Posted in Reviews

(DNF’d) Review: The Part About the Dragon Was Mostly True

The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True by Sean Gibson
Verdict: way too many digressions; the crude / poop jokes didn’t really do it for me either; and the characters felt flat and singularly defined by one characteristic.

Recommended: there’s definitely people who will love this (just…not me)
If you love crude humor and poop jokes; if you can follow along a whiplash ride and don’t mind constant diversions; if you’re looking more for humour than a story or developed characters; if you’ve never read an “epic adventure” parody book (because this one wasn’t great, so if you’ve read and enjoyed another you’ll probably be disappointed)

Sure, you think you know the story of the fearsome red dragon, Dragonia. How it terrorized the village of Skendrick until a brave band of heroes answered the noble villagers’ call for aid. How nothing could stop those courageous souls from facing down the dragon. How they emerged victorious and laden with treasure. But, even in a world filled with epic adventures and tales of derring-do, where dragons, goblins, and unlicensed prestidigitators run amok, legendary heroes don’t always know what they’re doing. Sometimes they’re clueless. Sometimes beleaguered townsfolk are more hapless than helpless. And orcs? They’re not always assholes, and sometimes they don’t actually want to eat your children. Heloise the Bard, Erithea’s most renowned storyteller (at least, to hear her tell it), is here to set the record straight. See, it turns out adventuring isn’t easy, and true heroism is as rare as an articulate villager. Having spent decades propagating this particular myth (which, incidentally, she wrote), she’s finally able to tell the real story—for which she just so happened to have a front-row seat.

DNF @ ~80%. My, oh my. The digressions were just way too much for me. Heloise must have a touch of ADD. What a shame because this was one of my Fast Forward Friday features! But, look, even the BLURB is enormously long and wordy.

My overall feeling:

Continue reading “(DNF’d) Review: The Part About the Dragon Was Mostly True”

I admit, I was surprised by House of Earth and Blood

Aight y’all. I know I can be… harsh to books that are really popular and hyped. Even if it seems like something I might usually enjoy, if I see it everywhere, I’m kind of going to hate it. I’m definitely going to avoid it. Such was the case with House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas. Even though I adore her, I just was not into how much I was hearing about this apparently amazing book. So I stayed away.

And then I got it for Christmas. 😂 So I mean, yeah of course I was going to read it if I already had a copy! And, well, damn, it was really good. I laughed, I cried, I was genuinely surprised and had those moments like “OH DAAAAAAMN!” I’m really happy to say, okay, I was wrong on this one. ^.^

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: A Vow So Bold and Deadly, 1/12/21

Hey y’all! It’s the first Friday of the year, and the first day of the year! Whoo, I guess! But hey, I’m not breaking tradition just because of a page flip on a calendar: today’s Friday, and I’m looking forward to a book coming out (blessedly) soon. Saying I’m looking forward to A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer almost feels like cheating since it’s such a hugely popular release. BUT: I also never thought I would actually be interested in it! So here’s what changed my mind…

Why wait on this one?

  • Since this is the third (and final) book in the series, I’ve of course already read the other two (A Curse So Dark and Lonely and A Heart so Fierce and Broken). So obviously my first reason for being excited for this book is TO KNOW THE ENDING! We’ve come a long way in this story, and met a lot of different characters, and jumped ship probably a million times. So. Now what, Brigid?
  • I’m particularly intrigued in this book as a tiebreaker book between the first two. The styles changed dramatically from book one to book two, and we even changed character perspectives entirely (which was not a wildly popular choice for some people). So, I want to know who we’re going to hear from now! Will it be all four main-ish characters? Just two of them? Written in third person omniscient?! WHO KNOWS! I’m terribly curious to see how she’ll wrap this up
  • Remember how I said I never thought I’d actually be into this series? Well that’s because it was so obnoxiously overly hyped and popular for so long that I hated it just for that. I figured it would be a pretty generic girl-ends-up-in-faerie-land story, and boy was I wrong. I love the way Harper’s disability is just a part of who she is, instead of defining her entirely. I love the complex relationship dynamics between Grey and Rhen. Admittedly Lia Mara is not really that compelling for me, but she is now a pretty important player in the game so she better step it up. I love the world and characters now, so I’m seeing it through to the end.

summary

Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone—even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace.

Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.

As two kingdoms come closer to conflict, loyalties are tested, love is threatened, and an old enemy resurfaces who could destroy them all, in this stunning conclusion to bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.

Posted in Reviews

2 Second Review: Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena

2 sentence summary:

Gul’s prophesied birthmark is the cause of her parents death and her own doomed life on the run from the kings men. She breaks into the palace seeking vengeance, and poor magic-less Cavas the servant gets swooped up into her schemes (and… maybe into her heart…).

Thoughts?

An ok start that I think will be followed by an even better sequel. For an author who usually makes me love characters, they were a bit meh for me here, oddly. I don’t really care for Gul one way or another. She has strengths and flaws I guess, but I feel like she doesn’t have heart. It was so performative to me somehow. I never really bought into the danger or fear that should have been pulsing through every moment. There also seemed to be a lot of things that were easily handed to Gul and not worked into the plot very well. Any issue seemed to be immediately resolved with little effort. It was… unimpressive. This fast forward Friday feature was not quite as I’d hoped.

So what’s going to make me read the sequel? I love the blend of myth and life and magic. I think now that we have a whole book of exposition out of the way, the path is clear for the real excitement to begin. With the way the first book ended, there should be no way book 2 won’t be absolutely thrilling!

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True, 12/15

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s (well… yesterday’s, if I hadn’t forgotten what day it was) is The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True by Sean Gibson. If you like parodies and epic adventures, this may be for you too!
Expected Release: December 15, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • Right off the bat, this story style draws me in. The blurb gives a sense of camaraderie, like I’m being spoken to directly by Heloise the Bard (of renowned storytelling fame). If the writing style in the rest of the book is anything like that, I’m all about it.
  • An epic adventure! Tolkien set the bar, and I love seeing new takes on familiar stories and plots by new authors. Any book with dragons is going to catch my attention, but include some wayward motley crew of travelers, joined only by one common purpose to save the land despite their humble origins? SOLD.
  • The only way to improve upon the aforementioned theme, personally, is to throw a whole lot of tongue-in-cheek twists of the usual formula into the story. I absolutely adored the whole Champions of the Dragon series which was like a spoof on The Lord of the Rings. I get the sense that The Part About the Dragon was Mostly True will have a very similar flavor of humour and drama to it. Bucking expectations while also sticking to a familiar formula to create something (somewhat paradoxically) pretty original. And at the very least, entirely delightful.

Summary

Sure, you think you know the story of the fearsome red dragon, Dragonia. How it terrorized the village of Skendrick until a brave band of heroes answered the noble villagers’ call for aid. How nothing could stop those courageous souls from facing down the dragon. How they emerged victorious and laden with treasure.

But, even in a world filled with epic adventures and tales of derring-do, where dragons, goblins, and unlicensed prestidigitators run amok, legendary heroes don’t always know what they’re doing. Sometimes they’re clueless. Sometimes beleaguered townsfolk are more hapless than helpless. And orcs? They’re not always assholes, and sometimes they don’t actually want to eat your children.

Heloise the Bard, Erithea’s most renowned storyteller (at least, to hear her tell it), is here to set the record straight. See, it turns out adventuring isn’t easy, and true heroism is as rare as an articulate villager.

Having spent decades propagating this particular myth (which, incidentally, she wrote), she’s finally able to tell the real story—for which she just so happened to have a front-row seat.

Welcome to Erithea. I hope you brought a change of undergarments—things are going to get messy.

Posted in Book Talk

Word Origins: was a mermaid always a fishy woman?

Origins of “mermaid”

When did it first get used?
1200s as Old English “merewif”
1350ish as Middle English “meremayde”

What does it mean?
a fabled creature that has the top form of a woman and the bottom form of a fish; often causing harm to mortals whether intentionally or not; often magical or with supernatural qualities, as with a siren

Continue reading “Word Origins: was a mermaid always a fishy woman?”
Posted in Reviews

Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Verdict: Probably a better read for everyone else than it was for me. My experience was somewhat dull, but I have no doubt this will be a hit with most other readers if they think they would like it!

Recommended: eh
For a glimpse into 1920s Shanghai, for a historical fantasy gangster story (not a common combo I think), for flavors of Romeo & Juliet but ultimately its own standing story

Summary

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery. A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal. But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Thoughts:

Look, I know. This book has everything. Shanghai in 1920s, one of my favorite place-time combos. A basis in Shakespeare. A fantasy element of monsters. A touch of brutality and gore to darken the story.

So why didn’t I love it???

I’m a bit baffled, honestly. I’ve tried to pinpoint what kept me from falling in love with this book, as I should have by all rights. I think my issue was partly that I wasn’t expecting it to be intertwined with magic and I wasn’t really in the mood for that — and obviously that’s a personal issue, nothing with the book. But the bigger issue I faced was that I just didn’t really care about either of the main characters.

Continue reading “Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Way Back, 11/17

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Friday’s to look forward to an upcoming release that I”m excited about! Today’s is The Way Back by Gavriel Savit, and it’s based in Jewish folk tradition. I am woefully uneducated in Jewish beliefs and folklore, and this sounds like an excellent way to pick some up plus the book just sounds incredible on its own.
Expected release: November 17, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • Like I mentioned above, this story draws on Jewish folklore, which is something I know very very little about. I tend to love stories based in cultural or religious lore as it’s an interesting insight into that group. PLUS those kinds of stories tend to be ABSOLUTELY WILD and I am all about that.
  • For example, The Way Back involves demons and angels and pacts with Death. There are even Death angels, which are usually two opposite things in my mind! And a whole royal hierarchy of demons? I am so fascinated and excited. Only in my books do I love demons, but boy do I love demons in my books. 😍
  • If you didn’t gather this already from above, this sounds like a seriously epic story. As always our hapless heroes get forced into things wayyyy out of their league, and have to try to make do. Wheelin’ and dealin’ with devils and demons never gets old for me. Throw in some new Yiddish words for me to learn and it’s a killer combo!

Summary:
For the Jews of Eastern Europe, demons are everywhere: dancing on the rooftops in the darkness of midnight, congregating in the trees, harrowing the dead, even reaching out to try and steal away the living.

But the demons have a land of their own: a Far Country peopled with the souls of the transient dead, governed by demonic dukes, barons, and earls. When the Angel of Death comes strolling through the little shtetl of Tupik one night, two young people will be sent spinning off on a journey through the Far Country. There they will make pacts with ancient demons, declare war on Death himself, and maybe– just maybe–find a way to make it back alive.

Posted in A Picture's Worth

A Picture’s Worth: Roma, Juliette, and Mina Lee

Words have always carried more weight with me than images – give me a book over its movie any day – but I do love to see the beautiful images other people create when they’re in love with a book. That’s not my strength, but I can certainly appreciate it in others! So here’s a few of my faves based on what I’ve been reading recently.

These Violent Delights

I chose These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong as a Book of the Month because I had never heard of it before. And then promptly was told by others that they had been hearing about it everywhere for ages. 🤣 Not sure where I’ve been, but it was new to me! 1920s Shanghai combined with Romeo and Juliet and also gangs — yeah, I’m into that.

Ughhhh THE COLORS! They’re so pretty together! I love the high contrast on this one making the drama of the book cover’s details really stand out.

It was nice enough recently for me to chill on the deck again and enjoy some citrus while reading my delicious new book 😍

Continue reading “A Picture’s Worth: Roma, Juliette, and Mina Lee”
Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

November 2020 TBR: obligations and explorations

Hey y’all!

I’ve got a plan again this month for what I’ll read. These plans are sometimes a bit silly though, because by the time I write this post to share it, I’ve usually already finished a few of them. 😂 Today is no different, but I’ll include the books here anyway as I’m excited about them! It’s a tidy planned set of nine this month. 😊

The best obligations

These books are each ones I’m reading for A Reason Not Only My Own. I mean, to be real, I’m still the one deciding and benefiting here, but they’re in the list for more than just “I wanted to” reasons!

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson is one that I already finished because I couldn’t resist plowing through it once I had started. I went in somehwat blind from a recommendation from my friend Elise (thanks again!), and WOW was this a fabulous recommendation! I really love it, as you can see in my review. 🙂

Continue reading “November 2020 TBR: obligations and explorations”