Quick Review: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

muse of nightmares I really don’t know the best way to describe this book or this series as it’s so lush and unique.  It’s also kind of a hard read because pretty much every character is a victim of terrible abuse and trauma and the events of the book are the direct result of all the trauma.  The people of Weep spent years under the threat of kidnapping and rape and even 15 years after they killed the “Gods” responsible the citadel where it all took place still stood as a reminder of what they endured.  The Godspawn lived in fear of being discovered for fear of what happened to their fellow children would happen to them.  This all came to a crashing half when our hero Lazlo discovered who he really was and brought them together.  Even the villains of this piece were acting on their own traumas.  You knew what they were doing was wrong at times you couldn’t really blame them either. In the end it was an act of compassion that saved them all.  Sarai used her power to listen and understand what was the issue and finally talk them down.  I highly recommend that everyone read Strange the Dreamer and the Muse of Nightmares because they are so lush in descriptions of Weep and the other strange lands.  It’s truly beautiful story that is also timely to today’s me too movement.

Review: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

sunshine The first time I read Sunshine was 10 years ago right after the release of Breaking Dawn. Let’s just say that Breaking Dawn left a lot to be desired.  I can’t remember if it was Kate who suggested Sunshine or if it was our friend Elizabeth but it was one of those “read this if you want to read a good vampire novel after a really bad one”.  I did and it is.  I loved it as much now as I did back then.  It was just as suspenseful, mysterious, funny and kind of sexy even if there isn’t much of a romance going on.  Rae “Sunshine” Seddon is as normal as one can be living in New Arcadia after the Voodoo Wars.  She makes the best cinnamon rolls at Charlie’s Coffeeshop.  Her whole life revolves around the coffeeshop.  Things change when she decides to take a drive out to the lake and is kidnapped by Vampires and is sucked into an old school feud between two very old and very different vampires.  She also discovers that she isn’t so normal after all.  She happens to be the daughter of a powerful sorcerer and has powers of her own.  When she saves herself and Constantine with her sunshine power her life is turned upside down.  She deals with it pretty well with a lot of dark humor and a great supporting cast.  Constantine is everything that Edward is not.  He doesn’t try to pretend he’s anything that he isn’t.  He’s considerate and thoughtful.  Many times he could have taken advantage of Sunshine but doesn’t.  In the end he realizes that he needs her as much as she needs him.  As for their relationship status, who knows.  There is definitely a connection between them.  It’s more than just the bond from healing each other but also surviving multiple traumatic events.  They are definitely two friends who have a deep respect for each other and continue to challenge each other.  Let’s go back to Sunshine.  In someways it’s unfair to compare her to Bella because Sunshine is an adult and Bella is not.  Sunshine has more life experience that when she makes decisions she knows how much is going to effect her and the people she cares about.  She also sees that she is an impossible situation that doesn’t give her any good choices to choose from.  She is self aware to know herself but also what is going on around her.  While Constantine does take up a lot of time and thinking he doesn’t become the center of her life.  She keeps her family and friends close and many of them actually help her to understand what is going on and give her the tools to defeat the evil vampire.  Her support system is truly key. Not just to help her through killing vampires but also help her heal from her traumatic experience too.  I think that’s important part of the story.  Constantine is a powerful vampire but he couldn’t take on The Evil Vampire on his own.  He needed Sunshine.  Sunshine would not been able to deal with what happened to her without the support of her stepfather, Charlie, her boyfriend Mel, Her Mom, Her landlady, Yolande, her friend Aimil, her other friends and SOF agents, Pat, Jesse and Theo.  Whether or not they knew it, they all played a roll in defeating The Evil Vampire and keeping Constantine and Sunshine alive.  It was a group effort but also a reminder that no matter what is going on in your life.  You are never truly alone.  So yes, Sunshine is a great vampire novel and deserves more props.

Quick Review: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

shadow of the fox I was first introduced to Kitsunes thanks to the TV show Teen Wolf (I miss that show) A japanese story of someone who can turn into a fox.  Yumeko is only half-kitsune and has been raised by monks in a temple.  Like foxes, she’s mischievious and curious.  She plays tricks on the monks to some of their chagrins but the Monks also teach her how to control her kitsune powers, which will come in handy when it is revealed that the temple guards a piece of the dragon scroll. The dragon scroll when put together raises a dragon every 1000 years.  The person with the scroll is granted one wish and depending on who making the wish it can be good or bad.  It’s almost time to summon the dragon and many people are after the scroll.  One of them is the master to the Demonslayer, Tatsumi from the Shadow Clan. Tatsumi has a very powerful sword that contains a dangerous demon.  He has to control his emotions or the demon in his sword will take over him.  Tatsumi and Yumeko team up to find the missing scroll.  Well, Yumeko has one piece but needs Tatsumi to help her get it to another temple and keep it safe.  Through their journey they meet other people along the way, including the delightful ronin, Okame and noble Daisuke.  They are challenged by spirits and other supernatural beings who try to get the scroll away from them but they grow a bond that is unmistakable.  For all the fear of the some of the monks that Yumeko’s fox side will take over her humanity, they shouldn’t have worried because it’s her compassion and quick thinking that often saves them.  Her first time outside of the temple, she is often filled with wonder of her surroundings.  Some of the most amusing bits is when Okame introduces her sarcasm for the first time.  At first she is confused by it but soon begins to understand it.  It’s wonderful.  I really liked this book and can’t wait for the sequel.  It’s full of lush descriptions of samarai’s and court life and nature that you can’t be helped to be sucked in.  I highly recommend it.

Quick Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas

court of frost and starlight In retrospect, reading a book that deals with abuse and the affects it has on it’s victims, may not have been the best thing to read right now.  Between the news and this, it was a lot.  However, at least here, we see people believing and supporting each other as they deal with their own individual traumas.  This is a supplement story to the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.  Pretty much every character has endured one form of abuse or another and their recovery is very much a big part of the story as the looming conflict about to come.  The Night Court is still recovering from the battle with Hybern that lead to many deaths and the fall of the wall between the Fey and human lands.  The Solstice is coming up and Rhys, Feyre, Mor, Amren Cassian, Az, and Elain are looking forward to taking time away from their responsibilities to celebrate.  The one not dealing with the events of the last book is Nesta, who has withdrawn from the group.  Only time will tell what will happen with her.  This book didn’t do much to advance the story too much but allow for some light moments that we won’t get to see in the following books as this is really the calm before the storm.  The end alludes to the dangers that are about to come. So let’s just all take a moment and enjoy this little holiday and take a moment to heal.  I think we all need that right now.

Review: Tiger’s Dream by Colleen Houck

tiger's dream I was excited to read this book as the last book in the series Tiger’s Destiny came out 6 years ago.  The Tiger’s Saga was about two Indian Princes and brothers who were cursed to live as tiger’s until one of the Princes meant a young girl from Oregon. Over the next four books Kelsey, Ren and Kishan go through many trials and tribulations to undue the curse and defeat the evil Lokesh with the help of Goddess Durga.  From the beginning author Colleen Houck said there would be five books in the series so it was surprising that the end of Tiger’s Destiny seemed to have wrapped up the story.  What did Tiger’s Dream have to offer? To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement.  This is what we all waited for?  There were several times that I thought about stopping reading because I got so frustrated.  I found some of it to be very problematic and uncompelling.  The rest of the review is going to be under the cut as it’s full of spoilers.
Continue reading

Quick Review: Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

two dark reigns This series was originally planned to be only a duology.  I’m glad that Kendare Blake decided to extended it two more books because it’s truly delightful.  Two Dark Reigns begins a few weeks after the end of of One Dark Crown.  Katherine is crown Queen of Fennbirn.  Mirabella and Arisone escaped the island and trying to fit in on the Mainland. Jules is reeling from the death Joseph and is back and Fennbirn.  The island is shielded by the Mist but the Mist is acting up and turning on the island.  Probably because Katherine became Queen without actually killing her sisters and still possessed by the dead queens of the past.  Her sisters escaped the Island and Jules is being propped up as the symbol of a new revolution.  I still like the original Queens Katherine, Mirabella and Arisnoe and Jules is growing me but she’s still not favorite.  Jules is legion cursed.  Meaning she has two gifts that will make her crazy because her powers are so strong.  This is partly why people think she is also a queen and that the Goddess of the Island is trying to change the bloodline of the Queens and change the course of the island.  Of course the Island has another idea.  Mirabella and Arsione may have escaped the island but the island isn’t finished with them yet.  Arisone is being sent visions about the Blue Queen who created the Mist.  She is haunted by her that forces them back.  Jules and her new warrior friends are in direct conflict with each other.  We still Queens against Queens but the battle lines are drawn and the fate of the island is at stake.  Let’s just say, the last book is going to be a doozy.

Review: WildCard by Marie Lu

img_1381 I read this as an ARC about a month ago.  Thank you to G.P. Putnam for making it available to me to read.  **May contain minor Spoilers**

Where we left off after Warcross, Hideo had betrayed Emika and really everyone else who uses his Nuerolink lenses by releasing his algorithm that effects how people think and makes it impossible to commit crimes.  Zero who was Emika’s original quarry might now be the ally that she needs to stop Hideo but can he be trusted because after all, he did try to kill her.  That would put a damper on any relationship.  Can she ever forgive Hideo for what he is doing? And who is Zero and the blackcoats?  Are their goals really the same as hers?

If that wasn’t enough, her actions in the Warcross championships has made her the hero to some and cheater to others.  Emika has a lot going on but that doesn’t stop her from doing what she thinks is the right thing to do, even if that means going against the man she loves.  A lot has happened to Emika in her short life.  Her father died and she was placed in foster care.  She ran away and lived on the streets only to support herself by becoming a bounty hunter.  She’s an incredible hacker that is what brought her into this to begin with but she’s used to everything on her own.  The greatest growth that she had was learning that she doesn’t have to do everything on her own.  That she has friends who are willing to carry some of the load for her and when things get even more complicated and she doesn’t know who to trust that friendship becomes even more important.  In Wildcard, we finally learn what really happened to Sasuke, Hideo’s younger brother and it’s even more heartbreaking than anyone assumed. More under the cut. Continue reading

Movie Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

to all the boys So I finally got around to seeing To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix and it was delightful.  It was every bit as charming as the book was and the casting was truly spot on.  Lana Candor is the perfect Lara Jean. She’s sweet, shy and romantic.  She’s unassuming and comfortable being in the shadow.  Noah Centineo is the perfect Peter.  He just oozes the big man on campus charisma.  You can’t help but fall in love with him, which it seems like everyone on the internet has.  The story is the same.  Lara Jean is 16 and is about to start her Junior year in high school.  Her big sister is going off to college making her the big sister at home.  Her mother died when she was young so it was just her and her sisters and her dad.  Lara Jean has never had a boyfriend but she’s had a few crushes.  She wrote her crushes a letter that was never meant to be read until they were.  Two of those letters went the Josh, the boy next door who dated her older sister Margot and Peter, her former friend from Middle School.  Peter and Lara Jean decide to fake date to make Peter’s ex girlfriend jealous and help her avoid Josh.  All goes well until of course she starts to have feelings for him.  The movie goes by at a pretty clip.  Establishing both Lara Jean and Peter and their relationship.  As they spend more time with each other we see what a great couple they are for each other.  They allow each other open up to each other and be honest about their feelings that they can’t be with each other.  I also love that while Peter asks Lara Jean to do things outside her comfort zone like go to parties, he never asks her to change who she is.  Obviously in the book we see more development of their relationship then we do in the movie because of time constraints it still comes out.  They relationship may have started as pretend, you can see from the beginning that there was always something there. If there is one thing I wished there was more of was Kitty.  Kitty was always my favorite character in the book and I think she needs her own series.  *cough Jenny Han cough*  I can only hope that Netflix greenlights a sequel so we get more of Kitty, Lara Jean and Peter in the future.  The movie is not earth shattering but it is so cute and charming that i feeling it’s going to be on heavy rotation in my Netflix queue for now on.

Review: Embassytown by China Mieville

9780345524508_p0_v1_s550x406 The last book of my Pop Culture Assignment and I don’t even know where to begin.  There is a lot going on and I think it needed a glossary for all the new terms he made up for this world.  Our Protagonist Avice, is an immerser that knows how to control the immer but it was never really explained what that is but it has to do with space travel.  Her ability allowed her to leave Embassytown and return but I’m getting ahead of myself.  Avice is from a colony in the middle of nowhere.  There lives an mysteries species called the Hosts that have a peculiar way of communication called language.  Only few people know and few can speak it.  The few who can are Ambassadors are two people modified to think as one.  It’s complicated.  Avice has a rare place in language as she was once used as a simile.  The Hosts can not lie.  They can only speak the truth so for something to be said it must has a place in the world so they make people or things a simile to help explain things.  It’s very complicated.  Anyway, Avice leaves Embassytown only to return with a new husband who is a linguist and seems more interested in language than Avice but whatever.  As soon as they return things get crazy.  The end of the world crazy.  The nation that oversee them decides to bring in their own Ambassador and well, things don’t go as planned and all hell breaks loose.

It was an interesting read but it was very confusing.  I felt like so many things that were left unexplained like the immer that we are just expected to understand.  Language too is very complicated that it does take the whole book to understand but that also might have been the point.  It took a while to get into because the world building was immense and once I got past that I really enjoyed it.  I was still left confused on several things but still enjoyed it.

Review: The Last Speakers by K. David Harrison

9781426204616_p0_v2_s550x406 My pop culture assignment from Kate is to delve into her world as a linguist. Linguistics has been referred to as a social science.  What does that mean exactly?  The first book, What Language is by John McWhorter was more of the scientific side of the linguistics, explaining what they look for when they study languages.  How languages are built and how they became to be and continue to develop. The Last Speakers is the social side of linguistics by discussing why the study of languages are important to understanding who we are and the world around us.  Both aspects are important to discover how we communicate to each other.  K. David Harrison set out to study endangered languages because the knowledge of the natural world they contain that we have lost by no longer speaking them.  He learns from indigenous people words that describes the world around us.  How they can speak or sing to animals to get them do what they need them to do.  Plant life that are now extinct.  Medicinal methods that have vanished in the wake of modern medicine.  If we lose these last speakers we lose more than just a language being spoken.  We lose a great deal of our own knowledge of our world that we will never get back.  The book reads like a travel memoir as he details his work around the globe but it’s also a plea to the world to not abandon these languages.  He and his team document these languages and do everything then can to keep these languages alive long after the last speakers pass away but also bring to light new or remembered words of our past.  I like that he isn’t to be the white savior.  He goes to observe and document and help where he can.  He defers to the people in how they want to documented.  Not all people want their languages to be shared with outsiders and he understands their reasoning without judgment.  It’s their language and culture and they should have the final say on who gets to know it and learn it.  It was an interesting book, with some great stories and I’m fully support more documentation of last speakers from all over the world.  We have so much more to learn.