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review 2015-12-28 00:46
Thoughts: Spinning Starlight
Spinning Starlight - R.C. Lewis

Spinning Starlight -- R.C. Lewis


**This book is a fairy tale retelling based on The Wild Swans, according to sources.  It is a sister spin-off from Stitching Snow, but takes place in a different world with different characters, so does NOT require reading Stitching Snow first.



This is one of those books where I really can't think of anything to say aside from a few generic "This was an enjoyable book, but some things just didn't work out for me," comments. Of course, I say this, but in the end, I always end up rambling up a storm when random thoughts start to hit me as I write.

Spinning Starlight really is quite enjoyable and attention-hooking, with a great premise, great world-building, great characters, great story-telling, and great narration.

But it's not my pick for "really, really, really awesome read" if only because of a few factors:

First: The world building is creative. I thought the same of Stitching Snow--kind of a Star Wars meets Fairy Tale worlds retelling type of deal. But the world in Spinning Starlight is just so much more complex... and confusing. I can tell a lot of thought was put into the world creation and it's pretty awesome. That is, it would have been very awesome if I had a better understanding of the world, its' cultures, and the tech and the people and the history. But I got lost a lot reading some of the tech explanations, about the portals, about the Khua, about the conduits, about the planets... I'm not even sure if it was just me or if the book really was that confusing.

Second: The main villain was mostly absent throughout. And so the main conflict--Liddi's brother's safety and the safety of the entire universe in general--had to be the one factor everything hinges on for Liddi's actions and decisions. Which, in a way, isn't too bad, but it made our main villain seem kind of insignificant

especially since she was neutralized so easily once everything was said and done.

(spoiler show)

Third: The romance felt lackluster really. And I'm not even sure why because there's a great development from savior to friendship to romance. Liddi and Tiav are pretty great together. But they don't seem to have much chemistry.

Lastly: The other characters felt very back-seated. There was so much to learn and so many new people to meet and everyone seems to have their own uniqueness. But none of what was presented felt like it was enough for me. I would have liked to know more about Kalkig and how his hostile relationship develops into a reluctant alliance with Liddi. I would have liked to see more about Tiav's mother Shiin. I would have liked to get to know Liddi's eight brothers a bit more. And I would have liked to learn more about the Aelo and the other alien races introduced.

This book felt entirely too short, but at the same time, the main plot felt like it dragged along without really getting anywhere.

But this book isn't without things that I liked about it.

Again, the story premise, narration, writing, attention-to-detail, and world creation was wonderful! Even the characters, given more of a chance to shine, would have been excellent. I especially loved the relationship between Liddi and her brothers being such a tight knit and close one. And given more time and more story, I would have loved to see all the new friendships and alliances Liddi forms throughout with Kalkig, with Quain, with Yilt, or with Spin-Still.

See. Lots of names, lots of characters, lots of interactions (as much interacting as a girl who cannot speak can do), but little insight into these characters and their defining relationships with Liddi. Sure, you can see a connection of some sort forming between our heroine and these side characters; but there's not chemistry, no feels, no intrigue to bind them. The interactions feel lackluster, much like the romance felt lackluster.

On the other hand, I DO like the way in which Liddi's inability to speak was handled. How she communicated with each character was done quite well, even if I'm maybe a little doubtful that all the characters could so very easily pick up Liddi's meaning without elaborate pictures and pantomiming. Still, her communication with everyone without actually speaking and without knowing a written language was interesting enough, and the author didn't make it easy on her just because she's the special heroine.

This book also does a great job of emphasizing the troubles that people have with media and social networking--how easily and readily other people use it as a means to cut other people down because they can, how easily it is for another person's private matters to be broadcast into the public... etc. At first, I thought the little tidbits of Liddi's childhood flashbacks were kind of awkward, but I ended up liking them by the end.

Back to Liddi and her brothers, again, I loved the interaction and relationship between them and wished we could have seen more of that. In fact, there were some feels to be had and it DID help in favor of me liking this book more.

Anyway, of course this supposedly "short" review becomes a bit more rambling than I had intended.

Spinning Starlight is enjoyable and entertaining, well-written and well-thought out. It's safe to say I will still be watching out for future works by R.C. Lewis and am now a bit interested in the fairy tale that this book is based upon (The Wild Swans? I think.)

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review 2015-01-29 02:08
Thoughts: Stitching Snow
Stitching Snow - R.C. Lewis

Stitching Snow was an extremely enjoyable retelling of Snow White with some other elements tossed into it. It gave me the impression of a Star Wars-esque YA space epic and reminded me a little of Marissa Meyer's Cinder (of which I adored).

Essie is a mechanic who has her skills in computer tech and engineering. I always have a great respect for authors who create young girls with these skills. Living on the mining world of Thanda, Essie's goal is to survive life and blend in; she cannot draw attention to herself.

At least that was the plan until Dane crash-lands on her turf and changes her life. At first he seemed like a dimwitted nice guy, just hanging around while she helped him fix his ship. But we soon learn, after Dane kidnaps Essie, that she isn't just some random common girl with a knack for tech.

Essie is Princess Snow from the planet Windsong; she disappeared eight years ago and King Mathias (who turns out to be quite the rat bastard) has been searching for her ever since. Her disappearance sparked the opportunity for Mathias to go to war with the Exiles (or Candarans) of whom he fears because they have the ability to "body-hop" into others' conscious minds. A group of Candarans living in the their embassy in Windsong at the time were imprisoned because of Princess Snow's disappearance--it seems that they were blamed for kidnapping the princess.

Now Dane is determined to bring Essie back to Windsong as a trade to set the imprisoned Candarans free. But he soon learns that Essie's disappearance was tied to darker reasons than he had suspected. Apparently, eight years ago when Essie ran away from her home, Queen Olivia had ordered the young princess's death in secret.

There are a lot of plot twists in this book that range from the "Snow White" fairy tale of the Evil Queen wanting Snow White dead for superficial reasons; to the potential for war between planets in the system; to an even higher and less forgiving conspiracy within the Windsong kingdom that King Mathias has created to keep himself in power.

There is no lacking of action in the story progression, making it easy to just keep right on reading until the penultimate conclusion. Fortunately, the book was planned quite well and nothing seemed out of control or out of nowhere.

There were a few plot lines that seemed to fizzle out, however, and I was left with open-ended "choose your own conclusions" to those plot lines. Not that they mattered much since they weren't the main conflict... but sometimes you like to know.

The book is very Essie-centric, which is fine with me since I like a good, strong, independent heroine who saves the world and saves the day. But because she was such a powerful individual on her own, as a character, as a person, and as the main character, she overshadowed everyone else. Sure, she had her flaws and she had to develop through them; Dane was a stronger fighter than she was and needed to help hone her combat skills.

But the point is that Essie went through so much character development that every other character (excepting her drones) seemed to pale in comparison.

Dane was a great guy and an amazing love interest (after you get past the part about him kidnapping Essie and forgive him for that because he had his reasons and was not well informed of all situations). I feel like the romance on his side developed a little quickly, but I'll take it because he doesn't push, and he doesn't angst, and he doesn't mope. He's right there beside Essie through her entire ordeal. Which is great. But he was kind of boring for it.

There were all sorts of potential for great characters in the rest of Stitching Snow as well. Kip could have been fleshed out more, just as Laisa, Brand, Theo, or even the King and the Queen. But they were very typical, standard hero story background character types.

This book was basically "All About Essie" and all the character development and personality quotas were used to create an amazing heroine with strengths, weaknesses and character.

The only other characters that even stood a chance next to Essie were her drones: Dimwit, Cusser, Clunk, Clank, Whirligig, Ticktock, and Zippy. They were her "Seven Dwarves" and they each had their own upgraded personalities that made them stand out and unforgettable and freakin' adorable! I even stand that Dimwit and Cusser probably had more personality than Dane, Kip, and the whole Candaran council combined.

The drones were Essie's best friends and just seemed to "be there" when she needed them to be. There were FEELS to be had between Essie and her drones. It was pretty great!

Overall: Stitching Snow might not have been the best retelling out there, but it was unique and very well created. The tech and the worlds and the cultures were pretty awesome with tons of room for potential. I would have loved to learn more about Garam and Candara; I would have loved to meet more of the Windsong citizens and soliders. I would have loved to travel Thandan and see the rest of the mining communities, the Ascetics, the more prosperous, livable cities...

I would also love to have a Dimwit of my own. And a Cusser. I've grown to love those drones more than the actual human beings of the Stitching Snow world.

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text 2015-01-26 14:23
So much forward progression and almost to the halfway point already
Stitching Snow - R.C. Lewis

I started reading Stitching Snow sometime last night at work... and then I realized I was having trouble putting the book down until I had to remind myself to get back to work.  I had a feeling I would enjoy this book, but I hadn't realized I'd enjoy it this much.


Before I started reading it, the book had caught my radar blips because of the summary and other reviews I've read.  The concept gave me the impression of a YA Star Wars type of epic sci-fi, futuristic space odyssey kind of intrigue.  I was worried that all the hype I could potentially give myself would ruin how I really feel about the book once I started reading it.


And you know, this book is equal parts exciting, intriguing, and awesomely un-put-down-able.


Essie a strong heroine with skillz to get her through survival of her life.  And while Dane is kind of getting on my nerves a little bit (he reminds me of those psychotic kidnappers who forcefully take you away from your life and your home, then get irritated when you try to fight back, and somehow manages to feel like you should be grateful he's at least being civil with you in your current turmoil).  Oh wait, that is exactly what Dane has done... he also grumbles about her making trouble and causing problems.


So fortunately, Essie fights right back to remind Dane that he was the one who kidnapped her, and he was the one who lied to her, and he was the one who wouldn't listen when she tried to tell him she only patched up his ship with enough sturdiness to make it eight days in space and not nearly long enough to go where he actually wants to go.  So no, Dane, you have no right to complain about your victim causing trouble when you're the one who did the kidnapping in the first place.


I really DO hope that Dane develops a bit more personality and significance soon, because he's not sitting so well on my "Spiffy Guy" scale right now.  Between the broody and the condescension, I'm not getting much great vibes here from him.



However, in a way, I'm ready for Dane to come around and ally with Essie rather than trying to use her life and her freedom as a means to exchange for other people's lives and freedoms.  Between the two of them working together, I have a feeling they can figure out a better solution for his conflict.


Also, I get why this book is called Stitching Snow now.

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text 2014-11-25 13:01
Top Ten Tuesdays: Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesdays is an original and weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  



I've come to learn that a TBR list created in advance doesn't necessarily mean "I shall read these books in a timely manner."  Of course, that doesn't ever keep me from making my lists; I love making lists after all.  I do know for certain that there are several books I plan to get to reading within the months in the Winter season (December through March, I believe) as well as many books I am anticipating the release of and WANT to read upon their release date.


Also, my typical TBR list usually rounds out to approximately 20 books I want to read, plan to read, or am anticipating the release of for each month (my average is reading about 15 books monthly).  Ten is a really hard number for me to work with, to be totally honest, because I've already started listing all the books I'm planning on reading in January (yes, I may have skipped December, but December tends to be a busy month for a lot of other stuff).


In this situation, I will attempt to eliminate as much as I can for the sake of this list.  In fact, the books listed below are just a random pick of the books I most want to get to reading within the next few months.  Of course, there are more; when it comes to books, there are always more.


In no particular order:  My Top Ten Winter TBR List





1.  SEAL of My Dreams -- an anthology of novellas written by various Romantic Suspense authors

SEAL of My Dreams is an anthology I discovered whilst perusing the different book subscription service platforms (Oyster, Scribed, Kindle Unlimited--known as the "Netflix for books" sites).  In short, I was just doing research to see how beneficial to me subscribing to any of these platforms would be (hint: the answer is, not very).  I have an ongoing obsession with Romantic Suspense novels right now and immediately took to this anthology when I saw it; there are various authors I like, have come to like, and have heard of and have become interested in, listed as contributing to this anthology.  The book sold for a very cheap $0.99 on Amazon Kindle a month or two ago and I couldn't help going ahead and adding it to my collection.


Sometime in January, I'm going to begin reading SEAL of My Dreams.  I don't know why I'm waiting until January--it just feels like a good way to start the new year, I guess.




2.  Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

I have this book requested for hold at the library and am hoping that I'll be able to check it out within the next month or two, which would fall into the "Winter TBR" season.  Reviews have been mixed about the story, but the one thing that stands out to me is the strong female heroine training a cave of assassins premise, as well as the fact that reviewers have noted that there is no instalove nor any triangles.  Also, a YA female character with priorities that don't revolve around the boy she falls in lust with at first sight.  I love me some strong female leads and in a high fantasy, this is typically what draws my attention--as much as I am a hopeless romantic and love romances, I also like a level-headed female who has her priorities straight (when life or death is at stake, I'm thinking it's probably not so important that you can't choose between pretty boy and broody boy who both want to love you and want to push you away at the same time).


So I'm looking forward to reading this book soon so I can determine whether or not I'll continue on with the series.





3.  Show No Mercy by Cindy Gerard

4.  Take No Prisoners by Cindy Gerard

5.  Whisper No Lies by Cindy Gerard

I bought these books on a whim after becoming obsessed with Romantic Suspense.  While Cindy Gerard isn't the best author out there (I have since discovered other Romantic Suspense authors I love equally or even more), she does hold a special place in my heart since she's the first Romantic Suspense author I became a big fan of; her Bodyguard series is definitely one of my more favorite of Romantic Suspense series, with a particular character I fell head over heels in love with (well, two, but well...)


And now that I own THAT series as well as the follow-up series, Black Ops, Inc., and I have been listing them every month as part of my personal monthly TBR, and then getting distracted with shiny new books around every corner, I think it's high time I scheduled a more "permanent" TBR for them.  So I at least want to start reading the first three books of this series this winter (maybe starting in January with SEAL of My Dreams).  Once I can finish Black Ops, I can then move onto One-Eyed Jacks because Cindy Gerard has a new book release pending in February...




6.  Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

In anticipation of the April release of Suddenly One Summer, I'm slowly finishing up all the published Julie James novels, since I have decided that I will read everything she has written.  Practice Makes Perfect is one of her earlier works and the only Julie James book I have left to read; I have plans to amend that situation quickly.  That is all.




7.  The Silkworm by Roberth Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)

I wasn't all too smitten with The Cuckoo's Calling, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it.  It felt mediocre to me, but I still liked Cormoran and Robin as a cute little P.I. partnership.  Nonetheless, Rowling is Queen and I've seen some really positive reviews about The Silkworm in comparison with the mediocrity of The Cuckoo's Calling, so I'm interested in continuing this series.


I was on a library waiting list for the e-book and was listed as patron number 2 out of 16 last week.  I had been on this waiting list since the book was released in June and acquired by the e-book library that same month.  And yes, it has been a long wait.  I finally got the notice yesterday that I can now check this book out.  Seeing as how I still have a few other books I need to finish, I'm going to take advantage of the 21 day check-out and will probably finish reading this book sometime during the Winter TBR season.




8.  Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

This book just sounds fun.  Some reviewers I follow have praised it.  And it sounds like a nice little kickass Snow White meets Star Wars retelling.  How awesome is that?  My only matter is how willing I am to spend money... or if I'd rather wait out another library hold list.  Whatever the case, I WOULD like to put this book on my Winter TBR.  Of course, the holidays are approaching and I feel I owe it to myself (for reasons) to splurge just a little bit more.




9.  Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

The premise of Princess of Thorns sounds good enough to anticipate in that "edge of my seat" fashion.  Sleeping Beauty's daughter as a warrior princess, cursed to destroy any male who kisses her, disguised as a boy to enlist the help of a Prince to save the world and reclaim her stolen throne.  There's a high fantasy adventure of epic proportions (hopefully), a fairy tale retelling, a warrior princess, the potential for FEELS and more heartbreaking feels...  AND THERE IS A CROSS-DRESSING PLOT DEVICE!


This book just has Ani-bait written all over it.  I am inclined to include this book onto my list of holiday splurges this year.  In fact, I insist that I buy myself this book upon it's release date and read it for pure enjoyment during the holidays.


Let's just all cross our fingers and hope that it delivers, because I could cry if it doesn't.





10.  Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

I have been waiting for this sequel for nearing two years.  I'm sure that's grounds for immediate purchase when the book is finally published in March.  But this also means that I may or may not end up rereading Seraphina as part of my Winter TBR just to refresh my memory.




This list barely skims the unofficial and even longer TBR I've already started putting together.  It includes the rest of the Black Ops series by Cindy Gerard, A.G. Howard's Splintered series (the second and third books), possibly the next three Bishop/SCU books by Kay Hooper, the two books in the Mann Family series by Kate Brady, and lots of others.


But my TBR is ever-changing, pending my mood and what I can get my hands on, so my hope is that, having published a post with books I officially want to add to my Winter TBR, maybe I'll be a bit more structured in choosing my next book.


Then again, maybe not.  Who knows?

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