Sunday, August 30, 2015

SFF: The 5 Reasons You Choose Not to Read a Book

The Sunday Fun Five #35

Sunday Fun 5:

A Countdown of

The 5 Reasons You Choose Not to Read a Book

5. There Aren't Any One or Two Starred Reviews, and It's Been Available For Months
I make exceptions for this one occasionally, but I would hate to read a book, not like it, and then be the only one with a one or two star review on a certain site. Sure, there could be similar reviews in the works, but if at all possible, I avoid those books.

4. The Synopsis Makes Unfulfillable Promises
^That is one example of an unfulfillable promise in a synopsis- also, terrible marketing, as I never click buy if the synopsis has that tackiness in it. Most synopses are more gentle with their unfulfillable promises, saying the book is the next big phenomenon like "The Hunger Games, Divergent, Insert Buzz-Worthy Book Here". There are other examples, but I think you get my drift. Even if they can hypothetically deliver on the promises in their synopsis, I won't be buying it without some serious nudges from other readers I know.

3. No One Has Rated It Below Three Stars- and It Has Over a Hundred Ratings
This one is a bit tricky, but I feel I must add it in here because nothing says red flag to me faster that one hundred gleaming ratings. If it's by Famous Author and it just came out a few days ago, I'd believe it. But otherwise? No. It's highly unusual not to have at least one two-star rating out of a hundred.

2. A "Bad" Review Has Comments... From the Author
I honestly don't care if an author interacts with someone who writes a positive review, but if an author interacts with someone who has written a negative review, I just find it tacky and unprofessional, regardless of what the author says (even just 'thanks for your feedback' is tacky). Almost nothing turns me off a book faster than that, especially when the author tries to 'correct' the reviewer (that happens too much on Amazon, it amazes me).

1. There Are Typos In the Synopsis or In the First Pages
As an author, you are supposed to be a master of the words, regardless of your education. If you can't proofread your synopsis and the first chapter well, it's highly unlikely that you'd proofread the entire book with reasonable skill either. If you haven't proofread your entire book well, I will be editing it to my liking in my head as I read it... and I never enjoy a book if I'm reading it that way.

Is there a reason you'll choose not to read a book? Which books have you passed on recently?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Early Critique: "The Sleeping King" by Cindy Dees & Bill Flippin

Disclaimer: I was given a free advance e-copy of this book from Tor Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My opinion remains as forthright as ever.

Expected Release Date: September 8th

When I began reading this, I was completely smitten with it. The elements I love were in alignment: shady politics, immortal tyrant, young people stumbling upon their magical abilities, and an almost limitless variety of different races of humanoids. The worldbuilding was in The Sleeping King's favor as well- lots of factions, trades, and mythical creatures to be found. I love those all those fantastic elements! Even the pacing was spot on.

The characters, while fairly mainstream in fantasy, still had me concerned when they ran into trouble. My favorite character by far arrived about halfway through, a lizardman girl named Sha'Li, who spiced up the group of characters considerably. Still, compared with the impressive worldbuilding, I was a bit put out that the characters weren't so dynamic.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'For almost twenty years she's been involved with Dragon Crest, one of the original live action role-playing games. She's the story content creator on the game, and wanted to do an epic fantasy based on it, with the blessing and input of Dragon Crest founder Bill Flippin.
'The Sleeping King is the first in an epic fantasy series, featuring the best of the genre: near immortal imperial overlords, a prophecy of a sleeping elven king who's said to be the savior of the races . . . and two young people who are set on a path to save the day.'

The problems arose as I neared the end. The storyline, which had originally been extremely multi-faceted, devolved to follow only the main quest: to find the Sleeping King. Sure, there were complications with the main quest, and other forces became apparent as the book drew on. But by then, the surprise factor had worn off, and what I originally had assumed would become a new favorite epic fantasy of mine, became a book I would like to own a physical copy of, but with no dire need of it. Since the book is based on a live action RPG, it makes much more sense that everything else would be so fully fleshed, leaving much of the plot to follow a more linear direction.

If you've ever played the Elder Scrolls, you may find many of the humanoid beings familiar. Although I would've preferred beings I've never ever seen before in fantasy, at some point it's hard to be 'new' without inspiring memories of that book, that movie, or that video game. Still, I prefer fantasy books like The Sleeping King with lots of different races to fantasy books with just plain old humans with a pocket full of magic.

I also had issues with some of the later antagonists, the Boki. When we get to see them up close and personal, none of them really have a distinct personality. Yes, they are supposed to be highly skilled warriors, and therefore maybe have no room for personality, but I was disappointed nonetheless. I'm beginning to feel terribly for orc-like people, as they are always cast as the villains.

The Sleeping King had a beginning that swept me off my feet... but an ending that didn't quite match my expectations. Regardless of that, it has a lot of magic left for those of us who love to see amazing worldbuilding and distinctive races. If you're okay with books that lack in the character and plot department, but deliver the complete package with a fully fleshed fantasy world, I'd recommend this book. Otherwise, you could probably skip it.

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for a good start to a series that I expected a bit more from.

Content: Ages 16+ for bloodshed/violence/gore, and a strange lion that changes into a horse... or maybe that was accidental?

Page Count: 496 pages

Friday, August 28, 2015

Color Me Happy: An Unofficial Guide to Adult Coloring Book Bliss

I recently partook in the phenomenon that is adult coloring... but I have a secret. I used to do the same thing before the craze with velvet posters and markers. There's no shame in expressing yourself artistically, and I can't fathom why anyone wouldn't want to try this, other than having traumatic experiences with coloring inside the lines, but I suppose I won't be covering that today. If you're new to the world of art books and art pencils, it can be a bit overwhelming to know what you actually need, or which of the cheaper brands of colored pencils will work best for you. Luckily in the past month I've learned the basics, along with which colored pencils are actually worth buying, and some helpful tips.

What You Actually Need:
  -An Art Book, or a Good Printer and Computer (some coloring pages can be found for free online)
  -A Good Pencil Sharpener, (preferably manual)
  -A Set of Colored Pencils/Markers, (depending on the person I'd suggest a 24-50 count set)
          *I highly suggest colored pencils if you plan on coloring in an art book.*

What Might Enhance Your Experience:
  -A Case to Store Your Pencils In (I use an old tin)
  -A Clear Jar/Drinking Glass (to put your pencils in while they're in use)
  -Tracing/Thin Computer Paper to Trace With
  -A Pencil
  -High Quality Colored Pencils (usually found at an art supply shop)
  -Someone Else to Color With
  -A Favorite Beverage (preferably in a spill proof cup)
  -Music to Play (TV watching is difficult when your eyes are elsewhere)

Hints & Tips:

  -Always test your colors beforehand, regardless of medium. Most brands will never come out true to the depicted color... or your impression of it.

  -If you're having a difficult time deciding what to color which section, trace the problem areas onto a separate sheet of paper and do a test run.

  -If you have no idea what type of adult coloring book would appeal to you, go to a bookstore and look at them in person. Your perception of how big you think the patterns are might be different, influencing your choice.

  -Use online reviews to help narrow down your choice: often other people will think of something you wish you'd read before buying or ordering a certain art book.

  -Try using different amounts of pressure with your pencils/markers: you can eke out three different shades (or more) from one pencil.

  -Combine two colors to get a completely different shade. I loathed Crayola's Gold and Silver colors, but with an additional color beneath them they look like another brand.

  -Clean the pencil sharpener between pencils. You may end up with a yellow pencil with black specks otherwise.

  -The most important part of adult coloring is... to have fun. Otherwise it isn't worth doing at all.

Colored Pencil Trials:

I bought four brands of colored pencils, with a vast difference in pricing. I chose colored pencils over other mediums because there is no ink bleed, and I would hate to ruin the double sided pages of my Animal Kingdom coloring book just so I could have smoother colors. Also, I've noticed the colors you've put down with markers have a tendency to fade over time, and I'd hate to lose any of the pigment in my pictures just because I chose the wrong brand of markers.

Crayola Colored Pencils 50 Count

Price: About $9
Where Were These Made? Brazil
Package Claims: Preferred by Teachers (I laughed), "Bright, Bold Colors", "Long-Lasting", "Premium Quality"
Price Per Pencil: $0.18
Shape: Cylindrical

Each set of three horizontal cells on this color chart is made by the same pencil, to give you an idea of how many different shades you can get out of one set. You press the hardest to get the more intense color, then adjust your hand's pressure from there. I have two extra cells below the squiggly line on this one to show you how I blended colors to get the right shades of gold and silver.

My Gold = Medium Shade Harvest Gold + Gold
My Silver = Medium Shade Slate + Silver

General Questions (1 = Worst 5 = Best)
  Color Variety: 5
  Easy to Use (Did I have to press hard): 2
  Colors True to Pencil Color: 3
  Sharpens Well: 4
  Long-Lasting: 3
  Laydown (How difficult was it to get an even shade): 2
  True to Package Claims: 2
  Cost: 5

Definitely not "Premium Quality"- but what do you expect from a brand from your childhood? The plus on this set is you get a lot of bang for your money, and despite having issues with getting an even shade, I would recommend this set for a beginner. The most disappointing thing is half of the pencils are nothing like the shade they portray on their skins, so you have to do a chart like I did above or test them out before using.

Favorite Shade: Cerulean (Blue)
Least Favorite Shade: the Gold and Silver aren't really what I expected them to be.

Faber-Castell Max Colored EcoPencils 24 Count

Price: $8.99 at Hobby Lobby
Where Were These Made? Brazil
Package Claims: "Designed for easy sharpening", "Premium Quality", "Leads Won't Fall Out", and "More Pigment means brighter, richer colors".
Price Per Pencil: Approximately $0.38
Shape: Three-Sided/Triangular

General Questions (1 = Worst/Hardest 5 = Best/Easiest)
  Color Variety: 4
  Easy to Use (Did I have to press hard): 2
  Colors True to Pencil Color: 4
  Sharpens Well: 2
  Long-Lasting: 4
  Laydown (How difficult was it to get an even shade): 4
  True to Package Claims: 3 (Definitely long-lasting, the leads haven't fallen out yet, but easy sharpening??? It was the most difficult one to sharpen)
  Cost: 2

Despite having high hopes for this set, it was the most difficult to use, which cuts the enjoyment out of coloring. When doing my test swatches, I had to press so hard it indented the paper, just to get a good color. To compound that, I was afraid I'd tear up the test paper because the centers of the pencil's lead are so hard. But, the colors are pretty and it lasts a long time.

Favorite Shade: Mint Green or Gray Green
Least Favorite Shade: Green Yellow

Prang Groove Colored Pencils 12 Count

Price: $3.59 due to a clearance (usual price is $5.99 at Hobby Lobby)
Where Were These Made? China
Package Claims: "Bright Colors", "Smooth Laydown", and "Ergonomic".
Price Per Pencil: Approximately $0.30
Shape: Triangular/Three-Sided with "Grooves" to improve grip

General Questions (1 = Worst 5 = Best)
  Color Variety: 3
  Easy to Use (Did I have to press hard): 4
  Colors True to Pencil Color: 4
  Sharpens Well: 4
  Long-Lasting: 4
  Laydown (How difficult was it to get an even shade): 4
  True to Package Claims: 4
  Cost: 3

Despite this being made in China, these pencils were really nice. I liked the "Grooves" more than I thought I would, and they sharpened better than the other triangular pencils, despite the other pencils having claims of "easy sharpening". The only bummer with this one is the set that was on clearance was a 12 count- I wish I had more of these!

Favorite Shade: Purple and Light Blue
Least Favorite Shade: I like every color in this set!

Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth Woodless Colour Pencils

Price: About $8- I got them cheaper with some in-store coupons.
Where Were These Made? Manufactured in the Czech Republic
Package Claims: "Excellent Laydown", "Outlasts Wood-Cased Pencils", "High Density", and "Ideal Blending Properties".
Price Per Pencil: Approximately $0.67
Shape: Cylindrical

General Questions (1 = Worst 5 = Best)
  Color Variety: 3
  Easy to Use (Did I have to press hard): 5
  Colors True to Pencil Color: 4
  Sharpens Well: 4
  Long-Lasting: 5
  Laydown (How difficult was it to get an even shade): 5
  True to Package Claims: 5
  Cost: 1

I love these pencils. Despite them weighing at least twice as much as the competition, and costing you an arm and a leg, these are beautiful pigments that are so easy to use. Whereas with other pencils it was a little difficult to do the color chart with each shade, with this one it was a snap. I have a feeling these will last me a very long time.

Favorite Shade: Dark Blue, Carmine, and Sap Green
Least Favorite Shade: White (not pictured, as I didn't have black paper on hand to use).

Final Recommendations:

If you're just starting out with adult coloring and testing the waters, get the Crayola set. But if you're very into coloring and want something easy to use, I recommend either Prang Groove Colored Pencils or the Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth Woodless Colour Pencils. Definitely go with the Woodless if you want something super easy to use and have the money to spend.

How do you feel about adult coloring? If you've already started, what is your favorite art book?

Monday, August 24, 2015

NQAC: Biweekly Update #16: Wishlist Binging and an Unanticipated Road Trip

Instead of writing this half-brain-dead on Sunday, I decided for quality control purposes to save this for Monday, when I'd actually gotten some rest. My weekend plans were interrupted when my mom grew concerned over my 89 year old grandmother's health, and I chose to tag along with her back to Montana to make sure my grandma was okay. As luck would have it, my grandma's health got better before we left, but I was glad I got down to see her despite not being able to sleep for approximately 32 hours (insomnia isn't the friendliest companion).

Recent Acquisitions (or the Piling of the-Piles):

the-pile Additions:

I actually found some winners at a thrift shop in Idaho recently (must be all those garage sale leftovers):

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
This was a miniseries on tv a while back, but being I like to limit screen time I chose not to watch it despite my interest. Basically the plot of this follows a prostitute in Victorian London as she makes her way through society. If this is done well, it could be awesome, despite being a heavyweight hardcover.

Lord of the Isles (Lord of the Isles #1) by David Drake
This book has a low star average on Goodreads, but I've been known to love books that aren't particularly that popular before. As you may be able to tell from the cover, it's epic fantasy, and another heavyweight hardcover.

Local Girls by Alice Hoffman
I read anything and everything by Alice Hoffman, and I didn't yet have the pleasure of having access to this book.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
A WWII historical/contemporary fiction that has a high star rating on Goodreads. I've had some awful luck with historical/contemporary mixups before, but I have a good feeling about this one.

the-invisible-pile Additions:

Last night I checked the prices on my Amazon wishlist, and discovered two titles I've been wanting to read were available at a discount, so I snagged them:

Darkfever (Fever #1) by Karen Marie Moning
Everyone buzzes about this series, and I have a nasty habit of not liking the uber-highly-rated paranormal romance. We'll see if I like it or not.

Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne
Since I've become an urban fantasy devourer, I needed this book to complete my collection of need-to-read urban fantasy series(es). I'm excited, since it's supposed to be Celtic mythology, and I like Celtic anything.

Ransom (Highlands' Lairds #2) by Julie Garwood
This wasn't on my wishlist, but was a Daily Deal, and since Julie Garwood is one of my favorite authors as far as historical romance, I chose to click buy.

Currently Reading:

The Sleeping King by Cindy Dees and Bill Flippin
I'm about halfway through now and I'm focusing most of my reading energy on this (since it's a review copy), but for epic fantasy it's really starting to go by quickly. I like that there aren't just a few set 'races' of people who exist, every time I read I get to see some other type of humanoid. Some of them remind me of the Elder Scrolls races, though.

Kesrith (The Faded Sun #1) by C.J. Cherryh
Still reading this too, although I'm more focused on the review book. I love that the humans are invading the aliens' planet and not the other way around.

Finished These Books:

Even though I loved the characters, the ending was a little too la-dee-dah (yes, that is a technical blogging term) for my taste. I love historical romance in that you can make some headway in making history more fair, but for me, the ending was pure fluffy fantasy. I wanted my fluffy fantasy ending with several ounces more realism.

In the Blogosphere:

Since I've been not doing too well blogging myself, I haven't properly done the rounds to check out what everyone else was up to. You'll have to come back in a few weeks, or check my Bloglovin' profile for all the saved posts.

In My Life:

It has been mighty smoky in these parts (southeast Idaho) for the past week due to all the diligently burning wildfires. I'm sure most of the Northwestern US is the same, so I'd like to thank all those firefighters who help Smokey Bear out in his quest to quell wildfires. I can't stand to be outside myself, so I can only imagine working with flames nearby is hell on earth.

My mom and I decided to assassinate a bush we mutually loathe (with a burning passion) in our front yard area, in order to plant some more roses. We actually have a surfeit of roses, though we certainly like the look of them better than a miserable-looking red twig dogwood. I try to put in plants that would actually be used in landscaping when our house was built, back in 1903.

                          Until next time,

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"Twice Tempted (Night Prince #2)" by Jeaniene Frost

This is the second book in the Night Prince series, a spin off of the Night Huntress series. Yes, there may be spoilers. My review of the first book of the Night Prince series is here, and my review of the first book of the Night Huntress series is here.

I have to admit, I don't mind when fictional vampiric heroes get all cruel and unusual (towards enemies, obviously not the heroine), especially when they happen to be the inspiration for Dracula. That is part of the reason behind why I think I liked this book better than the first- in addition to some other happenings.

Leila is much stronger in this book than she was in the first, both emotionally and physically. Her powers have grown, and her tolerance for Vlad's behavior has plummeted, leading to the opening events of Twice Tempted. I won't spoil it for you, but I had to resist the urge to stand up and cheer when she made some difficult choices that you don't often see chosen in urban fantasy or paranormal romance.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Dating the Prince of Darkness has its challenges...
'Leila's psychic abilities have been failing her, and now she isn't sure what the future holds. If that weren't enough, her lover, Vlad, has been acting distant. Though Leila is a mere mortal, she's also a modern woman who refuses to accept the cold shoulder treatment forever–especially from the darkly handsome vampire who still won't admit that he loves her.
'Like choosing between eternal love and a loveless eternity...
'Soon circumstances send Leila back to the carnival circuit, where tragedy strikes. And when she finds herself in the crosshairs of a killer who may be closer than she realizes, Leila must decide who to trust– the fiery vampire who arouses her passions like no other or the tortured knight who longs to be more than a friend? With danger stalking her every step of the way, all it takes is one wrong move to damn her for eternity.'

Despite not seeing much of Vlad for the first part of the book, you get to know him more than you did in the first book. I can't say I was sure I actually even liked Vlad as a hero until this book, when his motivations became more clear. You become horrified in the first book by his 'fierce loyalty', but Twice Tempted actually shows you how he came to be that way.

Cat gets a cameo appearance in this book, but honestly... I'm on team Leila now. Cat is a fine heroine, but she doesn't have quite as many scars as Leila carries, nor is she entirely human. Leila isn't entirely human either with her powers, but at least she doesn't look like a Barbie doll. Yes, I judge characters' appearances harshly- anything anti-perfect matters to me in that area.

A favorite quote of mine:

Piss off a modern guy and he'd likely go to a local bar. Piss off a vampire with an impalement habit and an in-house dungeon, and it was a no-brainer where he'd go.

                 ~Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost, page 318 Kindle edition

Twice Tempted was a much-needed sequel to the series- I liked it so much I reread parts of it just so I wrote this review with the perfect amount of fervor. Not only was Leila much stronger than I took her to be in the first book, she proved she wasn't just a pawn to be played. I could go on, but I may devolve into inarticulate blabberings of spoilers. If you are a fan of Dracula and paranormal romance, you shouldn't resist trying to read the Night Prince series- it might surprise you.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for a sequel that exceeded my expectations of the series!

Content: Ages 18+ for the usual Vlad Tepes goodness. (Gore, sex, and the odd dismemberment).

Page Count: 360 pages

Sunday, August 16, 2015

SFF: The 5 Video Game/Book Pairings to Experience Together

The Sunday Fun Five #34

Sunday Fun 5:

A Countdown of

The 5 Video Game/Book Pairings to Experience Together

5. Assassin's Creed Black Flag and Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard #2) by Scott Lynch
I haven't quite finished Red Seas yet, but I do know that I've been hankering another try at Black Flag ever since I started it. In Black Flag, you are a person from the future reliving the memories of Edward Kenway, a pirate of the high seas. In Red Seas, you're reading about Locke and Jean trying to be pirates.

4. The Legend of Zelda (any of them) and The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Oddly, the more I think about it, the more these two books seem to fit together. Although there aren't really any Hylians in The Princess Bride, it has the same basic plot- a princess rescue.

3. Pokémon (any of them) and Your Favorite Childhood Book
This one applies more to those of us who grew up trying to catch 'em all, but it's still a worthwhile escapade to those who don't know the way of the Pokémon Master.

2. Skyrim (Elder Scrolls V) and A Game of Thrones (ASoIaF #1) by George R.R. Martin
All the political maneuverings of A Game of Thrones can be found in Skyrim, albeit on a somewhat grander scale. In Skyrim, dragons are returning to the land, even though they haven't been seen since long, long ago. In A Game of Thrones, Winter is Coming. Same difference, really.

1. The Sims 2/3 and Every Book Known to Humankind
I have used the Sims to vicariously fanfiction almost every book I adore. Currently I have a town consisting of characters from my favorites of Robin McKinley's books, my own world/book, and just to stir the pot, Kvothe from The Name of the Wind. I love creating the characters how I see them, and seeing how they interact with other characters. Basically, it's like your own personal virtual dollhouse of favorite book characters.

....and also, you can build every kind of house you'd ever dream of living in, within reason.

I was planning to show you my Sky Palace/Cult of Death, but apparently it's occupied. Pity the poor Sims who live there.

Do you ever play video games when reading certain books?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

"Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels #8)" by Ilona Andrews

This review features a book that is the eighth in the Kate Daniels series, and may have spoilers for those who have not read the first seven books of the series. My review of the first book can be found here.

I spoiled myself and bought Magic Shifts on its release day, since I haven't bought any fresh-off-the-presses books this year. It actually took me by surprise that it was available because I hadn't quite left my 'it's July' state of mind.

First off, I was trying to make this last, because the next Kate Daniels book is roughly a year away, but my book appetite had other ideas. I gobbled it up in two days, not even trying to stop after each chapter and read another book. Obviously this means it's as well paced as previous books, which also didn't stay me very long. It's difficult to pace yourself when the lives of the characters you love are at stake.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.
'So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.
'An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece…'

We get to see a little more of one of my favorite characters, Saiman, in this book but his scenes are shorter than I wanted. The Pack is also now behind the scenes- since Kate and Curran left the throne (as it were) in the previous book. This changes a lot of the elements in the series- previously all their actions had to be approved by the Pack before they could actually act. Now they can do whatever they want- but still reap the consequences for themselves.

Kate, Curran, Julie, and Roland all naturally steal the show in this book. Kate has a natural distrust of her father due to all his actions have put her through, though he acts every bit the kindly old man in his appearance. To be honest, he gives me the creeps, but he still brings a lot of fun moments to this book. Curran is surprisingly the same, even without his title to back him, but he's more invested in Kate than he's ever been before. And Julie- you see more of her than Saiman or my other favorites, but she's growing on me. I love that she still plays a role in the series- a lot of authors discard the helpless orphans on someone else, noting that their hero/heroine is too 'dangerous' to have a kid. Yeah, well things happen, authors. And sometimes you can't just conveniently pass them off to Aunt Suzie.

One of my favorite quotes:

"Okay," Juke said. "Your horse is a donkey, your poodle is a giant wolf breed, and your boyfriend is whatever the hell he is. You have problems."
               ~Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews, 48% Kindle edition

Magic Shifts was an exceptional addition to the series- but it didn't hit me quite as hard as Magic Rises or Magic Breaks, despite lots of drama still going on. Yes, I still love the characters (perhaps even more) and the action was well-packed, but I always need an emotional punch in the gut to tip it up to five stars, and this one just didn't quite do it. I obviously still recommend it, although you may want to pace yourself on this one better than I was able to, as I have a long wait ahead of me.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars for an exceptional book that didn't quite hit me as hard as the previous two.

Content: Ages 18+ for the usual suspects in the Kate Daniels series.

Page Count: 342 pages

Sunday, August 9, 2015

NQAC: Biweekly Update #15: Pet Projects and Living Like a Maharaja in Exile

Recently I've been upgrading my room with thrift shop finds, as well as upgrading some of my dog's things. Since George has been spoiled so terribly, I bought Torrie a memory foam pillow at a thrift shop and restuffed the top of her flat-as-a-German-pancake dog bed. I also purchased some cute flannel fabric to make a cover for it. Here is Keisha, posing on the newly stuffed bed (I actually tried to take a picture sans dog, but apparently that doesn't fly in our household):

Here is the cute fabric, which the salesgirl informed me was sushi cartoon figures:

Recent Acquisitions (or the Piling of the-Piles):

the-pile Additions:

The Way of Shadows (The Night Angel Trilogy #1) by Brent Weeks
Even though this has virtually no female characters, I was willing to pick it up for cheap. Apparently I'm craving mantasy.

the-invisible-pile Additions:

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller 
It was cheap, and looked to be interesting historical fiction. I bought it.


I requested these two from NetGalley and was lucky enough to get them. I've started reading The Sleeping King and I love it so far.

The Sleeping King: A Novel by Cindy Dees and Bill Flippin
Expected Release Date: September 8th 2015

The Heart Goes Last (Positron 0) by Margaret Atwood
Expected Release Date: September 29th 2015

Finished These Books:

It was slow at times- I'm usually all for more pages in a historical romance, but this one needed less.

In the Blogosphere:

The Reading Wench has an interview with Lisa Van Wormer about the lack of military women's voices in nonfiction, among many other things. Also, did you know there was a program that got books into the hands of soldiers? I sure didn't.

Stacey @ The Book Adventures posts A Reader's Guide To Devon, Bath, and London.


Jamie @ Mayhem Books posts a review of her childhood favorite, Island of Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, making me want to reread it.

Bookworm @ The Bookworm's Closet has a Mini Bookworm on the Way!

Purplebook @ Way Too Hot Books now has me drooling for Vision in Silver (The Others, #3) By Anne Bishop.

Also, this TBR Calculator Tool was posted in one of my book bloggers' groups. Use it, if you dare. (My piles plus my to-read list should only take me 4 years, 9 months to finish- if I keep at my current pace).

In My Life:

My room looks like it's home to a maharaja in exile, due in part to a lovely (HUGE) colorful rug a friend of ours gave me.

Here's a look at just the pattern- it looks kind of watercolor-ish.

After falling down the stairs in July and having my butt bruised an unfortunate shade of eggplant, I realized that life's too short to have a crappy computer chair. Luckily the thrift shop had a much more comfortable one available for me at a steal of a price:

(I also got a computer mat to preserve the maharaja's rug.)
And since the left click of my computer mouse was dying a slow and frustrating death, I bought one to replace it:

I also bought this 50's glam crystal lamp with marble base, as I have a collection of 50's lamps started. (The lampshade/vinegar bottle bottom is still a work in progress).

How long will it take you to finish your To Be Read pile? (Use the calculator if you have no clue.)

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