Into the Icebound
Summary From Goodreads:
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.
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.
Killing My Kindle
For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.
This week I took a stab at: The Sorcerer’s Daughter by Larry Kollar
Released On: December 10th, 2013
Summary From Goodreads:
In the third “Accidental Sorcerer’s” story, as Bailar and his apprentices help the Conclave prepare for conflict with the rogue sorcerers, Sura learns that she is a descendant of a noble House in the Alliance. But when she discovers the price of her history, it may be too late.
The Sorcerer’s Daughter is, by far, the best book in this magical series to date. Picking up right where Water and Chaos left off, Sura and Mik continue to learn more about magic and their abilities to control under the tutelage of their master Bailar. While there is some back and forth between the views of the two apprentices, this is Sura’s story, especially in the second half of the short but exciting adventure. After seeing things from Mik’s perspective in Water and Chaos, I’d say that I prefer things told from Sura’s point of view. There is more feeling, emotion, and passion behind her voice and the story is strengthened because of it. Kollar makes us feel what she is experiencing and, to me, this is his strongest piece from a writing standpoint as well.
The relationship between the two young sorcerers isn’t as central to the story, something for which I was very grateful, and that allowed the magic to be the focus. Spells using all elements, sometimes mixing them to create something even more powerful, and displays that were exciting and often rather humorous are spread throughout the book.
What sets The Sorcerer’s Daughter, and indeed the Accidental Sorcerers series as a whole, apart from other magical series is that the spells aren’t designed to just inflict damage against enemies or even to just protect yourself. In this series every spell has multiple purposes and uses, and often the initial intent behind them is peaceful in nature, but these sorcerer’s find creative ways to make them combative. It’s a nice departure from the never ending stream of books filled with fireballs and earthquakes.
The story is split into two halves, initially learning and teaching new spells that will be useful later on at the Conclave, and then with Sura having an adventure on her own as she learns about her history and what her life could be like if she desires for nobility. Both are equally entertaining, and the pacing is perfect. The personality of the other apprentices in the first half as well as the nobles and servants in the second helped to keep the mood light and kept me laughing. The cast overall was the strongest it has been in the series and I really enjoyed meeting some new people that I imagine will be returning in the forth book, Into the Icebound.
I’m really looking forward to experiencing more of the world Kollar has created and seeing what new spells he comes up with. This is a really light and easy read for fans of MG or YA fantasy and it’s only a dollar on Amazon if you want to check it out. I’m so happy I started the year off on a high note as this was the first book I read for my challenge and it makes me hopeful as I work my way through my Kindle app that this will be a fun feature to do each week. Thanks as always for reading!
15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 9
The awesome people over at Good Books and Good Wine came up with the fabulous 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge!
Today’s Challenge is: Why do you blog about books?
This is something I touched on in challenge #7 when I spoke about my blogging quirks. Most of my posts are reviews, for a variety of reasons but mostly because I feel (and have been told) that they are the most helpful for authors. Will I do them in conjunction with a blog tour? Absolutely. Regardless of whether the review is part of something or just because I want to share my thoughts about the book the goal is to bring the book to a wider audience. This is true for both positive and negative reviews. If I loved a book I want more people to read it that may not be aware of the book or might be on the fence on if they want to read it. Conversely, if I am not a fan of the book I’d like to explain why so that other people can potentially avoid that one and spend their valuable time reading something else.
This is especially the case with indie authors. They work so hard to garner even a tiny fraction of what the “big boys” get and if I can help share their book to just a few people that wouldn’t have heard of it otherwise then it’s more than worth the time and effort spent. Plus, blogging has allowed me to connect with these authors when I likely wouldn’t have otherwise so I’m reading pieces I wouldn’t otherwise as well. Examples of some fabulous authors I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise and that I reviewed a piece (or a few) for: Zoe E. Whitten, Leigh Wilder, Angela Kulig, Larry Kollar, Starla Huchton, Sarah-Jane Lehoux as well a bunch more.
The community. The book blogging community is just incredible. They’re intelligent, helpful, caring and willing to deal with each other’s obsessiveness, insanity and frequent squees. The joy I see in book bloggers when they are talking about a book they just read that they loved, a book they are super excited to get or really anything book related is like no other group. It’s infectious and uplifting how the community supports its fellow members through seemingly everything. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
It’s freaking FUN! I get to talk about books all the time and people actually talk back to me about the ones they loved or their thoughts on whatever, how great is that?! I use it to participate in readathons which are always a blast (marathon reading + twitter chats + giveaways + challenges, heck ya!). Plus I get to record my progress and see how much I’ve read whenever I’d like, and with pretty cover pictures included! Plus it is (hopefully) helping my writing and helping me to understand what I like/dislike in books so that
if when I write my own I’ll know what to look out for or what to utilize.
So that’s why I blog about books! Why do you do it? What parts are your favorites? Let me know and thanks for reading! ^.^
Water and Chaos
Summary From Goodreads:
Infiltrating a nest of rogue sorcerers can be hazardous… to your heart.
Mik and Sura are growing ever stronger as apprentice sorcerers, but neither knew what living in Mik’s hometown would do to their relationship. Torn apart by misunderstanding, Mik volunteers for a hazardous mission in a distant land. Now Sura must learn to trust, and Mik must learn the true meaning of home.
I received an eBook copy of Water and Chaos from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Water and Chaos was released today! If you’d like to pick up a copy you can do so here.
Water and Chaos picks up right where Accidental Sorcerers left off. Mik and Sura are training to hone their powers while blossoming as a young couple. Then we are plunged in a series of adventures each of which seem more perilous than the last. Sounds cool right?
Here’s what I realized after finishing Water and Chaos, this series is, at least to me, romance with fantasy elements. I don’t think that is what I expected when I was introduced to the series, but the transition from Accidental Sorcerers (mostly fantasy but with romance intertwined) to Water and Chaos (romance abound with magical happenings around it) seems to lend itself to that type of series going forward. Also in my review of Accidental Sorcerers I mentioned that I thought AS was more Middle Grade than YA. Well Water and Chaos moves more into the younger YA range so it appears that as the MC ages (13 in Book 1, 14 in Book 2) the audience and corresponding writing styles go with it. Nothing is wrong with any of these adjustments in perspective, just some guidelines to go by.
Mik continues to be a very strong MC. He’s likable, he’s got a good sense of humor and he’s an all around good guy, easy to root for. Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t perfect as we find out in this book, but he’s a solid model of goodness in most cases. Possibly my favorite change from AS to W&C is the edge Mik develops. I can’t say why without spoilers but it breathes some life into his character to keep him from being a cliche.
Sura, on the other hand, becomes a whiner prone to fits of jealousy. She can’t handle even the hint of competition for Mik regardless of what he says to reassure her and even goes over the top at one point despite everyone around her assuring her she is seeing things that aren’t there. She pouts, she’s moody, she just bugged me. Worst of all the reader is stuck watching Mik deal with all of her crap, none of which he deserves. Not a fan.
I highly doubt it had anything to do with what I said in my review of AS, but Kollar incorporated the previously mentioned relationship issues just like I hoped for. It did work in the sense of providing some needed conflict between the lovebirds, though not all of the side affects of that were desirable as I pointed out. What I didn’t expect was that the conflict in their relationship would push the rest of the plot and mightily influence it to boot. It shows in the initial adventure to Mik’s hometown and in the one to “distant lands” even more so. What the book lacked though was action. I made a comment on Twitter while reading that 25% of the way through the book “the main action point has been chasing cows…admittedly with magic but still” and it didn’t get much crazier. Oh sure there was some minor skirmishes and displays of magic, enough to keep the book a “fantasy” and not bordering on some type of contemporary. However, there weren’t any “shock and awe” type of moments or large displays of magic to really excite the reader. That didn’t hinder the story, but it definitely changed the feel.
The world building is the shining success of the Accidental Sorcerers series. Kollar gives depth to his characters and the areas of the world they came from. There are different languages, ancestries, cultures, and everything else you could ask for. The landscapes come to life, spiny mountains, winding rivers and a certain narrow isle are described in beautiful detail. Between the diverse societies each with their own unique culture, the amazing lands and seas to discover and the in depth character development Kollar makes you want to read on and learn more, this is where the drive is to read the next book in the series each time.
Overall Water and Chaos is a good book with a character flaw, it’s human and there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. It isn’t an action filled book and Sura could have done with an attitude adjustment in a major way. However, the romance is typical of young teenagers, the ups and downs are to be expected. The world Kollar creates is remarkably well done and I know in the next book I will enjoy exploring it along with a very solid MC in Mik, one with an edge to him that I really appreciate being added. I look forward to the next book and maybe a bit more magic and awe than romance, but we shall see! Thanks as always for reading!
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #103/200
Pickups and Pestilence
Summary From Goodreads:
War, locusts, vermin. The world continues adjusting to the Truckalypse, and to the sudden disappearance of billions of people, seeking a new balance. People in Laurel Hills and elsewhere survive and try to rebuild what they can.
When a dream reveals the nature of the trucks, it is young Cody Sifko who must become humanity’s champion. His friends—and the enigmatic Delphinia—will stand with him, but he must face his inner demons alone.
Pickups and Pestilence takes you on a ride from suburban Atlanta, to the heights of Heaven and the depths of Hell. Buckle up and hang on!
I received an e-book copy of Pickups and Pestilence in exchange for an honest review.
It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews! This is where I write a review in the time I have before I go to work or before I go to bed. Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!
Allow me to plug in my last review which was of book 1 in the Truckalypse series, White Pickups, since I’m going to be continuing off of that just as Pickups and Pestilence does off of the previous story. Also, this book is being released tomorrow (May 9th) so make sure to get yourself a copy! Alright, are you all caught up? Great, now I can go to my review.
The elements of Pickups and Pestilence are very similar to those of White Pickups with some small changes. You remember all of the romantic tension caused by the love triangles and the frenzied amount of relationships that were rather quick to begin in White Pickups? Ya, you can toss those aside for Pickups and Pestilence. Unfortunately, while I wasn’t completely in love with those elements all the time (pardon the bad pun) they added some needed tension and drove the story along. While White Pickups had some discussions about the best course to take in certain situations, mostly it was just concerning whether to give into the truck (mob mentality) or not. In Pickups and Pestilence, however, there were many questions brought up that made the reader stop and think about society as it currently is and whether or not the current system is one we should keep, especially in the current capacity it is being carried out in. Questions such as whether we should rely on things like technology are asked here, or even more specifically should they use electricity when they are thus far sustaining themselves without it for the most part.
The weaknesses and the strengths that I mentioned in my last review are essentially the same as before. While there aren’t as many love triangles, there are some, but instead of creating tension that made the book more interesting and better paced they seem irrelevant and trivial. The characters from before are still very strong but the new group is not one I care much for. This story, like White Pickups, is filled with too much minutia for my taste. I think it could have been whittled down to a story with slightly less depth, but much better pacing and that would have helped to make the crazy times more impactful.
Overall I was hoping for steps in the right direction to take the good that White Pickups had and transform it into a more polished sequel. That didn’t happen and the issues I mentioned remained in Pickups and Pestilence. Yes book 2 brought up good philosophical questions, but I wanted more action, more tension, some kind of spark to go with all that depth and I didn’t get it. It’s still worth the read and it does come out tomorrow, so if you want to get it click the link above. Thanks as always for reading!
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #96/200
Summary From Goodreads:
At summer’s end, mysterious white pickup trucks take to the roads and compel nearly everyone to “drive off.” Some of those who remain gather in a suburban Atlanta subdivision, and struggle to cope with a world whose infrastructure is rapidly crumbling. One of the few who are mentally and emotionally prepared for the end of the world is Cody Sifko, a youth who quickly becomes the inspiration for the others. When a strange homeless woman names him “Father of Nations,” is she seeing his future or her own delusions? As winter and a hate group try to destroy Laurel Hills, can Cody overcome personal tragedy and seize his destiny?
Love, hate, survival, and an apocalypse like no other—White Pickups is ready to take you on the ride of your life!
I received an e-book copy of White Pickups in exchange for an honest review.
White Pickups, book one of the “Truckalypse” series, was very enjoyable for me and definitely has me excited for book two, Pickups and Pestilence. That doesn’t mean, however, that it wasn’t bizarre. As the series name in combination with the title would suggest, white pickups essentially are responsible for the end of humanity as we know it. The vast majority of the population goes into them and though the characters, and thus the reader as well, are not certain what exactly happens when someone enters these vehicles, they do not expect them to return to the remains of the world that they left behind.
I’m going to break down White Pickups into two sections, pros and cons, and then give a conclusion, sound good? Wonderful, somehow I knew you’d see it my way.
Cons: Love Triangles – They are very heavily used. Even when they are resolved rather quickly or the outcome seems rather obvious from the onset, Kollar uses them for tension and some fleshing out of characters. If they weren’t quite as obvious as to which way they were going to go I think this could have been a solid device, as it was the tool shone and the result fell somewhat flat.
Insta-love – You know my feelings on this if you follow my reviews at all. In this case I don’t think the love part was quite so instant in the main relationship as in many insta-love cases, despite iterations by some of the characters to the contrary. Lust? Certainly. Desire? Absolutely. Rapidly developed feelings? You betcha. But this was the best possible way it could have been incorporated and it felt very realistic. A small con at most but I had to mention it.
Slow Points In Development – There were parts in the book where I just wanted to skip ahead. I understand that Kollar wanted the reader to get an accurate portrayal of all of the work that would go into creating a post-apocalyptic community, something that is glossed over in many works and something I think is worthwhile to do. However, at some point you need to edit it down a bit so that the reader isn’t drowned in the minutia, there were areas where I certainly think that would have been possible. Had some parts been scaled down the book could have had a better pacing to it and been more exciting rather than just interesting.
Pros: Characters – There was a very large cast of characters that we actually heard from throughout the book which is a very challenging thing to attempt and Kollar did so very well. I felt like I knew them all and what they could potentially become and do in future books, that none of them seemed forced or unnecessary, and that there were strong emotional bonds with each of them. I can’t stress enough how difficult that is to accomplish and Kollar deserves major credit for them all having individual voices that stand out.
Originality – How the heck did Kollar come up with white pickup trucks ending the world? It was rapture-esque but not overly so (and without the typical religious overtones) but the idea for that was very creative and unique.
Believability – It’s an apocalypse book and it seemed possible. Read that again. Yes the premise is a bit weird (white pickup trucks calling out to you!) but the reasoning for people choosing to leave discovered by the characters certainly could apply to the vast majority of society. The characters as previously mentioned were believable, the way that the community went about creating a new life was broken down (even if a bit too much) into sections that actually felt like details weren’t skipped or glossed over and even the prophecies and magical qualities didn’t seem all that far-fetched.
Summary/Feelings: Did I enjoy White Pickups? Yes. Did I think there were parts I’d like to have been edited down? Yes. Were the characters strong enough for me to overlook the flaws and make me excited for Pickups and Pestilence? Heck ya. Do I recommend the book? Check it out, if for no other reason than it is a unique piece, you won’t find it’s double anywhere, and that is a rarity and very special. Worth the read for sure. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow (you read that right!) for my next review!