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url 2016-04-28 02:46
Spring Book Haul 2016

Even though I'm moving in a couple of months, I seem to have a penchant for buying books. I mean, my bookshelf is teeming with books that I still haven't read and WHAT DO I DO? I BUY EVEN MORE BOOKS. Ugh, I dread when I'll have to lug these sluggers with me to the Post Office for shipping. BUT ANYWAY LET'S BE CHEERFUL. LET'S LOOK AT THE AWESOMENESS I BOUGHT AND HAVE READ!

The Books That I've Read:

1. The Winner's Kiss - Marie Rutkoski

I LOVE the Winner's trilogy. The Winner's Crime was on my Best Books of 2015 list, The Winner's Curse was onmy Best Books of 2014 list. I nominated The Winner's Crime in the Epic Reads Book Shimmy Awards and probably have mentioned these books at multiple points, in multiple posts in this blog (5 Fantasy Authors I Fangirl Over,Preview of 2015 Books, Review: The Winner's Curse, TBR: Releases to Watch Out For, Review: The Winner's Crime, My Reading Profile, & more). It should thus come as no surprise to you that I pre-ordered The Winner's Kiss and spent the 29th reading that book. Also spent the weekend and week before trying to sneak peeks at the book through Amazon excerpt, which is an obsessive habit I have when I reaaaaaally want to read a book (until I shake and distract myself by doing something else).


Ahem, anyways. This book surprised me in a lot of ways, all of them good. I also understand why they changed the covers -- the girl in the ball gown no longer fits the horrific scenes of war. If the first book set the grounds for the differences between the two countries and the romance, establishing our link with Arin and Kestrel; and if the second book delved deeper into strategy, games, political intrigue, alliances and quiet rebellion amid heartbreaking loss; then the third book was about all of that coming to head. War. Violence. The consequences of the politics between these three major countries. The differences in beliefs and how they've shaped our characters' attitudes and hopes but how there's still common ground to be had. The power of love and stories, forgiveness and new life amid an onslaught of death. As always, lots of character development, beautiful writing, romance, political intrigue, strategy, intriguing world-building, and more. Yes to these books.

The second book reminded me a little of Bitterblue (by Kristin Cashore). This book reminded me a little of the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner and the His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers. Right now, I can't think of a good comp title for the first book, but I think that if you like any of the aforementioned books, you should definitely try The Winner's trilogy.

2. Summers at Castle Auburn - Sharon Shinn

Sharon Shinn is mentioned by a lot of fantasy authors, it seems. So I wanted to try one of her books, and Summers at Castle Auburn is the one that was recommended. If you read my Learning from Books as a Reader (Changing Reader Tastes) post, you know that I'm not a huge fan of books that begin with the main character as a child. Summers at Castle Auburn does that. But it also does something which I am a HUGE fan of -- twining the romance in with the main plot very heavily, and also making the main character's coming-of-age twined in with her realization that her initial crush sucks and that the real romantic interest is the one she loves. If you watched my booktube video, you saw how many dogeared pages there was. That's because when the romance is that way, I bookmark basically every page there's even the slightest encounter between the main character and the romantic interest. It makes no sense, but I love it, and I read Summers at Castle Auburn the day before I was presenting a poster at a research conference, and clearly I should've gotten sleep. Instead I read. And had a book hangover. *Sigh*

3. Serpentine - Cindy Pon

I read Serpentine a while ago. I reviewed Serpentine, nominated Serpentine in the Epic Reads Book Shimmy Awards, and included Serpentine in my Best Books of 2015 list as well as my Cinderella Book tag. I ordered Serpentine when I pre-ordered The Winner's Kiss, so the book didn't arrive until just now, but I'm happy to finally have my own shiny copy... and y'all should read the book too! Highly recommended from me (just check out any of those links!).

4. The Wrath and the Dawn - Renee Ahdieh

Like with Serpentine, The Wrath and the Dawn I had already read. I just wanted to own a copy. Persian culture is slightly different from Middle Eastern culture, I think, but as someone with Middle Eastern heritage, I can say that Renee Ahdieh capture the essence of Arab culture pretty well.

The Books That I Have Yet to Read:

5. A Fierce and Subtle Poison - Samantha Mabry

A Fierce and Subtle Poison was on my 2016 YA Debuts I Want to Read list. As I mentioned in my Best Books of 2015 list, I want to read more Young Adult Magical Realism novels-- so much so that I made a list of my current YA Magical Realism recommendations. When I was in the Strand, I read the first couple of chapters of A Fierce and Subtle Poison and really loved both the writing and the setting of Puerto Rico (though I think that I still needed to attach the main character). The book has been blurbed by both Nova Ren Suma and Laura Ruby, and I love their books too, so I'm looking forward to finishing this one later!

6. Feed - M.T. Anderson

Ameriie at Books Beauty Ameriie recommended Feed to me a while ago, particularly the audiobook. But my library doesn't have the audiobook, and when I saw that Feed was at the Strand for only a few dollars and that Feed was "out of print," I bought it anyways. When I'm in a more science fiction mood, I'll read this one. I'm pretty sure it's considered a classic of YA literature too.

7. The Riddle-Master trilogy - Patricia A. McKillip

The Riddle-Master trilogy has one of my favorite opening chapters ever. If you read my Learning from Books as a Reader (Changing Reader Tastes) post, you know that I was pretty entranced with this book. The first chapter introduces us to the main character, who is a land-owner. Traders are coming, so he tells his brother and sister to go about their duties. There are also childhood friends and others who are in the crowd when they find out about the traders. So, you get a clear sense of the immediate duties and setting for the MC's family and life (as well as a sense of the personalities of each of these side characters as they interact with each other). Then, you learn that the MC's parents disappeared a while ago, and that the siblings have all grieved in their own way, and his way was to go off on an adventure, solve a riddle, and a win a crown from a ghost. This backstory is revealed in a convincing way -- whereby we see his family recognizing that he's acting weird, and they confront him, and so we see what normal family dynamics are like, as well as when one of them is acting strangely. We get a sense of the main character's personality through his interactions with his family, his daily duties, and his backstory, and we get a sense of what the central conflict will be, since winning this crown clearly has consequences and implications that the main characters doesn't know yet. It's awesome. I felt like my brain got bigger reading that beginning, and so I immediately bought the entire trilogy. Can't wait to read the books!

SO, those were the books I bought this past spring. What are you planning on reading soon? What have you bought recently? Have you read any of these books? Let's discuss!
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review 2014-11-04 20:21
The Riddlemaster of Hed
The Riddle-Master of Hed - Patricia A. McKillip

I always enjoy Patricia McKillip's books, but the problem with them is that they usually slide right out of my brain once I'm finished reading them. Thus, since I finished this one about two months ago, I only remember vague bits and pieces of it.


I remember that I loved, loved Deth and Astrin, Unfortunately, Astrin only appears for about twenty pages of the book and vanishes from the story quite frequently, but I still adore them both.


I wasn't a fan of Morgon, the main character - he was repetitive and whiny. His entire storyline revolves around him having the "hero who is destined to save the world" formula, and hating it. He doesn't want to save the world. He wants to stay at home and raise farm animals and bake pies and rule his little little island kingdom in peace.


Unfortunately, this means that every other character in the book ends up urging him to actually get a life and do something to entertain the reader. So most other characters in the book had to give him the motivational speech at least once, which led to a lot of repetitive scenes where they're encouraging him and explaining to him that the world will end if he doesn't get a move-on, and he sits there sulking and shaking his head in denial.


Good grief, that scene got old fast.


But I did enjoy the book, honestly. It has McKillip's usual kind of ghostly half-awake fairy tale writing style, which means I sometimes don't know what's going on until after the scene is long past, but her writing is pretty so I guess I can let it slide. I just think that maybe this particular book would have benefited from a little more . . . grounded style of writing, maybe?


One thing that did bother me was the way McKillip seemed to have favorite words, like she would go through a twenty-page phase where she used the word "melted" every paragraph, for instance. And every time Deth appeared, she would re-describe the way he sits there being quiet and inscrutable. Every time. 


I love Deth to pieces, I think he's a predictable but beautifully represented fairy tale character. But seriously, I don't want to read over and over and over again about how profound his silence is, or how mysterious his demeanor is, or how unreadable his expression is. I got it the first time, I didn't need to have it pointed out to me fifty more times, you know?


Also, the similies. (I don't know if I'm spelling that correctly.) Everything is like something else. A tree is like a snowdrift, and a dog is like a bear, and a hat is like a lampshade. I don't know if McKillip always wrote like this or if I just overlooked it before, but good grief, I got so tired of everything being compared to something else. Can't a tall man ever just look like a man? Does he always have to be compared to a marble pillar or an ancient tree or a mountain? Please? If you tell me once that he's really tall, I'll understand and remember - I don't need to have images of architecture and landscaping slapped on top of him for reference.


I had other little problems, too. For instance, partway through the book the main character learns to shapeshift into a magic white deer-type creature. I was informed that after something like three months of practice, he could "hold the shape for a long time", but I got the feeling that "a long time" meant, say, twelve hours or a day, maybe? Since he was only training for a few months, "a long time" certainly couldn't have meant two or three months in itself, right?


But he immediately turns into a deer and goes running off into the mountains, where he lives like a deer for months on end, apparently without ever changing back to human form. It was pretty jarring.


My last problem is one that's pretty hard to explain to anyone who hasn't read the book.....


Okay. There's this scene where Morgon, the main character, gets lost inside a mountain. Pitch-black tunnels, he can't see where he's going, there're cold ponds or lakes here and there. Just think of Riddles in the Dark and you'll know what I mean.


So this little kid who knows the pathways comes to rescue Morgon and lead him out, but when they're near the exit these really powerful wizardly shape-shifter guys attack them. One of them hits the little kid and the kid falls - it doesn't say whether the wound looked fatal or not - and Morgon stands there quaking for a minute before he pulls out his magic sword and cuts down all the monsters.




I mean really - the kid saved his life by getting him out of those tunnels and then took an awful injury because there were monsters chasing Morgon - plus, you know, he's a child, a little boy - and after Morgon gets rid of the beasties, he just stands there to rest for a minute rather than run over and see if the kid is even still alive.


I really hated him right then, and I honestly think that's the main reason why I haven't picked up the sequel to this book yet; I don't care about Morgon or his whining, and even for Deth and Astrin I don't have a lot of inclination to spend any more time in Morgon's head.


So yeah, I think it's a good book. Yes, I enjoyed reading it. Yes, I would probably recommend it.....but I'm not in a hurry to read the next one.

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review 2012-08-03 00:00
The Riddlemaster of Hed - Patricia A. Mc... The Riddlemaster of Hed - Patricia A. McKillip, Simon Prebble Originality: 4.5 stars
Overall: 3.5 stars
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