Misc · Uncategorized

Recent Additions to my TBR (Part 1)

I seriously click on the “to read” button on the Goodreads page like nobody’s business and the awkward thing is I don’t even feel like reading them after a while and wonder why the hell I even wanted to read it in the first place. BUT for some reason, I’ve been really, really, really interested in the books I’ve added recently to my TBR and thought you might be interested too.

*Note: All summaries are from Goodreads

  1. A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers #2) by Becky Chambers

28478957Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet introduced readers to the incredible world of Rosemary Harper, a young woman with a restless soul and secrets to keep. When she joined the crew of the Wayfarer, an intergalactic ship, she got more than she bargained for – and learned to live with, and love, her rag-tag collection of crewmates.

A Closed and Common Orbit is the stand-alone sequel to Becky Chambers’ beloved debut novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and is perfect for fans of Firefly, Joss Whedon, Mass Effect and Star Wars.

This is actually a sequel to the wonderful A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet which is seriously like Firefly even though I have only watched 5 minutes of Firefly..I’ll pretend I know what I’m talking about. But the worldbuilding and the species creation in that book was sooooo incredible. I mean, a species that has 3 different families in their lifetime? That are not raised by their parents? A species that expresses emotion through color? A species that reminds me of a caterpillar and speaks through grunts? Amazing. I want to live in this world.

2. By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times book Review by Pamela Paul

20696029Sixty-five of the world’s leading writers open up about the books and authors that have meant the most to them

Every Sunday, readers of The New York Times Book Review turn with anticipation to see which novelist, historian, short story writer, or artist will be the subject of the popular By the Book feature. These wide-ranging interviews are conducted by Pamela Paul, the editor of the Book Review, and here she brings together sixty-five of the most intriguing and fascinating exchanges, featuring personalities as varied as David Sedaris, Hilary Mantel, Michael Chabon, Khaled Hosseini, Anne Lamott, and James Patterson. The questions and answers admit us into the private worlds of these authors, as they reflect on their work habits, reading preferences, inspirations, pet peeves, and recommendations.

By the Book contains the full uncut interviews, offering a range of experiences and observations that deepens readers’ understanding of the literary sensibility and the writing process. It also features dozens of sidebars that reveal the commonalities and conflicts among the participants, underscoring those influences that are truly universal and those that remain matters of individual taste.

For the devoted reader, By the Book is a way to invite sixty-five of the most interesting guests into your world. It’s a book party not to be missed

The logic is that the authors that inspired the “great” authors must be good right? But I really love hearing writers talk about their craft. I think it’s really inspirational and I love writing so this should be an obvious pick.

3. Why God is a Woman by Nin Andrews
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Why God Is a Woman is a collection of poems written about a magical island where women rule and men are the second sex. It is also the story of a boy who, exiled from the island because he could not abide by its sexist laws, looks back with both nostalgia and bitterness and wonders: Why does God have to be a woman? Celebrated prose poet Nin Andrews creates a world both fantastic and familiar where all the myths, logic, and institutions support the dominance of women.

 

 

One of my goals for 2016 was to read different types of literature like plays and poetry. This one falls into the poetry category and I have to say the synopsis also is really intriguing to my feminist heart and I think it could be really thought-provoking considering basically everything in our world is male-dominated.

4. The Passion of Dolsa by Julie Berry

25902198I must write this account, and when I have finished, I will burn it.

Buried deep within the archives of a convent in medieval France is an untold story of love, loss, and wonder and the two girls at the heart of it all.

Dolssa is an upper-crust city girl with a secret lover and an uncanny gift. Branded a heretic, she’s on the run from the friar who condemned her mother to death by fire, and wants Dolssa executed, too.

Botille is a matchmaker and a tavern-keeper, struggling to keep herself and her sisters on the right side of the law in their seaside town of Bajas.

When their lives collide by a dark riverside, Botille rescues a dying Dolssa and conceals her in the tavern, where an unlikely friendship blooms. Aided by her sisters and Symo, her surly but loyal neighbor, Botille nurses Dolssa back to health and hides her from her pursuers. But all of Botille’s tricks, tales, and cleverness can’t protect them forever, and when the full wrath of the Church bears down upon Bajas, Dolssa’s passion and Botille’s good intentions could destroy the entire village.

From the author of the award-winning All the Truth That’s in Mecomes a spellbinding thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page and make you wonder if miracles really are possible.

My historical fiction game is pretty much nonexistent this year so far and I think the synopsis sounds so cool and I’ve heard it focuses a lot on friendship and is very action-packed. What more could I want really..

5. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

22065080In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .

Inspired by the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful and Sarah Porter’s years of experience teaching creative writing to New York City students.

First of all, this cover reminds me of The Night Circus and will therefore automatically send ringing signals to my brain to check it out. Second of all, it looks like there are talking dolls and witch’s curses and stumbling on magic?? And also, it’s a fairytale retelling. Hello??!

6. The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales by Kirsty Logan

18623474Twenty tales of lust and loss. These stories feature clockwork hearts, lascivious queens, paper men, island circuses, and a flooded world.

• On the island of Skye, an antlered girl and a tiger-tailed boy resolve never to be friends – but can they resist their unique connection?

• In an alternative 19th-century Paris, a love triangle emerges between a man, a woman, and a coin-operated boy.

• A teenager deals with his sister’s death by escaping from their tiny Scottish island – but will she let him leave?

• In 1920s New Orleans, a young girl comes of age in her mother’s brothel.

Some of these stories are radical retellings of classic tales, some are modern-day fables, but all explore substitutions for love.

Let’s be real here, you got me at antlered girl and tiger-tailed boy. I don’t read enough magical realism and I love fairytale retellings so yay for that. Logan is also the author of The Gracekeepers which is a literary dystopia of which I’ve heard pretty good things about.

7. Hope and Red by Jon Skvron

25804214In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two young people from different cultures find common purpose. A nameless girl is the lone survivor when her village is massacred by biomancers, mystical servants of the emperor. Named after her lost village, Bleak Hope is secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of vengeance. A boy becomes an orphan on the squalid streets of New Laven and is adopted by one of the most notorious women of the criminal underworld, given the name Red, and trained as a thief and con artist. When a ganglord named Deadface Drem strikes a bargain with the biomancers to consolidate and rule all the slums of New Laven, the worlds of Hope and Red come crashing together, and their unlikely alliance takes them further than either could have dreamed possible.

Pretty much your standard fantasy with underdog main characters but I’ll always be on the lookout for these.

8. The Guns of August by  Barbara Tuchman

11366The Pulitzer Prize-winning classic about the outbreak of World War I

Historian & Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barbara Tuchman has brought to life again the people and events that led up to WWI. With attention to fascinating detail, and an intense knowledge of her subject and its characters, she reveals just how the war started, why, and why it could have been stopped but wasn’t. A classic historical survey of a time and a people we all need to know more about, THE GUNS OF AUGUST will not be forgotten.

This is a really weird analogy to use but World War I is like World War II’s nerdy, antisocial younger brother that no one really pays attention to. World War II is fascinating and everyone knows what happens in it but despite learning about World War I in class, I still don’t really know what it was about and I want to know more. I also expect great storytelling as this did win the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.

 

9. Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

22749539Winner of a 2016 Newbery Honor, ECHO pushes the boundaries of genre, form, and storytelling innovation.

Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.
 
Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo. 
 
Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, this impassioned, uplifting, and virtuosic tour de force will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck

Ok, this just sounds like a really daunting book for the middle grade category. I hope it’s not one of those children’s books that’s actually for adults. But it seems like an emotional journey and I always love ensemble casts of characters whose stories interweave together.

10. The stories of ibis by Hiroshi Yanamoto

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In a world where humans are a minority and androids have created their own civilization, a wandering storyteller meets the beautiful android Ibis. She tells him seven stories of human/android interaction in order to reveal the secret behind humanity’s fall. The story takes place centuries in the future, where the diminished populations of humans live uncultured lives in their own colonies. They resent the androids, who have built themselves a stable and cultural society. In this brutal time, our main character travels from colony to colony as a “storyteller,” one that speaks of the stories of the past. One day, he is abducted by Ibis, an android in the form of a young girl, and told of the stories created by humans in the ancient past.

The stories that Ibis speaks of are the 7 novels about the events surrounding the announcements of the development of artificial intelligence (AI) in the 20th to 21st centuries. At a glance, these stories do not appear to have any sort of connection, but what is the true meaning behind them? What are Ibis’ real intentions?

I read the line “She tells him seven stories of human/android interaction in order to reveal the secret behind humanity’s fall,” and I was pretty much sold. I love any scifi that has to do with humans vs androids. I think it will be interesting to read a work of Japanese scifi since I haven’t read any although Harmony by Itoh is on my TBR.

11. The Land of 10,000 Madonnas by Kate Hattemer

18520654Five teens backpack through Europe to fulfill the mysterious dying wish of their friend.

Jesse lives with his history professor dad in a house covered with postcards of images of the Madonna from all over the world. They’re gotten used to this life: two motherless dudes living among thousands of Madonnas. But Jesse has a heart condition that will ultimately cut his life tragically short. Before he dies, he arranges a mysterious trip to Europe for his three cousins, his best friend, and his girlfriend to take after he passes away. It’s a trip that will forever change the lives of these young teens and one that will help them come to terms with Jesse’s death.

For someone who loves spontaneous travel and going to new places, I don’t know why I don’t read more road trip books. This one is a road trip book but it first caught my eye because again, I have a weakness for books with ensemble casts especially if the characters are friends.

12. Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden

25613853Denizen Hardwick is an orphan, and his life is, well, normal. Sure, in storybooks orphans are rescued from drudgery when they discover they are a wizard or a warrior or a prophesied king. But this is real life—orphans are just kids without parents. At least that’s what Denizen thought. . . .
            On a particularly dark night, the gates of Crosscaper Orphanage open to a car that almost growls with power. The car and the man in it retrieve Denizen with the promise of introducing him to a long-lost aunt. But on the ride into the city, they are attacked. Denizen soon learns that monsters can grow out of the shadows. And there is an ancient order of knights who keep them at bay. Denizen has a unique connection to these knights, but everything they tell him feels like a half-truth. If Denizen joins the order, is he fulfilling his destiny, or turning his back on everything his family did to keep him alive

I’ve been really in the mood for a middle grade fantasy and this one sounds sooo good but I was initially drawn in because of the stellar early reviews saying it might be the next Percy Jackson which I’m skeptical about but who knows.

13. The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas and Antonio Caparo

1809175In a city that runs on a dwindling supply of magic, a young boy is drawn into a life of wizardry and adventure. Conn should have dropped dead the day he picked Nevery’s pocket and touched the wizard’s locus magicalicus, a stone used to focus magic and work spells. But for some reason he did not. Nevery finds that interesting, and he takes Conn as his apprentice on the provision that the boy find a locus stone of his own. But Conn has little time to search for his stone between wizard lessons and helping Nevery discover who or what is stealing the city of Wellmet’s magic.

 

This one sounds a lot like the Septimus series by Angie Sage which I really liked. And also you can’t really go wrong with magic and wizards and adventure.

14. The Story of my Teeth by Valeria Luiselli

24796231I was born in Pachuca, the Beautiful Windy City, with four premature teeth and my body completely covered in a very fine coat of fuzz. But I’m grateful for that inauspicious start because ugliness, as my other uncle, Eurípides López Sánchez, was given to saying, is character forming.

Highway is a late-in-life world traveler, yarn spinner, collector, and legendary auctioneer. His most precious possessions are the teeth of the “notorious infamous” like Plato, Petrarch, and Virginia Woolf. Written in collaboration with the workers at a Jumex juice factory, Teeth is an elegant, witty, exhilarating romp through the industrial suburbs of Mexico City and Luiselli’s own literary influences.

I think I want to read this book based on the sheer eccentricity of the synopsis but I think it will surprise me. It was nominated for the Best Translated Book Award and I think it was translated from Spanish? but I’m not sure. Either way, I think it’ll be a new experience.

This is Part one so look out for part two sometime next week. If you have any recent additions to your TBR you think I should check it out, tell me so I can add it to my 700+ TBR list. I obviously need more books to read. Obviously.

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book review · Uncategorized

Fables Vol. 1/The Wolf Among Us

 

 

 

 

 

Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile                                          The Wolf Among Us

Author: Bill Willingham                                                         Developer: Telltale Games

Genre: Urban Fantasy,                                                            Based on: Fables

Graphic Novel, Mystery                                                          Platform: Microsoft Windows,

Pages: 127                                                                                    Playstation 3, 4, Vita, iOS, Android,

Synopsis: Goodreads                                                                OS X, X Box 360, X Box One

 

This story is basically ABC’s Once Upon a Time meets..grittiness?? steroids? It’s OUAT because it follows a cast of fairytale characters who are sent to our world and run their own town away from the normal humans (in this case, New York) and they have to hide their fairytale ego through glamours and things like that. But there’s a more gruesome and dark grittiness to this than the family friendly OUAT and a lot less memory loss..(seriously, how many times is memory loss used in OUAT??). The most interesting thing about the story arc is the backstory of how the Fables came to be in this town and how they want to get back to the world they are originally from which will be the overarcing plot of the later volumes. Fables Vol. 1 is however mostly a murder mystery. It follows the story of Bigby who happens to be the wolf in The Three Little Pigs. He’s the no-nonsense , get-shit-done, mysterious-past sheriff of this town of Fables and he’s trying to find the person who murdered Snow White’s little sister Rose. I also really enjoyed all the fairytale characters that were introduced; they made really fun Easter eggs.

Gameplay

The gameplay itself is basically like a “choose your own adventure” type of game where you’re given different choices and each choice leads you to a different outcome.You play as Bigby and you get to control his dialogue, the evidence he investigates, and how he fights. The gameplay comes in different episodes and each episode has a different story arc (although I do think there’s an orverarcing plot through all episodes) and you get to play the first episode free but the consequent episodes are 4.99 each :/

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I would not recommend this game if you’re looking for a strategy based game when it comes to fighting because in the game, all you do is click on the spot where it indicates for you to hit the enemy. So there’s really no thinking involved here, it just makes you feel more involved in the story which is still appreciated. Sometimes, the game also gave you the choice of which person to help first, like say, this person is running away but this person just called for urgent help and you have to choose which one to go to and the outcome is affected by that choice.

I did really enjoy the game. It definitely felt like I was playing a game version of a crime TV show with decision and then cut scene etc.. They did change things from the comic so even though a lot of the things, like the characters’ jobs and relationships stayed relatively the same, the plot did change a lot so it was always surprising me. And I did like seeing these characters come to life.I did wish they changed the touch-screen sensitivity. I felt like I was always trying to click something 5 million times before Bigby would do what I wanted and it also does take up a lot of data so it did crash my phone a few times which was annoying af.

Artwork

As far as artwork goes in the actual comic, I kind of..hate it..It’s one of those ultrarealistic, scratchy types of art reminiscent of V for Vendetta and Watchmen by Alan Moore and comics of the ’50’s.

But the artwork translated to the actual game is a lot more aesthetically pleasing to me. The art is still super realistic but there’s a crispness to the colors that I enjoyed a lot.I also think the physical attributes (boobs and buff arms) are a lot less exaggerated.

Fables Page

Comic-to-Game

I’m actually surprised how much the setting in the comics is used in the game. It was pretty cool seeing the settings the characters are in in the comic and seeing that being used in the game like the Mayor’s office and Bigby’s apartment.

I also think it was interesting how they changed some of the personalities of the characters which to be honest, I kind of liked. The characters in the comics all felt like rough-around-the-edges characters who all fell kind of flat. But in the game, they alter some of the character personalities. They kind of mellow out Bigby and Snow White and other characters like one of the pig characters who by the way actually smokes??

pig

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like what..?

I thought this comic really did translate well into a game. I really enjoyed it and I would highly recommend if you really like role playing games or more story-centric gameplays. Also, Telltale Games has developed a similar gameplay for The Walking Dead so if you enjoyed that story, that game is also an option to play 🙂

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Book Discussion

Book Discussion: The Wrath and the Dawn

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Two things:

1. There will be spoilers.

2. I’m mostly going to be talking about our two main characters, Sharzhad and Khalid and their relationship because I need to talk about my feels. OTPs that you can fangirl over are literally the best.

First of all, Ahdieh’s writing is the reason I write. It’s so poetic and beautiful without beating around the bush. I just like that she can make flowery prose swoonworthy instead of cheesy. If I saw these phrases out of context, I would cringe so hard but instead they sound so beautiful in the story.

I suspect she will be like air. Like knowing how to breathe

or

My soul sees its equal in you.

Just the descriptions of the setting are enough to make me fall in love with her writing. I can vividly see the setting in my head.

To their right were vendors plying food wares–sugared dates and other dried fruits, an assortment of nuts in water-stained wood barrels, mountains of spices piled high in vivid hues–and to their left were vendors of spun cloth, dyed fabric, and skeins of yarn idling in a faint breeze, their colors like a banner cut from a rainbow. 

I can’t tell you how impressed I am with the execution of the romance tropes in this book. Sometimes in books, when a female main character is the only one for the male love interest but he’s never been in a serious relationship or something that stops him from being in a committed relationship, the author never convinces me that the female main character is the one for the boy or vice versa. But Ahdieh does. And that’s because they’re both incredibly flawed characters. Khalid is cold, aloof, angry, and is not passionate about much. Sharzhad is kind of a brat, presumptuous, prideful, and yes, weak-willed lol. But together they worked so well.

“You and your temper, Khalid!”

“No. You and your mouth, Shazi.”

And as sadistic as it sounds, I like that they’ve both hurt each other because of that they learn about each other. In a lot of YA books I read, the female main character is special because she’s not like other girls (because she is not a “slut” or she doesn’t party or something sexist like that).

But, in TWATD, it’s their personalities that shine to each other, that makes Sharzhad special (the chosen one) to Khalid and vice versa. In fact, I’m so glad I didn’t read much physical description about Khalid in general. I mean, obviously it’s important but I like how their interactions were so intimate and sensual with hardly any mention of body parts. I love the times Khalid smiles or his mouth twitches to something Sharzhad says. It’s just so cute because Khalid is such an expressionless person and rarely ever smiles throughout the entire book and the subtlety just makes their relationship so swoonworthy. I honestly think this was the type of romance I was looking for in ACOTAR but never got…

“A vision with eyes and ears, my lord.”

Khalid continued staring ahead, but the ice set around his features thawed at her retort.

In defense of their instalove, I felt like their attraction was instant but their love definitely had to develop. If you think about it, when Sharzhad initially feels attraction she tries to stamp it down and it’s not really halfway through the book that she decides not to kill him and even then, she still vacillates between the decision.

And of course, how can I not love this conversation.

His eyes turned to fire. “I’ve always been yours.” He cupped her chin in his palm. “As you’ve always been mine.”

She bristled and started to protest.

“Don’t.” He returned her biting glare. 

“Your possessiveness..may present a problem.” She knotted her brows together.

The corners of his lips curled upward, ever so slightly.

I can’t tell you how many romance books I’ve read that had Khalid’s statement but it was seen as romantic and I can see why it’s romantic but in reality, it’s really not.

I honestly should have figured out Khalid’s secret way before he actually he said it, but I’m not a very observant reader so that obviously flew over my head. I liked how Khalid didn’t reveal everything so easily though because if he did, I would have found it very anticlimactic and further prove my point that anybody could have gotten that secret out of him.

Of course, with so much investment in the main relationship, I didn’t like the side character’s stories that much. I can acknowledge that they were well-written and developed but I was probably too focused on the main storyline. I understand Tariq’s actions and thinking. How could the love of my life fall for someone who’s essentially a murderer? But I hated how he how at the end when he decides he knows what’s best for Sharzhad and takes her our of the castle without consulting her. Like, excuse you.

I also didn’t understand the necessity of Despina’s pregnancy. I didn’t think it added anything to the story and I also wish there was more female representation.

I think that’s all I wanted to discuss..I probably missed a lot of stuff, but I’m just going to end this post with something Khalid says and is one of my favorite quotes from the book.

“People fall in and out of love with the rising and setting of the sun. Rather like a boy who loves the color green on day, only to discover on the morrow that he truly prefers blue.”

Sounds like something Khalid would say and yet here we are 😉