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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 2016-01-13 00:00
Summers at Castle Auburn
Summers at Castle Auburn - Sharon Shinn 3.5 stars. Classic fantasy, a delightful coming-of-age tale, if a bit predictable, gently-paced and a veritable page-turner!

I supposed one brought to the table whatever traits one had, and then did the best one could to grow into the role one was given.
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review 2015-12-23 06:55
Quiet and lovely
Summers at Castle Auburn - Sharon Shinn

I first read this book many years ago, when I didn’t write reviews and neither GR nor BL existed. In fact, it was so long ago, I didn’t remember anything about the book except that it was sitting on my shelf, reminding me of pleasures gone by. This reading felt as fresh as if it was a new book. After almost fifteen years since its publication, I guess it was, in a sense.

Like many novels of this writer, this one is gentle and seemingly slow. It is a classic growing-up story. It starts when the heroine, Corie, is fourteen, ends when she is eighteen, and is told from her POV.

An orphan and an illegitimate daughter of the late bastard brother of an important lord, she lives with her grandma, a village witch, when her uncle, Lord Jaxon, rides in, looking for her. He makes a deal with her grandma that Corie will spend every summer at the royal castle, learning the ways of the court. Learning her own strengths and weaknesses. Learning to love and hate, to understand and forgive.

With her shining, courageous spirit and her kindness, Corie makes friends easily and indiscriminately. Many among nobility, servants, and guards are attracted to her. She is not perfect but she is alive: opinionated, compassionate, and smart. Sometimes she makes mistakes and misjudges people and situations, but she is brave enough to admit her faults and generous enough to give of her heart.

The more summers she spends at Castle Auburn, the less she feels as if she belongs to her village heritage. Unfortunately, the older she gets, the more she abhors the backstabbing and the political maneuvering of the royal court. Straddling two worlds, she doesn’t fully associate with either. It takes her some time to find her place in the universe.

Through the changing seasons, we see her mature, with the court life swirling in the background, supporting a complex and multidimensional cast. Each character is as alive as the protagonist, each with his or her own unique thread; all of them contributing to the colorful tapestry of the book.

There is Corie’s beloved half-sister Elisandra, composed and determined. There is guard Roderic, Corie’s stalwart friend. There is Prince Bryan, a petty arrogant boy in the beginning of the tale transforming into a cruel and haughty man by the end of it. There is Kent, the prince’s cousin, a young man who changes the least throughout the story but captures everyone’s heart as much as Corie’s. And then there are mysterious aliora, enslaved by humans – Shinn’s exclusive and totally original take on the fairies.

Despite its slow pace, quiet as a whisper, this book found its way into my heart. I loved its low-key lyrical story. I loved its sensible heroine. I loved the dash of intrigue and the whiff of romance. I loved Corie’s infallible sense of justice and her inner freedom. I loved the aliora. I loved the lightness of this novel, especially with so many darker stories dominating the fantasy genre these days.

I simply loved it.  

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review 2014-07-01 08:03
Summers at Castle Auburn
Summers at Castle Auburn - Sharon Shinn

Coriel (also called Corie) has spent many summers at Castle Auburn with her half-sister and the rest of her father's family. For the rest of the year, she lives in a village with her grandmother learning about herbs so she one day may become a Wise Woman. 

Corie loves her sister and her summers at Castle Auburn. Often she wishes that they would not end. She misses her sister and others at the castle very much. 

But as Corie gets older, she sees that things at Castle Auburn aren't as perfect as she once believed them to be.

I've wanted to read this for a while as it always sounded like it might be an interesting story. Summer has come and once again I've signed up for a summer reading program at my library. This year, there are different genres and sub-genres we are supposed to read books from. This book falls into one of the genres I'm supposed to read and I figured it gave me a good excuse to finally read this book.

This book is from Corie's perspective and she is an illegitimate daughter of a royal Lord. Before her father had died, he made his brother promise to find Corie and bring her to the castle. 

Of course, Corie is only at Castle Auburn during summer, which is the deal her uncle was able to work out with her grandmother. 

Castle Auburn sounds beautiful and for the most part, Corie was welcomed there. No, not everyone liked her, but enough did and I can see why she did like going there so much. 

In the beginning Corie is a bit naive, but she's also young and I think it's good to remember she's not at Castle Auburn all year like her sister and other people she knows there. So, it's not until later that she begins to see the dark side of the castle and the dark side of some of those that reside there.

While this was told through Corie's perspective, I felt that I got to know the other characters very well. All were so well described, even the minor characters.

The Alora were interesting to read about and what their world was like.

I liked Corie. She was outspoken, though she was not supposed to be, and wanted to be in control of her own life. She was a well-developed character and likeable. Though I thought all the characters were well-developed.

The story is basically about Corie growing up and seeing the truth of things. The story is good though, intriguing and I found I couldn't put the book down. 

The story and characters were all great. I really enjoyed this book a lot and I'm finally glad I got to read it.

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review 2014-04-27 00:00
Summers at Castle Auburn
Summers at Castle Auburn - Sharon Shinn I absolutely loved this book. I'm not sure if anyone else will have this experience but it was very emotional for me, I cried so many times even though this is mostly a light hearted book. It's all court- intrigue with a low sizzle romance that was beautiful and swoon worthy and truly made me FEEL with the amazingly well developed characters.

This book is perhaps not as flawless as Shinn's later fantasy, but I actually enjoyed it much more than the other books I've read of hers. Shinn's worlds in her different series construct magic in such different and original ways, Her skill in world building rivals [a:Brandon Sanderson|38550|Brandon Sanderson|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1394044556p2/38550.jpg].

This book is also all about sisters and as a sister my two best friends it spoke directly to my heart.

Recommended for fans of [a:Sherwood Smith|12350|Sherwood Smith|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1339177179p2/12350.jpg]
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