Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Brand New 52 - May Edition

Books, books, books... So many books, so little time. What am I talking about? I'm already 87% into my yearly challenge and it's not even June yet! Still, there are always more books waiting to be read and I intend to read them all!

Here's what I read this month:

by Devon Monk

355 Pages

Using magic meant it used you back. Forget the fairy-tale, hocus-pocus, wave a wand and bling-o, sparkles and pixie dust crap. Magic, like booze, sex, and drugs, gave as good as it got. 
Everything has a cost. And every act of magic exacts a price from its user - maybe a two-day migraine, or losing the memory of your first kiss. But some people want to use magic without paying, and they Offload the cost onto innocents. When that happens, it falls to a Hound to identify the spell's caster - and Allison Beckstrom's the best there is.
Daughter of a prominent Portland businessman, Allie would rather moonlight as a Hound than accept the family fortune - and the strings that come with it. But when she discovers a little boy dying from a magic Offload that has her father's signature all over it, Allie is thrown into the high-stakes world of corporate espionage and black magic.
Now Allie's out for the truth - and must call upon forces that will challenge everything she knows, change her in ways she could never imagine ... and make her capable of things that powerful people will do anything to control.

I picked this book up for a couple of bucks at BMV hoping that it would be a good urban fiction. As I was reading it, I found that I was actually enjoying it. But the end ruined it for me and now I'm not sure I actually want to read the rest of the series.(!) (SPOILERS: I mean, memory loss? Why even write the book if you're just going to eradicate it in the end)
I like the use of magic in this book where everything that you cast has a physical or mental (#) price tag. And if you overuse it it can really damage you. I also thought it was interesting that you could pay someone to offload your magical price onto them.  What kind of money/spell ratio are we talking about? I want to know more about that. So maybe I will pick up the next book after all. I guess we will see.

by Bailey Cates

304 Pages

For magical baker Katie Lightfoot, the only way to beat the Savannah summer heat is to whip up some cool treats for the Honeybee Bakery’s patrons. But when a meeting of the spellbook club is interrupted by a stranger collapsing on the floor of her shop, mumbling something about a voodoo talisman, Katie drops everything to begin investigating.
Her search for answers quickly leads her into a dangerous blend of Savannah’s infamous voodoo queens, a powerful missing charm—and a deadly witch who seems to be targeting the city’s magical community. And with the case getting hotter by the second, Katie will have to work fast to track down the talisman and the killer before the timer runs out…

I feel like every book series that has to do with magic (and always cop shows for some reason) inevitably play the voodoo card. Maybe they're running out of ideas? Maybe they want to take a new crack at it? I'm not really sure to tell you the truth. I just know that I find it cliche and never done very well. I feel bad for those people that do practice Voodoo (Vodou/Vodun/Voudoun) and have their religions misrepresented in such a blatant way. As far as voodoo goes though, this book handled it better than a lot of other ones that I've read (or seen) and mostly focuses on the positive side of the culture.
Katie is finally figuring out what being a Lightwitch () means and finds a new mentor to help her along the way. It's mostly just Katie and Cookie working together in the book and not the usual full Book Club and their familiars (^..^). It was nice to get to know Cookie better, but I worry about her relationship with her new Husband. Perhaps it will get resolved in the next book

by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

783 Pages (33:02 Hours)

Tarmon Gai'don, the Last Battle, looms. And mankind is not ready.
In this epic novel, Robert Jordan's international bestselling series begins its dramatic conclusion. Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, struggles to unite a fractured network of kingdoms and alliances in preparation for the Last Battle. As he attempts to halt the Seanchan encroachment northward---wishing he could form at least a temporary truce with the invaders---his allies watch in terror the shadow that seems to be growing within the heart of the Dragon Reborn himself.
Egwene al'Vere, the Amyrlin Seat of the rebel Aes Sedai, is a captive of the White Tower and subject to the whims of their tyrannical leader. As days tick toward the Seanchan attack she knows is imminent, Egwene works to hold together the disparate factions of Aes Sedai while providing leadership in the face of increasing uncertainty and despair. Her fight will prove the mettle of the Aes Sedai, and her conflict will decide the future of the White Tower---and possibly the world itself.
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

This was the first book that came out after Robert Jordan's passing. All the fans of WOT cried out at this great loss and wondered what would become of our favorite book series. But there was still hope:

The final volume of the Wheel of Time, A Memory of Light, was partially written by Robert Jordan before his untimely passing in 2007. Brandon Sanderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Mistborn books, was chosen by Jordan's editor---his wife, Harriet McDougal---to complete the final book. The scope and size of the volume was such that it could not be contained in a single book, and so Tor proudly presents The Gathering Storm as the first of three novels that will make up A Memory of Light. This short sequence will complete the struggle against the Shadow, bringing to a close a journey begun almost twenty years ago and marking the conclusion of the Wheel of Time, the preeminent fantasy epic of our era.

No one knew what to think of a new author taking over. Lucky for us, we had nothing to worry about. Brandon Sanderson picked up the mantle and held it with pride. He breathed new life into old characters () and blended his voice almost seamlessly with Jordan's. I can't even pick out which parts each of them wrote. This may actually be one of my favorite books of the series. Egwene and Rand steal the show in this book, which is a nice change for their characters. (!)

The Shattered Court (The Four Arts #1)
by M.J. Scott 

313 Pages

Entangled in a court ruled by tradition and intrigue, a young witch must come to terms with newfound power and desire—and a choice between loyalty and survival.…
The royal witches of Anglion have bowed to tradition for centuries. If a woman of royal blood manifests powers, she is immediately bound by rites of marriage. She will serve her lord by practicing the tamer magics of the earth—ensuring good harvests and predicting the weather. Any magic more dangerous is forbidden.
Lady Sophia Kendall, thirty-second in line to the throne, is only days away from finding out if she will be blessed—or perhaps cursed—with magic. When a vicious attack by Anglion’s ancient enemies leaves the kingdom in chaos, Sophia is forced to flee the court. Her protector by happenstance is Lieutenant Cameron Mackenzie, a member of the royal guard, raised all his life to be fiercely loyal to the Crown.
Then Sophia’s powers manifest stronger than she ever imagined they would, ()and Cameron and she are inextricably linked in the process. As a witch unbound by marriage rites, Sophia is not only a threat to the established order of her country, but is also a weapon for those who seek to destroy it. Faced with old secrets and new truths, she must decide if she will fight for her country or succumb to the delicious temptation of power.…

I took a gamble on this book, not knowing if it would be a really good fantasy or a really terrible romance book. I was happy when it turned out to be somewhere in the middle. Yes, it falls into bad romantic fiction at some points, but it was done well enough that I was okay with it. The plot was actually pretty good and I, like Shophie, wanted to get to the truth of the matter of magic. Although not all my questions were answered, I'm hoping that the story will continue to unfold in the next book (whenever it comes out) (!)

4:31 Hours

An Audible Original Drama
As a child, Chris Hooper dreamed of monsters. But in deep space, he found only darkness and isolation. Then, on planet LV178, he and his fellow miners discovered a storm-scoured, sand-blasted hell - and trimonite, the hardest material known to man.
When a shuttle crashes into the mining ship Marion, the miners learn that there was more than trimonite deep in the caverns. There was evil, hibernating and waiting for suitable prey. Hoop and his associates uncover a nest of Xenomorphs, and hell takes on a new meaning. Quickly they discover that their only hope lies with the unlikeliest of saviors....
Ellen Ripley, the last human survivor of the salvage ship Nostromo.

It's been a long time since I've listened to a radio drama. Perhaps War of the Worlds when I was in elementary school. I came across this while on Tumblr and quickly looked it up on Audible.  They've decided to start doing Drama productions and this was one of their firsts. Now, I can't resist the Alien franchise and was super excited about this. I downloaded it and started listening to it immediately. It takes place between Alien and Aliens and I had no idea how they were going to make everything cannon. As in a typical Alien movie, once the discovery of Xenomorphs is made, everything else goes to hell in a hand basket (or a transport ship in this case). Throw in a rogue AI who's interfaced with all the computers and wants to capture an Alien for further study and and a woman who's seen it all before and is suffering the consequences (#) and you're in for a crazy, scary fun story. The voice actors were amazing and Laurel Lefkow, who played Ripley, sounded exactly like Sigourney Weaver. I actually wondered if it was her for awhile.
Seriously though, if you're a fan of this series you need to check this out pronto.

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)
by Maggie Stiefvater

437 Pages (12:45 Hours)

If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take?
Ronan Lynch has secrets.
Some he keeps from others.() Some he keeps from himself.
One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.
And sometimes he's not the only one who wants those things.
Ronan is one of the raven boys - a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school, Aglionby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan's secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface - changing everything in its wake.

I didn't like Ronan in the first book. He always seemed angry and annoying, but maybe it was just because I didn't know Ronan. They never really get into any of his stuff other than he has a starnge history with his father's murder, a quick temper and a raven named Chainsaw (^..^). But this book is all about Ronan and what he can do. We find out more of his history and the secrets he's been keeping from the others. He can pull things out of dreams, but what he pulls out aren't always good things. Nightmares sometimes leak out too. So what happens when other people start discovering his hidden talent? Some want to hunt his down, some want to teach him. Some just want his friendship. This is a story about Ronan. Sure, Everyone else is around too. Gansey is forever Gansey, as is Blue ever Blue. Adam, whom I loved in the first book, continues to spiral out of control trying to figure his life out. I can't wait to read the next book.

Godslayer (The Sundering #2)
by Jacqueline Carey

416 Pages

Once human but now immortal, Supreme Commander Lord Tanaros fled the realm of Men and chose darkness when he killed his adulterous wife and his liege king who cuckholded him. A thousand years have passed in service to his master, the dark god Satoris. The world view Satoris as Evil Prime and the name of Tanaros is the byword for treachery.
The races have united in their quest to rid the world of the Dark God and his minions. The key to the prophecy is the beautiful Elvish princess Cerelinde—and Satoris has captured her.
Yet not all tales told are true and evil may have another face. Satoris refuses to act like the monster that he is made out to be for he recognizes in Cerelinde a spark of the love that he once bore for his fellow gods. But this spark of light might prove to be a danger to Satoris...and a greater danger for Tanaros and all that he holds dear. For Cerelinde might remind him that the heart that he willed to iron an eon ago is still very much mortal.

This book was my TBR for the month. I read the first one last year and wasn't really sure how I felt about it, so I kept putting off reading the second one. I like when there is a clear cut villain in a story so I know who the good guys and the bad guys are. In this story, the lines are blurred. The POV is from the "evil" character's perspective and you come to realize that they are not as evil as they have been made out to be, yet they are forced to make hard choices that make you hate them a little. The "good" guys are no better. They've been indoctrinated their entire lives to believe that the war they bring is righteous in it's cause and that they serve the greater good. You can't help but hate them even though you'd be cheering for them if the perspective was the other way around. It's very confusing not knowing who to cheer for and knowing that all the characters will break your heart in the end.
(^..^) (!) (#)

Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper
by Diablo Cody

212 Pages

Decreed by David Letterman (tongue in cheek) on CBS TV’s The Late Show to be the pick of “Dave’s Book Club 2006,” Candy Girl is the story of a young writer who dared to bare it all as a stripper. At the age of twenty-four, Diablo Cody decided there had to be more to life than typing copy at an ad agency. She soon managed to find inspiration from a most unlikely source— amateur night at the seedy Skyway Lounge. While she doesn’t take home the prize that night, Diablo discovers to her surprise the act of stripping is an absolute thrill. This is Diablo’s captivating fish-out-of-water story of her yearlong walk on the wild side, from quiet gentlemen’s clubs to multilevel sex palaces and glassed-in peep shows. In witty prose she gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at this industry through a writer’s keen eye, chronicling her descent into the skin trade and the effect it had on her self-image and her relationship with her now husband.

My best friend bought me this book purely for the name of it. Candygirl is his long standing nickname for me. Not only is the name perfect, but I find her whole journy to be fastinating. It can be hard to be a woman and embracing our sexuality is something that is never encouraged, so reading about her journy and her courage to get up on that stage was exihilerating! Not to mention funny, shocking () and hard to put down.  This was also a TBR book that I wish I had picked up sooner.

To Kill a Kettle Witch: A Novel of the Mist-Torn Witches (The Mist-Torn Witches #4)
by Barb Hendee 

336 Pages

National bestselling author Barb Hendee returns to the world of the Mist-Torn witches, as two sisters who can see the secrets of the past and the mysteries of the future begin a quest to save the family they never knew existed.…
Powerful prince Malcolm is facing ruin in the wake of a curse that has destroyed his harvest. He blames the band nomadic Móndyalítko who summer in the meadow below his castle—and he is determined to root out the people who caused the blight by any means necessary.
When Céline and Amelie Fawe, descended from the Móndyalítko, learn that their mother’s people are under suspicion of sabotage and treason, they set out to use their magical gifts to save their estranged relatives and learn about their own origins.
Now it’s up to the sisters—along with their motley escort, including a prince’s lieutenant, a shape-shifter, and an old woman with a murky past—to discover the source of the curse to restore life to the ravaged land and protect the innocent from unfair vengeance.

This book was good. It wasn't great, which was too bad, because this series has been up until now. The story was interesting, but I felt like it didn't really go anywhere. Most of the side plot was dropped without much of a resolution. It just seemed like there were no consequences to anyone's actions through the whole book, leaving more questions than answers. I love that Amelie and Jaromir finally get together, but the thing with Céline and Marcus and their past life connection seemed weird and unresolved. It was nice to finally get to know Helga a bit better and worked out favorably in the form of a flash back, even if it was a little long winded.
Not every book can be gold, but when most of them are it's hard when they are just silver. I will keep reading these books for sure

Books that I am currently reading

by Dakota Cassidy
of  323 Pages

Towers of Midnight (The Wheel of Time #13)
by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
of 863 Pages ( of  38:42)

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)
by Cassandra Clare
of 485 Pages

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Thursday Threads - Star Wars

art by Matthew Simpson 
Happy May The 4th! Wait... what do you mean that was yesterday? 
All right, all right, I know, I know. 
Sorry I didn't get a chance to blog yesterday, but I figured I could make it up to you today by doing a Thursday Threads on some new Star Wars clothes
Forgive me?

Hot Topic & Her Universe just released this amazing line at HT! Isn't it to die for?

I am in love with this flight dress! It's totally everything I ever wanted!

What a cute way to dress up as BB8! Simplistic yet charming

This jacket is pure sex appeal. Well, at least I think so

Also, over at Her Universe, they have a bunch of awesome new t-shirts

This shirt is fearless and amazing just like Rey herself

Loving the lightsabers

Ahsoka's shirt makes me tear up a little. It's just sooo sad...

We Love Fine has also gotten in the spirit with these new amazing designs

I'm loving these hoodie dresses

Spencers has gone with the weird and amazing with these corset tops and tulle skirts that are perfect for any Star Wars party

I honestly can't decide which set I like the most!

Gold Bubble also wants you to be silly in your cosplay with these great Imperial armor outfits

So, I'm pretty sure there are no pink Stormtroopers in Star Wars, but I'm going to let myself believe that they show up somewhere in the EU and that this is cannon

yup, totally cannon...

Thanks to The Kessel Runway whose love of Star Wars fashion is always inspiring