Friday, September 19, 2014

So You Want to Read Fables...? (The Updated Updated Edition)

I am a huge fan of Bill Willingham and his Fables series. I started reading it in 2009 and quickly caught up. It is now like Christmas every time something new in the series is released. The writing and the artwork combine to make it easily one of my favourite series ever. In 2012, though, I found it hard to find a post that explained a suitable reading order. When I started the series it was relatively small, but I can understand how overwhelming it would be for someone to start fresh and have no idea where to go. This lead me to create my own post. I was doing well keeping it updated for a while there, but got a bit behind. I thought I would repost today with all the additions.

F= Fables and J = Jack of Fables.

It starts off easily enough:

F - Volume 1: Fables: Legends in Exile (Issues 1-5)
F - Volume 2: Animal Farm (Issues 6-10)
F - Volume 3: Storybook Love (Issues 11-18)
F - Volume 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers (Issues 19-21; 23-27)
F - Volume 5: The Mean Seasons (Issues 22; 28-33)
F - Volume 6: Homelands (Issues 34-41)

NOTE: Congrats, you are now safe to start Jack of Fables. The events in this book pick-up after issues 34 and 35 of Fables contained in Homelands. You do not have to start now, but if you want to it is now safe. It didn't actually release until after Volume 8 of Fables.

F - Volume 7: Arabian Nights (and Days) (Issues 42-27)
F - Volume 8: Wolves (Issues 48-51)

STOP!! If you haven't all ready, you should read 1001 Nights of Snowfall. I did not, but it ties into Volume 9 of Fables. (I don't think you lack if you just read it whenever. It is technically a prequel.)

F - Volume 9: Sons of Empire (Issues 52-59)
F - Volume 10: The Good Prince (Issues 60-69)
F - Volume 11: War and Pieces (Issues 70-75)
F - Volume 12: The Dark Ages (Issues 76-82)

STOP!! You are now on a Fables vacation. In order to read Volume 13 you have to read Jack of Fables because this is a Crossover edition.

J - Volume 1: The (Nearly) Great Escape (Issues 1-5)
J - Volume 2: Jack of Hearts (Issues 6-11)
J - Volume 3: The Bad Prince (Issues 12-16)
J - Volume 4: Americana (Issues 17-21)
J - Volume 5: Turning Pages (Issues 22-27)
J - Volume 6: The Big Book of War (Issues 28-32)

STOP!! It is now time for a Jack of Fables vacation. Sort of. When released as individual issues Volume 13 actually contains Fables, Jack of Fables, and The Literals. When they released it as a trade paperback they put everything together and called it Fables.

F - Volume 13: The Great Fables Crossover (Fables: Issues 83-85; Jack of Fables: Issues 33-35; The Literals: Issues 1-3)

Note: If you are worried about any possible spoilers it is now save to read Cinderella: Fables are Forever. (More about this spin-off below). You can do what you want for the rest of the Fables and Jack of Fables. A suggested order is such (this is how they were released and I read them):

J - Volume 7: The New Adventures of Jack and Jack (Issues 36-40)
F - Volume 14: Witches (Issues 86-93)
J - Volume 8: The Fulminate Blade (Issues 41-45)
F - Volume 15: Rose Red (Issues 94-100)
J - Volume 9: The End (Issues 46-50) - This concludes Jack of Fables.
F - Volume 16: Super Team (Issues 101-107)

Note: If you are worried about possible spoilers after this comic it is safe to read Werewolves of the Heartland and the first Fairest. (More on these comics below.)

F - Volume 17: Inherit the Wind (Issues 108-113)
F - Volume 18: Cubs in Toyland  (Issues 114-123)
F - Volume 19: Snow White (Issues 114-123 (back-up stories only) and issues 124-129 (December 24, 2013)
F - Volume 20: Camelot (Issues 131-136)
F - Volume 21:                 (Issues 141-149) (March 3, 2015)

Note: I am not sure at this point if there are going to be any possible spoilers in the The Unwritten crossover, that I talk about more below, but just going by release dates lets assume you should read up to here before reading it. Once the comic is released I will correct this note if necessary.

The Spin-offs and Standalones:

There is also the standalone comic Werewolves of the Heartland. The comic is a chance to see Bigby all by himself. It is technically a good introduction to the series; but if you are worried about any possible spoilers it was originally set to be released around the same time as Super Team and follows events from that comic.

Then, there is Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love (Issues 1-6) and Cinderella: Fables are Forever (Issues 1-6). From Fabletown with Love doesn't have many spoilers, but you are best to wait and read it until at least after Volume 11. Fables are Forever, though, does talk about events from later in the series. If you want to avoid possible spoilers do not read it until after Fables: Volume 13. Also, the two collections are entirely unrelated. There is no need to read one right after the other.

The newest spin-off to the Fables series is Fairest. On the one hand it is an excellent introduction to the series and is a possible starting point if you are new to the series. On the other hand, if you are interested in keeping things in order and not having any spoilers at all (even minor ones), I recommend starting this series after you read Volume 16 of Fables.

Fairest - Volume 1: Wide Awake (Issues 1-7)
Fairest - Volume 2: Hidden Kingdom (Issues 8-14)
Fairest - Volume 3: The Return of the Maharaja (Issues 15-20)
Fairest in all the Land
Fairest - Volume 4: Of Mice and Men (October 7, 2014)

Then, Jess Nevins released Fables Encyclopaedia. It is essentially the annotated version of Fables. It is something worth having wherever you are in the series. I have been warned that it does contain spoilers up until Volume 18 of the main series, though. (I sadly haven't had a chance to read it yet!)

Lastly, there is the novel Peter & Max. This is an original novel that also can be read as an introduction to the series. I don't remember any spoilers for the series, so I wouldn't worry about a reading order. If you are in the mood for a Fables novel instead of graphic novel, pick this one up!

One thing I was remiss in mentioning before is the video game The Wolf Among Us. I am not a big gamer, but I am tempted! Anyway, from what I have researched the game is a prequel to the series and will not spoil anything if you play it first and then decide to read them later.

Now this is where things get interesting... Fables is doing a crossover with another Vertigo comic, The Unwritten. If you have never read The Unwritten before, it is another literary graphic novel where the main character travels through various fictional worlds. It works really well for a crossover. The crossover is going to occur in a collected The Unwritten graphic novel and take place in Fables. It is set to be released next year. So, for the sake of having all the information available here is the reading order if you are interested in the crossover.

The Unwritten:
Volume 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity (Issues 1-5)
Volume 2: Inside Man (Issues 6-12)
Volume 3: Dead Man's Knock (Issues 13-18)
Volume 4: Leviathan (Issues 19-24)
Volume 5: On to Genesis (Issues 25-30)
Volume 6: Tommy Taylor and the War of Words (Issues 31-35)
Volume 7: The Wound (Issues 36-41)
Volume 8: Orpheus in the Underworlds (Issues 42-49) (February 4, 2014)

This all leads up to the crossover...

Volume 9: The Unwritten Fables (Issues 50-54)

And, because I am a bit of a completest, I would also mention that there is a standalone volume in The Unwritten series called Tommy Taylor and the Ship that Sank Twice.

And, if you enjoyed The Unwritten, Volume 10 is called War Stories and will be out October 14, 2014.

Lastly, just because for some this might be the easiest way to get the Fables series, here is a list of what the Deluxe editions contain:

Volume 1: Fables 1-10
Volume 2: Fables 11-18
Volume 3: Fables 19-27
Volume 4: Fables 28-33 (1001 Nights of Snowfall)
Volume 5: Fables 34-45
Volume 6: Fables 46-51 
Volume 7: Fables 52-59 and 64
Volume 8: Fables 60-63, 65-69 
Volume 9: Fables 70-82 (October 7, 2014)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


*tap tap tap*

Is this thing on? Is there even anyone out there? I have apparently forgotten how to blog. I want to come back, but then never do... And here is is Fall, my favourite season of the year, and the R.I.P Challenge is running and I haven't even signed up! So, I am dusting off the dust and cobwebs to make an attempt to get back in the swing of things... Wish me luck!

I don't even know what I want to read. This is what happens when you are living under a rock... Normally I am more social and have read more, so I know what is happening in the world. We will just have to see how things go.

Any recommendations?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Midsummer by Carole Giangrande

Midsummer by Carole Giangrande

Completion Date: May, 2014
Length: 96 Pages
All her life, Joy's been haunted by a man she's never met -- her visionary grandfather, the artist Lorenzo. At work on digging a New York subway tunnel, his pickaxe struck the remains of an ancient Dutch trading ship -- and a vision lit up the underground, convincing him that he was blessed. As it turned out, his children did well in life, and almost a century later, his granddaughter Joy, a gifted linguist, married the Canadian descendant of the lost ship's captain. Yet nonno's story also led to the death of Joy's cousin Leonora, her Aunt Elena's only child. It was a tragedy that might have been prevented by Joy's father, Eddie, a man who's been bruised by life and who seldom speaks to his sister. Yet in the year 2000, he has no choice. Wealthy Aunt Elena and Uncle Carlo are coming from Rome to New York City to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They've invited the family to dine at the sky-high tower restaurant above the tunnel where nonno Lorenzo saw his vision long ago. On the first day of summer, Elena and Eddie will face each other at last. Midsummer is a story of family ties and fortune, and of Minding peace as life nears its close, high above the historic place where nonno's story began.
“Carole Giangrande's Midsummer sets sail in search of distant turning points. She holds the heart of her story gently, and she steers us gracefully through time, and memory. The elegance of her language casts long shadows. She moves us as she writes from the center of longing and wonder.” - Karen Lee Lewis, author of What I Would Not Unravel
"Midsummer is emotionally focused and charged with the power of archetype, its undercurrent of passion perfectly controlled. Carole Giangrande has mastered the novella form." - Eva Tihanyi, author of Flying Underwater: Poems New and Selected
When a book is so short I struggle with how best to address a review because it runs the risk of being as long as the book itself! I always want to read more novellas, but it never seems to happen. I am more of a novel reader than any of the shorter fiction out there. But, sometimes a novella comes along that I just have to read and this was one of them. I think that shorter works need to have that 'bang factor'. It did take me a bit to get into this one, but it was worth it in the end.

But, then there is only positive... I love family history. I am a bit obsessed with my own. So, a novel that shows that as a main theme is going to call for me. I am a bit of a history buff, too, so that all plays into it! The characters really came to life for me. My big complaint with novellas and short story is that they are not long enough. I get to the end and 'I WANT MORE!'  How can it be over? How can there not be more to the story? Even though Giangrande wrote fabulous characters and a great, engaging story... I wish it was a novel and not a novella and that is why I don't read much in the way of short fiction. It is not really a bad thing and just is a mark of how fantastic the works are. But, Giangrande made things work and I am glad that I had a chance to read this book!


Friday, June 06, 2014

Book Review: Blossoms and Bayonets by Jana McBurney-Lin and Hi-Dong Chai

Blossoms and Bayonets by Jana McBurney-Lin and Hi-Dong Chai

Completion Date: May, 2014
Length: 316 Pages
"McBurney-Lin crafts…an engaging and entertaining read from beginning to end." --Midwest Book Review
"Impossible to put down—or to forget—authors’ grippingly suspenseful and deeply affecting historical novel limns the lives of a Korean family under Japanese rule with astonishing grace and power." --Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You
"Riveting internal dialogue and narration interspersed with quotes from those running the war efforts on various fronts combine to compel the reader forward. I say compel rather than propel, because I had to read. I had to know how this family and those around them would fare in the end."—Keri Rojas, bookseller at Cornerstone Cottage, Hampton, IA.
Hi-Dong Chai and Jana McBurney-Lin, the award-winning author of My Half of the Sky, turn their hands to a remarkable story of a family and country torn apart by outside forces.
The time is 1942, the place, Japanese-occupied Seoul, Korea. Fifteen-year-old He-Seung is full of fire, ready to take on these Japanese…if only he could convince his father, a Christian minister more concerned about saving his flock in a time when Emperor-worship has become mandatory.
Since occupation, the Japanese have eradicated the Korean language, names, even the country’s flower. Now they are seeking Korean boys as volunteers for their army. When his father is arrested by the Japanese, however, He-Seung must swallow his hatred of the enemy. Even harder, he must leave his mother and baby brother He-Dong to fend for themselves.
Based on a true story, Blossoms & Bayonets is suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period. The story lends an eyewitness perspective to events as they unfold. revealing an era of nuance and complexity, and shedding a bit of light on why --and how--one war led to the next.
The problem with getting away from blogging is that it makes it harder and harder to get back in the groove. I sit down to blog, but I wind up staring at a blank screen. Then, I fall behind entirely and that makes it seem like work to catch-up and blogging is supposed to be fun. I told myself I would make June a blogging month, but it has taken me this long to actually sit down and post. It's sad.

One of my favourite subjects to read about is WWII, so, when I saw this was set during then I knew I was going to have to snatch up a copy. Especially since I typically read books about the Canadian involvement and have been a bit slack with everyone else. This book is about the Japanese-occupied Seoul, Korea. This is something that I have been aware of, but never read a book that centres around it. And, it is based on the true story of Hi-Dong Chai, the co-author, so it definitely paints a picture of this time period. I think it is fantastic to take advantage of these resources before we don't have them any more.

Each chapter of the book opens with real quotes said during this difficult time. It helps frame the story and shows a wide-range of people around then. I loved how this book was written. It was very well-written with the three different narrators telling the story. The narrators, the wife and sons of a Christian minister, were great choices. This definitely was a story of love, faith, and courage during a difficult time. I am glad I read it!


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Book Review: All That is Solid Melts into Air by Darragh McKeon

All That is Solid Melts into Air by Darragh McKeon

Completion Date: May, 2014
Length: 464 Pages
Russia, 1986. On a run-down apartment block in Moscow, a nine-year-old prodigy plays his piano silently for fear of disturbing the neighbors. In a factory on the outskirts of the city, his aunt makes car parts, hiding her dissident past. In a nearby hospital, a surgeon immerses himself in his work, avoiding his failed marriage.
And in a village in Belarus, a teenage boy wakes to a sky of the deepest crimson. Outside, the ears of his neighbor's cattle are dripping blood. Ten miles away, at the Chernobyl Power Plant, something unimaginable has happened.Now their lives will change forever.
An end-of-empire novel charting the collapse of the Soviet Union, All That Is Solid Melts into Air is a gripping and epic love story by a major new talent.
This book was outside my general reading in many ways... First, I don't typical read books that place so recently as 1986. My interests tend to be older history. But, I am interested in the Soviet Union and realized I had never really read a novel that takes place during that period in history. I remember kids coming to Canada for the summer from places in what used to be the Soviet Union because of the radiation from the Chernobyl Power Plant explosion. I have to admit it was not something I had thought of in a while, but it gave me even more interest in reading this book that sheds some light on that terrible time.

A mark of a good book, for me, is one that makes you want to read more about a certain subject. I think it is timely that Russia is in the news so heavily right now. While they have changed a lot since the country they were in 1986, there are still similarities that make you appreciate the fact you can read about it from a distance. And, McKeon puts a human face on the tragedy. I wish I paid more attention to the outside world and had read more on the Chernobyl disaster before now. There is just always so much happening in the world that you can't focus on everything like you would hope to. So, you read a novel about it instead and then feel guilty because you can't read everything. I think a lot of that relates to how events like WWI and WWII get so much exposure even now, but events like this sort of vanish into the background.

I read more young adult fiction that I used to, but I have to admit that I am not usually a big fan of adult fiction told from the point of view of teenagers. There are sometimes, though, that I think it makes a book even more human. I think there is a different level of sympathy for young people and animals than older people who have all ready lived a large part of their lives. I personally liked that there was a range of characters in this book, though. It worked better for me. I would sometimes have to slow down my reading to keep everything straight, but it all worked out in the end.

One thing I am finding this year with TLC Book Tours is that I am reading a lot of strong, well-written debut novels. I sometimes worry that I won't like them or they will try too hard and it will fall flat. It seems that 2014 is a good year for debuts, though. With a title like All That is Solid Melts into Air, I was worried this would be too literary for me, but I wound up just being impressed with the writing overall. McKeon is a fabulous writer and I hope that his next book is equally as well-written. He is definitely someone to watch!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Random Rambling - The May Edition

I had such high hopes at the beginning of the year that this would be a great reading year and I would get back on track with blogging... And here we are in May and I am not doing either and have been slacking since about March. So, I lasted two whole months! It makes me wonder if I should even make these goals any more because I obviously cannot keep them up. Somewhere in my life, reading started to take a back seat. I go days without even picking up a book. It's just so bizarre! Actually, if I didn't do Book Tours for TLC Book Tours... I wouldn't have really read or blogged at all. They at least mean I finish books!

I think it is just my life has taken a different direction. If it is a nice day then I do not want to be inside with a book. I want to be outside going for a walk or finding a new place to have a photo expedition. Which lead to me finally deciding I am ready to have a dog again. I had my childhood dog up to 2007 when she got a tumour in her stomach and I had to put her down. That was a terrible time for me! We took her to one vet who told me the dog was fine and then to a second vet that told me she was suffering and there was nothing they could do. I just felt so guilty for a very long time. But, we have moved and while it is not the perfect set-up we were looking for, the road here is still really busy, I started dog-searching.

It is really hard! At first we did not agree on a breed at all. I have only ever had big dogs and did not want a third cat. So, after getting very frustrated, we decided to foster dogs instead. We are getting our first one tomorrow, so anyone that follows me on Instagram and such will see dog pictures instead of a million pictures of the cats. (Although, it is nice for the second day in a row, so you may actually see some variety now that I can go outside!) I was getting frustrated with the foster people, too. They seem to not like the fact that we have cats. And, I think they wanted me to take little, yappy dogs. Just because I have cats doesn't mean I need the dog to be the same size! But, we seem to have reached a point where we are agreeing now. Yay! This is the first foster dog (not my picture):

The funny thing is that after telling me we could only have 'little dogs'... The guy and I found a dog that we both like and I filled out adoption papers. I only showed her to him on a whim. I was shocked when he asked if I had applied! (This was before we found out we were getting a foster dog.) So, I am not sure how long fostering will last. Ideally I would like to find a dog to keep, but also keep fostering because there are so many dogs that need temporary homes. We will see what happens...

And, I guess I wanted to talk about dogs today... I am really excited about tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Book Review: The Dirty Book Murder by Thomas Shawver

The Dirty Book Murder by Thomas Shawver

Completion Date: May 7, 2014
Length: 220 Pages
In this smart, fast-paced mystery debut, Thomas Shawver introduces a charming, unlikely hero from the rarefied world of antique books.
Book merchant Michael Bevan arrives at the Kansas City auction house hoping to uncover some hidden literary gold. Though the auction ad had mentioned erotica, Michael is amazed to find lovely Japanese Shunga scrolls and a first edition of a novel by French author Colette with an inscription by Ernest Hemingway. This one item alone could fetch a small fortune in the right market.
As Michael and fellow dealer Gareth Hughes are warming up for battle, a stranger comes out of nowhere and outbids them—to the tune of sixty grand. But Gareth is unwilling to leave the auction house empty-handed, so he steals two volumes, including the Colette novel. When Gareth is found dead the next day, Michael quickly becomes the prime suspect: Not only had the pair been tossed out of a bar mid-fistfight the night before, but there is evidence from Michael’s shop at the crime scene.
Now the attorney-turned-bookman must find out who wanted the Colette so badly that they would kill for it—and frame Michael. Desperate to stay out of police custody, Michael follows the murderer’s trail into the wealthiest echelons of the city, where power and influence meet corruption—and mystery and eroticism are perverted by pure evil. Unfortunately for Michael, one dead book dealer is only the opening chapter in a terrifying tale of high culture and lowlifes.

Fiction or Non-Fiction? Genre?: Crime Fiction.

What Lead You to Pick-up This Book?: I read it as part of a TLC Book Tour, but I have to admit that I wanted to read it because I was expecting a book about books. I love those!

Summarize the Plot: The book opens discussing the bookstore that Michael Bevan owns. I enjoyed the descriptions and his trip to an auction that sets off the chain of events that makes up the plot of this book. Part of me was wondering when the book was going to get going. Then, there was this other part of me that wanted to see more of the bookstore. (I like books afterall!) After about 50 pages Michael gets into an altercation with Gareth Hughes. Gareth was at the auction I mentioned before and things didn't go so well for either of them. It is when Gareth turns up dead that things really get interesting. The world that this death opens up is strange. I am not sure what to even think of what this book explores behind closed doors. You will have to read the book to find out more.

What Did You Like Most About the Book?: Well, I always appreciate a book that has books as its background. Michael owns a bookstore that we get to explore a bit. The bookish connection is why I wanted to read the book in the first place.

What Did You Like the Least?: Unfortunately, the book was a bit predictable. The fact that I can almost always solve the mystery is why I don't read a lot of crime novels. The plus side was there was still a bit of mystery to other aspects of the novel that were slightly less predictable. I think it evened out.

What Did You Think of the Writing Style?: For a crime novel, I felt that the author was a bit too caught up in physical appearances. I really only need the basics from secondary characters and I don't really care if they are good looking or not. For whatever reason, the characters just didn't stick in my mind.

What Did You Think of the Main Character?: I didn't love Michael, but then I didn't hate him either. I think he is a character that has to be explored and the first book was only sort of an introduction. He has done so much in his life all ready that I am not entirely sure we really get to know the 'real him'.

What Did You Think of the Ending?: The ending just got weird. I think I was expecting lighter reading than what the book actually resulted in! I blame the cover. And, I also was expecting something entirely different when the title was 'dirty' books.

Overall, I didn't hate the book. I don't read a lot of mystery series and probably wouldn't have read this one if not for the tour, title, and cover. I am not entirely sure if the second book will work for me just because I think I was looking for something different for this series, but I am probably in the minority compared to people that read mystery novels all the time. That being said, I am curious about how the rare book element will play through the rest of the books.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Review: Incendiary Girls: Stories by Kodi Scheer

Incendiary Girls: Stories by Kodi Scheer

Completion Date: April, 2014
Length: 208 Pages

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Incendiary Girls explores our baser instincts with vivid imagination and humor. In these stories, our bodies become strange and unfamiliar terrain, a medium for transformation. In “Fundamental Laws of Nature,” a doctor considers her legacy, both good and bad, when she discovers that her mother has been reincarnated as a thoroughbred mare. In the title story, a mischievous angel chronicles the remarkable life of a girl just beyond death’s reach.In Scheer’s hands, empathy and attachment are illuminated by the absurdity of life. When our bodies betray us, when we begin to feel our minds slip, how much can we embrace without going insane? How much can we detach ourselves before losing our humanity? Scheer’s stories grapple with these questions in each throbbing, choking, heartbreaking moment.
I never know what to say about short story collections, so I am going to a 'bulleted' review:

  • Generally, I am not a big short story reader because I just prefer the longer format of novels. I like to make exceptions once in a while and this was my recent exception.
  • I read the descriptions initially, but then time goes on and I completely forget by the time I read the book. I was very surprised by this book! 
  • I think this might be the best short story collection I have read in years. I read the book entirely in one sitting, which rarely happens with short story collections, and for the most part enjoyed all of the stories.
  • The description above mentions 'vivid imagination and humor'. That sounds about right. Actually, I kind was thinking that Scheer's brain must be an interesting place to come up with these stories.
  • If you are looking for something original you need look no further than this book!
  • The stories are a bit unbelievable... I mean, how often do you read a story about a girl who believes her boyfriend has turned into a camel or a daughter who is thinks her mother has been resurrected as a horse. At face value, it seems kind of crazy, but it is really not because the stories are written so well.
  • The only story I was a bit 'meh' about, funny enough, was the title story. I feel like I have to reread it because it just didn't seem to mesh with the rest of the collection for me. I might have missed something.
  • Other than themes of fantastical and magical, the combining thread is medical. It is not something I would rush out and read typically, but it worked in this context. 
  • I think my only major complaint with this collection, especially for some of the stories, was I wanted more... I hope Scheer plans to write novels because I am curious!
Bottom line... I don't generally like short story collections, but I loved this one!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, Book 1) by Erika

Completed: April, 2014
Length: 448 Pages

Synopsis from Goodreads:
On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.
Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.
But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.
The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen.
Fiction or Non-Fiction? Genre?: Fantasy. Fiction.

What Lead You to Pick-up This Book?: I read it as part of a TLC Tour.

Summarize the Plot: When you read the back of the book, or the synopsis I posted above, you expect a straight fantasy novel. That is not what you get! This actually takes place in a different version of our world. We only start learning about what happened to create this new world, but there are mentions of the society we live in now. I suppose that is where the comparision to The Hunger Games comes in... Something bad has happened, but the 'games' are wars and power struggles. Kelsea is a reluctant queen, though. She was brought up in isolation until her 19th birthday when she is collected to take over the kingdom. In many ways she is prepared, but in other ways she has a vast new experience ahead of her. She is also determined to be different from her mother which leads to a different sort of queen. It's hard to be original in such an explored genre, but I think Johansen is well on her way and this is her debut novel!

What Did You Like Most About the Book?: Firstly, strong female character. She definitely grows within this book, so, I expect she will even more as the series progresses. She still accepts help when she needs it so it is not unbelievable. I also like that there is no love triangle so far (and hopefully won't be!). As to the story itself, I liked how it was set in a different version of Earth. I wasn't expecting that in the beginning. Johansen really thinks everything out to both intrigue and inform the reader. I am curious to learn more about the events. I also enjoyed all the characters in their own ways.

What Did You Like the Least?: There was nothing that really stuck out as bad about the book.

What Did You Think of the Writing Style?: I liked it! She knew just how to keep the readers interest. There were quiet moments and more exciting moments. It was just enough mixture to progress the story, but also keep the reader interested. You also felt like you were getting to know the world and the people that inhabit it.

What Did You Think of the Main Character?: In the beginning, I wasn't so sure... But then the novel got going and Kelsea grew on me. She was basically a lonely young woman that had been thrust into a very important role. She has moments where you remember that she is 19. I like that there was a mixture there so that she wasn't so naive the whole book it was annoying, but also that she felt feelings for a boy and other things that 'normal' teenagers should experience. She was also a big reader and I appreciated that.

What Did You Think of the Ending?: Well, you obviously know this is going to be a trilogy or series or something along those lines. But, no cliffhanger ending! There are some things that obviously you still want to know more about and events that are in the workings, but the ending is satisfying. I was very happy with it!

Overall, I am very impressed that this is a debut! Bravo to the author. Definitely worth checking out and I can't wait for the sequel!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Impromptu Read-a-thon

I know the real read-a-thon is not until next weekend, but I have essentially been in a reading slump since last month. This weekend, though, the reading gods seem to have stepped in and books are connecting with me. It did not start off good... I picked up probably 5 books on Thursday and wound up putting them aside. I was starting to get worried! Then... It happened... I picked up Incendiary Girl by Kodi Scheer and it clicked. I wound up reading it in almost one sitting. That was Thursday. Then, after finishing that, I sat there and flipped around through my review copies and came across Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen. That one clicked and I finished it up on Friday. (Finally!)

It hasn't been easy, though. I pick up and abandon books before finding one that works... Now we are on Saturday and I am reading The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison and The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld. It would be awesome to finish both of them!

Things I Have Been Thinking About While Reading:

  • I started off the year reading older books, but mixed in I have read way more 2014 books than I would expect. It is nice to feel like you are keeping up!
  • One of the books I put aside for now was The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor. I thought this was a new book, but it isn't. The reason the opening felt so familiar is because I have a Kindle edition of this book and started it in 2012. I guess I made it to chapter 11 and then something distracted me. I was starting to feel like I was going crazy! Now that I have that sorted I am going to go back and finish the book!
  • I never noticed before how bad of an influence Michelle from That's What She Read was. I have known her for a few years, but it took me until this year to discover she reads a lot of the same stuff as me... This means that she has greatly influenced my TBR this year. (Not that it is a bad thing!)
  • I have been using my e-reader more than ever before so far this year... Only one book I read this month was not on my e-reader, actually. This is not helping my physical TBR... (Although, I do own a hardcover copy of Lost Lake, so even though I read it on my e-reader, it still counts as reading a book on my physical TBR.)
  • I wish e-readers had better batteries. The only way this read-a-thon has worked is by putting my reader on airplane mode and it still died while I was reading The Goblin Emperor last night. That is why I switched to my tablet and wound up reading The Enchanted. My e-books could sync with each other, but that would mean using the internet...
  • I seem to be having a fantasy-heavy year. If nothing is working for me, usually switching to a fantasy novel works.
  • It is really fun to just flip around in your e-reader and read whatever works for you. Even if I do not have specific reading plans, there is usually a book I have in mind to read next. This weekend I am just reading whatever.
I look forward to seeing where my reading takes me next! And, this has been my rambles for Saturday...