pirates, serpents, and ships — oh, my! | series review

the liveship traders trilogy by robin hobb

Series Rating: ★★★★★

Within the series: Ship of Magic (#1), Mad Ship (#2), Ship of Destiny (#3)

‘ware pirates, sea serpents, and sentient ships in this trilogy! Told through multiple POVs and story lines, this tale is full of drama, adventure, romance, and politics–not to mention magic.

Recommended if you like:

  • pirates and sea voyages
  • multiple POVs and intersecting plotlines
  • a bit of everything–adventure, romance, politics, and more
  • complex characters and relationships

Continue reading “pirates, serpents, and ships — oh, my! | series review”

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september wrap-up

It’s that time of the month…

September just flew by! I’ve been keeping busy with my multitude of personal projects–they seem to be getting out of hand lately! Writing, crochet, blogging, keeping up with my TPT store, reading, working out…it’s been A Lot.

But it’s been a good month, and I finally feel truly ready for fall. (If only it’d stop being so abnormally hot around here…) I’ve been productive and busy and overall pretty positive about life. Which is great!

Read on for my monthly wrap-up.

Continue reading “september wrap-up”

i’m so giddy thinking about these books | anticipated releases for the last third of 2017

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

This post is basically just what the title says: 10 books that are coming out in these remaining few months of 2017 that I’m SUPER pumped about! I know people tend to do these types of posts quarterly…or perhaps just twice a year…but I’m going to be original and cut the year into thirds. Yes, I know I’m weird awesome.

ANYWAY, here we go, 10 upcoming releases and why I’m excited about them!

Continue reading “i’m so giddy thinking about these books | anticipated releases for the last third of 2017”

i’m very glad my childhood was not so creepy | book review

the ocean at the end of the lane by neil gaiman

A man returns to his hometown to attend a funeral, and while there, old memories resurface. He finds himself making his way back to a farm where he met a girl and her family, who protected him during a most mystical time in his life, that he didn’t even remember until now. This book is the story of that time, during which the man was just a boy trying to escape an evil being that had been accidentally let loose.

Recommended if you like:

  • whimsical and nostalgic short stories
  • a sort of witchy, mysterious, and unexplained magic
  • brave little boys who try their best to overcome evil

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My Spoiler-Free Review

This was my very first Neil Gaiman read, and I’m pleased that I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this 181-page story, but it certainly wasn’t what I got. This book is freaky, mystical, and somehow also nostalgic and sweet. Only a master writer could evoke all of those feelings at once.

The things the little boy goes through in this book make me very glad my childhood was normal and free of fantastical happenings. He has a hard time of it! (And he doesn’t even have a name…this poor child!) I mean, goodness, the story begins when his best-buddy kitten gets run over. That was enough to make me sympathetic, and that’s only the beginning.

Thank goodness our little boy makes a friend with one Lettie Hempstock, and together they learn all about bravery and defeating evil.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by 6vedik
art by 6vedik

Beware the freakiness in this book. If you’re looking for a great thrillery, strange, Halloweeny read, I would definitely recommend this. I was honestly scared at more than one point in the story. The magical realism is so mysterious that you’ll want to keep reading for more of it. The writing is so lush and vivid, it’ll make you think of your own childhood.

My only major disappointment with this read is that I didn’t have a huge emotional connection to the story–probably because it was so ~out there. I also wished there was a bit more of a definite conclusion at the end. I’m all about vague endings, but in this case I wanted a bit more.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

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What books have you read that make you thankful for a normal childhood? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne

when a prince’s bastard son becomes a royal assassin | series review

the farseer trilogy by robin hobb

Series Rating: ★★★★☆

Within the series: Assassin’s Apprentice (#1), Royal Assassin (#2), and Assassin’s Quest (#3)

A six-year-old boy is dropped off at a keep, returned by his family to the prince who fathered him. This boy comes to be known as FitzChivalry, the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, next in line to the throne. Fitz becomes a catalyst to a series of events that occur in the land of the Six Duchies throughout his growing years. Invaders from the sea, tension within the royal family, and mysteries of magic and Elderlings create the chaos in which Fitz tries to find his place, and eventually realizes that while here is a mere boy, he’s also a piece of a larger puzzle.

Recommended if you like:

  • coming of age stories
  • dynamic characters and relationships
  • subtle yet complex fantasy
  • long, winding plots and descriptive writing

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My Spoiler-Free Review

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This series is our hero’s backstory, and a tragic backstory it is. Fitz’s childhood is tough, heartbreaking, and challenging.  The story begins when the only family he’s ever known basically abandoning him, and continues as he tries to find his place as the bastard son of a prince in a world that doesn’t care about him. If you’re looking for a warm and fuzzy boyhood story, this series isn’t it.

That said, Fitz’s story will tug at your heartstrings in the very best way. Hobb accomplishes this by writing a cast of complex, developed, interesting characters, including Fitz himself. He grows from an innocent young boy to a slightly exasperating teen, and finally a matured young man. Other characters, though not protagonists or evolving in such a dramatic way as coming of age, still shift and complete their own character arcs and development in satisfying ways. More than anything, Hobb excels at character development, dynamics, and relationships.

Throughout the series, Fitz brings together a found family of sorts, and his relationships with these people are deep yet complicated. He clashes with these people and he doesn’t like them all the time, but they are his people. These characters and their relationships not only make you fall in love with this trilogy, but want to continue reading the entire Realm of the Elderlings series.

The plot, though slow and perhaps meandering at times, has many shades to it as well. There are two major conflicts within the series: the first and foremost, a war with invaders from across the sea. The second and more subtle: tension within the royal family itself. When Fitz begins training as an assassin, a King’s Man for his grandfather King Shrewd, he is inexplicably drawn into this tension, and as he grows older, he plays his own part in it. As a bastard, he inevitably creates unique situations and tension himself, and it’s all deliciously suspenseful and dramatic.

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Hobb’s writing is a delight. Though she tends to be overly descriptive, you can’t say she doesn’t write a vivid world. The details and pictures she gives makes the world of the Six Duchies come alive, and as you read through the series, each new location featured is just as vibrant as the rest.

The magic in this fantasy world is subtle yet interesting. There are two types of magical abilities. First is the Skill. This ability allows someone to read another’s mind, see through their eyes, and also speak to them in their mind, sway their thoughts, or cause them to see an illusion. This Skill is found mainly in the royal bloodline, so Fitz, although he’s a bastard, could develop it. The second type of ability is called the Wit; in many ways, it’s the opposite of the Skill. This ability allows one to bond and communicate with animals. However, it is seen as a perversion and not encouraged or fostered by any civilized person. Both abilities are featured in this series, and you can imagine how they could create some conflicts.

In sum, pick up this series for a magical, political, suspenseful story. You will fall in love with the characters, delight in Hobb’s descriptive writing, and wonder at the magic of it all.

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Have you read The Farseer Trilogy? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne

august wrap-up

It’s that time of the month…

August was just about the perfect summer month for me. It started off with a vacation in Northern Michigan, boating and wine tasting and relaxing. It was filled with spending time with friends and sisters. My younger sister and I joined a gym and started working out together. I kept busy at work and busy at home. Overall, it was a nice balance of things, and I’m almost sad summer will soon be over (though fall is my favorite season).

I didn’t have a ton of success with reading until later in the month; I got into a slump when I just wanted to continue reading Robin Hobb and had to wait nearly a month to get the books from the library. *growls* Regardless, I’m currently in the middle of a few books that I should finish near the beginning of next month, so that makes me feel better about my measly list below.

Read on for my monthly wrap-up!

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bookish things

stats

  • Total books: 6 books
  • Total pages: 2,797 pages
  • Longest book: Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb
  • Shortest book: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • Favorite book: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  • Least favorite book: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

mini reviews

Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb: ★★★★☆

Fitz and all his adolescent adventures. He’s definitely a teenage boy in this one, but his continued story is full of even more political intrigue, his frowned-upon Wit, and complicated relationships.

Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb★★★☆☆

Fitz and the fool, Nighteyes, a journey across the land, and an impossible quest. A slow-paced yet wonderfully character-driven finale to this trilogy.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: ★★★★☆

Three mums, some kindergartners, a bully, and an eventual murder. Touches on deeper topics than you’d expect. A quick and enjoyable read. Read my full review here.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik: ★★★★☆

A girl, her best friend, a wizard, and a prince. A book full of magic and a corrupted wood. Whimsical and full of lovely descriptions. Read my full review here.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel: ★★★☆☆

Pieces of a giant robot are scattered around the world, and a team comes together to discover and study them. Told in interviews and journal entries, this story is dramatic, fast-paced, and full of science.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: ★★★☆☆

A boy returns to his hometown and uncovers memories he didn’t realize he had, of a girl named Lettie Hemptstock and her mystical family. A short story full of magic, suspense, a touch of horror, and childhood.

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crafty things

I wasn’t super crafty this month. I realized that when I’m not working on a specific project for a specific someone, I get bored easily. As such, when I finished my star baby blanket (below), I didn’t have much desire to work on other things.

But! I started thinking about what I’d like to tackle next off my to-crochet list, and I think next month (especially with the start of fall), I’ll be a lot more productive.

completed

  • star blanket
  • infinity scarf
  • mug cozy, headband, experimental odds and ends

in progress

  • neon baby blanket
  • body pillow cover

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bloggish things

Here are some of my favorite blog posts from August:

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How was your month of August? What were some of your highlights?

Until next time,
Brianne

book review | uprooted by naomi novik

uprooted by naomi novik

My Rating: ★★★★☆

An unconventional fairy tale, featuring a protagonist who’s a bit of a slob but also a powerful witch, a wizard who takes villager girls away to his tower, and a prince who only wants to save his mother from the corrupted Wood she was lost in 20 years ago.

Recommended if you like:

  • Fairy tales tropes turned on their heads
  • Subtle magic systems described in tangible detail
  • Unconventional protagonists and romance

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My Spoiler-Free Review

The premise of this book, according to the back cover, is that the Dragon–a powerful wizard who protects the valley from the corrupted Wood–has descended from his tower to choose a new girl to take back with him, as happens every 10 years. Everyone knows that this year, Kasia will be chosen; she’s beautiful, composed, and clever. Yet also, everyone despairs over this fact, including her best friend Agnieszka.

Guess how surprised they all are when Agnieszka is chosen instead.

Agnieszka has no clue why she was chosen by the Dragon, a sullen, grumpy recluse of a wizard. She isn’t pretty, she’s a slob and a klutz. She believes there isn’t anything special about her. Until she realizes she has magic, and the Dragon can teach her more.

art by @radiumgl0w

From the get-go, this story sounded incredibly intriguing to me. Hate-to-love is such a great trope; I couldn’t wait to get started! Unfortunately, the beginning was slow going. The Dragon is an interesting but rather unlikeable character to start. There wasn’t much that made me want to keep reading until about halfway through the book.

Eventually, Agnieszka starts to really develop as a character. This was possibly my favorite part of the book. She learns more about magic with the Dragon as a teacher, but they find out she experiences magic very differently than he does–or anyone else, for that matter. This kick-starts her journey of self-discovery, which I found just lovely. She’s not more powerful than anyone else. Just different. And different isn’t wrong, or bad.

Another character that later on features a lot more prominently is Prince Marek. He’s an antagonist for sure, and quite insufferable, but I think he was my second favorite character. You really begin to understand him and his motives, even while seeing that he goes about things all wrong. It was refreshing to read about a prince who wasn’t perfect, who wasn’t the love interest, and who created lots of problems for the protagonists.

With these great characters, I was hoping to see more wonderful development for the Dragon and Kasia, too. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Their character arcs were basically nonexistent.

This affected the romance negatively. It’s certainly a different kind of romance, what with the Dragon finding Agnieszka an idiot in the beginning and Agnieszka rather hating him too. I really liked how it developed–again, I’m a sucker for hate-to-love. But, it would have felt a lot more fulfilling had both characters been fully developed by the end of the book.

One last aspect I greatly enjoyed was the writing and Novik’s great descriptions. She writes in a vivid way that’s not too flowery, yet not too bare. I easily pictured the settings throughout the novel, and the narration was lovely. I certainly wouldn’t mind reading more of her writing.

Overall: This is one to pick up if you love fairy tales and magic and strong female protagonists. Don’t let the slow beginning or the unique romance trick you into setting this one down.

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Have you read Uprooted? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne