The Color of February

It’s February 14th – Valentine’s Day. A day of red heart boxes filled with chocolate, red roses, red balloons and red cards filled with sappy sentiments. Red is the color of February. Right?

Well, it turns out, red is the color of my reading list this month. It wasn’t intentional, but I’m really loving the red this month.

Shadowheart, by Tad Williams – the one I should be reading, but haven’t started yet
Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – the library book I’m actively reading
Ship of Magic, by Robin Hobb – the one I just can’t leave alone
Bloodwitch, by Susan Dennard – the brand new release I couldn’t wait to get my hands on

It’s the perfect line-up for February, don’t you think? (Yes, I added the sappy decorations to the already gorgeous covers.) Red really is the color of February.

What have you “red” so far this month?

Happy Valentine’s Day! And happy reading!

Fantastic February – Fantasy Reading Challenge

Thanks to Kathy over at Books & Munches, for hosting this mini reading challenge! The plan is to read anything fantasy or paranormal while working to whittle away at the TBR. Good news for me, my TBR is full of fantasy fiction!

I’m currently working my way through Tad Williams’s Shadowmarch series. I’m on book three at the moment, hoping to finish it soon. More than likely, book four, Shadowheart, will carry over into February.

I’ve also been reading the Realm of the Elderlings series, by Robin Hobb, along with a Goodreads group I’m part of. I’ve fallen behind the rest of the group, but I’m still working my way through the books. I’ve fallen hard for Robin Hobb, and I have no doubt I’ll keep reading no matter how far behind I get. I’ve just started the second trilogy, The Liveship Traders, so I expect I’ll still be reading Ship of Magic in February. Hopefully, I’ll manage to move on to Mad Ship before the month ends.

I will also continue reading Eragon, by Christopher Paolini. I’m reading this with my youngest son who is completely in love with dragons right now. It’s possible I’ve encouraged this obsession just a little.

Some other fantasy books I am super excited about, though I may not get to them in February, are:

Bloodwitch, by Susan Dennard (due for release February 12!)
Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi

If I need a break from the massive series books above, I can pick up one of these for a bit instead.

Hooray for fantasy fiction!

Maplecroft, by Cherie Priest: A Review

This book is #6 on my 2018 Reading Challenge list, a novel based on a real person. I found this book on a Goodreads list while searching for something to meet this prompt. I found the cover attractive and the premise interesting, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

The story is based on Lizzie Borden and the familiar double murder case that has entered the realm of near-myth. It is a horror story that – according to one description, at least – is written in the Lovecraftian style. I can’t confirm that as I’ve never read any Lovecraft. What I do know, is that it involves horrible creatures from some other realm. These creatures are invading the small town of Fall River, Massachusetts, and Lizzie Borden is at the center of it.

Maplecroft takes place some time after Lizzie Borden stood trial and was exonerated for the murders of her father and stepmother. Over the course of the novel, through letters, journal entries and newspaper clippings, we learn the true horror of that double murder. 

This novel is written in the epistolary style, told through the various notes and journal entries of Lisbeth Borden, her sister, Emma and a local physician. These are supplemented with newspaper articles, correspondence between characters, and even a telegram. Personally, I found this style somewhat lacking in flow. It felt as though the narrative was constantly being interrupted by personal rants, complaints and various other tangents.

It is an interesting story, and well written if you like this style of novel. The scenes leading up to and including the final climactic moment are well done, and I did enjoy that part. I’m glad to have read it, but it doesn’t seem likely I’ll continue with the series.

Sightwitch, by Susan Dennard: A Review

My choice for a book published in 2018 on the 2018 Reading Challenge list was among the easiest of all the categories. Two years ago, Truthwitch was released. I found that book via Twitter and knew I wanted to read it and it joined my 2016 reading list. In 2017, Windwitch was released and I read that one too. Therefore, knowing Sightwitch was due to be released in 2018, I knew I would read it anyway, list or no list.

Though Sightwitch wasn’t the Witchlands book I was hoping to read this year – super excited for Bloodwitch! – I didn’t hesitate to pick this one up as soon as I could.

Sightwitch is written as an illustrated journal that tells the story of Ryber Fortiza. In it she relays her story of how she became the last Sightwitch. Interspersed with Ryber’s journal entries are the writings of another Sightwitch who lived long before Ryber’s time. It includes drawings, maps and passages out of other books, all that help bring Ryber’s story to it’s conclusion.

This is a short, but powerful interlude in the Witchlands series. It gives more background into the magic that exists in the Witchlands, and my understanding is, it sets up at least part of what is to come in the next book.

I wasn’t sure how I’d like the unusual format. For the first part of the book, at least, it was a little difficult to follow what was happening. But it is woven together very well, and I was easily drawn into the narrative.

It was a quick read that I enjoyed very much. Though I am still anxiously waiting for Bloodwitch to be released.

Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo: A Review

I read Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo for #4 on the 2018 Reading Challenge list, a book involving a heist. I don’t remember exactly how or when I first heard about this book, but I was intrigued from the outset. When I learned it would fit this category I knew immediately I would read it this year.

This is the story of Kaz Brekker, a thief rising quickly up the ranks of a street gang. He is offered a job which could lead to wealth beyond imagining. If he can pull it off. But for such an impossible task, he will need an impossible crew. Himself included, Kaz pulls together six of the city’s deadliest outcasts.

Bardugo writes from multiple points of view, switching with each chapter. At first, the frequent jumping around between POV characters made it difficult to get a feel for any of the them. And it felt like it made the story a bit disjointed. As the story progressed, however, I came to appreciate this as a great plot device that enhanced the suspense.

The plot of the story was revealed in a surprising way because some characters knew part of the plan, and others knew other parts. These were then revealed by the appropriate character at the appropriate time, thus making sense of a convoluted plot. That, along with a few well-placed flashback or memory scenes, the story really came together in a great way.

While I never came to truly like Kaz, as a character he is very well written and believable. Bardugo has done an outstanding job with all her characters, and the world-building is exceptional. If you enjoy stories with magic, adventure, huge risk and great characters, then I think you would enjoy this book.

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer: A Review

I read Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, for the 2018 Reading Challenge #42, a cyberpunk book. I’m not entirely sure if this book is “punk” enough to fit the category, but I don’t really care. I’ve been excited to read it for quite some time, and I was really glad to find a place for it on my reading list this year.

From the title, it’s not hard to figure out this is a Cinderella retelling. Cinder is a human/cyborg hybrid, adopted into a family with two other young girls. The father has already died before the book opens, leaving Cinder at the mercies of a stepmother and stepsisters who don’t really want her around. But Cinder just might have the key to finding a cure to a plague decimating the people of Earth. And maybe she can help prevent the people of Earth from being enslaved by those of Luna.

I loved this book beginning to end. Cinder is wonderful. Despite all the obstacles before her, she knows what she wants out of life, she’s realistic in her goals, and isn’t afraid to do what’s necessary to achieve them, even if it means running away. Cinder moves this story forward. Yes, there are things that happen that are outside her control, but she responds to them in her own way. She decides which direction to turn when life interferes.

This isn’t to say it’s a perfect book without a single flaw. I does have flaws. The most glaring one for me was Prince Kai’s somewhat naive tendency to trust others rather quickly, and his emotions run a little too close to the surface. Though he is young, he is still the heir to one of Earth’s greatest empire. One would think he’d have been better trained from birth to have greater control over himself, especially when his actions could have significant political ramifications.

Cinder was a lot of fun to read. I will definitely be seeking out the rest of this series as well as other books by Marissa Meyer. I’m delighted that I’ve found a new favorite author.

Starcrossed, by Josephine Angelini: A Review

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini joined my 2018 Reading Challenge list as #28, a book with song lyrics in the title. I had to do a bit of digging to find this one. This book has been on my shelf for a little while and I thought surely, the word star-crossed appears in song lyrics somewhere. It might be a bit of a stretch, but I managed to find a way to work a book into the list that I already had on my bookshelf waiting to be read.

This is the story of a girl and a boy, destined to be together, or rip each other apart. Maybe both. Based on Greek mythology in general, and more specifically on the story of Helen of Troy, it is a story doomed to be repeated again and again.

It’s the story of Helen Hamilton, a high school student who lives with her father on the isolated island of Nantucket. And yes, she’s connected to that Helen – the face that launched a thousand ships. Helen knows she is different and works hard to hide it. But when a new boy and his family arrive on the island, things only get stranger.

Though it may be little more than a hasty teenage romance written over the backdrop of myth and fated tragedy, I nevertheless found myself enjoying this book. It written in such a way that I was compelled forward. It’s a quick read and fun. I liked the characters, especially Helen’s best friend Claire.

I think I knew going into this book that it is part of a larger series. Still, I was unprepared for the ending. Or lack of an ending, really. I had hoped that more might be resolved by the end, but I think I’ve come away from this book with more questions than at the beginning. Will I read more? Probably. I’d like to know how the story plays out.