Random Musings by Frodosco

Posts tagged “Fantasy

Mini Review Monday: The Dream Thieves

MiniReviewMonday

The Dream Thieves

Summary From GoodreadsThe Dream Thieves

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews on Mini Review Monday! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

I’ve been waiting to read The Dream Thieves until Blue Lily, Lily Blue came out, but I managed to get a copy on Netgalley that I’ll be reviewing later, so I decided to dive in a little early. If you really enjoyed The Raven Boys then I’m sure you love or will love The Dream Thieves because the tempo, majority of the characters, and the feel of the book are very similar to the first one. However, if you had issues with the previous book in the series you might enjoy this one anyway, it’s more polished, the characters even more fleshed out (especially Ronan), and the magical bits that started in The Raven Boys take an even greater focus in The Dream Thieves.

Ronan is a fascinating character. He’s broken, constantly putting himself down and questioning himself (though mostly in his head), but he’s also a badass, and he pulls off that semi-facade masterfully. His powers of retrieving items from dreams are shown in detail in The Dream Thieves, and by the end they are flat-out amazing.

While Ronan is somewhat of the focus in book two (kind of like Adam was in book one), that didn’t detract from the rest of the cast of characters, a group that has become one of my favorites. Blue is still quirky and hilarious, Noah is an oddball of a ghost, Adam is conflicted and broody (but crazy levels of determined), and Gansey is well…Gansey. The dialogue and banter in this series makes for some of the most entertaining reading I’ve had recently, and I haven’t ever come across a series quite like this before, it’s fantastic.

The plot takes a ton of interesting twists and turns, there are a few new characters that are introduced or that get fleshed out a bit more outside of the main group, and the ending will blow your mind. I felt like The Dream Thieves was everything I wanted The Raven Boys to be, like a fully realized version, and I can only hope that Blue Lily, Lily Blue will continue the upward trend. Thanks as always for reading. ^.^

Five Smiling Frodos w Background


Mini Review Monday: The Iron Trial

MiniReviewMonday

The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

Summary From GoodreadsThe Iron Trial

From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.

From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will — is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that?

It’s a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews on Mini Review Monday! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

I received a copy of The Iron Trial via NetGalley, which I was thrilled about because I love Holly Black’s work, had never had the pleasure of reading Cassandra Clare’s, and needed some more MG in my life. The Iron Trial was a highly enjoyable fantasy MG read, filled with magic of all kinds, not just of the elements on which it is focused. There is also the magic of the bonds you make, the wonder of a new world, and the thrill of facing your biggest fears and conquering them.

With the book being by Black and Clare, it is no surprise that the writing style was fantastic, and that I easily read The Iron Trial in one sitting. The pacing is excellent, the world has been fleshed out really nicely, and the Magisterium is a fascinating place to explore. Plus, how can anyone resist elemental powers and all of the cool ways you can use them? I know I couldn’t!

The cast of characters is one of the biggest highlight of the book. Black and Clare really took their time in developing each one, not giving away too much about any one character early on, including the MC. Call (short for Callum) is not your typical main character, being more moody and reserved than a standard hero, and the way his mind works is something quite fresh and interesting, though difficult to describe. Without giving too much away, he does open up after a while, which isn’t too surprising given that the supporting cast is stellar. I can’t wait to see how they develop going forward!

Comparisons to Harry Potter have been made, and while I can see how that might be, I would argue that The Iron Trial is darker in its undertones, and with significantly better (and more interesting) twists. Also, the Magisterium is nothing like Hogwarts, of that I can assure you! If I had to give any criticism to the book it would be that (even for 12yr olds) the characters are a tad slow on the uptake for certain things, and seem a little to clueless at times, but that’s a small issue. If you are looking for a MG fantasy story in the vein of Harry Potter, but with a unique personality and tone, then I’d recommend giving this one a try. Thanks as always for reading.

Five Smiling Frodos w Background


Waiting on Wednesday #28

Waiting On Wednesday hosted by Breaking The Spine

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by the fantastic people over at Breaking The Spine that highlights upcoming releases that we are excited about.

For this week my pre-publication selection that I can’t wait for is:

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Set For Release On: March 26th, 2015

Summary From GoodreadsRed Queen

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn’t know she had. Except . . . her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

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While I’m sure many of you have heard of Red Queen already, especially since it was released as an ARC on Edelweiss, but I had to pick it for WoW. That cover is pretty great, though initially it looked kind of like jelly or syrup dripping instead of blood, but the crown is awesome for sure. Then I saw that Nikki at Fiction Freak, who is awesome by the way, gave it five stars and was freaking out quite a bit about it.

I’ll definitely be picking this up when it comes out in March, if only it weren’t so far away! The premise sounds really cool, I can’t wait to see what abilities are showcased by Mare and the rest of the characters, and I certainly could use another great fantasy read.

Had you heard of this one before, and if not does it sound like something you’d enjoy? What book are you “Waiting On”? Let me know in the comments and/or leave a link to your own WoW post! Thanks for checking out my Waiting On Wednesday! ^.^


Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen: Frodo’s Review

Stolen Songbird

Summary From GoodreadsStolen Songbird by Danielle L Jensen

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

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Stolen Songbird was nearly a DNF for me a few times over, and had I not received an eBook copy in exchange for a review I likely would have done just that. However, I decided to give the book the full run through, but unfortunately it really doesn’t get any better.

To start off, the writing is poor in many parts of the book, most notably at the beginning. The word choice is simplistic when it should be complex, the characters are inconsistent and tend to change based on what the story needs at the time, and the “funny” parts feel forced at best. The romance makes no sense, feelings spike for no apparent reason and then drop off just as suddenly, and don’t get me started on the potential Stockholm syndrome vibes, blah.

nope

The main character, Cécile, was one of the least likable and inconsistent characters I’ve had the misfortune of coming across. Toward the beginning of the book she is naive yet is prone to bullheadedness, is said to be well read but often comes off as a dimwit, and has seemingly no capability or desire to be courteous. At best she was play-acting, going off of fairy tales she had read in order to get by, resulting in her being arrogant, pompous, and irritating.

By the end of the book she has somehow convinced everyone that she’s their savior-to-be, a princess in not only name but in her actions, and a friend to all of the downtrodden. The problem is she didn’t do much at all to cause people to change their opinions of her. She is still a human in a troll world, has made remarks that are plain rude, and yet they come to love her. This isn’t a magical turnaround of character, it is simply weak storytelling. The effect is without cause.

Tristan is just as bad and inconsistent. Some of it is supposed to be written off by him “acting” a certain way because he had to keep a “persona” of sorts. I didn’t buy it and no one else around him should have either. He falls for Cécile even though there is little to see why he would besides his remarks of her looks (more lust than love) and voice (appreciation of a gift) which left a bad taste in my mouth.

Eww, gross

I’d tell you about the plot, but the summary for this book gives away any possible twist or turn that could have occurred. The magic “displays” are not descriptive enough, the “battles” (if you can call them that) get all of a sentence or two, and the drama feels forced and weak.

Overall there just simply wasn’t anything I found redeeming about Stolen Songbird. I know that this review was harsh and incredibly negative, but the writing was maybe MG level while trying to discuss YA topics, and it failed on both fronts. Avoid this one if you still can and thanks as always for reading.

One Smiling Frodo w Background


Mini Review Monday: Into the Icebound by Larry Kollar

MiniReviewMonday

Into the Icebound

Summary From GoodreadsInto the Icebound

In the fourth “Accidental Sorcerers” story, Sura, Mik, and Bailar set sail for the Northern Reach, with Lord Darin in pursuit. Their journey is anything but smooth, with storms, raiders, and the prince of Westmarch standing in the way.

Joining an expedition to the ruins of Isenbund, Bailar disappears in the night. Now, Mik and Sura must help rescue their mentor from a legendary foe thought long extinct.

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews on Mini Review Monday! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

Into the Icebound, the fourth book in the Accidental Sorcerers series, is a fun and easy YA read that could even appeal to MG audiences. This continuation of the exciting fantasy series that I have come to enjoy incorporates a few more classic elements, including goblins and northerners that might as well be cut-outs of vikings or Norse mythology.

Another enjoyable change from previous entries in the series is that it has far more action in it and doesn’t focus as much on the romance. While I like the pairing of Mik and Sura just fine, Into the Icebound is certainly the most entertaining read because of that change.

Displays of magic are plentiful, adventures are undertaken, and history is told in a grand fashion, but in such a way that even younger readers will enjoy. What makes Into the Icebound stand apart the most, however, is that the danger factor is cranked up a few notches. Where as in the first books in the series it felt like the characters were invincible, here this is not nearly the case as many of them encounter real threats to their lives. It isn’t that I want to see Mik or Sura hurt, but having godlike main characters isn’t desirable either, and Kollar manages to balance that aspect the best in this entry to the series.

If you enjoy sorcery, young love (in moderate doses and not graphic), great adventures, and/or great MG/YA style storytelling then this series, and this book especially, is one I’d recommend. You can pick it up on Amazon for a mere dollar here, it’s well worth your time and a fast read to boot. Thanks as always for reading.

Five Smiling Frodos w Background


Middle Grade Books: Why I Love Them & Need to Read More

Middle Grade Books: Why I Love Them & Need to Read More

My latest Book Outlet binge (you’ll see the books tomorrow if you are interested) included a few MG books and made me wonder why I enjoy them so much, yet read them so sparingly. The Middle Grade books I have read recently such as Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver, Doll Bones by Holly Black, and, of course, the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, were absolutely amazing. That is not to say that I would or will enjoy all MG books, because that’s not the case for any age range, but so far my track record has been extremely positive. Why is that?

The running theme through all of the books I mentioned, and even ones I didn’t, have been that they are in the fantasy genre, as well as being in the MG age range. The childlike wonder that I see these characters expressing, something their more jaded or skeptical older counterparts in YA do not show, is beautiful. I don’t think that the fantasy genre has a monopoly on that, but perhaps it has the ability to show it off the best.

That belief that anything is possible, dreams can come true, magic is everywhere, and friendships can be just as strong (if not stronger) than romantic relationships, while all cliches, is refreshing and invigorating to witness. Maybe this just means I miss that time in my life or that getting older has jaded me and I wish for the innocence I no longer have, or perhaps MG authors just bring about a different set of emotions than YA, I don’t know.

Something that is a misconception, at least that I’ve seen among bloggers that tend to read YA and avoid MG for the most part, is that MG books are too simple, that the writing is too basic. Sure, MG books are targeted toward a younger audience so the word choice and length are often at a lower level, though not usually by all that much. However, I’ve found that MG books are just as deep, filled with as much content as YA, and often painting a picture that is easier to envision (at least for my brain, not sure what that says).

It's so beautiful

That brings me to my second question, and also my request. Why don’t I read MG more often if I enjoy it so much? Percy Jackson, Liesl and Po, Doll Bones, they have another thing in common: I found out about them through other bookish people, in this case specifically Kat at Katytastic (who is awesome). Maybe I don’t follow the right book bloggers (not that I don’t love the ones I do!) or I don’t pay attention, or whatever other reason there may be, but I never hear about MG books. It’s rare.

So perhaps I should follow more MG readers, if there are ones I can find, or just do some hunting myself. Once in a great while I will see a blog or vlog post that has maybe one or two MG books in it and I run off and insta-buy them. Though…that may speak more to my book buying addiction than anything else. o_o

So my questions to you! First, do you read MG, if so do you enjoy it as much as YA, adult, etc. and where do you discover new ones if you do? Second, are there booktubers/book bloggers I should be watching/reading more of and it boggles your mind that I haven’t already been doing so? Finally, what MG books would you recommend (with the knowledge that I read any genre and basically have no recent MG under my belt)? Thank you so much for reading and have a great weekend! ^.^


Waiting on Wednesday #16

Waiting On Wednesday hosted by Breaking The Spine

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by the fantastic people over at Breaking The Spine that highlights upcoming releases that we are excited about.

For this week my pre-publication selection that I can’t wait for is:

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Set For Release On: April 8th, 2014

Summary From GoodreadsSea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

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This is another book that I hadn’t heard of until the Cover Snark feature that Christina at A Reader of Fictions does, and I am so glad I did! First off, I’ll be trying to get the UK cover which is the one shown above, because I would love to have that on my shelves. Secondly, emperors always make me think Asia, specifically Japan, and while this is Fantasy and likely set in a completely different world, I’m still excited by the possibilities of that type of culture being infused with the fantastic. Thirdly, and finally, while there are a decent number of books about twin sisters, not many are done in this kind of setting/genre/storyline and I really am looking forward to seeing how that dynamic works.

Does Sea of Shadows appeal to you? What do you think the setting will be like? What book are you “Waiting On”? Let me know in the comments and/or leave a link to your own WoW post and I will make sure to stop by! Thanks for checking out my Waiting On Wednesday! ^.^