January Book Wrap Up 2020

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Monthly reading review – January 2020

This January I have read:

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) by Leigh Bardugo ★★★★★

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo ★★★★★

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1) by Leigh Bardugo ★★★★

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1) by Holly Black ★★★★

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2) by Holly Black ★★★★★

The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3) by Holly Black ★★★★★

The Witch With No Name (The Hollows #13) by Kim Harrison ★★★

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1. How many books have you read last month? Are you happy with the amount you read? 

This January I read 7 books total. I am happy with the amount and page count in particular.

2. What was the best of all the books you’ve read in January? Any scenes or characters that made a lasting impression?

All of the books were fantasy genre. The first half of January I was totally into Grishaverse and managed to read everything Leigh Bardugo had written related to Grishaverse. The second part of the month I was happily enjoying Holly Black’s The Folk of the Air series – I’m still confused as to why they are called that though :/ But the characters Jude and Cardan have become favorites right away!

originalThis is just one of the beautiful pictures I found of Cardan and Jude – all rights belong to the author and artist!

3. Were there any not so good books for you last month? What made it hard or not enjoyable to read?

The only book I had any issues reading this month was The Witch With No Name. I got overwhelmed by the complicate metaphysics supernatural elements of the book. I let too much time pass between reading this last book of The Hollows series and the previous one. I had problems keeping up with the book plot. You can check out my review for more details HERE.

4. How did the books you were reading last month fit in your reading plans if you had any?

I made a list of the books I own I wish to read this year and five of them I read this January already. I’m very happy with that score and enjoy making reading plans so I can keep better track of my reading.  You can check out the whole list HERE. I will be making  a separate post and update on it later in February.

5. Any updates on the series you are reading or are you starting any new series?

Having finished all books related to the Grishaverse universe I will have to wait for the next book in Nikolai duology which happens to be one of the most anticipated books this year! I have finally finished with The Hollows series by Kim Harrison (insert little happy/sad dance here). That felt like a chapter of my life has been finished as well – this is how long I was a devoted reader to this book series. As for The Folk of the Air book series – I managed to make a run trough the whole trilogy this month and will probably need to turn to some fanfiction and hope that the author writes some more books soon!

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6. Would you like to recommend any books or authors you’ve been reading this last month?

I have become a devoted reader fan to both Leigh Bardugo and Holly Black. I’m going to try some other books by Leigh Bardugo in February – primarily Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) which I have ordered and received already. Anyone who likes fantasy will probably like both of the Grishaverse and The Folk of the Air book series. I find the plot engaging and the books are just beautiful as well!

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November 2019 Book Haul!

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Last month was busy and full of activity. I got lucky to visit a book fair Interliber in Zagreb and came back with a big pile of new books! For the first time the amount of books I bought in English can rival the amount of books I bought in Croatian!

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Here is the list of books I’ve bought in November*:

1. The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Graphic Novels, #4) by Rick Riordan, Robert Venditti

2. The Darkness: Darkness/ Batman & Darkness/ Superman 20th Anniversary Collection by Garth Ennis, Jeph Loeb, Ron Marz, Scott Lobdell, Marc Silvestri et all

4. Hellboy Vol 2 – Okovani kovčeg / Desnica Usuda by Mike Mignola

5. Batman – Prokleti by Brian Azzarello, Lee Bermejo

6. Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work! by Douglas Coupland (Croatian Edition)

7. Drugi svjetski rat – Memoari by Winston Churchill

8. MOR – Plodovi osvete by Josip Kralik

9. Tuđinac (Alien Movie Novelizations #1) by Alan Dean Foster

10. Edda by Snorri Sturluson

11. Saga, Vol. 7-9 by Brian K. Vaughan

12. The Fates Divide (Carve the Mark #2) by Veronica Roth

13. The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic (Grishaverse) by Leigh Bardugo

14. Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo

15. Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

16. The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

17. The Wicked King  (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

*Picture is also showing one graphic novel I bought in October while attending the Essen Spiel 2019 and a set of two books I got as a present from a relative.

IMG_20191130_150435All the books in English I got.

All the books in English are fantasy genre. I decided to try out a new book series The Folk of the Air by Holly Black that caught my attention and got first two books. The only reason I did not get the third one is because the format of the book was bigger and I hate that on my bookshelves. Percy Jackson graphic novel Vol 4 was a lucky unexpected find that I’m very pleased about. I decided to fill up my Grishaverse books collection and got the three books in the picture. The Darkness graphic novel I read years ago and really loved it. This Anniversary edition looked too good to pass up.

IMG_20191130_150048Graphic novels I got in November.

I finally got the third volume of Saga in Croatian translation. Hellboy second volume in Croatian is actually made of English editions volumes 3 and 4. The Croatian editions by Naklada Fibra are all hardcovers that collect more volumes than the English editions and are quite heavy to carry around and read. The Batman The Damned I choose just to reach a certain price limit to get a free shirt from the publisher.

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This November I got 9 books in Croatian! For me this is a lot. I prefer to read books in original English when possible. I make an exception for graphic novel editions usually but this time I got a little carried away.

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While most of the books I bought were fiction, there were 4 non fiction as well. The only non fiction I usually buy are about books and reading. The Nobel Prize winning Winston Churchill book is actually a present for my boyfriend. And I just remembered I forgot to include one other book I got as a present for his mother in any of the pictures…

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And to top it all off these are the books I will be reading all trough January. These are manuals for the course I am going on for a 3D Designer. again the picture is missing two more that I was using and left in my bag. This might put a damper on my reading plans for the next two months though :/

 

Reading guide to worlds of Rick Riordan

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes

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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

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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

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• 9 From the Nine Worlds

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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. ?

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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

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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.

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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 Challenge update Monday

I’m slowly progressing with Summer reading challenge. I’ve finished four books out of fifteen and plan to start on the fifth one tonight. Last book I’ve finished for the challenge was:

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9 From the Nine Worlds (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard)

by Rick Riordan

★★★★★

I liked the short form of the stories. They were very entertaining. Although they are part of the Magnus Chase series – all major character from Mahnus Chase series are in the stories except for Magnus Chase himself. While I loved reading about all the characters there should have been at least one scene with Magnus :/

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I liked how the stories were written as a travel adventure trough the 9 worlds. It all fit very nicely in the summer season and holiday travel theme. The book even had a fold out map of the 9 worlds which was very cool!

I am debating my options on which book to start on next for the challenge. My choices are:

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna book 1) by Kendare Blake

OR

Angel & Faith: Live Through This (Season 9, Volume 1) by by Christos Gage, Rebekah Isaacs (Artist)

OR

Dune (Dune #1) by Frank Herbert

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Strange Candy – Book Review

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Finished reading

Strange Candy

by Laurell K. Hamilton

★★★★

Expectation

Laurell K. Hamilton is one of my most read authors. I’ve read both of her big book series Anita Blake and Meredith Gentry. While I have some of her other works as short stories and even another standalone book, this is the only short story collection she is the only author of. I liked the concept of the collection and I wanted to see her stories that are not urban fantasy related read like for me. I was very looking forward to short stories from the world of Anita Blake.

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Summary

1# Those who seek forgivness ★★★★

Insight into life of Anita Blake the animator and how she deals with every night zombie raising business. It is set before any of the series events in the books. Interesting but rather depressing when looked trough the series as a whole.

2# A Lust of Cupids ★★★★★

This is a cute short story perfect for Valentines day! In the story people sometimes get chased by little Cupid like creatures who shot them with arrows to fall in love or just get infatuated. I loved the concept and the humor of the story. I enjoyed the methapore of the story a lot! Would not mind reading about the vengance either!

3# The Edge of the sea ★★

Story about murder and mystery with supernatural twist. Dark and melancholy. I did not like this story. It was sad and traumatic.

4# The Scarcity of lake monsters ★★★★

This was a well balanced story that made me sad. I like the characters and the idea of fantastical creatures being real. I was lulled into this story with first part being endearing and then got smacked down and a bit heartbroken. Good story though!

5# Selling houses ★★★★★

Simple and concise story set in the Anita Blake world. The main character is a civilian woman realstater checking on a house she needs to sell. There were some nicely creepy elements and the story was a great fit.

6# A token for Celandine ★★★★

The most complex story so far. I like how deep the world felt right away. It was set in a fantastical world akin to those of Dungeons and Dragons. He first part seemed a little hard to get into but it went much better toward the end. It was a nice little adventure. This story is set in the Nightseer world.

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7# A clean sweep ★★★

A really short story based on an idea of a cleaning super hero. I liked the twist at the end but I wished there were some more meat to it all.

8# The Curse-Maker ★★★

Very much DnD type of story. There’s a bard thats gotten cursed with sickness and theres a female warrior who loves him and wants to find the one who is responsible. I liked the parcticality of the sorcerer in the story. The blade was interesting. As usuall the end shows much more promise that the begining of the story. Story is set in the Nightseer world.

9# Geese ★★★

More magic and sorcery. I found the story quite weird for some reason. It was OK but a bit too much angst for some reason. The idea off a shapeshifter taking refuge in the animal form appealed to me a lot. The ending was just confusing for me

10# House of wizards  ★★★★★

I loved the idea of magic and non magic world coliding in such a way. I also have growing respect for people who are good at usefull and practical things. This story just felt sweet and lovely.

11# Here be dragons ★★★★★

Strangely alluring and complex supernatural story. I was fascinated with character motivations. In the core it is a dark story about sociopaths. Children of the story are different. There is strength and there is also hope. Interesting take on human need for intimacy.

12# Winterkill ★★★★

Another story form Nightseer world. Main theme is revenge killing.  I liked the magical aspects of the story. There are always some glimpses into horror in most stories in this collection. I think that is just the author’s writting style. There is certain strength in main female characters and also backup male characters seem to have come from a same mold. I liked the story and the angsty feel to it.

13# Stealing souls ★★★★★

A very well rounded short story with Sidra and Leech. This one more than the rest made me remember playing RPG with the group of people. There was something endearing in reading a thief do his trapfinding thing. Liked this story a lot!

14# The girl who was infatuated with death ★★★★★

Last story I might have read a long time ago in another short story collection called Bite. It has been so long that I am simply not sure anymore. It has been almost a year since I last read Anita Blake novel Crimson Death. It made me remember how much I liked reading them again. These characters have a special place among my favorite books.

“I like to think that Irving is somewhere chasing angelic speedboats, or maybe he’s got his own wings. Surely, even God needs a laugh now and then, and Irving is a funny guy, for a monster.”
― Laurell K. Hamilton, Strange Candy

Conclusion

I liked that conceptually each story had a character driven by something like a personal weakness, like some strange candy… One thing that struck me as kinda odd is that there were so many stories with characters from Nightseer novel yet there were no Merry Gentry related stories. I enjoyed most of the stories and the writing was what I expected it to be. I don’t usually read fantasy so much and reading these short stories made me read more fantasy in February than I did for the better part of the last year. I am still not fan of fantasy.

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Sweet Ruin – Book Review

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Finished reading

Sweet Ruin

(Immortals After Dark, #16)

by Kresley Cole

★★★★

Expectation

As I have already mentioned my motivation while buying this book was largely due too being a long time fan of the series. This book is one of the more recent additions to my collection from this summer. I actually started reading it only because I am really looking forward to the book Shadow’s Seduction that is the next one in the Immortals After Dark book series. I had no particular expectations and I really wanted to be done with it so I could continue with the Shadow’s Seduction and the second book from the Dacian storyline.

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Summary

Again I feel compelled to clarify a bit on the progress of the book series I am reading. Immortals After Dark started out back in 2006. with a first book A Hunger Like No Other. I am very glad that it was not the first book from the series I’ve read since I did not think that much of it after did read it. For me the first was actually a prequel story Warlord Wants Forever. I still find it that it perfectly summarises the tone and the theme of the whole book series. And the premise which is neatly tucked in packages of steamy and fantastical books with highly eroticized characters is strong and simple:

There is someone for everyone

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Trought the books in this series a long line of fantastical characters  of all kinds come to life. And for all of them there is that special someone who is made to be their other half. There is something endearingly comforting in this underlying theme of each of seventeen books so far. The characters and the mythology of the worlds that these characters come from is rich and impressive. While most of the creatures have some root in known myths some are more original than others. At the begining of each book there are few quotes from the “Book of Lore” and they are usually a little snippets that provide information on the type of characters that will be focused on in the book ahead.

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While I have some characters that I love more than others most of the characters and their love stories have some part to play in the bigger background plot that spans trough each book and builds on the mythos of the Immortals After Dark universe. Some books end on a cliffhanger and some provide a bit more subtle transition from one pair of characters to the next.

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The steamy scenes of all pairings are definitely mature in content and the amount of swear words trough the books is high. Some scenes are downright porn. Yet with all things considered there is something lovable about these books. I enjoy the badass female characters that are fearless and downright unstoppable when it matters the most. Humor is tinged with sarcasm and action is out of this  literally world.

Conclusion

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. When I started reading it I did not care much for the characters but by the end of the book I grew fond of the main characters. The story was filled with sexual tension. There were some crude moments in there but it all fit quite nicely. The story added to the backstory of the series and it was interesting to read the scenes from different perspectives. I love how intricately the characters grow trough the books and enjoy when they reappear from book to book.

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Queen of Dragons – Book Review

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Finished reading

Queen of Dragons

(Drakon #3)

by Shana Abe

★★

Expectation

The first book of this series was something different from all the books I was reading at the time. It is historical romance, with all the ladies and lords and proper etiquette in England long past. Add fantastical elements dragons! The second book of the series got me hooked. It took me a while to get this book and continue the series. But immediately after I got it I started reading it. I was really in the mode for a book with dragons and romance.

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Summary

Again it took me by surprise the historical romance feel of the book. There are lots of mysterious plot holes in this this book. Some of them I’ve written of to the time it passed since I first read the first two books of the series. But as I got more into the book there were more of them. The author lets out lots of things without explaining too much. There is a backstory with dragon tribes. The complicated and rigid traditions. The coloring of the dragons in this book was intriguing for me. Maricara is a strong character and I kept wanting a happy ending for her.

“But this man…this powerful, lovely man was not afraid of her. He was also a beast, and an earl, which seemed to be something like a prince in this country, and he was not afraid. And he was tender, and he was strong, and he was drakon.”
― Shana Abe, Queen of Dragons

Sex scenes were scarce but steamy. I’ve developed an easy connection to these characters and want the next book! At first I thought the plot was slow and then it seemed that this book was just an episode in a longer saga.

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Conclusion

This book had me in suspenseful reading binge. I loved center characters. It was a book less about romance and more about intrigue and mystery. It made me feel like the build up from first two books is coming together finally. Rhys is a character I’m hopping to learn more about in the next book. I’m unsure when I’ll get the next book of the series.

The Goblin Emperor – Book Review

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Finished reading:

The Goblin Emperor

by Katherine Addison

★★★★

Expectation

I’ve come across this book last year when it was nominated for a Hugo award. From all of the nominees I wanted to pick up at least one book to check out what goes for a note worthy science fiction these days. I was drawn into the story with an underdog character and intrigued with steampunk elements it promised.

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Summary

The story begins with news that the emperor and most of his family and heirs have died in a crash of a royal steampunk airship. The apparent heir to the throne is long forgotten fourth son of the recently deceased emperor who has been tucked away from anyone’s sight for almost a decade. His father banished him as he did to most he did not like or care about. Thus, a secluded and mistreated youth moves to the heart of the empire to become the new emperor.

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To top it all Maia – the new would be emperor – is part goblin from his mothers side. And the throne he is to sit upon is from his fathers side of the family which are elves. This is a story about how a smallish eighteen years old young man that has been living in the middle of nowhere, neglected and abused gets thrown into a whirlpool of court intrigue and tightly balanced politics.

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Author was very thorough with intertwining subtle court and cultural intrigues. Most of the elaborate cultural details and quirks require readers patience. Some things I had to concentrate hard at to understand and had to read it more than once.

The colorful names and cultural subtleties gave me much grief. I would have loved to have read the names, customs and pronunciation guide at the beginning of it all instead at the end. This way I had a revelation reading the explanations at the end of the book.

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Conclusion

I liked this book. It was fun rooting for Maia and reading about him becoming an emperor in truth. With great power comes great responsibility…and also many enemies as well! I liked that the story had a certain sense of flair and a feel of a great saga beginning to unfold.