Review: The Stormlight Archive

Hey Readers,

So here’s the deal, I say that this is going to be a review, and I’m going to try and make it one, but I can’t promise it won’t also be a little fan-girlish okay? Okay, now that we have that out of the way, lets dig in!

The Stormlight Archive

I started this series in late July and I could not put it down until I finished in October, and I loved it from the minute that I started it. The Stormlight Archive was my first series from Brandon Sanderson and I promise you it won’t be the last. This is an amazing epic adult fantasy series that has its own magic system, intense and developed political dynamics, complete worlds, and characters that grow throughout each book. On top of all that, it’s told from multiple points of view. I know, it’s overwhelming, But that’s what I’m here for, let’s talk about each of those things.

The Magical System: I don’t want to go too much into detail about the magic system in The Stormlight Archive, because I feel like the discovery of exactly how the magic system works is done as a plot device, and is one of the exciting things about reading the books. But I will say that the magic system is something completely different than I have read in a fantasy novel, and I have a bit of experience with those. (It’s my favorite genre.) It is an elemental based magic system, but not just in the traditional sense of water, air, earth, and fire. It goes deeper then that and it is genius. Also – when you start The Way of Kings and you start reading about spren and you’re like “what is he talking about? Spren?” don’t give up, I promise – it’s worth it.

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The Political System: For all of you Game of Thrones fans out there – while you’re waiting for the next book to come out… come to the light side and read The Way of Kings and I promise you it will be better (I said what I said). The Stormlight Archive series doesn’t have the gritty, gruesome to be gruesome, feel that Game of Thrones has, however, what it does have is death, blood, war, and vengeance done in a way that isn’t overwhelming and without what feels sometimes like gratuitous violence that will bog you down. Throughout the three current novels in The Stormlight Archives we learn more and more about the political intrigue, and because it’s told through multiple viewpoints, we get to learn how each of our characters play a part in the political sphere, and how their choices affect the world around them. I know some people don’t love the nitty gritty details of a worlds political system, but with these novels, the politics never feel overwhelming or that they are taking over the narrative. Instead, it blends in and is helpful to the telling of the story and overall feel of how it unfolds.

The World Building: I know I said I have only read one series by Brandon Sanderson but Sanderson is a master at world-building. I mean, he spent ten years researching and developing the world of Roshar for this series, and it paid off. I honestly don’t know of a series where I felt like I got so much beautiful information about the world. We are set in the world of Roshar and Sanderson gives us the most intricate descriptions of everything in this world. Everything from how the weather works, the creatures, history, mythology, religion, magic, the races, the different cultures, and more. Pretty much anything you can think of, Sanderson describes it. Because of this attention to detail, you really believe in this world.

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The Character Development: I have so much to say about all of the characters we learned about in The Stormlight Archive and I can’t say anything without getting a little spoiler-y so I won’t, (you’re welcome) but honestly these characters were EVERYTHING. In each of the books, our focus is on one particular character’s backstory, which we learn about through flashbacks that give us more depth into each character. However, don’t let that fool you, we see multiple characters perspectives in each of the books. The book’s parts, interludes, and chapters are broken up and let you know which character’s perspective you’re viewing the story through at any given moment and that is helpful. Sanderson writes the best characters, characters that drive you crazy, that make you laugh, make you cry for, basically, you’re going to be feeling all the feelings. I can’t tell you how many times I scream-ranted or literally yelled at the books, or the people around me about what was happening in the story at that moment (I’m a very passionate reader). Sanderson will capture your heart with these characters and then rip it out, and it will be worth every minute.

Audiobook Version: I also jumped between reading Oathbringer and listening to the audiobook on Audible. The narrators were Michael Kramer and Kate Reading and they were amazing. Definitely worth the listen if you have long commutes or you want to read the book but carrying around 1000+ pages is difficult!

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Overall Thoughts: 

These books have been my favorite reads of the year, and honestly most likely my favorite fantasy series I have ever read. I want and need everyone to read them. I have heard that some people found it slow going in the beginning when first learning about the different things that happen, but for me, I was hooked right from the Prologue. So if you find that you were finding it slow, give it about 100 pages (in a 1000 page book it’s not that much, trust me), and I’m sure it will pick up from there.

My favorite part of these books was the way that Sanderson built up the tension throughout them, between the politics, war, and emotions of the characters and watching all of their stories converge. Not just from The Way of Kings into Words of Radiance into Oathbringer, because throughout the three books the build-up was intense and the outcome was AMAZING, but also just in the individual books themselves. I always felt like there was so much tension and that we didn’t have enough book left to wrap everything up and then Sanderson did it, every time, with a BANG. Each ending left me desperate to get my hands on the next book, and the wait for the fourth one might just kill me (you may think this is me being dramatic, I disagree).

This series is for anyone who loves fantasy, or anyone who is willing and ready to give an epic fantasy a try, The Stormlight Archives is the perfect series full of everything you could ever want in a fantasy novel, it will grab your attention and run away with it. Read it, and then come find me here or on Instagram and tell me all your thoughts. I can’t wait to hear them.

Life before death.

Strength before weakness.

Journey before Destination.

My Ratings:

The Way of Kings: 5/5 Stars

Words of Radiance: 5/5 Stars

Oathbringer: 5/5 Stars

– Hannah

Dream Cast: The Eye of the World

Hey Readers!

I am working on a re-read of The Wheel of Time series with my friend Hannah (check her out on instagram: @booknerdnative) and we are wicked excited for the series that is going to be coming out on Amazon based on the first book: The Eye of the World. The last few day’s we have been discussing our dream cast for the show and I thought it would be fun to post mine here (minus spoilers of course)!

The Eye of the World is the start of this story that is set in an epic world where magic exists but only women can use it safely. We follow five of our main characters, Rand al’Thor, Perrin Aybara, Matrim Cauthon, Egwene al’Vere, and Nynaeve al’Meara who are on a dangerous journey led by Moiraine Sedai and Lan Mandragoran her warder. These five are thought to be important because Moiraine believes one of them might be the reincarnation of an incredibly powerful individual, who prophecies say will either save humanity or destroy it.

I am about half way through in my re-read of The Eye of the World, so I’m going to focus on the characters that I have been introduced to so far:

images.jpeg  Rand al’Thor – Richard Madden

My casting for our lead role, Rand al’Thor is Richard Madden, you know him from Game of Thrones (Robb Stark) and the prince in Disney’s live action Cinderella. Rand al’Thor is a red headed farm boy from the Two Rivers who ultimately becomes the heart and soul of this story.

jZS8nz1V_400x400.jpg  Perrin Aybara – Noah Centineo 

So Perrin Aybara is one of my favorite characters in this whole story, he’s quiet, soft spoken, thoughtful, and I imagine him to have the ability to give the most adorable puppy dog eyes at you. So with that in mind, there is no one who could play Perrin better than Noah Centineo. You know Noah as Peter “whoa whoa whoa” Kavinsky from Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Jamey from Sierra Burgess is a Loser.

rami_malek_a_p.jpg  Matrim Cauthon – Rami Malek 

Matrim Cauthon is the last of our Two Rivers boys and the more rambunctious, trouble maker of our three leading male characters. Rami Malek has that boyish charm and the look that I imagine Mat to have. Rami Malek has starred in Mr. Robot but I think his ability to show the passion, sensitivity, and vulnerability as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody is what speaks to me in his ability to play Matrim.

chloe-grace-moretz-vanity-fair-sundance-2018-film-festival-0.jpg  Egwene al’Vere – Chloe Grace Moretz 

For our fourth lead character (and first female lead) I think Chloe Grace Moretz has the chops to play Egwene al’Vere. A young woman from the Two Rivers who grew up with our other four leads, she is strong and yet innocent and a little naive when she starts out on their journey. I think the combination of Moretz’s look of innocence and her steely resolve (think Hit Girl in Kick-Ass) that makes her the perfect Egwene.

zendaya-Glamours-2017-Women-of-The-Year-Awards-billboard-1548.jpg Nynaeve al’Meara – Zendaya

Nynaeve is my favorite, bad ass, take no shit (especially from men), female character in this story. She is what I think of when I think of strength and the power of women in this world. She is a young woman who knows what she believes in and is willing to fight for it, and those that she loves. Zendaya, Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Greatest Showman, has that fiery spirit that would bring Nynaeve to life.

2017-08-02_121657_janet_montgomery_gallery_5.jpg  Moiraine Sedai – Jennifer Montgomery

So British actress Jennifer Montgomery not only looks perfect to play one of our mysterious, brave, strong female leads – Moiraine Sedai – but she has the acting skills to do it as well. She was on the tv shows Merlin and the movie Black Swan, and she’s currently in the show Salem playing Mary Sibly – a powerful witch. I honestly think we don’t need to look further than Montgomery to cast the perfect Moiraine.

Unknown-3.jpeg  al’Lan Mandragoran – Daniel Henney

Okay – so here I need you to take some liberties with me. Lan is never *described* as being of asian decent BUT my brain has always pictured him either being Asian or Native American. Henney currently stars in Criminal Minds as Matt Simmons, an FBI agent, and he was the voice of kind and smart Tadashi in Big Hero 6. Henney has that build that I think would be perfect for Lan, as well as that soft side that only a few of our characters will get to see. Also, he’s a snack.

44-1-1080x675.png  Min Farshaw – Lana Candor

With her casting of Lara Jean in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before we know that Lana can play the sweet innocent girl next door, but what I’m intrigued by is her casting as the katana-wielding bad-ass Saya in Syfy’s new show Deadly Class based on Rick Remender and Wes Craig’s comic book series.

These next two – I don’t think I need to explain myself. It’s just … obviously.

Unknown-1.jpeg  Elyas Machera – Jeff Bridges

Unknown.jpeg  Thom Merrilin – Sam Elliot

With all of that said, I think our five lead actors and actresses should be unknown teenage actors/actresses who can jump start their careers by doing a show based on a book series with 14 books that they can grow with. They can grow as the characters and as actors with Amazon and The Wheel of Time series.

Who would you love to see as actors on The Wheel of Time series from Amazon?

– Hannah

Review – Next Year in Havana

I picked up Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton after Reese Witherspoon announced in as her July book pick for the Reese’s Book Club. Not only was this the first book I read for Reese’s Book Club but it was also my first read by Chanel Cleeton and I was not disappointed by either.

We follow two women, Elisa Perez living in Havana before the rebellion until her family’s exile in 1958 and her granddaughter Marisol, visiting Cuba for the first time in 2017. And through Elisa and Marisol we get to experience Cuba. Cleeton’s writing is so atmospheric that if I closed my eyes, I could picture Cuba, the sights, the sounds and smells. Through these characters and their experiences we also learn about the people of Cuba as a whole – those who left Cuba with their belongings on their backs, passing along memories to their descendants and those who stayed behind with hopes of change that would not happen.

One of the things that I loved about this novel, was the way that Cleeton addressed Marisol’s view of herself as a Cuban-American. How she was concerned that she wouldn’t be welcome in Cuba, that she wasn’t “Cuban” enough. It was particularly clear in the way that Cleeton described Marisol feeling both at home while still feeling like an outsider in a country that meant so much to her and to her family.

“You speak as though politics is its own separate entity,’ he says. ‘As though it isn’t in the air around us, as though ever single part of us isn’t political. How can you dismiss something that is so fundamental to the integrity of who we are as a people, as a country? How can you dismiss something that directly affects the lives of so many?”

I didn’t know very much about Cuba before I read this book. I knew some basic information but the depth of Cuba: the politics, the way Cuban’s live, the history, etc – was all new to me. The politics of Cuba come up a lot in this book as the undercurrent of the story, it pushes it forward.  Not just the politics of the government, but also the politics of the social classes. How each social class viewed the rebellion, who agreed and who disagreed, and the the politics of why. And not just that, but how those who stayed in Cuba viewed those who left and vice versa.

One of my favorite things about the genre of historical fiction is that you can learn about history in a way that is almost hands on. With characters like those of Chanel Cleeton’s in Next Year in Havana, they help the reader view the situation through their own eyes in a way that a history book doesn’t. It allows you to experience it instead of just getting the facts. Chanel Cleeton describes this book as a “book of my heart”, stating that her family also escaped Cuba and that she credits their stories with some of the bases for this book. The fact that her family lived through these experiences only adds to that feeling.

Ultimately I loved this book, and I am really looking forward to more of Chanel Cleeton’s writing, especially to hear Beatriz’s story in When We Left Cuba in 2019.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

– Hannah

Review: The Wedding Date

Alexa and Drew are strangers and after finding themselves stuck in an elevator together, and hitting it off, Drew convinces Alexa to accompany him as his plus one to his ex-girlfriends wedding. It’s the stuff of a rom-com dream. As what was supposed to be fake relationship turns into a one night stand turns to weekend trips to see each other, Alexa and Drew have to decide what exactly they mean to each other.

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This romance novel was a breath of fresh air when it comes to romances. The characters are equally relatable, both are charming and both have their flaws which keeps the story moving. They have their own inside joke about sandwiches which pops up multiple times during the story which makes their relationship seem all the more realistic and relatable. And there are even some quirky friends that add even more flavor to the story.

There is a lot of sex in the book, but it is not off putting at all. It doesn’t seem over done and it isn’t raunchy or distasteful. It flows well with the story, especially since Drew and Alexa’s relationship started being based solely on physical attraction.

Now what did I really love about the book? Well Jasmine Guillory wrote a female character that I find is uncharacteristic towards the normal rom-com heroine. She is a larger African-American woman, who is consistently unapologetically herself. She is down to earth, she knows her worth, she is strong and confident in who she is and in her own skin, and she LOVES to eat. There was so much talk of food and eating in this book it was amazing. I don’t know how many times in a romance or rom-com I’ve heard the leading lady talking about how she forgot to eat that day, or that all she had was a salad. It was nice to be seeing something different embracing that body positive and food positive lifestyle.

Guillory also looks at and highlights interracial relationships and what race can mean when it comes to dating. Alexa is much more aware of situations that can be difficult for her due to her experiences and as she communicates about those situations to Drew, he learns more about his own privilege, and another reason why I love this book – he doesn’t question her experience. There was a scene when she told him that she had experienced racism at the hands of someone he knew, he didn’t question her experience at all, took her side immediately and then did what he needed to do to make sure she didn’t experience that again. Basically, he reacted exactly the way any white person should react when a person of color is explaining the racism that they face on a day-to-day basis.

I gave this book 4 stars. I really enjoyed this book, it was the perfect read when I was in the mood for something quick, fast paced, relatively light, and delicious. If that is what you are looking for – look no further. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory is just what you need.

– Hannah

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February Wrap Up

So I know I’m late with this February Wrap Up as we are already 4 days into March BUT better late than never right? …Right?

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(Thank you Walter.)

February was a short month and I didn’t get as much reading done as I had wanted to. I had wanted to read quite a bit of fantasy, thanks to the Fantasy in February challenge that I was participating in. All, except for one of my books, were fantasy books and I really enjoyed them for the most part but I really fell in love with the first trilogy I read so I ended up deciding to take my time with it so I could really enjoy it. This however, did have an impact on the amount of books I was able to get through, but I wouldn’t go back and read them faster if I had the option to, so I’m okay with it.

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(This was my February TBR list.)

The Unread Shelf Project

So I’m doing a really good job about reading only books on my Unread Shelf list. I have not reread any books and I’m doing a really good job sticking to my TBR lists. In February I ended up being able to get through seven more books from my Unread Shelf.

Y’all… I CAN’T STOP BUYING BOOKS.

I know. I know. January I was on a complete book buying ban and that went TERRIBLY. So February I was like, I can make it through one month without buying a book. That can’t be too hard. I mean, get yourself together and have a little self control.

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(Justin literally can’t even with me right now.)

I’m not even going to lie to myself anymore about being on a book buying ban. Is it worth it to deprive myself of all the books that are practically begging to be on my shelves? I don’t think so. And it certainly isn’t worth buying the books and then feeling guilty for having so utterly failed in my book buying ban. SO I’M GIVING UP. I mean, if buying books is my vice, it could be so much worse. I could have worse vices and we all need one so…

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(My friend Gwen sent me this, and if it’s not accurate to my life, I don’t know what is.)

My Blog

February was a really good month for me and my blog. I got up three reviews and I made a post about my favorite literary bad boys for Valentines Day. So I am really pleased with how February went. But since nothing is perfect, I know I could improve for March, so my goals for March are to:

  1. Post one review a week, hopefully going up on Sundays.
  2. Try and get a post up that isn’t a review but still having to do with books at least twice.

I’m feeling confident March will be a good month to succeed with those goals. I have a pretty awesome TBR which I’m super excited to get through.

Books I Read

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Out of the nine books on my February TBR I got through six of them, which for a short month I am pretty pleased with. I also read my IRL BookClubs pick of Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King, which if you read my review (found here) you’ll know I wasn’t super impressed by it which I was disappointed about. Other than that book though I really enjoyed the books that I read in February and it was awesome being able to get back into reading fantasy, a genre I always love but sometimes forget to read since their is always so many classics and contemporary fiction that I want to get to as well.

  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – 5 ⭐️’s
  • A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab – 5 ⭐️’s
  • A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab – 5 ⭐️’s
  • The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert – 3 ⭐️’s
  • Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – 3 ⭐️’s
  • The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden – 4 ⭐️’s
  • Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King – 2 ⭐️’s

Next Month

In March I don’t have any specific challenge that I am participating in but I do have a pretty awesome TBR planned. A couple of the books on my list are The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. My book club’s pick this month is The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn. So I know March is going to be a good month and I can’t wait.

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How was your February? Did you participate in Fantasy in February as well? I want to hear all about your month so let me know in the comments below!

– Hannah

Review: Sleeping Beauties

Synopsis from Goodreads: “In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place… The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain? Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is a wildly provocative, gloriously absorbing father/son collaboration between Stephen King and Owen King.”

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This was my IRL book clubs first book pick. It did not go over so well. Out of the six of us only two, myself included, actually finished the book. Nobody else was able to get into it and part of this I blame on the deadly pacing at the beginning of the book.  The beginning of the book drags as we get introduced to the characters, and while the book seems to pick up steam once the Aurora virus gets started, it doesn’t keep the pace for the rest of the novel. There were plenty of times that I felt like I needed the pick up of caffeine in order to stay awake for this just like the woman of Dooling WV.

The book starts not in the middle of the Aurora Virus, which this mysterious sleeping disease starts to be called, but right before it. That is one of my favorite parts of the book, I liked the dissent from the normal world as we know it and the swift dissent into chaos as the women slowly start to fall asleep. Now, don’t feel too bad if you start to forget who the characters are, there are over 70 characters and the book starts off with a character list. And for all of these characters I think the one who got the least credit was the fox, the last character listed. A talking fox who had more emotion than our female protagonist, Evie Black.

While I was very intrigued by the idea I wasn’t quite happy with the outcome. I don’t know if that’s just me, I don’t always like Stephen King’s endings to his novels, they always seem to let me down, I always imagine the book ending differently than it did. I spent most of the book asking if what had been happening in the previous pages were actually important to the rest of the book, and I’m still not sure that half of it did, and if any of it actually meant anything.

Am I the only one who doesn’t love Stephen Kings endings? Am I the crazy one?

– Hannah

 

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Review: My Absolute Darling

This debut novel by Gabriel Tallent, My Absolute Darling, is an excellent but unsettling novel of extreme child abuse. It is heart breaking and devastating to read but it captivates you and makes it hard to stop, even when you feel like you can’t take anymore. The novel has a pretty even pace as you move through it, but as you get closer to the end, the pace quickens, making it almost impossible to put down.

Turtle, whose real name is Julia, although only her teacher and principal call her that, lives with her father Martin, a sociopath who believes that the world is due for an ecological disaster any day. In the house she shares with him she suffers severe and traumatic emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of her father. The way that Tallent details the abuse is difficult to read, in the very first scene of the book Martin is calling her a “little bitch”, and it only gets worse from there.

As the novel progresses, Turtle starts to realize that she needs to escape. This urge to escape is only heightened when she meets two high school boys, and develops a crush on one of them, Jacob. The boys instantly take a liking to Turtle, and the way that they talk makes her dizzy.  The boys also bring some light hearted scenes to the novel which helps break up the otherwise disturbing content of the novel.

The language that Tallent uses to convey these violent scenes of horrific abuse that Turtle undergoes at the hand of her father is uncomfortable to say the least. He explores Turtle’s case of Stockholm syndrome in a way that makes you feel for Turtle, but never have pity on her. She is a 14 year old who faced with the violence that she is subjected to is strong and brave, and even finds herself able to provide moments of tenderness when it is needed. He is really able to convey why a victim of abuse sometimes chooses to stay with their abuser, even if they know on some level that it’s wrong.

I gave this novel five stars. The writing is beautiful and lush, all of the characters are full and well rounded, and the story is dark and captivating. There are going to be people who don’t like the way that Tallent described Turtle and her relationship to her father, almost as one who likes her abuse, “In the waiting she by turns wants and does not want it. His touch brings her skin to life, and she holds it all within the private theatre of her mind, where anything is permitted, their two shadows cast across the sheet and knit together.” Tallent makes it clear that it is abuse, but also wants it known that the characters love each other, although not neccesarily a love that should be celebrated. Martin’s love for Turtle is a possessive love, denying Turtle her individuality. Turtle’s a complex mix of a daughter’s love for her father and a 14 year old girl suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

I had a hard time walking away from this novel, as I turned the page I was hoping for more but at the same time, I don’t think I could have taken anymore. I am very excited to see what Gabriel Tallent does next.

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– Hannah

 

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