Friday, March 31, 2017

Newfangled 52 - March Edition

Art by Kate Or Die

March is finally over... thank goodness for that. It's my least favorite month of the year. It finally starts to warm up, the snow melts, we go from winter coat weather to sweater weather and the trees begin to bud.... then snow storm.... and my hopes for spring are crushed. Every year I tell myself that I won't get my hopes up, but I always do. This year I decided that my energy was better spent reading than getting worked up over the weather.

Here's what I read this month:

by E.K. Johnston

352 Pages

 Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.
And so she is taken in her sister's place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin's court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.
Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.
Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

In my search for more fairy tale based stories, I came across this one. I've never really known One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, but I've always been intrigued by it. I really enjoyed this story, although she herself didn't really tell stories like I was expecting. This was more about her time in the palace trying to figure out a way to survive and uncovering the truth behind why so many women have come before her and what she can do to be the last.

by Kiera Cass

337 Pages (7:42 Hours)

The Selection gets fierce as rivals stake their claim on the Prince.
Six girls, one life-changing prize…
America Singer will leave her pre-destined life for a world of glamour and luxury, if she wins…
But surviving The Selection is tough. Rivals are battling to become Prince Maxon’s bride as the threat of rebel violence just beyond the palace walls escalates into war.
Only six girls are left and sworn friendships are tested to breaking point. America’s feelings for Maxon grow stronger, but she suspects darker mysteries in his royal past. With ex-lover Aspen waiting for her in the shadows, where do her loyalties truly lie?

Although on the outside, this book seems really shallow (and it can be) I'm really enjoying the subplots of this series. What are the rebels after? What is the King really involved with? Is her father all he seems? What else will she learn about the first King of Ilea and how bad was he actually?
I don't really care about the Selection or the other girls involved, other than Marlee (how could you!) and the love triangle left me wanting both guys to abandon her. I almost want Maxon to pick one of the other girls so I'd get to read about her instead.
Oh well, we can only hope that she will make up her mind before the next book is over and since the book series titles pretty much give away who she's going to choose, I can only hope that this triangle will be left behind soon.

by Brandon Sanderson

129 Pages (2:23 Hours)

Snapshot is a Science Fiction detective story following Anthony Davis, a cop assigned to Snapshot Duty. In this vivid world that author Brandon Sanderson has built, society can create a snapshot of a specific day in time. The experiences people have, the paths they follow—all of them are real again for a one day in the snapshot. All for the purposes of investigation by the court. 
Davis’s job as a cop on Snapshot Duty is straight forward. Sometimes he is tasked with finding where a criminal dumped a weapon. Sometimes he is tasked with documenting domestic disputes. Simple. Mundane. One day, in between two snapshot assignments, Davis decides to investigate the memory of a call that was mysteriously never logged at the precinct, and he makes a horrifying discovery.
As in all many stories, Snapshot follows a wonderfully flawed character as he attempts to solve a horrific crime. Sanderson proves that no matter the genre, he is one of the most skilled storytellers in the business.

Another great short story by Sanderson. I find it's sometimes hard to build a new world in a short story and make it both complex and believable without running out of time to tell the actual story, but Sanderson pulls it off masterfully. I can see the appeal of wanting snapshot technology to solve crimes that have already happened. But what would living in that reality over and over again do to you as a person, knowing that you are only seeing shadows of people's lives, but never being apart of their real life? What would it be like for one of those people they reveal themselves to, finding out that you're not real? How would you react?

by Seanan McGuire

183 Pages (4:37 Hours)

When her sister Patty died, Jenna blamed herself. When Jenna died, she blamed herself for that, too. Unfortunately Jenna died too soon. Living or dead, every soul is promised a certain amount of time, and when Jenna passed she found a heavy debt of time in her record. Unwilling to simply steal that time from the living, Jenna earns every day she leeches with volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline.
But something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.

This was a neat story about the afterlife. What happens when you die too soon? Ghosts are everywhere, trying to make a living or trying to catch up on their deaths. That time is constantly in exchange between those wanting less and those wanting more. It's a neat concept. I like the thought of Ghosts working at a suicide helpline, trying to help people who don't want to live anymore and knowing what the consequences might be for them.

by Kristen Britain

784 Pages

Karigan G’ladheon is a Green Rider—a seasoned member of the elite messenger corps of King Zachary of Sacoridia. King Zachary sends Karigan and a contingent of Sacoridians beyond the edges of his nation, into the mysterious Blackveil Forest, which has been tainted with dark magic by a twisted immortal spirit named Mornhavon the Black.
At the end of Blackveil, in a magical confrontation against Mornhavon, Karigan is jolted out of Blackveil Forest and wakes in darkness. She’s lying on smooth, cold stone, but as she reaches out, she realizes that the stone is not just beneath her, but above and around her as well. She’s landed in a sealed stone sarcophagus, some unknown tomb, and the air is becoming thin.
Is this to be her end? If she escapes, where will she find herself? Is she still in the world she remembers, or has the magical explosion transported her somewhere completely different? To find out, she must first win free of her prison— before it becomes her grave. And should she succeed, will she be walking straight into a trap created by Mornhavon himself?
Mirror Sight is the highly-anticipated fifth installment of the Green Rider series.

I guess they couldn't all be good books. I've really been enjoying this series, but this book made me sad and hurt my eyes, since I couldn't stop rolling them. The back of the book doesn't tell you anything about it other than the first few pages when she wake up.... in the future!
Yes, she's in the future, 200 years to be exact and not only that, but she's in a Steampunk dystopian!
But why? you ask. And that's the same question I asked myself through the whole book.
Why? Why did she have to go to the future? Did it do anything for the overarching plot? Not anything that couldn't have been covered by a short chapter arch of her being swept forward like Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Future like they've done with past events.
But what about all the side characters that you love so much? Don't worry, you get brief glimpses of them and then a 6 month time gap, but everyone's cool about it.

by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

266 Pages

When the alien Mimics invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many raw recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor called a Jacket and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On his 158th iteration, he gets a message from a mysterious ally - the female soldier known as the Full Metal Bitch. Is she the key to Keiji’s escape or his final death?

I really liked this movie. For a Groundhog Day-esqe film, it did reliving the same day rather well. When I found the book, I thought it might have been a novelization of the movie, but quickly discovered that the movie was based on the book All You Need Is Kill and then later renamed.
It was a lot better than the movie in a lot of ways. The repeat day is handled better and you get a lot more information about what is happening in the world and to him. It also has a totally different ending that is much less happy and Hollywood than the movie is. I think I might like the Hollywood ending better, but it's certainly not as interesting.

by Sarah J. Maas

592 Pages (20:18 Hours)

Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak - but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth - a truth about her heritage that could change her life - and her future - forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?
The best-selling series that has captured readers all over the world reaches new heights in this sequel to the New York Times best-selling Crown of Midnight. Packed with heart-pounding action, fierce new characters, and swoon-worthy romance, this third book will enthrall readers from start to finish.

This must have been the month with let-down sequels. It's not that this book wasn't good, it was, but it wasn't great and that's what I wanted. Celaena spends a lot of this book trying to run away from who she is and her feelings. I understand the hardship of figuring all of that out, but it made the book feel rather stagnant. I appreciated when she finally faced her demons and started to develop as a character once more. The book got much more interesting after that.
It was more of the side characters that made this book for me. I enjoyed Aedon and Chaol's tentative alliance as they search for answers and Dorian's search to end his magic. I'm guessing that the "swoon-worthy romance" they talk about is between Dorian and Sorscha, but I didn't find myself swooning. If any relationship is worth mentioning, it's Celaena and Rowan's friendship. What started as them almost hating one another turned into a rather beautiful friendship that I hope does NOT evolve into a relationship.

244 Pages

Bone Shop explores the origins of ass-kicking sorcerer Marla Mason. Long before she became the Witch Queen of Felport, or the Bride of Death, Marla was a teenage runaway with no inkling of the dark magic that underpins the world. Bone Shop chronicles her rough beginnings, her apprenticeship, her years as a mercenary magician, and her eventual rise to power — navigating dangers including supernatural serial killers, cursed artifacts, and doomed young love.

This novella was originally written as a serial on T.A. Pratt's website, as well as some of his other books. I've been meaning to read it for years but didn't realize that it was a prequel and wanted to catch up on the rest of the books.
This book tells the story of Marla's early days that we hear about in bits and pieces in the other books. We finally get to know Artie Mann and how he changed Marla's life, we see how she got the cursed cloak that later causes so much trouble and we see how she rose to become Chief Sorcerer of Felport, but also, we get let in on a few heart breaking pieces of the puzzle that we never knew shaped Marla as much as it did. This story is different from his other works because it spans so much time, years in fact, when we are used to reading about short chunks of Marla's life.

by Leigh Bardugo

465 Pages (11:52 Hours)

Darkness never dies.
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Again, not as good as the first book, this book was still pretty good.
This book starts with Alina and Mal on the run from the Darkling and almost immediately they get caught... again.
Rescued by a pirate who turns out to be the second son to the King, Alina decides it's time to go back to Ravka and build an army to fight the Darkling. But in the dark of night she begins to see him in the shadows, yet know one else can. 
He search for more power starts to become all consuming and I'm beginning to wonder if she will end up being a bit of a villain, but I guess I won't find out until the next book.

by Leigh Bardugo

32 Pages (0:36 Hours)

In Ravka, just because you avoid one trap, it doesn't mean you'll escape the next. This story is a companion folk tale to Leigh Bardugo's upcoming book, Siege and Storm, the second book in the Grisha Trilogy

This story is referenced a few times during Siege and Storm and it's neat to be able to actually read the folk tale. It's a nice extra touch of Bardugo's world building. Now I just need to get my hands on the other ones.

Books that I am currently reading

by Timothy Zahn
82 of 694 Pages

by Anthony Ryan
389 of 602 Pages (24:39 Hours)

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Extraordinary Voyages #6)
by Jules Verne
75 of 394 Pages

by John Green
42 of 229 Pages (6:48 Hours)

by Rohinton Mistry
30 of 603 Pages

by Scott Lynch
243 of 502 Pages

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