. A Kingdom with a Black Secret. A Princess Slowly Unraveling. 

As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

Find it on Goodreads

Reason: When I first saw this cover, having no idea what the book was about, I had to click on it. I love the colors used and the stylistic effects used on the character.

Synopsis: Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn't show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.
Find it on Goodreads

Reason: Besides the ominous look of - well, pretty much everything, I love the concept.

Synopsis: When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

Find it on Goodreads

Reason: Oh, how it looks like the movies I watch. It just looks really awesome - especially the dragon and the...castle(?).

Synopsis: Cantor D'Ahma waited his whole life for this day. Born with a gift to jump between worlds, the young realm walker is finally ready to leave his elderly mentor and accept his role as protector and defender of the realms. But mere hours after he steps through his first portal, Cantor discovers that his job will be more dangerous and difficult than he ever imagined. The realms are plagued with crime and cruelty, and even members of the once-noble Realm Walkers Guild can no longer be trusted. To make matters worse, his first assignment---finding a dragon to assist him on his quest---has led him to Bridger, who is clearly inept and won't leave him alone.

Find it on Goodreads
(Seriously, I think I want this book.)

Reason: Before I blew the picture up, I thought it was sheer fabric that the girl left behind. Realizing that it was a rose made it even cooler. An I love spiral staircases.

Synopsis: Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

Find it on Goodreads
(Okay, this book too, please.)

Reason: It's just so incredibly atmospheric. I love the bridge and the skyline. I love the dress. I love the girls hair. Honestly, I also love the fact you can't see her face.

Synopsis: Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father's island—and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.

Find it on Goodreads

And now, my favorite book cover (at least so far) of 2014 (bet you didn't see this one coming).

Reason: The lightning. The castle. The arches. The other fortress in the background - that looks like it's on fire. The bird eggs/round white stones, that I first thought were skulls... I love fantasy books, and I love the art that comes with them.

Synopsis: Their journey to Merakh should have made Errol and his companions heroes of the realm. Instead, much is changed on their return. In the wake of the king’s death, Duke Weir is ruling the country–and his intentions are to marry Adora to bring an heir.

With Errol and the others imprisoned and the identity of the rightful heir to the throne still hidden in secrecy, Illustra is on the verge of civil war–and at growing risk from the armies of Merakh and Morgol.

Find it on Goodreads
(Ooh, I read about the first book in this trilogy. Ooh, ooh, ooh.)

So, there you go - my pick for book covers of the year. Of course, that's all subject to change once more books to be released this year get their covers. But, I think all these covers are great and, while not all of them seem to be about things that appeal to me, at least half the battle was won when I clicked on the books to see what they're about.

What do you think? Any of these book covers catch your interest? If you've got a post like this on your blog, feel free to send me the link in the comments.

2014 Series Challenge

Hosted here.

Finish those series'! I aim to finish 4-6 series this year. Below I will keep a list of all the books I need to read to finish the series and, once I've reviewed them, will post the link in the name. The books that have the line through them are ones I finished before the start of the year. I might add more series to this list, but these are just ones that I would probably be reading this year anyway and actually have a chance of finishing. Also, other series I might add are ones I haven't even started yet.

Finished Series: 3

The Infernal Devices
The Passing of the Techno-Mages
Amelia Peabody

Infernal DevicesThe by Cassandra Claire
Clockwork Angel
Clockwork Prince

Babylon 5: The Passing of the Techno-Mages by Jeanne Cavelos
Casting Shadows
Summoning Light

Amelia Peabody by Elizabeth Peters (Chronological Order)
Crocodile on the Sandbank
Curse of the Pharaohs, The
Mummy Case, The
Lion in the Valley
Deeds of the Disturber, The
Last Camel Died at Noon, The
Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog, The
Hippopotamus Pool, The
Seeing a Large Cat
Ape Who Guards the Balance, The
Guardian of the Horizon
Falcon at the Portal, The
He Shall Thunder in the Sky
Lord of the Silent
Golden One, The
Children of the Storm
Serpent on the Crown
Tomb of the Golden Bird

Ryiria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan
Crown Conspiracy, The
Nyphron Rising

Finishing School by Gail Carriger
Etiquette & Espionage
Waistcoats & Weaponry
Manners & Mutiny
(W&W is slated for release in November, so I'm not sure I'll make this...)

Magnificent Devices by Shelley Adina
Her Own Devices
Magnificent Devices
Brilliant Devices
Lady of Resources, A

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Crown of Midnight
Heir of Fire
(HoF doesn't release 'til September and I know I won't be racing out to buy it, so...)

Friday Finds (1-11-14 thru 1-17-14)

Welcome to another edition of 'Friday Finds'. This week I found a few more books on the internet that I'm interested in. The first one is thanks to Molli over at Books and Whimsy.

Also Known As
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century

A Spy in the House
Silver Phoenix

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lucky No.14 Reading Challenge

Hosted here.

This challenge will require you to read 14 books (or more) from 14 categories below. You can combine the books you read with other challenges, but can not use the same book for different categories in this challenge.

Here are the 14 categories:

1. Visit The Country: Read a book that has setting in a country that you really want to visit in real life. Make sure the setting has a big role in the book and it can make you know a little bit more about your dream destination.

To Read:

2. Cover Lust: Pick a book from your shelf that you bought because you fell in love with the cover. Is the content as good as the cover?

To Read:
Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear

3. Blame it on Bloggers: Read a book because you've read the sparkling reviews from other bloggers. Don’t forget to mention the blogger’s names too!

To Read:
Also Known As by Robin Benway (Thanks to Molli over at Books and Whimsy)

4. Bargain All The Way: Ever buying a book because it's so cheap you don't really care about the content? Now it's time to open the book and find out whether it's really worth your cents.

To Read:

5. (Not So) Fresh From the Oven: Do you remember you bought/got a new released book last year but never had a chance to read it? Dig it from your pile and bring back the 2013.

Book Read: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Claire

6. First Letter's Rule: Read a book which title begins with the same letter as your name (for me, Astrid means A, and I can read anything that started with the letter A). Remember: Articles like "a", "an" or "the" doesn't count :)

To Read:
All the Paths of Shadow by Frank Tuttle

7. Once Upon a Time: Choose a book that's been published for the first time before you were born (not necessarily has to be a classic book, just something a little bit older than you is okay. You can read the most recent edition if you want to)

To Read:

8. Chunky Brick: Take a deep breath, and read a book that has more than 500 pages. Yep, the one that you've always been afraid of!

Book Read: The High King's Tomb by Kristen Britain

9.  Favorite Author: You like their books, but there are too many titles. This is your chance, choose a book that's been written by your fave author but you haven't got time to read it before.

Book Read: A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

10. It's Been There Forever: Pick up a book that has been there on your shelf for more than a year, clean up the dust and start to read it now :)

Book Read: The Shard Axe by Marsheila Rockwell

11. Movies vs Books: You've seen the movie adaptation (or planned to see it soon) but never had time to read the book. It’s time to read it now, so you can compare the book vs the movie.

To Read:

12. Freebies Time: What's the LAST free book you've got? Whether it's from giveaway, a birthday gift or a surprise from someone special, don't hold back any longer. Open the book and start reading it now :D

To Read:

13. Not My Cup of Tea: Reach out to a genre that you've never tried (or probably just disliked) before. Whether it's a romance, horror or non fiction, maybe you will find a hidden gem!

To Read:

14. Walking Down The Memory Lane: Ever had a book that you loved so much as a kid? Or a book that you wish you could read when you were just a child? Grab it now and prepare for a wonderful journey to the past :) Comic books or graphic novels are allowed!

To Read:

What's Next #1

Hosted here.

I really like this idea and, as I'm a little at sea as to what I should read next, I thought I could get some opinions from all of you. I'd love to know which book you think I should read. If you've not read any of them, just tell me which one you think sounds the best.

(Yes, that's the cover on the version I bought. Isn't it lovely?)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien. 

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her. When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….
Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.
Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help and finally be a part of something, finally fit in. But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on even if it seems no one believes her.

The High King's Tomb by Kristen Britain
For Karigan G'ladheon, the call of magic in her blood is too strong to resist. Karigan returns to the Green Riders, the magical messengers of the king, to find she's badly needed. Rider magic has become unstable, many Riders have been lost, and the Rider corps is seriously threatened. The timing couldn't be worse. An ancient evil, long dormant, has reawakened, and the world is in peril. Karigan must face deadly danger and complex magic to save the kingdom from certain doom.

In the gaslit streets of Victorian London, phantoms rule the night, demons dance till dawn, and one supernatural detective dares to be seduced by the greatest power of all. . .

He's The Man With The Magic Touch

A master of deduction, seduction and other midnight maneuvers, Phaeton Black is Scotland Yard's secret weapon against things that go bump in the night. His prodigious gifts as a paranormal investigator are as legendary as his skills as a lover, his weakness for wicked women as notorious as his affection for absinthe. But when he's asked to hunt down a fanged femme fatale who drains her victims of blood, he walks right into the arms of the most dangerous woman he's ever known. . .

She's The Devilish Miss Jones

Pressing a knife to his throat--and demanding he make love to her--Miss America Jones uses Phaeton as a willing shield against the gang of pirates chasing her. As deadly as she is, with a derringer tucked in her garter, Miss Jones is not the vampiric killer he's been staking out--but she may be just what Phaeton needs to crack the case. As the daughter of a Cajun witch, she possesses uncanny powers. As a fearless fighter, she can handle anything from Egyptian mummies to Jack the Ripper. But when an ancient evil is unleashed on the world, she could be his only salvation. . .or ultimate sacrifice.

All synopsis take from Goodreads.