Book Review: Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder

Finally catching up on a book from a favorite author that had been on my TBR for over a year.  This one was a lot of fun!

Navigating the Stars (Sentinels of the Galaxy #1)

Paperback, 455 pages
Published November 19th 2018 by Harlequin
So, I stayed up to 2am to finish this book and can’t believe I didn’t try to read it closer to its release! The pacing and plot were so compelling that I finished this book in 3 days, staying up late each time because I couldn’t find a natural break where I wanted to stop reading. Luckily, book two is coming out in a couple of weeks! Which gives all of you time to read this one, so you’re ready for Chasing the Shadows.  Trust me, you’ll want to pick up Chasing as soon as you turn the final page in Navigating.  While there isn’t a huge cliffhanger, Maria knows how to keep the mystery and adventure fresh through the end.

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Throwback Thursday ~Book Reviews: Brimstone Angels and Lesser Evils by Erin M. Evans

I had originally read Brimstone Angels closer to its original release date and remember loving it!  I don’t particularly know why I didn’t follow up on the series immediately.  There was a bit of confusion about book three being the third in the Farideh series but also the third in the Sundering series.  Now, it’s very hard to find these books in paperback, but you can find them in ebook and audiobook form.  So go check them out!

Brimstone Angels (Brimstone Angels, #1)

Mass Market Paperback, 339 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Wizards of the Coast

Listening to the audiobook this time around, I loved the voices the narrator uses throughout.  It really gave each character a chance to shine.  Plus I loved how well they matched their personalities.  The author did a great job introducing the world of Forgotten Realms without relying on the reader’s previous knowledge or bogging down veterans with too much description.  Having played D&D, I thought I followed the lore fairly well.  And when it seemed like too much, I didn’t have to worry about it affecting my enjoyment of the plot.

This book has pretty good pacing throughout and great character development for a decent sized cast.  The climax wrapped up the main story while introducing threads for the series to continue.  There is a bit of a cliffhanger for one of the characters, but it’s more of a lead than anything.  Definitely made me pick up book two a lot faster this time!

 

Lesser Evils (Brimstone Angels, #2)

Paperback, 400 pages
Published December 4th 2012 by Wizards of the Coast

A fantastic follow up full of a mysterious library and a magical book as well as something inhuman and creepy with a dash of misunderstandings and doppelgangers.  The author does a great job following up on some of those dangling story threads from book one in  a way that made the character growth seem real.  We get to explore another aspect of the Forgotten Realms map while learning more lore.

I particularly loved that a large chunk of this story takes place in a library of sorts.  I don’t want to say more than that because of spoilers, but as a book lover, I enjoyed that part very much.  Also, we learned more about Lorcan and his world.  I’m hoping to get the audiobook for book three very soon so I can continue this fun and exciting series!  Be sure to watch out for my reviews of the rest of the series in the coming months.

Throwback Thursday: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, #1)

Paperback, 341 pages
Published June 14th 2016 by Roc

I’m pretty upset with myself for not starting this series sooner!  I’ve been collecting this series since its US release, but kept setting it aside for other reads.  In spite of hearing fantastic things!  I honestly could not tell you why I wasn’t as interested in picking this one up to read until recently.  Perhaps the cover wasn’t eye-catching enough?  Unknown!  But it’s all good now as I listened to this book as an audio and loved it!

This book creates an intense pace, delightful characters, deep-seated secrets, and an investment to learn more about the world and the characters’ backstories.  If you like thrillers, steampunk, libraries, secrets, things to get a little creepy, or the battle between order and chaos, you should have already been reading this series a long time ago!

So far, it looks like five titles have been released with a six scheduled for a December/January book birthday and a seventh that has been announced.  I know the first four books are sitting on my shelf, and I’ve just bumped them up much higher on my TBR.  Plus, I gave book one to a friend, so I’m sure she’ll want book two very soon 🙂

Have you read this series yet?  Want to yell at me for just now jumping on this train?  Go for it in the comments below!

The Secret Chapter (The Invisible Library #6)

Summary:

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author.
 
One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen.

London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself…

Quick Reviews: Graphic Novel Stack #1

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Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on working my way through a huge stack of graphic novels that I’ve collected and either read and forgot or just haven’t read yet.  Today, I want to share my thoughts on the first ten that I made it through last week.  This may turn into a series of posts if I can continue to work diligently on this project.

For now, I leave a comment or two about the art, the story, and whether I plan to keep reading the series (if available).

Mera: Tidebreaker

This one wasn’t from my personal collection but from the library.  I loved how the art was a blend of muted blues and greens to convey the water aspect while Mera’s bright red hair stood out brilliantly.  The story was interesting in that it showed how Mera found Arthur/Aquaman and why and was well done.  Overall, this one was great, and I would definitely recommend it.

Charmed: Season 9, Volume 1

I actually read this one shortly after its release in 2011, which was around the time that Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 was released as a graphic novel.  I didn’t remember it well at all, and on reread I understood that this was because it wasn’t particularly memorable.  The art stayed true to the original actresses, which was nice.  But the story didn’t cover any new ground.  I probably won’t go looking for any more of this series.

Night's Dominion, Vol. 1 (Night's Dominion, #1-6)

It felt like reading a complex Dungeons & Dragons campaign with classic character classes, a cult to defeat, undead running rampant, and other iconic bits.  However, it managed to feel original, and the characters were fun to see develop.  Sometimes the art style wasn’t my favorite with angles that felt too sharp and muted colors, but overall, it worked for the story.  I think I will look into volume 2!

reMIND: Volume 1

OK.  This one… This one was a little weird.  But in a good way.  The story was compelling and I couldn’t put it down until I’d finished.  The art was less complex, but that just emphasized the story rather than detracting from it.  It looks like there is a second volume, but I’m on the fence about trying to track it down.  Certainly, it is worth reading.

Valiant High

Perhaps I would have liked this one better if I was more familiar with these characters.  The premise of favorite superheroes being put back into high school and following their antics is pretty ubiquitous now, so the story itself was fine.  I do like the art style and the diversity of the characters.  I don’t know that I will follow this title at the moment, but I’m tempted to go find the regular series for some of these characters.

Athena Voltaire & the Volcano Goddess

With this one, I was expecting more of a fantasy theme to go with the volcano goddess in the title.  That wasn’t what I got.  The detailed art was rather nice, but the story didn’t work for me at all.  I won’t be pursuing this one.

Shadow of the Queen (Once Upon a Time, #2)

As a big fan of Once Upon a Time, I was thrilled that a graphic novel was being released.  I remember reading it, and not caring?  So I did a reread.  And was disappointed.  My biggest complaint is that for the four “issues” they used a different artist for each, which didn’t help convey that the story was supposed to be cohesive and not an anthology.  Secondly, the Hunter wasn’t one of my favorite characters to begin with, but this backstory only reinforced what we knew from the show.  I don’t think it added any new characterization.

Eclipse, Vol. 1

I’m always looking for new post-apocalyptic concepts, and this one was definitely interesting.  The art did a good job of showing us the stark horror that these humans face while world building without the need for a lot of exposition.  I could have used a bit more explanation for what had actually happened to Earth, but I enjoyed this one.

The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel

Having not read the book that this is based on, I can’t comment on whether it’s a faithful adaptation.  But the art added a youthful edge to this harsh story depicting the trials of another culture.  This isn’t the type of story that I like to read in my downtime, but I would recommend it to people wanting a glimpse into the life of a Middle Eastern family.

Courtney Crumrin 1: The Night Things

This one didn’t grab me like I thought it would.  The premise was intriguing, and I liked the mystery.  Sometimes the art was more angular than rounded, which through me off.  Maybe the pacing it was killed it for me, but I won’t be following up on this one either.

 

What do you think?  Have you read any of these?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or disagreements with my assessments.

Post 300! Favorite Series/Authors Spotlight

I just so happened to notice that this will be my 300th post since moving platforms, and I thought I’d do something a little different and talk about some of my favorite authors and series.  And why I love them so much!  Be prepared to see a range of older publications, some out of print possibly, and newer raging phenomenon.  These are in no particular order as I love them all the same 🙂

Quick note: This turned out to be a huge list!  Because of this I took out any stand alone books and graphic novels.  Hopefully, I’ll build each of those their own individual lists soon 🙂

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Throwback Thursday: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy, #1)

Hardcover, 449 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Balzer + Bray
Even though this book has been on my physical shelf since its release (as well as books 2 and 3), I just now read it for the first time.  And I actually listened to the audiobook to start with, but couldn’t wait for time to continue listening.  So I finished it with the physical book!  I liked this one a lot.  I’m a bit angry at myself for waiting so long to read it.  But I am hoping to fit the other two in before the end of the year now.
This was a fun take on the gender swap to avoid detection trope, and it led to some very amusing circumstances.  There was plenty of action and suspense.  As well as an abundance of secrets and mysteries.  Hopefully, those will be uncovered more as the series continues.  I would highly recommend this to any fantasy reader.

Summary:

It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother’s visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.

Looking ahead to 2018

As I mentioned in my last post, these last few months have been rather busy for me, and there hasn’t been much time for blogging.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about the blog and where I want it to go in the future.

I enjoy featuring books that have released each month, but instead of waiting until the next month to look back on what I didn’t have time to read or review, I want to post about books that I’m excited to see release!

That is partially because I want to focus on reading more of the books that have been sitting on my physical and electronic shelves for years.  My TBR is incredibly huge and I can’t believe the number of amazing books that continue to be published, and the large fandoms I’ve been missing out on over the last couple years.  So many series and authors to catch up on!!

Although, I’m going on a book-buying ban, I’m hoping to share more book haul posts and sharing other fun bookish things as they come up.  We’ll see how it goes 🙂

Throwback Thursday: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone (Shadow and Bone, #1)

Hardcover, 358 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Company
 To be completely honest, Leigh Bardugo wasn’t on my radar until after the release of Six of Crows when I attended ALA for the first time through work.  I had heard really great things about it and that the sequel would be releasing soon, so I bought a used copy of Shadow and Bone to get signed and made up bookplates as well.  Just in case I fell in love with her writing 🙂
After meeting her briefly in the signing line and seeing her have lots of fun up on stage with Marissa Meyer, who I did love, I was convinced I would love Leigh’s books as well.  Unfortunately, I still didn’t get around to making time to read any of them until last week.  When I knew I was planning to meet her on tour tomorrow!  (I think it might have been that the original cover doesn’t appeal to me very much.)
The Gathering Dark (The Grisha, #1)
When I finally did start reading the first Grisha book, I was not at all surprised to find that I did like the story.  A lot!  I was compulsively reading it whenever possible and finished it quickly.  There are a lot of reviews out there that break the book down and talk about worldbuilding and characterization (both are great).  And plenty of fans that will tell you how amazing the author is (it’s true).  Plus several that will mention that the story isn’t new (because it’s not).  However, the only opinion that matters is how this story makes you feel.  That’s what reading is all about, right?
I liked this story a lot.  The characters were fun and the world was interesting (if a little confusing on some points).  But it made me remember why I like reading.  And that’s pretty awesome 🙂  So I definitely plan to finish this first trilogy and dive into Six of Crows with high expectations.  And hopefully, Leigh stills has some stories to tell in this world!
Shadow and Bone (Shadow and Bone, #1)

Summary:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.