Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races

HORSES! 🐎 I’m such a fangirl for horses, but would you believe that the first time I met a horse and tried to feed it, I was terrified? Like, what if it decided to eat my hand?? Anyway, I read a lot of horse books as a kid, and have always lamented the fact that there aren’t as many young adult or adult fiction books about horses. In comes The Scorpio Races with horses AND magic! It’s a fantastic tale based on mythological water horses, with a little bit of violence, romance, and horse-rider bonding. (When I say a little bit, I mean a LOT bit.)

Read More »

Advertisements

Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted

I had a mini breakdown halfway through this book because I was intrigued by what had happened, scared of what was going to happen next, and terrified of all of my emotions being all screwed up after finishing the entire book. I’m happy to say that Uprooted is more simple than it seems with all its fantasy and magic and princes, and although it did get all my feelings twisted into knots, it had the perfect ending that brought everything together. Cheers to all books that take pity on the readers’ feelings! 🍸

Read More »

Review: Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier

Dreamer's Pool
 
Good books are like good food – not only do you need the right ingredients, but you also need some technique and flair. Dreamer’s Pool has magic, romance, and mystery, as well as some great narratives and foreshadowing (albeit sometimes a little too much of the latter). It seems like I’ve been reading a lot of books about evil woods these days (with Uprooted and Messenger), but I really enjoyed the fairy tale/folklore elements in this one.
Read More »

Mini Reviews: Sea Glass & Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder

As much as I liked the first book in this series, the rest of the Glass series is a total WTF-fest. (I’m hesitant to call this a trend in Maria V. Snyder books, but that’s my personal experience with both this series and the Study series.) Excuse me while I rant.

Sea Glass

 

Title: Sea Glass
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Series: Glass #2
Publication Date: August 18, 2009
Category: (Young Adult) Fantasy

 
 
After all that’s happened in Storm Glass with Opal’s newly discovered powers, she is no longer trusted by the Sitian Council. No one (not even Yelena) believes her story about two souls swapping bodies, so Opal decides to investigate on her own. I still like this second book quite a bit because the magic is so intriguing, and Opal is still likable despite her growing distrust and cynicism at the people around her. In Sea Glass, Opal’s independence is impressive, but what’s lacking in this book is the continuing relationship developments that started in the previous book.
Spy Glass

Title: Spy Glass
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Series: Glass #3
Publication Date: September 1, 2010
Category: (Young Adult) Fantasy

 

My bad decisions outweighed my good ones by two to one.

Why yes, Opal, I’m glad you realize that. Soooo much WTF-ery in this book! Needless to say, I don’t approve of Opal’s poor decision-making skills. She realizes it of herself too, as she’s constantly groaning about how she’s made “the worst decision ever.” Like probably most readers, my concentration is immediately broken when my OTP doesn’t end up together, but this is so much more than that. People can change, and I’ve read other stories in which my opinion of certain characters changed for the better when I see that they’ve made an effort to change themselves. But based on the history and backstory of the characters in the Glass series (where there’s so much abuse, torture, and death involved), there are certain people that just shouldn’t become intimate with each other. No “I’ve changed for the better” reassurances can solve an abusive relationship, and that’s one of the things I didn’t like about Spy Glass.

Do you believe it when evil characters change for the better?

Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle
What a charming book! I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with this book, but I am. My namesake is pretty awesome, the story is magical, and it just holds together so well. There’s also something incredible about an older book that’s risen to fame, and DWJ’s writing is so quirky and clever, her plot in this book creative but not too absurd… overall, very happy with what I just read!
Read More »

Mini Reviews: The Circle Opens Quartet by Tamora Pierce

Another amazing series from Tamora Pierce, in which all of my favorite characters grow up. *wipes away tears* (Well, okay, they’re still only fourteen, but THEY GROW UP TOO FAST!) This time, Tris, Briar, Sandry, and Daja are off traveling with their teachers (except for Sandry, who remains in Emelan). They’re about to meet their own students, ahhhhh!

The Winding Circle kids all grown up, via minuiko.

Magic Steps
 

Title: Magic Steps
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle Opens #1
Publication Date: March 1, 2000
Genre: (Young Adult) Fantasy

 
Sandry meets Pasco, a young dancer who comes from a family of Harriers (otherwise known as the Provost’s Guard, basically policemen… who thinking dancing is no big deal), and takes him in as her student since she was the one who discovered his magic. A murderer is also in town, and Sandry is multitasking with trying to catch the murderer and teach the impatient Pasco. TP’s writing is effortless as always, and I can get the sense of Sandry’s own youthfulness despite her powers. It’s amusing to watch her try to teach Pasco, when he’s not that much younger than her. There are also a lot of funny moments in Magic Steps amidst the seriousness of the murderer situation.

Street Magic
 

Title: Street Magic
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle Opens #2
Publication Date: April 1, 2001
Genre: (Young Adult) Fantasy

 
There are cats in this one! (I love reading about horses and cats!) Briar and his mentor, Rosethorn, travel east of Emelan to the hot and dry city of Chammur where Briar discovers a young stone mage, Evvy, owner of a gazillion cats. There’s a gang war going on in the city that sucks both Briar and Evvy into its mix, and it’s interesting to learn about the culture of Chammur through it. Briar and Rosethorn’s magic is my favorite (most of the time) because they’re plant mages, so I love seeing them talk to plants! 🌱 The finale of this book is also very refreshing, as Briar gets to show off his true powers. (I really like it when the four Winding Circle kids use big magic!) We’ll see this trio more in the Circle Reforged series, but I like them as they are here a lot more.

Cold Fire
 

Title: Cold Fire
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle Opens #3
Publication Date: April 1, 2002
Genre: (Young Adult) Fantasy

 
Daja always gets the short end of the stick. She and her teacher, Frostpine, travel to the empire of Namorn, wayyy north of Emelan. (There’s something hilarious about smith mages going into the cold…) There, Daja makes friends with a firefighter, and also discovers not one, but TWO mages in need of a teacher. Luckily, it’s Daja and not one of the other three, so she’s patient and mature and willing to look after them, despite some rough times. One thing that I liked about this series is that there are more narrative shifts, where we get to follow the story through someone else rather than the Fearsome Foursome.

Shatterglass
 

Title: Shatterglass
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle Opens #4
Publication Date: January 1, 2003
Genre: (Young Adult) Fantasy

 
Aaaand of course Tris would get an older student who can’t handle her age nor her lightning-based magic! Tris and her teacher, Niko, travel wayyyy south to the city of Tharios, where there is a caste system among other differences that irk Tris. (I also love seeing the different cultures from all the places that the Winding Circle kids travel to!) One rule in Tharios is that anything that touches a corpse needs to be cleansed immediately, which makes catching criminals very difficult. Tris and her student, Keth – along with the glass dragon that Keth accidentally created – must try to control Keth’s magic while providing tools needed to capture the latest murderer. It’s interesting how the setup is the same as that of Sandry and her student’s, but they’re two completely different stories.

In all four of the Circle Opens series, I really enjoyed seeing the relationships between the new students and new teachers develop. There’s so much humor in TP’s books despite the serious plotlines, and the worldbuilding is detailed and diverse. How many TP books do I have left to review? I feel like I’m mentioning the same things over and over again, yet I’m not bored yet! (I hope you’re not either… *gulps*)

Review: Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder

Storm Glass

Gasp, a love triangle that I actually ENJOYED?! (Well, okay, “enjoyed” might be too strong of a word. Maybe “didn’t make me want to tear my hair out” is a more accurate feeling.) This isn’t the first Maria V. Snyder book I’ve read, and this won’t be my last – Storm Glass is action-packed and so engrossing that I just want to keep reading more! The characters, the plot, and the world-building are all fantastic, although there are moments when I didn’t like certain characters or certain events. But at the end of the day, my pros list is definitely longer than my cons list for this book, and I’m excited to find out what happens next!

Read More »

Review: Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce

Tortall and Other Lands

TAMORA PIERCEEEE!!! This anthology includes 11 short stories, most of which are AMAZING, some of which are unfortunately not so amazing. Still, this is a great supplement to what I already know about the Tortall universe, although there are stories not set in Tortall that are just as good. However, I know that certain short stories have appeared in other multi-author anthologies, so it kind of sucked when I reread certain stories, especially if they’re ones that I didn’t like as much. I think most (if not all) of the stories made me feel hope and strength, so I’d say it’s typical Tamora Pierce feels for me, haha.Read More »

Mini Reviews: The Circle of Magic Quartet by Tamora Pierce

I’m the happiest thing on two feet right now. And when I’m feeling good, I want to review good books. SO YAY TAMORA PIERCE (again)!!!! 😀 The Circle of Magic is set in a universe as cool and amazing as Tortall-verse – this time, Tammy brings out the magic of everyday crafts (ambient magic), like gardening, knitting, and metalworking. I’m totally in love with the characters, the world, and the simple and strong storylines throughout this quartet. I think 4X the main characters means 4X the emotions, because I’m so invested in all of them, despite (or because of) the Fearsome Foursome’s different personalities and beliefs. Also included here is awesome fanart because urghhh too awesome.

The Winding Circle kids: Daja, Sandry, Tris, and Briar, via Nest of Straight Lines.

To commemorate yet another TP series review, I shall henceforth weave poetic praise for The Circle of Magic. Literally. Because I have nothing better to do and because I love TP. SORRY FOR THE BAD POETRY.
Sandry's Book

The Winding Circle gets new students
With stronger ambient magic than ever seen before.
The story of these four, I’ll never get bored of –
These child-mages are ones I will always adore!

The button-nosed noble who makes thread glow;
The merchant girl who makes the winds blow;
The Trader outcast who works hot iron with bare hands;
And also, the thief who has a soft spot for plants.

At ten years of age, these young’uns are left torn
By devastating natural and man-made disasters,
And it’s only through Winding Circle that they are reborn
And woven together tightly like brother and sisters.

Tris's Book

Title: Tris’s Book
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle of Magic #2
Publication Date: April 1, 1998
Genre: (Middle Grade) Fantasy

But it seems that the weaving was too tight
And their magics were too tangled,
So amidst pirate season, the four try
To save Emelan and also get de-tangled.

Seeing the Fearsome Foursome grow
In magic and into their own selves, I’d
Say I’ve grown to care for them all, although
At the top, Tris and Briar are almost tied!

Daja's Book

Title: Daja’s Book
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle of Magic #3
Publication Date: October 1, 1998
Genre: (Middle Grade) Fantasy

Tying for second place isn’t bad either,
And Daja is just as strong as the others.
Tammy’s great at putting these four
In situations that bring out their best and truest colors.

The underestimated and overpowered
Are often children, outcasts, and commoners.
But Daja is obviously no coward, and
She wins me over with her resilience and honor.

Briar's Book

Title: Briar’s Book
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle of Magic #4
Publication Date: April 1, 1999
Genre: (Young Adult) Fantasy

As with most Tamora Pierce quartets,
(Except for The Immortals) this last book is my favorite –
So much friendshipping involved #noregrets
And now I reread from Sandry’s Book, I’m elated!

Quiet place, via minuiko.

Is there a book friendship that makes you squeal with glee?
If you had ambient magic, what form would yours be?

(Oh look, even my questions rhymed! #naturalpoet 😋)

Mini Reviews: Codex Alera Series by Jim Butcher

I thought Codex Alera was going to be like a Tamora Pierce series, BUT IT’S TOTALLY NOTTTTT – it’s WAY scarier and more action-packed, and it’s like the usual hero-discovers-magic-and-grows-up series but on steroids. That certain trope has been done over and over again, but Jim Butcher is a beast and made this series into something beyond my imagination. Just a warning, there are topics in this series that are potentially not suitable for younger readers, such as slavery, sexual/physical abuse, and a lot of gore.

I found this series a while back when I was looking for authors similar to Tamora Pierce (because frankly, I have an obsession with her books), and Jim Butcher showed up on the literature map. And because JB writes paranormal stuff too, that’s how I got into paranormal. (And eventually into paranormal romance… are you counting the degrees of separation yet?) Pretty sure that was how I found new books/genres to read before Goodreads and book blogging community came on my radar! Anyway, okay, the books

Furies of Calderon

Alerans have created a special bond with classic elementals (earth, fire, water, air, and metal), called furies, and fifteen-year-old Tavi seems to be the only person in Alera who can’t furycraft. When Alera starts being torn apart due to political conspiracies and the savage Marat tribes are found in the Calderon Valley where Tavi lives, he becomes a surprisingly key player in the chaos. Tavi is the underdog of underdogs, because in this world, him not being able to connect with furies is the equivalent of missing a limb or having a disability. It makes it easy to root for him through this story and onwards, because he just keeps growing! I really liked the different narratives, since it makes me more involved and committed to the political scene and learn how this world works from different POVs, even when it’s from the “bad” guys. The worldbuilding is magnificent, and the action scenes just suck me in.

Academ's Fury

Title: Academ’s Fury
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: Codex Alera #2
Publication Date: July 5, 2005
Genre: (Adult Fiction) Fantasy / Magic / Adventure

After Tavi’s help in the turmoil in the first book, Gaius Sextus – the First Lord of Alera – pays for Tavi’s schooling at the Academy, since going to school was something Tavi had always dreamed of. Him being furyless results in bullying from students (which is why I was reminded of Tamora Pierce books, because there’s always bullying!), but the Tavi we’re presented with has gained a lot of confidence and intellect since we last saw him two years ago (in book years). There’s a new enemy in town – who was actually cleverly introduced in the first book – that is totally creepy and gross because they’re BUGS. 🐜 The Vord is the one prevailing enemy throughout the rest of the series, and I won’t tell you how they attack because you should just go read it and be terrified. (I don’t want to deprive you of the feels!)That, along with the failing health of Gaius Sextus, leads to what seems to be the climax of the series in the next book – war!

Cursor's Fury

Title: Cursor’s Fury
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: Codex Alera #3
Publication Date: December 5, 2006
Genre: (Adult Fiction) Fantasy / Magic / Adventure

If I had to choose a favorite book from this series, THIS ONE is it! Again, two years after the last book, Tavi is a much-improved version of himself. A rebellion is now “officially” happening, and the civil war is on. The head of the rebellion has allied himself with the Canim, another terrifying species that decimates Aleran legions with ease. The First Lord has placed Tavi in one of these legions, and in a way that brings back good memories of Kel in Lady Knight, Tavi starts to show and develop his leadership skills. Throughout this book and the previous ones, other key characters (such as one of the First Lord’s cursors/messengers/spies, Amara, and Tavi’s aunt, Lisana) are brought in with their own narratives, which allows me to see the war from all across Alera.

Nasaug, the Canim warrior leader, via sandara.

Captain's Fury

Title: Captain’s Fury
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: Codex Alera #4
Publication Date: December 4, 2007
Genre: (Adult Fiction) Fantasy / Magic / Adventure

You know what else I like about this series? It’s funny. War-ridden, epic fantasy stories deserve some humor, between all the deaths and gory details. Here’s the opening line for Captain’s Fury:

“My ass hurts,” said Antillar Maximus, Tribune Auxiliarus of the First Aleran.

“My ass hurts, sir,” Tavi corrected him.

This story feels like a brand new adventure, and I think this story arc is a wonderful and exciting extension of the original storyline. The overarching goal and enemy remain the same, but there are issues that Tavi and co. face in a new land, with new languages and cultures. Again, excellent worldbuilding – I see no end of the brilliance that is Codex Alera.

Princep's Fury

Uhhh, EVERYONE DIES. Does this count as a spoiler if I don’t tell you who? I mean, it’s a war, so people will die, right?? 👀 This book, in particular, reminds me of The Game of Thrones, but much easier to digest!

First Lord's Fury

FINALLY, the end is in sight! Unlike some series that fade away in terms of plotlines and character development throughout the course of multiple books, First Lord’s Fury still retains the vigor and the anticipation that’s seen in the very first book in the series. At this point, it is purely a story of Good Versus Evil, and Evil just gets more twisted and disturbing as the story goes on. Like in all the other books, Tavi is only one of several major characters, and we get to follow each of those characters in their final adventures.

Overall, Codex Alera is an awesome, action-packed fantasy series that paints a vivid picture of magic, different species, and an empire in the midst of war. One important part of the series that I didn’t get to mention above is that there’s a lot of great relationships that are developed, between parent and child, subordinate and superior, lovers, strangers, enemies. The stress and desperation in a war-like state makes these relationships invaluable, and I really did cherish those interactions.

 

Have you read Codex Alera?
I don’t know what else to say except AHHHHH GO READ IT IF YOU HAVEN’T.