Fantastic Hope – Book Review

Fantastic Hope

edited by

Laurell K. Hamilton

and William McCaskey

★★★★

Expectation

I was very interested in reading these urban fantasy stories and was mostly in for it for some of my favorite authors. This is a relatively new book for me since it is published earlier this year and I managed to fit it into my N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon for August! Also I was anticipating to read some great stories with characters I already know and love. Stories I was most interested in were Asil and the Not-Date by Patricia Briggs and Zombie Dearest by Laurell K. Hamilton. All the rest of the authors were mostly unknown to me. When I read the foreword I was pleasantly surprised by the general theme of the stories being something happy and something to make the readers feel good. We need more of those kind of stories in the world!

Summary

  • Twilight Falls by Jonathan Maberry ★★★★★

Lately I’ve been watching some spy thriller conspiracy TV dramas and this story fit right up that alley. I was surprised at how much special operatives language and protocols felt familiar to me. I enjoyed this short story quite a bit! It was a good opening into the collection.

  • Not in this Lifetime by Sharon Shinn ★★★

I must admit this story was a bit cheesy for me. Too many things were too convenient in the end. I liked the little group of characters a lot though.

  • Mr. Positive, The Eternal Optimist by Larry Correia ★★★★★

This story has everything I like in my urban fantasy: some supernatural elements, some humor and something for me to connect with. The tone of the story is very endearing and I liked the action parts as well.

  • No Greater Love by Kacey Ezell ★★★★

I was surprised by religious content of this story. It made me thread very carefully. I ended even more surprised by liking this story a lot.

  • Broken Son by Griffin Barber  ★★★★

Science fiction and space themed stories are really not my thing. But this one was really nice. It reminded me a bit at Vorkosigan saga by Lois MacMaster Bujold. I genuienuly liked this story against all odds.

  • Heart of Clay by Kevin J. Anderson ★★★

I could describe this story as a really wild ride. There were too many supernatural elements and quirks for me to be able to really enjoy this story. I liked the humor that reminded me of works of Robert Asprin. I can point out some of the characters and ideas that were really engaging but as a whole I thought it was a bit too much.

  • Reprise by John G. Hartness ★★★★★

So far this story was the easiest to get into. Considering I have never read anything by this author I might have to change that in the future! It’s a vampire themed and intriguing. I loved the slightly melancholly feel of the story combined with demons and slightly changed alternate history setting.

  • Asil and the Not-Date by Patricia Briggs ★★★★★

This is one of the two stories in this collection I was most interested about. It is from Alpha and Omega book series. First, it was written by a favorite author and second, it is set in a world full of lovable characters I already know. Asil is not exactly a favorite character but it is quite endearing and releateable for me. I was scared this story would be a sappy one but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn’t. Loved the ending!

  • In the Dust by Robert E. Hampson ★★★

Style of this story was more a series of short scenes than a traditional short story. Even with all that the emotions and the characters were very well done. This one is a bit science fictiony and thst is the only reason it was not that good for me.

  • Fallen by L. E. Modesitt, Jr ★

Finally a story I did not like at all. The theme, the execution, the flow – it was all very unsatisfactory to read. The little screenshots from history were not picked out with care at all. Pseudo religious content left a really bad aftertaste for me.

  • Working Conditions by Patrick M. Tracy ★★★★

This story is an excellent example of a sweet urban fantasy vampire story. And, yes! I am biased when it comes to vampires in urban fantasy! I like the simplicity and the kinda sad theme. It was very light and made me want to read more about the setting and the vampires in it.

  • Last Contact by M. C. Sumner ★★★★

There was someting about this story that I liked and I can not pintpoint what it was. Theme is thoughtfull and has some aliens in it.

  • Ronin by William McCaskey ★★★★

This one is a tear jerker! The story is a lovely blend of urban fatasy and harsh reality. It was a very endearing story.

  • SKJOLDMOĐIR by Michael Z. Williamson and Jessica Schlenker ★★★★★

Earlier this year I’ve read two different interpretations of nordic myths and this story made me want to read more of them. T has a certain epic quality mixed with subtle pathos of the main characters. I liked it a lot!

  • Bonds of Love and Duty by Monalisa Foster  ★★★★★

Another story that surprised me in a good way! The theme was totally science fiction but it I loved it. It is definitely something I could keep on reading.

  • Zombie Dearest by Laurell K. Hamilton  ★★★★★

This story fits into Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series. I was very interested in this story and was not disappointed! I loved that this story has a little JC in it! Finally it is something that connects to one of the previous books. The idea that it represents is quite outrageous though. Loved reading it!

Conclusion

There were sixteen stories in this collection and about half of them were really excellent for me. Only one story felt underwhelming for me. All the rest were good and mostly surprised me in a good way. I found a few authors I will keep an eye out in my future reading and my two favorites were excellent. Zombie Dearest by Laurell K. Hamilton was especially bittersweet to read since the new book in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series – Sucker Punch, just came out and I will have to wait until next year for mas market paperback to come out to get it and read it! I am glad I got this collection!

Medieval-A-Thon Reading Challenge – Experience and thoughts

In the month of May I originally wanted to relax a little after the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon in April. That all changed when I spotted this challenge. You can see my first post where I choose the books and decided to participate a whole week later – HERE.

My goal for this challenge was to become an Empress and in order to do that I had to read at least seven books in May. The story of a a great Empress started with an awesome outfit to fight dragons with so I can impress the people before I cant truly become their leader!

First book I’ve read for this challenge answered to the prompt –

Dragon on the cover!

The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo, #2) by Rick Riordan ★★★★

This was a friendly dragon and while its role in this book was not so big I truly enjoyed reading about it! Festus, whose name translates to “Happy” is an automaton bronze dragon originally created by the children of Hephastus. I will not make spoilers about what happens to Festus in this book but I will just say that my journey to become an Empress has been more amazing since I read about him! I had some trouble in starting to read this book and this reading challenge helped me with it! With this positive energy my quest to become an Empress began!

Second book I’ve read for this challenge helped me not to act like a snob and be more humble – the prompt for this book was

to read a book under 300 pages!

Incubus Dreaming (The Incubus, #2) by A. H. Lee ★★★★★

This was the best book I’ve read in May! It is the third book in a trilogy and the fact that I finished the book series was an added bonus of positive energy as well. While somebody else would probably use this prompt to take it easy I choose a book that just barely fits the requirement as it has 299 pages total by Kindle account! My goal in sight and my standards still set high I moved on to the next book.

The third book I read for this challenge allowed me to grab some weapon training

start or finish a duology

The Fates Divide (Carve the Mark, #2) by Veronica Roth ★★★

The first time I saw this challenge I knew I wanted these weapons! Training to fight with two weapons at once is as hard as reading a book that is part some of your not favorite genre. This book has been on my TBR plan for a very long time and the first book I read years ago. Sci Fi nature of this book as well as some rich cultural and original details made it harder to read but the reward of finishing another book series I was logging around for a long time was as rewarding as getting those two daggers and learning how to use them properly!

Next book brought me some companionship in the form of my favorite animal and by the prompt

A book that begins with a “C”

Carry On (Simon Snow, #1) by Rainbow Rowell ★★★★

I knew I was going to like this book and I wanted to like it! I was looking for an excuse to add this book to my reading and had several choices for it. Pairing it with a cat companion fit nicely. Cats are perfect companions for an Empress – they hint at luxury but are very resourceful and independent as well. Every household can find cat useful and these animals are fiercely loyal and territorial which are the atributes I hold very important.

Book I decided to read next added some royal wardrobe I could really shine in and the prompt was

A shiny book

The Testament of Loki (Loki #2) by Joanne M. Harris ★★

This shiny book was another one from my bookshelf that was weighing on me to finish a book series. As it turned out I was more of a fighter than a parading ruler or a dancer at a ball. The book did not blew me away – it was just OK. A shiny book and a shiny outfit were just OK but did not speak to me the way some other books or outfits did.

An Empress in the making that did not enjoy her shiny dresses has turned again to more unladylike ventures by acquiring her own horse to travel her kingdom and the reading prompt for this one was

A tall hardcover

Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan, John Rocco ★★★★

I was a bit miffed by the prompt so I decided to get the biggest hardcover book I had on my bookshelves other than an encyclopedia. At first I was very happy with my choice. But as it turns out with serious rulers and kingdoms some things are not as easy as they look! This book proved very hard to read since it was too heavy to hold for longer periods of time and its bulkiness proved a problem. Traveling a kingdom did not prove to be an easy picnic either.

This next book proves that friends can be found in the unlikliest of places as I befriended a goat! The prompt for this one was

A book high on my bookshelf

Death of a Darklord (Ravenloft #13) by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★

This prompt was a bit confusing for me at first. I reached out to the top of my bookshelf and found one book on it that I did not read while all the rest I have at least partially read! The prompt was perfect and I was actually wondering if this could be maybe a scary book prompt as well. Befriending a goat was as interesting experience as reading this book – not exactly good or bad, just a little different!

With all my seven books read I have reached a status of an Empress with three different outfits: one a plate of armor for battle, one casual suit for adventuring and mingling with normal people and one shiny severe dress for formal functions! I got a perfect cat companion that compliments my personality and learned to ride a horse while trained to fight with two weapons to a satisfactory degree. And last but not least I have befriended a goat on my travels through the kingdom. With the bonus of three more books I have read in May I managed to befriend a Knight to accompany me on my journey of being a good Empress! In the last five days of the challenge I read more than 700 pages which was enough to repel any outside forces that wanted to mess with my empire!

May your own stories be as interesting as was mine and I hope to participate in this challenge next year as well!

The Darkness: Darkness/ Batman & Darkness/ Superman 20th Anniversary Collection – Book Review

IMG_20200327_171033

The Darkness: Darkness/Batman & Darkness/ Superman

20th Anniversary Collection

by Garth Ennis, Jeph Loeb, Ron Marz, Scott Lobdell, Marc Silvestri

★★★★

Expectation

I read the first three volumes of The Darkness graphic novel about six years ago and I remember loving it! This edition was an impulse buy from the trip to Essen Spiel last year. I was very happy with the purchase and the cover art is very catchy and pleasing to me. The cover is hinting at some DC universe crossovers I’m looking forward to. The whole concept of the main character Jackie Estacado as The Darkness is very appealing to me.

Summary

IMG_20200327_125054

This is the 20th Anniversary Collection with an origin story of the character and some extra issues that crossover with Batman and Superman. As I started reading it I was a bit unnerved by having to read the crossovers first instead of the origin story since the opposite would be much more practical for me even though I’ve already read it before. I think any new reader would be left confused as well. Why could’t have they just followed the timeline?

The Darkness is a part of the DC universe along with two others who are essential part of his storyline – The Angelus and The Witchblade. The Witchblade does not appear in this book but The Angelus does. The Darkness and The Angelus are portrayed as two opposite powers – light and dark, female and male. Sexuality is a big part of these characters and the mature audiences warning apply here.

IMG_20200327_150142

The readers learn about The Darkness trough the character Jackie Estacado – a relatively young mafia enforcer and hitman, who becomes the new wielder of The Darkness. The Darkness is in its nature chaotic and possibly limitless power depending solely on the abilities and imagination of its wielder. The wielder is always a male and moral issues are a part of the gig.

IMG_20200327_124724

Darkness/ Batman

I love how snugly Darkness melted into Gotham. At first the mafia angle was a bit weird in the same story as Batman but it was worth it. The comparison of two characters and their similarities was intriguing. What I loved about this story and how it was written is that both characters have stayed true to their persona – Batman with his deducing detective play and Darkness with his antihero routine.

dav

Darkness/ Superman

This story was cut into two issues with a cliffhanger. I did not even notice they were two parts while I read since the story was very engaging. Again both characters have stayed true to themselves which is kinda hard to pull of due to differences in Superman lawful behavior and Darkness’s chaotic nature. At first I was a bit sceptic on how will these two face of since they are both instruments of great power and possible destruction but there were some really cool scenes with expected plot twist and ending.

IMG_20200327_124529

The Darkness: Origins Volume 1

I had to look up the rest of The Darkenss editions to indentify this part as a volume one out of four from The Darkness Origins series. I realized that I’ve read first three volumes before. I liked the cheesy early nineties feel of the series. Main character start as a manwhore and a mafia hitman. It has some great entertinment value. I did find myself interested in the Artifacts series again – The Artifacts series is all about The Darkness, The Angelus and The Witchblade.

IMG_20200327_155121

Conclusion

Once again I was left with adding not a few new books to my TBR and wishlist but fifteen of them! And those were only The Darkness related. There is The Artifacts series that is a name for all three entites – The Darkness, The Angelus and the Witchblade and also there is The Witchblade series as well. At this point I would probably settle to get a chance to read them all since my budget is very low.

I enjoy the cheesy mafia angle and the the tone of the stories which is set trough lots of sex and violence. Both can be graphic and some readers might be bothered by that. There is also a specific type of humor that Jackie Estacade brings in trough his little demon helpers that remind me of Deadpool and his inner monologues.

IMG_20200328_134500

I loved reading this edition though I was a bit disappointed at the amount of Origin volumes it contains. I will probably try to get some of my friends interested in it as well! It’s definitely intended for mature audiences and those are the readers I recommend this graphic novel to as well!

Reading guide to worlds of Rick Riordan

mark-of-athena

I’m a big fan of Rick Riordan’s books. His heroes are lovable and inclusive and his books are filled with light intelligent humor. Before becoming a writer, Rick Riordan was a  English and history teacher in private schools in the United States. After successfully publishing some books for adults, he gained inspiration for his first book for young adults by making up a bedtime story for his son. He has written over twenty books for teenagers and young adults and filled them with stories inspired by world mythologies. To help you navigate this small sea of ​​books, I present to you a reading guide.

The books are arranged chronologically and even though they can be read out of the order given here since there are several interwoven literary series, you will surely achieve the greatest pleasure in reading if you know the correct order.

serijal 1 film 1
What is common to all the books in all the series I am about to talk about here are the main characters who learn that one of their parents is a deity from various mythologies of the world. The author skillfully approaches young audiences and uses teenage issues in a stimulating and imaginative way, presenting possible learning difficulties such as dyslexia or attention deficit disorder as symptoms of young demigods and their gifted abilities. Young readers will be able to find many opportunities to identify themselves through many of the characters who take turns as the action-bearers. In addition to the problems of young adults through the prism of fiction, the books deal with a multitude of topics covering various religious attitudes, racial issues, understanding of good and evil, and issues of sexuality. The author often uses intelligent humor to tell his stories. The age of the characters ranges from twelve in the first novels to eighteen and over in some cases.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are several book series, let’s start with the first one –

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

1. The Lightning Thief
2. The Sea of Monsters
3. The Titan’s Curse
4. The Battle of the Labyrinth
5. The Last Olympian

Serijal 1 slika

Named after the main character Percy Jackson, this book series has a total of five books. The theme of this series is based on Greek mythology. First book – The Lightning Thief first appeared on shelves in the spring of 2006. The movie version followed in 2010. The second book – Sea of ​​Monsters, came out just one month after the first book, while the movie version took a full three years after the first movie. The third book, and also the last translated into Croatian, is The Titan’s Curse. The other two books in this series are: The Battle of the Labyrinth and The Last Olympian. The main character at the beginning of the series is 12 years old.

A little guide came out for this book series in 2009 called The Demigod Files (Percy Jackson and the Olympians Companion). It holds an interview with the author and various interesting tidbits. There are also three short stories in this issue.

The Demigod Files (Percy Jackson and the Olympians Companion)

• Percy Jackson and the Stolen Chariot
• Percy Jackson and the Bronze Dragon
• Percy Jackson and the Sword of Hades

demi

According to the release chronology, the second series is The Kane Chronicles trilogy.
The main characters in this trilogy are brother and sister: Carter and Sadie Kane. The first book of this series was released in May 2010, and by May 2012, all three books were published and available in complete sets. The Kane Chronicles is based on Egyptian mythology and can be read completely separately from the Percy Jackson series. Carter Kane is 15 at the beginning of the series, while his sister is 12.

The Kane Chronicles

1. The Red Pyramid
2. The Throne of Fire
3. The Serpent’s Shadow

serijal 2 slika

Before the last installment of the trilogy – The Serpent’s Shadow, a little guide came out for this series with interesting facts and details from the world of Carter and Sadie Kane.

The Kane Chronicles Survival Guide

detail.kdgj-1693-ga30.1.front.1423153626
The author linked the two series by writing several short stories in which the characters meet, thereby letting the audience know that all the characters are in the same world and opened up opportunities for common adventures and encounters. Three stories where characters from the Percy Jackson series meet characters from the Kane Chronicles trilogy are published in

Demigods & Magicians: Percy and Annabeth Meet the Kanes

demi2
At the same time with the aforementioned Kane Chronicles trilogy, a new series of five books, The Heroes of Olympus, was also published. The first book was released in late 2010 and continues where the last book of Percy Jackson and Olympians series ended. The books slowly introduces the motifs of Roman mythology, and the number of leading characters doubles. In addition to the fantastic elements of the book, the books convey in an educational manner the assimilation of elements of Greek culture into Roman. The characters in this series are about 15 years old.

The Heroes of Olympus

1. The Lost Hero
2. The Son of Neptune
3. The Mark of Athena
4. The House of Hades
5. The Blood of Olympus

seijal 3 slika
In 2012 for the series was published a small guide The Demigod Diaries (The Heroes of Olympus Companion) with four short stories and curiosities related to characters and mythology, as well as a cute informational book about heroes from Greek mythology told from Percy Jackson’s perspective – Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes

The Demigod Diaries (The Heroes of Olympus Companion)

• The Diary of Luke Castellan
• Percy Jackson and the Staff of Hermes
• Leo Valdez and the Quest for Buford
• Son of Magic

9780141344379

Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes

91YEKHOAzZL
The next  book series is the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy. The trilogy, which bears the name of Magnus Chase, started coming out from the end of 2015 to the end of 2017. This trilogy is based on elements from the Nordic mythology. The title character is related to the character Annabeth Chase, who is one of the main characters in the previous book series. Magnus Chase begins his story as a sixteen-year-old and the plot of this trilogy is a little darker and heavier than the previous book series.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

1. The Sword of Summer
2. The Hammer of Thor
3. The Ship of the Dead

serijal 4 slika

As with all other series in the world of Rick Riordan, a guide has been released for this trilogy, which brings some interesting facts from Nordic mythology and culture. After the trilogy, a short story collection called 9 From the Nine Worlds came out.

• For Magnus Chase: Hotel Valhalla, Guide to the Norse Worlds

Hotel_Valhalla_Guide_to_Norse_Worlds
• 9 From the Nine Worlds

9780241359433

Rick Riordan’s latest and still up-to-date series started coming out in 2016 alongside the Magnus Chase trilogy and is titled The Trials of Apollo. Various characters and heroes from all previous books appear in the series, and unlike all the previous ones, in this one, the god Apollo himself, who is imprisoned in the body of a teenager, is the main character. This series will have five books, and so far the first three are out while the fourth – The Tryants’ Tomb, is announced for Fall 2019.

The Trials of Apollo

1. The Hidden Oracle
2. The Dark Prophecy
3. The Burning Maze
4. The Tryants’ Tomb
5. ?

Trials-Of-Apollo-Book-Series

The guide to the Trials of Apollo series came out after the second book The Dark Prophecy in 2017 and is titled Camp Half-Blood Confidential. This is a guide to the camp for the demigods and continues with the interesting facts of Greek mythology from the perspective of Apollo trapped in the body of a mortal teenager.

Camp Half-Blood Confidential

91CE4LT9lFL

In addition for film adaptations for the first two books, there were also graphic novellas for all five books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Graphic novellas were relatively well received, while for the movie versions the author himself said that it was best to skip them because they did not reflect all the educational elements with which he filled the books.

serijal 1 film 2

The themes of myths, legends and heroes is timeless and through popular culture it constantly experiences new versions and approaches in literature for children, young adults and adults. I warmly recommend this author and his fantastic world of extraordinary heroes.
Try it, you might also like it 😊

Reading in first half of 2019!

I’m gonna make a breakdown of the books I’ve read in 2019. up until today. Thanks to the Goodreads site I can track the books much easier and I need all the help I can get to win in this apathy struggle I’ve gotten myself into.

books-horizontal

For some reason reading takes more effort for me as of late. I’ve set the bar for reading books challenge relatively low and the results are even lover that that so far.

gr book challenge 2019

There are only 15 books I’ve read this year and I will go trough them one by one:

First book I’ve finished in 2019 was a graphic novel Perzepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

ORKA_SP_12

I’ve often used graphic novels and mangas to cut corners at getting my reading numbers higher. But the truth of the mater is that I honestly enjoy graphic novels and mangas. While I will not jump at a book with a more serious topic, graphic novels with documentary or biographical theme interest me. I love the visual representations that provide me with more honest and personal understanding on the topic and I choose graphic novels often for that same reason.

Second book of 2019. was a book club assignment Pohvala starosti by Pavao Pavličić.

11091

The title loosely translates into ” the praise to getting old”. The beginning promised some humor but the book was mostly frustrating since I did not agree with most of the things author wrote about. For every promising idea and thought provoked there were another 4 that just irritated me since I could find real life cases to dispute the author. It made for a good book club discussion in general because it gave some general topics on the process of growing old and elderly in general. Did not enjoy the reading experience because I found the book not serious enough to tackle the topic and not humorous enough to be entertained.

The third book of 2019. was Burn Bright (Aplha & Omega Series) by Patricia Briggs.

91v2TcjhvDL

This is one of the book series that made me love and enjoy reading in my free time. Urban fantasy genre just simply does it for me! I love when an author can tackle an urban setting and characters with relatable shortcomings and flaws while keeping it up with technological and other more modern issues. I loved this book and the glimpses into so many characters that did not have the opportunity to shine in previous instalments. I love the character growth and plot advancement.

The fourth book of 2019. was The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.

The Reader

While my reading in the book club has been highly irregular in the last year or so this was one of the books I was very excited about to read and discuss. It is a thought provoking book with plethora of moral issues to talk about and it gives ample opportunity for the reader to think about the past, the present and the future. While some issues are specific to the aftermath of World War II, this book offers a new perspective to our own human judgemental nature and pride.

The fifth book I’ve read in 2019 was a short story collection Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges.

2627152

This book had a certain reputation and standing among my fellow students while I was in college. It took me a decade after graduation to actually get to reading the book. I was surprised it was a short story collection. The themes were interesting but I did not enjoy the multitude of names and references I was not that familiar with. I had a hard time separating the South American and Muslim references in particular and following the metaphors. It was a very difficult and challenging reading experience. The documentary style was not something I particularly enjoyed and made the short stories hard to follow.

The sixth book of 2019. for me was the All Souls Complete Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.

the-all-souls-complete-trilogy

I’ve read the first book sometime last year so I can freely enjoy the TV adaptation on HBO. After a few months pause I decided to watch the TV series again and got inspired to read the book series trough. I had some issues finding a second book in the edition I wanted so one night I finally caved and got myself the whole trilogy Kindle edition. It took me a few months to finish it all up due the considerable number of pages but I’m happy and pleased to have it finished and I’m awaiting for the second season of the show guilt free!

The seventh book of 2019 by my Goodreads account is The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

00HARKNESS-COMBO-jumbo

While I’ve read the whole series as a trilogy I’ve found the third book on my TBR list on Goodreads and went to fix it. In an attempt to motivate myself at not failing the reading challenge this year like I failed last year I went back and added it as a separate book in my Read books section. Is that cheating or not I do not know or care. As far as I’m concerned I’ve read three books and put down only two and I’m still one book short for the counting purposes if need be!

The eighth book in 2019. was Comme un roman by Daniel Pennac.

91lUehA+fJL“A well-chosen book saves you from everything, including yourself.”

The English title of this book is The Rights of the Reader and it’s taken from the second part of the book where the Rights of the reader are listed. This is not a story but more a testament to reading. It is my big wish to find this book in Croatian and buy it but sadly there was only one edition in the nineties and they are very hard to come by. It is a book that inspired a many librarian’s projects and helped to promote and understand reading as an activity, life choice and necessity.

Ninth book I’ve read in 2019 was The Treasure Keeper (Drakon book 4) by Shana Abe.

treasure keeper

I have the best boyfriend ever and one day he decided it is time to raid my Book Depository wishlist. Among the book we ordered was The Treasure Keeper the fourth book in the Drakon series I have only nice memories of. It is for once a fantasy series in a sea of urban fantasy I usually prefer. I like the idea of dragon shape shifters and how this author writes them. It might not be the best fantasy out there but it is a guilty pleasure of mine! I would have loved to have bought the edition with the cover on the left instead the right one. The shiny and gaudy is very much part of the charm for these books!

The tenth book I’ve read this year is Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

51QFX98149L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

This was a bit unusual pick for my mostly very serious book club. And it came from one of the more serious book club members. This book made me feel old and tired at times. The truth is I love YA books and while the fast paced dialogues and witty remarks that go with them I had trouble with keeping up with the account of a teen life in the age of social networking and mostly well off western teenager to young adult view on life. I had a revelation that I prefer my books and stories a bit more darker and angstier that this one was…

The eleventh book in 2019. was The She-Hulk Diaries by Marta Acosta

marvel-heroine-novels

I’ve got my eye on this book ever since it came out and one of my friends at Goodreads loved it. I liked the idea of actually reading about She-Hulk and some other Marvel heroes in a book as opposed to watching the movies and reading graphic novels. The book had it’s bright moments at that but in the end it was more in lieu of Bridget Jones Diaries than expected Marvel hero action. I sure like the design and the cover. The spine and the rest of the book is bright green and it poops out nicely on the shelf!

The twelvfth book in 2019. was Pretty Reckless ( All Saints High book 1) by L.J. Shen.

39709060._UY2000_SS2000_

This one was another Kindle spur of the moment buy that provided much needed dose of drama and angst for a period of PMS and opened a door to a period of more reading for me. I’ve checked out the rest of the books in the series but I’m not all that interested in them as of now. Looking into this book on Goodreads I realized that I’ve missed to count another short story that came out as a prequel to this book series!

Thirteenth book and one I missed in the first count was Defy ( All Saints High book 0,5) by L.J. Shen.

515NPeVaZdL

A short and smutty prequel to the All Saints High book series. The main characters are actually the parents of the main character of the Pretty Reckless book. Most of the books that feature the characters who are into sports are not that appealing to me and I still have trouble visualizing all that comes with American football. In my country people play soccer…

Fourteenth book I’ve read in 2019 was Devil’s Daughter ( The Ravenels book 5 ) by Lisa Kleypas

71LZHGoeRML

This one was a must have since it features my favorite characters. I am very picky when it comes to historical romance as a genre. In case of Evie and Sebastian I do not miss the opportunity to read more about them and their children and grandchildren in this case. I’m very happy with how the author finds ways to revisit favorite characters and include them in the new books. It inspired me to once again read the source material as well!

Fifteenth book I’ve read in 2019. was Devil in Winter ( The Wallflowers book 3) by Lisa Kleypas

51sEJ5O6QnL._SX307_BO1,204,203,200_

One of my favorite books ever and the characters I like to revisit each year. While I rarely choose to reread books with so many unread on my TBR already this is the book that has found a way to my reading schedule at least once a year. While the last reading was inspired by reading the newest book by the same author it has also inspired me to finally but the physical copy in English. I already poses the said book in Croatian but I prefer reading it in English.

And by the corrected counting the last and the sixteenth bok I’ve read in 2019 so far is
I, Strahd: The Memoirs of a Vampire (Ravenloft book 7) by P. N. Elrod

51+AHDLangL

From all the editions of this book and theme I’ve seen so far this one is the most hideous one. I was not at all pleased with the cover of my edition – the artwork looked very much in the opposition with the main character and it bothered me a lot. As for the story – I enjoyed learning the story behind Strahd von Zarovich. It all inspired me to go back to my Ravenloft RPG books and get ideas for a some campaign that will probably never come to life …I am now even more interested in the rest of Ravenloft novels! There are few things that were missing in this book! The most important one was a map for me to enjoy the geography of Ravenloft and Barovia. I hate when the production of the book is not well made!

read-books-800

I am currently playing around with some creative ways to inspire myself to make more choices for reading books instead of some other activities. Soon I’ll post more about that!

Sorry not sorry about the long post!

Wayward Vol 1-3 – Book Review

wayward pano

Finished reading

String Theory (Wayward volume 1)  ★★★★

Ties That Bind (Wayward volume 2) ★★★★

Out From the Shadows (Wayward volume 3) ★★★★

by Jim Zub; Steve Cummings et all

graphic-novel

Expectation

Almost three years ago I’ve read the first volume of Wayward graphic novel series String Theory. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Last year I had the opportunity to buy first volume and I went for it. As it goes with book series I managed to get next two earlier this year and decided to binge on reading all three volumes. I am not that familiar with Japanese mythology and liked how it was portrayed in the first volume. You can read my impressions from few years back HERE.

IMAG1417

Summary

I am so glad I went and read the String Theory again since it ended on a cliffhanger and it was fun to get back into the suspense. As it turned out each new chapter of the Ties That Bind and Out From the Shadows brought out new twists to the story and introduced exciting new characters. Since I have read it first few years ago I had most of the characters from String Theory in fond memory. This proved to be an issue with the influx of many new characters and some terrible decisions on the part of my fond characters. Plot moved on rapidly and I had to adapt to the pace it set. This had me in a spin for a while.

Wayward06-08Combined-1024x526-1

What I loved the most in all of these were essays at the end of each volume. They were very informative on the traditions and mythology of historical Japan. They explained a lot on the origin of different Yokai – fantastic creatures from Japan. They also provided for a context and information on some of the sites and areas the plot of the story is revolving around.

I was displeased with some issues being jumped over and then being bombarded with some new plot twists. It all kinda felt chaotic and only trough some hints in Out From the Shadows I started to notice a pattern and connect some things together.

I kept admiring the artwork and design of the books. I really enjoyed the bright coloring and the art style from the cover of each chapter to the TP covers of the paperback editions I have. I can see how much care was put into making these and I can appreciate that as well.

IMAG1470

Conclusion

Story is for mature audiences because of violence and debatable moral issues. There is no character that can claim moral high ground and after reading all three volumes I still have trouble with picking a character to root for. I will have to find time and see if the author has a blog where I can read more of the essays that came with each volume since I enjoyed them quite a bit.

The reason I decided to make a review on all three volumes together is that my reading experience with them was connected to the fast pace with which I read all three together and since I already did a review on the first one few years ago.

 

The Hidden Oracle – Book Review

Finished reading

The Hidden Oracle

(The Trials of Apollo, #1)

by Rick Riordan

★★★★

Expectation

At first I wanted to read the new book from the Magnus Chase book series The Ship of the Dead. But then while I was settling in for a comfortable afternoon of reading I started noticing how much what happened at the end of the book The Hammer of Thor is actually in sync with things that are happening in The Trials of Apollo book series. This left me with having to close the book and put it back on the shelf AND in its place I took The Hidden Oracle and started with a new book series. I planned reading it anyway and I’m even buying them along with Magnus Chase books. I was a bit more interested in Norse mythology. I fully intended to learn what was happening with the characters from The Heroes of Olympus book series from which I only got a few glimpses of Annabeth of since she is related to Magnus. The last line in The Hammer of Thor left me more than giddy! All hype aside The Hidden Oracle was kinda a means to an end – finally getting to reading the last Magnus Chase book and having  a grasp on all the subplots and many characters in this mythic universe.

Summary

I am mostly out of the loop on other people reactions and comments of Rick Riordan’s book series until I finish reading them. This way I avoid spoilers since I usually don’t get to buy the books as soon as they come out. For all those who are not familiar with these books a few sentences of caution: Starting with the Percy Jackson book series the author has created the intricate collection of book series and characters who live in the same world and sometimes appear and visit each other. Percy has five books and two heartbreaking movies – heartbreaking since the plot was so messed up and different than the books in the first movie that they barely managed to scrape up enough ties and make a second movie. After the Percy Jackson five books series comes The Heroes of Olympus book series that introduces the Roman deities to the  original Greek ones. Somewhere along those lines is a separate trilogy Kane Chronicles that deals with Egyptian mythology. There are a few short stories and novellas where Percy and Anabeth meet Carter and Sadie. Otherwise the Kane Chronicles are not mentioned much. After Heroes of Olympus comes Magnus Chase book series and shortly after the first Magnus book come in The Trials of Apollo.

Now after that not so short introduction let’s get down to the actual book The Hidden Oracle. I had certain issues with grasping the character of Apollo. The plot was very easy to follow and the scenes were easy to imagine. Rick Riordan has a way of making scenes in his books easy to picture as a movie or a TV series scenes. The introductory “Fall of Apollo” was a great start of the book. Making the beautiful god Apollo mortal acne troubled teen was a punishment indeed.

I like how the story of this book builds on the books and characters from the previous books. Apollo is a likable character but I found Meg very interesting as well. I hopped along on getting to know more details on some historical figures and learning about the new bad guys.

Some might consider this next part a spoiler so be aware that I will bring out some characters from other books that drop by in The Hidden Oracle.

Reading about fan favorites like Nico and Percy and even Chiron was great. It gave me a serious craving to watch the Percy movies again even though they seriously suck in comparison to the books. Don’t get me wrong movies are kinda okay for someone who did not read the books and I can even enjoy them but thinking on how much better they could have been chafes a little…

While reading The Heroes of Olympus I grew rather fond of the character Leo Valdez and I was glad to see him come back to the story center.

Conclusion

I was a tad bit apprehensive about reading this book since I’ve grown quite fond of Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase book series. The witty banter and the slightly sarcastic humor was there but the appeal that Percy and Magnus hold for me was not really there for some reason. I liked this book and will continue with the storyline and the next book but I still love Magnus and Percy better!

RPG novelizations

 

61a6PUL8mxL

I enjoy playing RPG games both pen and paper versions or in the form of video games. RPG (Role Playing Games) usually have a lot of background stories and interesting characters. Sometimes a certain character can bring out the whole RPG universe. One of the most prominent characters that do so is most definitely drow elf ranger Drizzt Do’Urden. He is one of the most important figures from Forgotten Realms universe. Here I must confess that the only book I’ve read from the whole 20+ The Legend of Drizzt books is the first one – Homeland. While I enjoyed finding out more about the character and his beginnings in the Underdark city Menzoberranzan ruled by unusually cruel matriarchal society, what stopped me from continuing with this book series was a fact that it was PG rated in accordance with American market demands. I have an issue with violence in books being ignored and sexual situations censored to the point of removing them altogether. I find it hypocritical and that ruins my reading mode.

1022695-lonedrow1_800x600

Trough the years I’ve taken an interest in some RPG novelization editions from the games I play.  Some I even started collecting with the desire to read some time in the future. As it happens with many books I buy the time passes and the books are left unread. Here are some of the books I’ve managed to collect that drive their inspiration from different pen and paper RPG settings.

 

Elminster_-_The_Making_of_a_Mage

Elminster: The Making of a Mage

(Forgotten Realms: Elminster, #1)

by Ed Greenwood

I got really interested in this book series while I was playing Dungeons and Dragons Online video game. It was one of the expansions from the game where the character Elminster was introduced as narrator. I remember how the gaming experience soared and how awesome I felt while playing the game. Originally Elminster is one of the most popular characters from Forgotten Realms universe. He is not as known as Drizzt since he is usually depicted as an old mage. I have first three books and the fifth one from this series. I use the fact that I’m missing the fourth book as to why I haven’t started reading them yet…

61IITSmOR6L

Sigvald

(Warhammer Heroes #4)

by Darius Hinks

While I’ve never played the actual Warhammer pen and paper or video game RPGs, I got interested in this universe while playing board game Chaos in the Old World. The mythology of this quite brutal setting made an impression on me so much that when I discovered this book in a bookstore by chance I just grabbed it and decided to buy it. The main character is aptly named Prince Sigvald the Magnificent. The warring theme is not one of my favorite but I am interested on how it all pans out.  Moral ambiguity and the intriguing main character are still looking at me from the shelf and patiently waiting to start with the reading…

amber2_1280x960

Amber and Ashes

(Dragonlance: The Dark Disciple #1)

by Margaret Weis

Back when I was a student I was working in a game store. Among many things they sold there were some fantasy books as well. This was one of my first RPG book purchases. It is also the only such book I own in hardcover. For some reason Dragonlance was never one of my favorite settings. I actually bought this book since it seemed interesting way to get myself more familiarized with Dragonlance. What sealed the deal for me was a slightly vampiric themed innuendo. This book series is a trilogy and I own the first and the third book. I remember reading the first but I’m unsure how far I’ve read trough. The fact that I can’t seem to find affordable second book in hardcover is another excuse not to finish the first book…

18598447

 

I, Strahd: The Memoirs of a Vampire

(Ravenloft #7)

by P.N. Elrod

Strahd von Zarovich is one of the main protagonists in the Ravenloft universe. Ravenloft is a part of the Dungeons and Dragons setting with a bit of a macabre horror spin on things. It comes off as Dark Ages world with vampires, ghouls, lords and lieges array of characters. It is also one of my favorite settings to play RPG pen and paper campaign. I was delighted to hear it will be implemented into Dungeons and Dragons Online MMO video game this December. It made me interested in DDO again. This book is the only novelization I have from the book series that counts something over twenty books in total. I bought this book earlier this year on sale.

screenshot00000

 

While I enjoy good RPG games I realized that I am more than a little behind on reading the novelizations I own. This, naturally doesn’t mean that I don’t have some other novelizations on my wishlist! I would love to get my hands on some of the World of Darkness novels since I’m a huge fan of the RPG world and the vampire theme in general.

If you have some recommendations for RPG novelizations like those above please send them my way 🙂 In the meantime enjoy this picture of my RPG books!

22686728_10156180193864026_1528683202_n

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Book Review

harry_potter_and_the_cursed_child_special_rehearsal_edition_book_cover

Finished reading

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8)

by John Tiffany (Adaptation), Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling

★★

Expectation

I was afraid of not liking this book a lot. Also I accidentally heard a spoiler while talking with a friend about it. I refused to believe what I heard and was perplexed by how absurd it sounded. Remembering the last scene from book seven and “feel good” vibes about it – except for making Draco slightly bald! I really didn’t like that part! – I was really into reading more from these stories. The fact that this book is written as a dramatic text made me apprehensive. I expected it to be okay and was settled for a mediocre reading experience.

600full-harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows_-part-2-screenshot

Summary

Getting into the story was easy to do. The background was familliar as were most of the characters. All the fast forwarding trough few years of Hogwarts experiences was understandable but I still did not like it. As many Harry Potter fans I love little quirks and details that were put into the books. Reading a script for a play made me feel cheatd out inner character input and descriptions. I was not watching a play but reading it; so there was definitely a whole dimension that was meant to be experienced visually missing.

9-700x455

As for the characters, my mood was jumping up and down the whole time. The villain of the story was a character that annoyed me from the second scene it appeared. Grown up versions of book series protagonists seemed a bit strange and off from what I remember – though this also might be due to the script writing.

New characters, and here I primarily mean Albus and Scorpius; were interesting enough. The character of Albus suffered most from script writing syndrome. I would have loved to get more insight into his motivation and personal growth.

Scorpius on the other hand was an extremely lovable character. His geekines and quirkiy banter dialogue made me smile at every scene he was part of. Honestly I was mesmerized.

“SCORPIUS: I can’t quite believe I did that.

ALBUS: I can’t quite believe you did that either.

SCORPIUS: Rose Granger-Weasley. I asked out Rose Granger-Weasley.

ALBUS: And she said no.

SCORPIUS: But I asked her. I planted the acorn. The acorn that will grow into our eventual marriage.

ALBUS: You are aware that you’re an utter fantasist.”

harry-potter-and-the-cursed-child-quotes-scorpius

I think that the plot twist of this book exploits the messiest part of the Harry Potter universe. The one thing that the cynics point at as the loophole in the otherwise richly written world. I love that somebody addressed this issue and filled in some much needed gaps. As per usual I’m only hinting for fear of making spoilers for future readers since I think many people are cautious about this book.

Conclusion

I’m not a fan of drama texts but this one has brought me back some magic I’ve felt reading the Harry Potter books. Parts of it were kinda messy and had me on the edge of my seat while reading. The main villain could have used some more “screen time” to shine out. This way the whole backstory was put down in a few short sentences. Other parts were pure delight to read. I got to love some new characters and I got to be mopey about some old ones! Any Harry Potter fan will appreciate a new dose of magic it brings.
Also now I’m really interested in watching the play :/

 

 

The Sword of Summer – Book Review

5162WSS0S5L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Finished reading:

The Sword of Summer

(Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: Book 1)

by Rick Riordan ★★★★★

Expectation

I expected it to be as fun as the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series and with a touch of cool since here we have Norse gods. I love these books and the positively fun style they are written in. These are adventure books that make my inner child happy and my grumpy adult more bearable to live with.

Most important thing have names…

MAGNUS-CHASE_jacket_FINAL-2

Summary

Wrongly chosen, wrongly slain

A hero Valhalla cannot contain

Nine days hence must go East

Ere Sword of Summer unbinds The Beast

In this book main hero is around sixteen year old unlike the Percy whose story starts when he is twelve. The storytelling is funny and fast paced. The characters don’t get to slack around and their adventures are a non-stop merry go round.

stick with us

I went to find breakfast and kill it with my sword…

The viking feel to the story is present and the Norse mythology is revealed in a new light. In the light of more known Norse gods like Thor, Odin and Loki it was a pleasure to learn about other less known entities.

magnus-chase-nine-realms

Whenever I’m tempted to hug a dwarf, that’s usually a sign I need to move along…

Again I was amazed at how the author takes some mundane teen troubles and explaines them with a twist on the supernatural. There are some really deep and serious backstories throught the book and some of them thought me a great respect for Rick Riordan.

“Elves.” Blitz shrugged. “They have a low tolerance for anything that isn’t perfect – music, art appearances. Their own children.”

mag-chase_DOG_v2

Sword of Summer appeared in my hands. It’s blade purred  like a demented cat.

There were so many funny quotes in this book and I can’t post them all. If I were more Photoshop savy I would have made some cool quote pictures alas I’m not.

…most powerful paradoxes in the Nine Worlds – Wi-Fi with no lag, a politicians sincerity, a printer that prints, healthy deep fried food and an interesting grammar lecture.

There were some places like Hotel Valhalla that were so nicely descripted I was daydreaming on a TV show to put it to life.

bookish-problem-9-having-to-keep-calm-until-the-next-book-in-the-series-is-published-e3445

Conclusion

This book has restored my faith in Christmas this year. Waiting on the next book is going to be pure torture! I will love it and fangirl over it! I might even give Kane Chronicles a second chance next year!

The only limits on your magic are your strength and your imagination…