Thursday, November 23, 2023


I started Jennifer Saint's Atalanta over a month ago, while I was on a short trip visiting family. I read about half of it while I was away, but once I got home, life got away from me and I didn't go back to it until a few days ago.

Atalanta tells the story of Artemis's champion, the huntress the goddess raised after she was abandoned on a hilltop to die as an infant. Atalanta grows up to be a fierce warrior, adept at hunting, making the goddess proud. But when word comes to the goddess of Jason and the Argonauts' quest to obtain the Golden Fleece and bring glory to the pantheon, Artemis decides to send Atalanta on the quest as her champion. Atalanta has to fight and prove her right to be counted among the other heroes of the quest (who are all male, and look down on women), all while striving to remain true to her goddess.

I'm not overly familiar with Greek mythology (beyond very basic things), so I was quite excited to read Atalanta, especially when I realized the book would deal with Jason and the Argonauts as well. I've heard of them, but didn't really know anything about their quest. I really enjoyed the first half of the book, with Atalanta's upbringing among Artemis' nymphs and her struggle to prove her place with the Argonauts.  But the second half of the book really started to lose me. Keeping in mind that I'm not familiar with the story, I found the conclusion of the Argonauts' quest rather anti-climatic (and honestly, so did Atalanta, as the Fleece was won by trickery, not through bravery). Their return went fairly smoothly, especially compared to the journey to get there. Their welcome and the subsequent murder of the king and disappearance of Jason and Medea felt kind of glossed over (I would have thought that people would have gone after them or something, but nope). The boar fight likewise happened rather quickly, and then Atalanta kind of hid herself away for awhile with nothing really happening (it was with good reason, but made for not very exciting reading). And then the end of the book kind of happened rather abruptly, especially when she realized she was in love with Hippomenes and they ran off together.

I believe a lot of these events are true to the mythology (I just checked Wikipedia), but again, the book didn't really treat them well.  Atalanta's earlier relationship with Meleager felt earned through all the events they survived together. Her relationship with Hippomenes felt rather forced, and kind of shoehorned in because of the mythology, not because Atalanta actually felt things for him through their history. 

So I'm not quite sure what to think of Atalanta. It was an interesting read because I got to learn more of Greek mythology. I also really did enjoy the first half of the book.  But the second half didn't really work for me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

The Vampire Slayer Volume 3

It took me awhile to get (and read) The Vampire Slayer: Volume 3, but I finally have!  And I have to was a bit underwhelming compared to the first two volumes.

Starting up where Volume 2 left off, Willow and Faith enter Hungrus' lair to save Buffy. Willow triggers her magic to help, but accidentally taps into a well of dark energy (it's the generational magic of the slayers). She kills Hungrus and, as the dark magic starts to consume her, starts plotting to unmake reality to do away with the world's suffering. Faith attempts to confront her, but when that goes poorly, she decides to tell Buffy about what has happened.  Buffy confronts the rest of her friends angrily, then they all go off to stop Willow.  Faith and Buffy manage to get through to her and convince her to give Buffy her destiny back. Then at the end, Giles calls someone to help rehabilitate Willow: Tara.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, beyond more of a fight with Hungrus I guess.  But definitely not Dark Willow sitting around for a good chunk of the story as she became one with the dark magic. There was also a lot less of Spike and Xander in this one - Xander finally decided to dump his boyfriend (his boyfriend didn't respect him at all, so it was a long time coming), and Spike was just basically along for the ride (he seemed more active in the earlier volumes because he ended up helping people out just trying to get closer to the Slayer).

Volume 4 is due out next month, but I'm honestly not sure if I'm going to read it. I found this one just okay, and with the main story feeling over (Buffy got her slayer powers back), I don't really feel the need to keep going. But who knows, maybe when the library gets it I'll give it a read.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Graphic Novel Interlude

I have a pile of graphic novels that a friend lent me.  While I really want and need to read some of the books I own (I'm going to be moving in the nearish future), I decided it was a good idea to get through the books that people have lent me first (so I don't accidentally pack and/or lose them).

So I started with Godzilla vs The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which was a pretty ridiculous romp. Rita finds a magical stone that lets her travel to another world without the Power Rangers, but finds Godzilla instead!  Tommy was brought along with her, and tries to stop Godzilla from destroying the world, mistakenly thinking Godzilla is one of Rita's monsters. The other Rangers come to help, and after failing to take down Godzilla, they realize that he is their best bet in stopping Rita and an alien race called the Xiliens who keep summoning more and more monsters to destroy them!

Next up was Sonjaversal. I'm not familiar with Red Sonja at all, but I still enjoyed this graphic novel. The different Sonjas of the multiverse all pray to their god or goddess, and gain power but in exchange for keeping to a condition.  The gods or goddesses are all different, the conditions are all different, but that is the essence of their power.  Saint Sonja is the only one who can commune with the gods or goddesses directly.  It is her job to keep everyone true to their oath.  When they break their oath, she has been pitting the oathbreakers against each other, with the winner being forgiven.  But no matter how many Sonjas she sends after Red Sonja, they all die!

This was a very interesting graphic novel which seems to open up so many story possibilities for the many different Sonjas (and honestly just for coming up with all kinds of creative takes on Sonja).  I also really liked how the Sonjas were all so different.  While they were (almost - shout out to Lacrosse Sonja!) all great at killing, they killed in different ways. Some were futuristic Sonjas, others were more modern, and yet others were more fantasy-esque.  Even the devil was a Sonja!  

While I admit that I probably won't specifically go looking for more Red Sonja stories, I did enjoy reading this one.

Next up was Die!namite Volume 1, which was an insane story bringing various Dynamite characters together into a zombie apocalypse that threatens the entire universe! I didn't know who some of the characters were (like Project: Superpowers), but I did recognize Red Sonja, Vampirella, and John Carter (from Edgar Rice Burroughs' books). No one is safe as the zombie plague spreads from world to world and throughout time! 

While this one started out rather interesting, it really shone at the end.  Our heroes have retreated to the last safe place and are being assaulted by zombies.  They realize that the whole cause of the plague is that Hel is looking for her assassin who forsook her and is hiding there from her.  With the help of Hel's super-powered zombies (members of Project: Superpowers who succumbed to the zombie outbreak almost immediately), they manage to take down Red Sonja.  But rather than becoming a zombie, she ends up assuming the mantle of Hel's assassin.  And in an even crazier twist, she murders Hel and assumes command of the undead army herself!

While I was expecting at least one of the main characters to become a zombie by the end, what happened with Red Sonja took me by complete surprise!  

Prior to that moment, I was on the fence about reading more of this story.  But now that this happened, I would definitely like to read Volume 2!!!

Finally, my friend lent me Operation Dragon. Have you ever wondered what WWII would have been like with dinosaurs?  This graphic novel helps to answer that question!

A disgraced ex-cop named Rick and a mobster trying to escape his past named Tony cross paths in the Pacific Theater.  Despite hating each other from when they previously met, the two end up working together with an intelligence officer on a mysterious mission.  Her mission brings them to a hidden island where the Japanese have been raising and training dinosaurs as their super-weapons!  

Operation Dragon is a lot of fun.  It takes a little bit for the story to really get going (the book holds off on revealing the dinosaurs, even though thanks to the cover and the book's blurb, the audience is well aware of what is happening. But once the trio get to the island, and the US Rangers show up and attempt to rescue them, things really get going.  How will the US forces escape?  And how will they stop the Japanese from shipping dinosaur eggs out to the rest of the Pacific Theater?

I also really liked the interplay between the three main characters, especially Rick and Tony. How they went from absolutely hating each other to being able to work together made this story that much more interesting. 

So there we have it - the pile of graphic novels I got through over the last few days!  

I'd also like to note that previously on this blog I missed talking about was Crossover Volume 2.  My friend who lent me these four graphic novels lent me that as well.  I reread the first volume and then read the second one awhile ago. Unfortunately I forgot to post about it here at the time, and now I don't remember what I thought of it.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Sonic the Hedgehog: Scrapnik Island

I haven't read a Sonic the Hedgehog story in a long time, but saw this one at work and wanted to give it a shot!  Sonic and Tails take refuge from a storm on one of the old Death Eggs, which crashed in the ocean. There they discover the Scrapniks - old, discarded badniks which Sigma-117, himself a badnik, has rebuilt so they can be free from Robotnik's programming. The Scrapniks help Sonic and Tails rebuild their plane. But while looking for a part that they need, Mecha Sonic's old programming is triggered!  

I really enjoyed this story about second chances and building the life you want to build.  Your future is in your hands, even if you start out as a badnik - you can change your programming and live the life you want.  It's a very cute story, and I very much recommend it for all Sonic fans!

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

To Tell You the Truth

 I don't know where I got Gilly Macmillan's To Tell You the Truth from (I suspect an aunt gave it to me), but after it had been sitting on my shelf for some time, I randomly decided to give it a read.  I was in the mood for something different from what I normally read, and boy did it deliver!

To Tell You the Truth tells the story of Lucy Harper, a very successful author who has penned a series of novels about Detective Sergent Eliza Grey. Unbeknownst to almost everyone, Eliza is Lucy's childhood imaginary friend who has been in her head since forever and now manifests for Lucy, thanks to the strength she has gotten from the novels. While penning her latest novel, Lucy's husband, Dan, has secretly purchased a house for them right by the woods where Lucy's brother disappeared when she was a child. When Dan disappears too, Lucy's past comes back to haunt her, all the more traumatic because she is in the public eye. Lucy is left confronting the past while also trying to discover what happened to Dan. Did she kill him?  Did she kill Teddy?

While I admit it was a little odd at first having Eliza present along with Lucy, it made the book that much more interesting, especially when Eliza first takes over for Lucy, or when Eliza first disappears. That really adds to the suspense, as now you have no idea what's going on!

The book is interspersed with small snippets of what happened to Teddy years ago.  I really liked how that came together into the present of the book (it turned out to be a manuscript that someone was writing about Lucy's life - I totally did not see that coming!)

I also really liked that I did not see the ending coming at all!  To Tell You the Truth really kept me guessing right to the end.

To Tell You the Truth was a really fast read, and the perfect "something different" that I was looking for!  I will definitely keep Gilly Macmillan in mind for the future when I feel the same way!

Sunday, August 27, 2023

House Poor No More


I started reading Romana King's House Poor No More back in mid July, and just finished it today. Because of the time it took to finish, it derailed my reading plans a bit, but that's okay - I think it was an important book to be reading right now.  I'm at a point where I'm considering home ownership, and didn't want to go into it unprepared.

King's book is not what I originally thought it would be - a book for new homeowners getting into the market.  Instead, it is about homeowners of all types being smart about owning a home.  I admit that, as a potentially first-time homeowner, I found King's book rather intimidating.  It's front loaded with all the things that can go wrong with a house, which honestly scared me quite a bit.  Yes, I know that all of these things might not happen, and that it's good to be aware that they can.  But as someone thinking about getting into the market, it's a rough start!

That said, King gives a very good overview of what home-ownership entails, looking at everything from repair costs, upgrade costs, insurance, mortgage and debt management, and taxes.  This is a Canadian book, so it looks at everything from a Canadian angle, which I was really happy to see as I am Canadian.  It's also structured in such a way that you should be able to use the book in the future even if the prices of things continue to go up.  

House Poor No More is a fairly dense read though.  I found that I couldn't just sit and read it the way I can with some other nonfiction books.  I had to read a chunk, then kind of let that settle in before I could continue reading more.  That being said, it was very much worth the read!  I got this book from the library, but am considering picking it up for myself in the future as a reference!

Monday, August 14, 2023

In An Absent Dream

While at the library, I noticed Seanan McGuire's In An Absent Dream and it sounded really interesting.  I brought the book out with me to camp last weekend, and, though it is a short book, I just finished it today.

 In An Absent Dream is the story of Lundy, a young girl who finds her way to the Goblin Market when she is eight years old. After having many adventures, she stumbles back home again to her strict father, who himself had found the Market when he was younger, but chose to remain in this world. Over the next few years, Lundy finds her way back to the Market several more times despite her father trying to stop her.  But she has to decide before she turns eighteen whether she will stay here like her father did, or return to the Market for good.  And a choice like that can be far more difficult to make than first meets the eye...

Overall, I really enjoyed reading In An Absent Dream.  The book is written much like the narrator is telling a story to an audience, which is a fun and very fitting choice for a tale like this.  I enjoyed many of the characters, but they often felt a bit flat; it works though because it fits with the fairy tale aesthetic of the story (in many fairy tales, the characters are fairly one-dimensional). I was also a big fan of how the actual world of the Goblin Market worked.  Everyone has to give fair value for goods and services, and the actual Market would punish anyone who didn't - people would get bird-features until they were turned completely into birds.  You can work off your debts though and revert back, even from full bird form (if you want - some people remain as birds).

Hilariously, the thing I liked the least was the epilogue - I felt like the book ended far better without it, though I do understand why it was there: In An Absent Dream is part of McGuire's Wayward Children series (I believe a prequel), and the epilogue tied it in with that. It just meant nothing to me because I haven't read any of the other books in the series, and had no idea who the character that showed up at the end was.  And without knowing what's really going on or who that is, the book ends on a really incomplete-feeling note which I really didn't like.

But as I said, overall I enjoyed In An Absent Dream.  It is an interesting and fast (mostly) standalone novel that is worth reading if you like fantasy books with a fairy tale feel!

Monday, July 24, 2023

The Vampire Slayer, Volumes 1 and 2

I haven't really been keeping track of my graphic novel reading lately, but I really wanted to talk about The Vampire Slayer Volumes 1 and 2 because they were awesome and I really want to remember what happens for when more volumes come out!  So this is going to be super spoilery.

In The Vampire Slayer, Willow and Giles cast a spell in an attempt to heal Buffy from the trauma she is carrying around as the Slayer.  But the spell ends up taking all of Buffy's Slayer powers and memories and transferring them to Willow!  Now Willow is the Slayer, and Buffy is a normal person who remembers nothing of her past.

Willow, Giles, and Xander have been trying to come up with a fix, but nothing is working.  So Willow has to go out and fight evil, even though she's had no training.  All the while she's struggling with her magic, which seems to be getting more and more out of control.  Faith arrives to help train Willow, and Xander ends up making friends with Spike in what started out as a way for Spike to learn about the Slayer, but what seems to be a genuine friendship by volume 2.  But all of this is pushing Buffy away because she knows something is up, but no one is telling her what happened or what is going on (plus her friends are all busy with other people now).

Volume 2
ended with Buffy going missing because Hungrus the Slayer-Eater has captured her.  Her friends didn't notice until 5 days later when they track her down at the park where she was captured.  They're going to go after her and hopefully save her from Hungrus (who still went after her, even though she isn't the Slayer, so Giles took that as good news that the spell can be reversed).

I thought this was a super fun story, and I can't wait for more!  Volume 3 is due out sometime next month and I can't wait!

Friday, July 21, 2023

Give Me a Sign

I saw Anna Sortino's Give Me a Sign at work the other day and was intrigued. Give Me a Sign is about Lilah, a 17 year old girl who suffers from hearing loss. She feels like she's caught in the middle between hearing and Deaf - too hearing for the Deaf community, but too hard of hearing for the hearing community. With summer approaching, she reaches out to a friend she met a few years previously at Gray Wolf, a camp for kids who are Deaf or blind, to see if she can work as a counselor at the camp for the summer. While there, she is immersed in Deaf culture, ASL, and maybe even finds some time for romance with Isaac, the cute Deaf counselor who is helping her learn ASL.

Give Me a Sign is a really charming young adult book. I liked all of the characters - they were a very diverse and fun bunch. I also liked how everyone grew through the story - characters learned from their mistakes and even in some cases changed their views (like Mackenzie, the hearing YouTuber who hadn't really realized that how she branded herself on the channel was hurting people in the Deaf community).

I really liked how Sortino wrote the dialogue, omitting words that Lilah either couldn't hear (orally) or didn't understand (in ASL), and spelling them out when they were finger spelled for her. 

While the plot line about the camp needing money wasn't great, I did like the interaction Lilah had with the potential donors - it was a great way for Sortino to show the kinds of insensitive comments and questions that people with disabilities (in this case, specifically those who are hard of hearing or Deaf) are asked. I hope that hearing people who read Give Me a Sign will at the very least be more aware of 

I also really liked the message that Sortino had in the book: it is okay to be yourself and ask for or use the accommodations that you need. This was best showcased through Lilah's younger brother, who was told by a doctor that he needed a cochlear implant. Lilah says to him that it is okay if he wants one, but he should be the one to make that decision for himself. I think that is a very important message that everyone needs to hear - no one should feel pressured into doing something just to fit into what the world wants you to be.

I also liked how Give Me a Sign showcases the importance of summer camps for children, especially children with disabilities, are. Having a place where other people are like you, and have similar experiences to you, can be a huge help for people who experience the world in different ways from the majority. It can be a really nice bonding experience, having other people your age who can relate to your experiences!

Overall, I really enjoyed Give Me a Sign, and I am looking forward to whatever Sortino is working on next!!!

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Tress of the Emerald Sea


Tress of the Emerald Sea
sounded like such a fun read, that I ended up getting it when I was last out book shopping. 

Tress is a window washer who lives on a tiny island on the verdant spore seas. She has no interest in adventure; all she wants to do is live her life and visit with Charlie. Charlie is the Duke's son, who pretends he is a gardener whenever Tress is around so they can hang out (even though she knows who he really is).  But when the Duke sees them together, he takes Charlie on a tour of the kingdom to find an eligible bride.  But when the Duke returns with his heir and daughter-in-law, Tress is flabbergasted to find that the heir in question is NOT Charlie.  After some prying, she discovers that Charlie was sent to the Sorceress of the midnight sea.  He was captured, but no one seems interested in paying his ransom.  And so Tress, in her methodical way, sets out to rescue him.

Tress of the Emerald Sea was such a delight to read.  The tone of the book is very whimsical (thanks to the narrator, Hoid); it reminded me a lot of Stardust by Neil Gaiman (and the cover of the book compares it to The Princess Bride, which seems apt as well).  Tress is a wonderful character who I really enjoyed spending time with.  She also meets some really interesting characters (Fort, Ann, Salay, and Huck) who I really liked too.  They were all delightful people to spend some time with. :)

The setting of Tress of the Emerald Sea was really interesting as well.  The moons of the planet dump spores onto the planet.  The spores activate with water, and do different things depending on their colour (the green ones, for example, became vines).  Unfortunately the human body is full of water, so if the spores come into contact with you, they can kill you.  But the spores can also be sailed on, so humans have built boats (with silver protections, because silver kills the spores) to sail around the world.  

I've now read a couple of novels and novellas by Sanderson, and haven't been disappointed yet.  Tress of the Emerald Sea was another fantastic story by him, and I am excited to one day read more. :)

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Street Freaks

I was really looking forward to reading Street Freaks by Terry Brooks.  I've enjoyed many of his fantasy books, and was really interested in seeing what he could do in a science fiction setting.  

Street Freaks opens with Ash Collin's life imploding: his father sends him a message to get out of their house moments before bots storm the place.  Ash manages to escape and make his way to Street Freaks, the place his father told him to go should anything happen.  There he meets several kids who have all been "tweaked" in some way: Holly is a powerful cyborg who was reconstructed after an accident, TJ was born in a test tube and engineered to be the perfect soldier, Jenny has tanks that filter her blood, Woodrow, a boy whose entire body is robotic after a wasting disease almost killed him, and Cay, a synthetic girl created as a pleasure robot.  The group quickly takes him in, shielding him as best they can from the powerful group trying to find him, all the while helping him try to get to the bottom of why they are after him.

I wanted to like Street Freaks.  I really did. But I really, really didn't.

Most of the plot progressed through people simply refusing to tell Ash things right now.  The first time that happened, okay, whatever.  But by about the fifth time it happened, I'd really had enough of it.  It's one thing if the group put things together as they discovered them through hacking or whatever.  But people repeatedly just not wanting to tell Ash things got real old real quick.

Ash was also not the most interesting character.  He was naive and often very childish.  People repeatedly told him to grow up, and some of the things he failed to realize seemed really silly, especially after the book kept telling us he has an amazing memory - like how did he fail to put some of these things together?  He wasn't exactly unlikable (most of the time - I'll get back to that).  He was just super bland and uninteresting.  

The plot had some issues as well.  I knew (or at least very heavily suspected) fairly early on who was probably the bad guy.  And they were the bad guy.  But not in a super interesting way either.  More in the "I'm going to monologue for ten pages and explain everything" kind of way.  Which really shouldn't have been that surprising, as most of the book felt like explanation rather than action.  I was willing to forgive this at the beginning, as it takes place in a new world and everything was explained (though this felt a bit too on the nose - I would have preferred that we see how more things work, rather than being told about them).  But I was thoroughly sick of it as the book went on and continued in this vein.

There was also an unnecessary romance plot-line as well involving Ash and Cay.  Ash fell in love with her at first sight.  He was told (by some of the others, but even Cay herself) that she was built to be attractive to men (and women who are attracted to women), so he should get over this because it's not real and she's not interested anyway.  But he continues to try to pursue her, even after she repeatedly tells him to stop.  It was very cringe-worthy to be reading this over and over again.  But even more cringe-worthy when it eventually kind of works (at the end of the book she realizes that he actually does see her as a person, so she immediately loves him too).  

So unfortunately, I do not recommend this book.  I kept hoping it would get better, especially after the initial heavy-handed worldbuilding was out of the way.  But sadly, that was not to be.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Rogue Angel: Bathed in Blood

I picked up Bathed in Blood many years ago, after finding out that Joseph Nassise had worked on the Rogue Angel series.  I didn't realize it was book 53 in the series though! Nor did I realize he had written more than just the one book in the series.  But that's okay, Bathed in Blood catches you up on the basics as you need them fairly well.

Annja Creed is an archaeologist and TV host of Chasing History's Monsters.  While in a small Slovakian town filming about Elizabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess, Annja rescues a girl dying of blood loss that she finds on the side of the road.  That quickly thrusts her into a conspiracy when she discovers that many women have gone missing around the small town in the last few years.  But the police seem to have been covering it up, and the locals are all tight-lipped.  It's up to Annja to get to the bottom of things!

Overall, I enjoyed reading Bathed in Blood.  It's a fairly fast-paced read that is largely entertaining.  And as I already mentioned, it does a good job of filling you in on the things you need to know from previous books, so it was fine that I read this and not any of the other books in the series first.  Annja is a great protagonist who was good at getting herself both into and out of trouble as she was investigating the missing women. The plot also keeps you guessing at times - I expected a different character to be one of the bad guys, and was caught off guard by the reveal (although I don't know if it would have been possible to see that one coming as this bad guy wasn't obvious at all before the reveal). 

I think my biggest complaint is that the other characters never really got any development.  The bad guys felt a bit one dimensional, and most of the characters that Annja knew from previous books only got cameos and so didn't develop either.  I also felt that the bad guys did some silly things at times (and admittedly, one of those times actually makes more sense once you realize that the character you're led to believe is a bad guy actually isn't), but that didn't deter from my enjoyment of the book at all.

All in all, this was a fun, fast-paced read.  I'd be up for reading more of the Rogue Angel series in the future if they're anything like Bathed in Blood. :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu

I randomly saw The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu at work along with another book on sisu. I was intrigued, so decided to give them a read. I started with Katja Pantzar's The Finnish Way, which tells of Katja's journey to and embrace of Finland's culture, most specifically sisu.

Sisu is a Finnish term that roughly translates to perseverance or grit. In the book, Pantzar examines a myriad of activities that she has engaged in since moving to Finland that help her build her sisu muscle, so to speak. Pantzar looks at winter swimming, saunas, getting out in nature, healthy eating, year-round cycling, movement as medicine, and embracing minimalism.

While the topic of sisu was interesting, I didn't think Pantzar's delivery of the material was particularly engaging. In every chapter she spoke with a few individuals who were experts on the topic she was discussing; the way she introduced them felt rather like she was bragging about having met them. There was also a lot of repetition in the book; winter swimming and year-round cycling came up A LOT through the other chapters. And I'm not really sure why the book was arranged the way it was; movement as medicine surely should have been one of the first chapters (along with nature therapy) as they formed the basis of Pantzar's whole book.

So while I did learn a bit about sisu, I think a different book on the topic would be a better introduction.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Court of Ravens and Ruin

I picked up Court of Ravens and Ruin at a thrift store the other day. And after a particularly trying week, I decided to give it a read, since it was a short book that looked fairly eaay to read.

Court of Ravens and Ruin is about Reyna, a redheaded, runemarked human who can craft gold fae magic staves. Reyna and her closest friends are kidnapped by the prince of another fae court because the prince wants Reyna's help. But his mother discovers them in the court and demands that the three runemarked humans from the gold court be immediately put to death; in an attempt to save her life, the prince binds Reyna to him, meaning they are now to be married. 

I really liked the worldbuilding in Court of Ravens and Ruin. Based off of Norse mythology, the fae courts are built around the world tree Yggdrasil. To travel between the courts, you have to travel along rivers that run along the tree. 

I also liked the magic of Court of Ravens and Ruin. Runemarked humans can create the magic staves that the fae use to wield their magic. This makes them extremely rare and valuable. There are five different fae courts, and all of them have their own unique runemarked humans (and their own staves). So if the runemarked of one court are found outside of that court, they are put to death to strike a blow to the other court. So even though life in a fae court is difficult, even for the runemarked humans, leaving is often impossible.

Unfortunately, I did not like Reyna at all. She was argumentative just to be argumentative, even in situations where staying quiet and doing what she is told would have been the far wiser course of action. By about halfway through the book, I found it a wonder that the Shadow Court fae hadn't put Reyna or her runemarked friends to death yet (her friends were being held and threatened with dearh as leverage to get her to cooperate). 

I also found the book a little all over the place in terms of audience. When I started reading it, I thought it was a YA book, in terms of writing. But it had some really mature elements to it that made me think maybe it's more suited for adults? I'm really not sure.

The book also ends on a cliffhanger, which kind of made me want to read more. But by that point I found Reyna too unlikeable, so I most likely will be giving the rest of the series a pass. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023


After hearing that I went out snowshoeing one really cold weekend, someone at work recommended that I read Starlight, Richard Wagamese's unfinished final novel.  Starlight is a love letter to the land, and the person who recommended it to me thought I would like it since I like being out in nature.

In Starlight, a woman and her daughter flee an abusive situation and find their way to the town where Frank Starlight lives.  Starlight is a farmer who takes beautiful pictures of animals thanks to his connection to the land - he is at home there, and the animals feel that connection thanks to his movements and silence.  Starlight takes them on, providing boarding and wages in exchange for the woman to clean his house, which was a bachelor pad thanks to only Starlight and Eugene Roth, his friend and helper on the farm, living there.  The four of them slowly become a family, spending more and more time out in the woods and learning Starlight's ways.

It's really unfortunate that Starlight was unfinished.  It ends rather abruptly (the publishers include a note on how they think the book was going to end, based off of a novella Wagamese wrote which was his source material for Starlight, and off conversations he had with friends about the novel), and reads very much like the early draft it is.  Despite that, it has some absolutely beautiful passages, specifically describing the natural world.  

The one aspect I wasn't fond of were the two men tracking the woman.  The person who recommended Starlight warned me that the beginning is a difficult read, but once I got through that, it would be better.  But the two men continued to track the woman through the entire novel (the abrupt ending was when they finally found her and were going to go after her).  As the book stands, I felt it would have been better without that stuff, being instead the healing journey of the woman and girl on the land.  But the book is unfinished, so had Wagamese been able to finish it, this part may have been a lot more rewarding.  

Friday, February 3, 2023


After finishing watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars with a friend, he recommended that I read Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston before we start watching Star Wars: Rebels.  Luckily the library had a copy, so I picked it up after the holidays.

Ahsoka takes place a little after The Clone Wars.  Ahsoka has been doing her best to hide on the Outer Rim, but the Empire keeps creeping farther and farther out, making it harder and harder to stay hidden.  After leaving yet another planet, she makes her way to Raada, a small farming moon.  But the Empire decides that Raada is the perfect place to raise a deadly crop that will completely ravage the soil, and so follow her there.  But this time, rather than flee, Ahsoka decides to stay and help the farmers fight back.

Ahsoka is a fairly fast-paced read. I liked the various characters and their motivations - like the farmers who manage to make things worse for themselves on Raada by failing to listen to Ahsoka - it's completely understandable why they did so.  I also liked how Ahsoka grew - she found her path after Order 66, in large part thanks to the friends she made along this journey.  It was also really neat to see the changes to the galaxy the Empire has wrought - from purposefully occupying a place specifically to use it and decimate it, to the way they were stripmining the planet where the Jedi used to find their lightsaber crystals (super glad I watched Clone Wars for this brief part of the book - I had more of an appreciation for the loss of this world).

While overall I really liked the book, I did find parts of the ending to be a bit of a let-down.  An Inquisitor starts tracking Ahsoka after she reveals herself on Raada.  The book builds the Inquisitor up to be a worthy adversary, but when he finally faces Ahsoka, he is no match whatsoever for her (she defeats him without using lightsabers - he has a double one)..  How Ahsoka got her new lightsaber crystals was a neat idea, but seemed far too easy.  The book kind of felt like it wrapped up a bit too quickly after all the set-up. And there were a few weird in-between sequences (I don't know how else to describe them - there were brief interludes spaced throughout the book) that dealt with characters who were not otherwise in the book (and honestly didn't need to be).

But despite these few flaws, Ahsoka was a really good read.  And now I'm looking forward to starting Star Wars: Rebels with my friend!

Friday, January 13, 2023

Where the Crawdads Sing

My parents read Where the Crawdads Sing a couple of months ago. I decided to jump in and read it sooner rather than later so I could talk to them about it when it was still fairly fresh.

Where the Crawdads Sing is the story of Kya, who is abandoned by all of her family by the age of 10. First her mother walks out of her abusive relationship, then slowly her siblings leave until she is left alone with her father. He stays for a few years before leaving her too. Kya grows up with the marshlands as her family, learning to survive and thrive thanks to the skills she picked up from her family before she was abandoned. 

The story takes place between two timelimes: Kya's past, and 1969, when she is grown up and accused of murdering the town's star high-school quarterback. The first timeline is overall rather depressing as people leave her, or are prejudiced towards her, with a few notable exceptions, like Jumpin', the black man who sells Kya gas and takes care of her as best he can, his wife, Mabel, and Tate, a boy a few years older than Kya who befriends her and teaches her to read. In 1969, the story mostly follows the investigation of the death of Chase by the sheriff and his deputy, until the two timelines merge. I found the story got a lot more interesting once the timeliness merged (it was enjoyable before that, but fairly depressing, and a lot more meandering; it became a lot more focused once Kya was on trial). I also didn't see the ending coming, which was a fairly nice surprise, and elevated the book in my opinion.

While at times I had a hard time coming back to read the book (I started it before Christmas), overall I found it ab enjoyable read. I also enjoyed reading the back pages (the interview and note from the author).