Throwback Thursday: Three Mages and a Margarita by Annette Marie

Three Mages and a Margarita (The Guild Codex: Spellbound, #1)

Paperback, 312 pages
Published September 14th 2018 by Dark Owl Fantasy Inc.

I recently listened to this one through Audible, and I really liked it!  I thought at first it was just going to be mind candy (a fluffy read with little to no depth although still excellent), but I found a well-thought out and surprisingly fun story!  I loved how the main character isn’t “special” aka she has no magical powers.  But, she was still able to provide her own perspective on things and definitely contributed to the guild in believable ways.

I would highly recommend checking out this book.  Besides our heroine, there’s magic and hot guys aplenty 🙂  I mean, if you need more reasons to pick it up.  But I think that you will find great enjoyment in this read.  Plus, it’s not a huge tome.

Looks like there are at least three more in the series, so I’ll probably have to pick those up too at some point.  Because we all know that my TBR needs EVEN MORE books on it.

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Throwback Thursday: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Made You Up

Hardcover, 428 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Greenwillow Books

The prologue of this book really captured me, so I decided to read something outside of my usual fantasy/science fiction realm.  Which I don’t do often, especially not for straight contemporary.  I guess an argument could be made that there are elements of fantasy sprinkled throughout this story since our main character has schizophrenia and isn’t capable of separating reality all the time.  I don’t know if the author is portraying this particular mental illness authentically, having no experience with it myself, but I did appreciate having the different point of view.

That said, this book did remind me why I don’t generally seek out contemporary.  I definitely prefer my rambling day-to-day scenes to include magical creatures or exotic plant life to make it more interesting.  I also couldn’t get behind the romance or the parents’ reactions.  I spent a large chunk of the book frustrated!  But I did finish it, so there was something that held my attention.  Just can’t quite identify what that something was.

I would recommend this book to people who like contemporaries, or want to see high school through a much different point of view.

 

Summary:

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

Throwback Thursday: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval (Caraval, #1)

Hardcover, 407 pages
Published January 31st 2017 by Flatiron Books

I finally had a chance to listen to this as an audiobook.  And can understand why the series has become such a large fandom.  Unfortunately for me, I did not love this one.  I did like the concept and the intrigue.  The world and world building.  But I am all about characters and story logic, and that’s where this one fell short.  It might be because this was a debut and the author’s writing style isn’t as cohesive, but I spent a large chunk of the story either yelling at the main character for being so obtuse or questioning her logic jumps.  I don’t want to give away the mystery of the story, so no spoilers here, but I was hoping for Scarlett to grow as the story went on and didn’t get that.

Overall, I liked the concept and the game of Caraval itself.  More than likely I will read the second book, Legendary.  

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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.

Throwback Thursday: Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1)

Mass Market Paperback, Greenwillow Books, 329 pages
Published August 1st 2001 by Harper Trophy
Another book I’ve recently decided to re-read/listen as an audiobook at work was this classic, Howl’s Moving Castle.  I loved this as a young reader, and I think it has aged rather well.  I still love how the author subverted certain fantasy tropes by calling them out in the text.  And who doesn’t like the flame demon, Calcifer?  It does have some random loose threads that still bother me.  Like the missing prince, war that is only sorta mentioned as a plot device, and certain magic pieces being left unexplained.  But, it still holds the same charm and happiness that my memory has fed me all these years.  And because of that, I will continue to promote it to readers who haven’t had the pleasure yet.  Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Studio Ghibli re-imagining.  While it didn’t keep a lot of the plot points, and changed many others, it was a great story, and I re-watch it quite often.
Image result for howl's moving castle

Summary:

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

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.

Throwback Thursday: Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Storm Siren (Storm Siren, #1)

Hardcover, 320 pages

Published August 19th 2014 by Thomas Nelson / HarperCollins

Here’s a book that’s been on my TBR for ages (well I guess only 3 years since that was when it was released), and I finally made time to read it.  To be honest, it happened because I find out that the author was coming to ALA, and I wanted to collect her signature 🙂  But I’m so glad that I did!

After reading Roar by Cora Carmack earlier this year, I was ready to read more weather magic stories.  Storm Siren did not disappoint, and, as a bonus, had some intriguing eccentric characters that I wasn’t expecting to see.  The world building was also intriguing, and I hope we get to explore more of that in the second and third books.  Overall, I basically ploughed threw this book to finish it as quickly as possible because it was so good!  Great pacing and characters do that for you though 🙂

One thing that killed me: it ends on a major cliffhanger!!  Normally, I hate that, but since the whole series is out, I can pick up the story where it left out at any time.  Also, I checked the beginning of book 2 and can tell you that it retells that last bit of this book and continues right where it left off.

Have you read this book/series?  What did you like or dislike?

Summary:

“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

 

Throwback Thursday: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti (Binti, #1)

Paperback, 90 pages
Published September 22nd 2015 by Tor.com
Novellas, short stories, and other short fiction and I have never really gotten along.  Mainly because I grow attached to characters and always want more of their stories.  That said, I recently discovered the wonderful collection of novellas published by Tor.com, and fell in love with the wonderful worlds and splendid plots laid out by the authors.
Binti by Nnedi was one that I was drawn to upon learning about its main character’s heritage (drawn from African lore I believe) and the strange jellyfish-like aliens that she encounters.  I did find myself growing attached in such a way that when I turned the last page it was with regret for having to leave that world after only 90 short pages.  Luckily, Binti’s story is not over.  There is a second book already out and a third is planned for January of 2018.  I think I’ll wait to read them all together though as I don’t want to face the same heartache too soon.
Nnedi’s other work includes Akata Witch, which I’m excited to start reading soon, and Who Fears Death, which has been recently optioned for a TV series with HBO.  I hope they don’t screw it up 🙂

Summary:

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.