Monday, April 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday 25 - Book recommendations for Whovians







Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's theme: Top Ten Characters that I want to be my BFFs

Just one more day to enter my 1-year blogversary giveaway of Mistborn and an amazon giftcard!

Top  Ten Five Books If You Like Doctor Who

1.  - if you like Doctor Who, you are probably a fan of bizarre planets and strange alien creatures, but you also probably have a soft spot for human beings being the best they can be. This series has all of those elements, and I highly recommend it.
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2. I wasn't a huge fan of this book, but it takes place entirely on a spaceship headed for a new home planet. It involves cryogenesis and conspiracies, both elements that have appeared in Doctor Who (A Christmas Carol).



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3. You know that one episode, Silence in the Library, where Donna goes off to a parallel universe and experiences life and love and happiness and then...Spoilers, sweetie. ;) That episode was part love letter to books and part love letter to the love and life, so I thought this book would be perfect. It's also bittersweet, just warning you.
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4. If you enjoyed the skin-prickling weeping angels, I think you will enjoy this deliciously creepy anthology. Some stories are disturbing, others are lovely - just like beautifully carved angels that want to steal your soul.



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5. This is a book that involves time travel and a girl left behind, waiting for a man (perhaps not in a blue box) to come back to her. It's also similar to the episode The Girl in the Fireplace about Mme de Pompadour.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Fantasy Friday 4 - Fantasy names



This is a meme hosted by Rinn Reads where anyone can join in and talk about anything Fantasy!

This week I'm discussing names in fantasy.

One of the reasons I love fantasy is that it's really cool to imagine other worlds, especially ones with magic or creatures that don't exist in ours. That said, sometimes those really cool worlds and characters have such unpronounceable names. 

I can see why fantasy names are often so difficult to pronounce - the author wants to build a world different from our own, so obviously the culture and language would be different too. A lot of the times you want exotic names to go with exotic places, but I feel like there ought to be limits on how many consonants you can have in a row for the sake of your reader's sanity. I definitely appreciate pronunciation guides though (thanks, Christopher Paolini!).

That said, there are some names that are really gorgeous, and others that fit the culture that they are portraying really well. There are also some fantasy names that have roots in foreign languages (often Welsh, I think) so that makes them a little better. So here are some examples of words and names that worked for me...and some that didn't.

Book/series
examples of names
Did it work?
Jaran by Kate Elliott
(Ok, it's sci-fi, so I cheated a little. But the names do sound like fantasy)
Jaran,  Ilyakoria Bahktiian, Sonia, Yuri, Chapalii
Yes! The names were mostly derived from Russian, and all had a distinct flavor. The names fit the horse-riding nomad (Mongolian?) flavor really well, and most of the names were pretty easy to pronounce.
Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Vin, Sazed, Kelsier, Rashek, Terris, Skaa, Kandra
Yes - not only were most of the names easy to pronounce, they fit the pseudo-European society really well. The more fantastical elements had more fantasy-esque names.
The Kingkiller chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss
Kvothe, Denna, Bast, Chandrian, Cthaeh
Maybe... most of the names were fine but with a main character named Kvothe (you try saying that aloud three times fast!) it was kind of annoying.
Trickster's Choice  by Tamora Pierce
Allianne Crow, Veralidaine SalmalĂ­n, Rubinyan Jimajen, Ochubu Dodeka, Veron, Verayu, Luarin
No. There were so many characters and so many of them had similar or unpronounceable names that it was really hard for me to keep them all straight.
Pathfinder Series by Orson Scott Card
Rigg, Param, Umbo, Olivenko, Vadesh
Maybe. The names weren't that hard to pronounce but they were all so...ugly. They all felt funny as I read them.
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Eragon, Saphira, Islanzádi, Oromis, Glaedr, Nasuada
No. Some names were really pretty (like Saphira) but most were really hard to say. Most of the characters were elves and dwarves, so not only did they have strange names, they spoke in strange languages which were even more difficult to pronounce.
Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta
Finnikin, Froi, Arjuro, Beatrice,  Phaedra, Charyn, Lumatere
Yes! Each region/family had its own culture and rules for names, and most of them were beautiful. I just loved the names Isaboe and Phaedra, as well as the places Lumatere and Charyn.
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: Red Seas Under Red Skies

887877Title: Red Seas Under Red Skies
Author: Scott Lynch
Genre: Fantasy, adult fiction

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
Locke and his trusted sidekick, Jean, target the grandest prize of all: the Sinspire, the most exclusive and heavily guarded gambling house in the world. Its nine floors attract the wealthiest clientele—and to rise to the top, one must impress with good credit, amusing behavior... and excruciatingly impeccable play. For there is one cardinal rule, enforced by Requin, the house's cold-blooded master: it is death to cheat at any game at the Sinspire.
But someone in Tal Verrar has uncovered the duo's secret. Someone from their past who has every intention of making the impudent criminals pay for their sins. Now it will take every ounce of cunning to save their mercenary souls. And even that may not be enough.

Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely loved the first book in this series, The Lies of Locke Lamora. It was that book that you pick up with high expectations that manners to shatter them anyway. It was incredibly clever, intelligent, moving, disturbing, and over all very entertaining. It is perhaps the most fun I've had reading a book in years.

So with that kind of standard, Red Seas had a lot to live up to.

I really liked this book, I promise! The 4.5 stars here would probably be a 5 star book in relation to other books, but this book was just the teeny tiniest bit below the level of the first one, so I had to knock it half a star.

Red Seas picks up a few years after Lies leaves off, with interludes explaining what happened in those missing few years. Jean and Locke are planning to rob the Sinspire, the most notoriously impregnable establishment in the area. It is run by the formidable Requin, a man who takes fingers before he stops to ask questions. Matters get slightly complicated when unexpected forces intervene, leaving Locke and Jean caught between two equally formidable masters and an unpredictable third force. How can the Gentlemen Bastards outwit all of these foes, and at what cost?

This book was just as entertaining as the first book, but I was slightly disappointed that it wasn't as big on the heists. I know that series have to grow and change as they go on, but it seemed very disjoint to go from cons and battles with the Capa to pirates. I did really like the entire pirate crew though! Zamira and Ezri are incredible women, and they are definitely not just token female characters. The pirating got a little stereotypical, sure, but the characters certainly did not.

I think what keeps me hooked to this series is how much the characters care for each other. I know Locke and Jean will always have each others' backs (at least I hope they will... there were a few moments where that came into question!), and I love reading about their friendship. At the end of the day, it's not really about the heists at all - it's about these characters, and I love them to pieces.

I also really like how unpredictable and adrenaline-filled this series is. Things keep happening to complicate the situation, and not every plan goes the way it's supposed to. There aren't shocking twists thrown in for the sake of it - the entire book is just one big maze, and you never know what direction you're headed.

Even if I wasn't quite as charmed with this book as the previous one, it was still incredible, and I highly recommend this series!

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday 24 - characters that I want to be my BFFs







Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's theme: Top Ten Characters that I want to be my BFFs


Ten more days to enter my 1-year blogversary giveaway of Mistborn and an amazon giftcard!



1. Sazed from Mistborn - I could relate so much to his love of learning and books. Sazed is a quiet character, and I could relate to not wanting the attention but still being driven and wanting to accomplish things. He's so loyal and is such a great friend to Vin, always putting the needs of other people above his own












2.  Jean Tannen and Locke Lamora from the Gentleman Bastards series - Jean and Locke are my latest fictional crushes, and they have such a great friendship that I want to be in on it too. They pull all sorts of insane heists and manage to survive deadly situations on an almost daily basis, and it's because at the end of they day they've always got each other's backs.



3. Iko from the Lunar Chronicles - Iko is always so cheerful and brings out the best in everyone around her. I would love chatting with her - I'm usually such a logical, down-to-earth person that I think it would be nice to talk about random fluffy happy things with her :)
4. Bartimaeus from the Bartimaeus trilogy - This guy was one of my favorite characters as a child. He was so snarky and full of himself, but he also had a soft side deep deep down. By the end of the third book, I was amazed at how much he had changed. The ending was so heartbreaking but it makes me want this djinni to be my best friend even more!
5. Rudy from The Book Thief - Rudy is so adorable! I wish I'd had a childhood friend like him - someone I could race with and steal books with.
  
6. Zuzana from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy - Zuze just says the greatest things! She makes the most bleak situation seem a little more hopeful, and she's so wonderfully stubborn. Who wouldn't want a "tiny rabid fairy" as a BFF?
7. The Bagshaw twins from Heist Society - these guys may be minor characters, but they always make me laugh when they appear. They are always together, and always joking around, even during the most intense parts of a heist. Even if they're hardly ever serious, they definitely look out for their family and take care of their own.
8. I guess this one is cheating because he isn't from a book but the movie is based on a folktale so it kind of counts, right? Olaf BE MY BEST FRIEND.









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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Review: The Burning Sky

17332556Title: The Burning Sky
Author: Sherry Thomas
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:

It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…
Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.
Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.
But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

Interesting twist on the usual girl-at-boys-boarding-school story! I'll admit that the only reason I started reading this was because the title started with B and I needed it for an A-Z challenge. This book was a lot funnier than I was expecting it to be, which was a definite plus.

When I was about 9 or 10, my mom bought me the boxed set of Enid Blyton's St. Clare's and Mallory Towers books. Looking back, most of the stories were really similar to one another and pretty cliche, but I loved reading about going to boarding school and making friends (and "enemies"). The Burning Sky brought back all those memories of wanting to go to boarding school, but with a lot more fun. Not only is the main character at a boarding school, she is trying to pass off as a guy in an all-boys school. She is also one of only a few students who come from a secret realm with magic, and she may or may not be the greatest elemental mage of her time.

Iolanthe was an excellent character. Not only was she quick-witted and sharp-tongued, she was always level-headed. Sure, she had her doubts about her own abilities and what she was destined to do, but she always delivered when she was in a tight spot (be it learning the rules of cricket on the fly or avoiding detection by magical chariots). There was a line somewhere in this book that went something like "A messy business, rescuing princes." I loved the reversal of the usual damsel-in-distress stereotype, and I really liked that Titus didn't resent having to be rescued (...by a girl). In fact, I don't think that issue came up even once in this book. Titus himself was a great character too, although he was rather manipulative at first. He always did what he needed to do in order to protect his people, and it was so painful to see how much he gave up to do it. He not only respected Iolanthe, he admired her. Thank you, Sherry Thomas!

Magic. Boarding schools. Witty banter. If that isn't enough to convince you to read it, I don't know what is!

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: Feed

7094569Title: Feed
Author: Mira Grant
Genre: Science fiction, adult fiction

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary: 
The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.
Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives - the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will get out, even if it kills them.


This is definitely more about journalism and politics than it is about zombies. But zombies definitely make things more interesting!

Feed takes place in a future America where a worldwide viral epidemic has simultaneously cured the common cold and cancer while causing its victims to crave living flesh. The country is in chaos, and people are equally scared, defensive, and ready for blood. It's in this tumultuous situation that a few candidates hope to procure the office of presidency and turn things around. Everyone is counting on campaign bloggers such as Georgia and Shaun Mason to give them the truth about these candidates. But as these two bloggers soon find out, the truth is bigger than either of them bargained for...

There is a surprisingly large amount of research that went into the virological aspects of this book. The author didn't just say "A virus just infected everyone and now the world is like this" - she went very in depth into how the viruses worked, the motivations for their creation, and their unexpected (yet totally plausible) repercussions. I really appreciate an author who doesn't just throw science out the window because Hey, I'm writing fiction. At the same time, the scientific explanations were given out in small doses and I never felt overwhelmed with information.

Aside from the science, I thought Grant did a great job of creating realistic responses to the epidemic as well. There were a lot of anecdotes and laws that were alluded to that really captured the subtleties of this book's world. The tiniest details captured the incredibly diverse and layered reactions and mentalities towards the situation. I don't follow politics all that closely, but I thought the author's understanding of the huge role media plays in spinning stories and projecting a candidate's image was spot on. The shift from newsprint to blogging as sources of unfiltered, accurate information was also well-explained and believable. I just found this book incredibly well thought-out.

There's a lot of adrenaline in this book, but strangely enough it's not about the blood and gore of zombies eating people. In fact, more of the tension in this book comes from conspiracies and hidden information. It's about people pulling strings and seeing the very visceral and gut-wrenching consequences those distant decisions can have. It's about putting on a straight face even when you know you're staring at the face of your enemy. It's the clench in your gut when you realize just how much you have to give up in the search for the truth.

I really enjoyed this book, and I was racing through it to find out the answers. The only reason I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars was because I wasn't very emotionally invested. There were a few game-changing moments where I should have been shattered, but instead I just felt very removed. Part of it might be the almost clinical narration of Georgia Mason, who reports nothing but the facts. Part of it might be the clinical and political natures of a lot of this book, which are also very cerebral. Somehow I wasn't as invested as I thought I would be.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys fast-paced and scientific or political stories. I'd also recommend it to zombie lovers with the caveat that if you're looking for the gore, you won't find too much of it here.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

1 year BLOGVERSARY



Snowflakes & Spider Silk turns 1 year old today - hooray!

I can't believe I've already been blogging for a whole year. I feel like there's still a lot to learn and improve, but I think I'm finally getting the hang of it! When I first started blogging, I'd been writing reviews for books on goodreads for a couple of years, but I had no idea how blog tours worked or what blog memes were. Now that I've gotten a few of those things under my belt, I feel way more prepared to take on even more blogging adventures.

My goal for this year is to continue posting reviews, Top Ten Tuesday, and Fantasy Friday posts, but I'd like to do more blog tours and more random posts about books and blogging. I finally got on the twitter bandwagon a couple of weeks ago, and I'm hoping to expand my network of fellow book bloggers and bookish people on that front too! Twitter is so much fun - I can't believe what I was missing out on :)

I have made a lot of blogger friends and gotten a lot of great recommendations from fellow bloggers over the past year - thank you all for making this so much fun. All of your comments brighten up my day, and it always cheers me up when I can chat about a great book or series with you all.

In honor of my blogversary, I'm hosting a giveaway of an excellent fantasy book - Mistborn: The Final Empire (paperback, US only) by Brandon Sanderson, and a $10 Amazon giftcard (US & international). The giveaway is open until the end of April, so enter away!

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I absolutely love the Mistborn series - it's the series that got me back into reading fantasy after a couple of years of stepping away from it. It's brilliant and mind-bending, a lot of fun, has excellent characters, and is just generally awesome. The third book of this series BLEW MY MIND. I just cannot even begin to comprehend how much planning and thought goes into creating such epic and brilliant and intricate stories. If you haven't read it already, you're in for a real treat!

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Top Ten Tuesday 23 - Bookish things







Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's theme: Bookish things I want to own

Before I begin my actual Top Ten Tuesday post, I'd just like to say thanks for making my first year of blogging so much fun! You can find my 1-year blogversary post and giveaway here.

1. This cool bookish nail art

2. This pin from etsy
I'm In Love With A Fictional Character - Button Pinback Badge 1 1/2 inch


3. So apparently there's a literary gift company? YES.She is too fond of books..." Mug

4. This chair makes me so happy :)
Book chair! Just another reason not to stand up and instead continue reading.

5. The engineer in me loves this bookshelf.

Equation-Bookshelf

6.  Book earrings on etsy!
Miniature Book Earrings Burgundy Marbled Paper Chocolate Brown Leather Stone Bead Miniature Book Jewelry Mini Book Silver Wire Hook Earrings
7.  I can't imagine how much planning/effort/time this took, but I want one.
Amazing diy bookcase from Ikea boxes! via diyhomedesignpins.com

8. These bags are so cute!

9. This t-shirt is awesome. and highly accurate.

This t-shirt just gets it.
10. Definitely can't afford this (it's over $800!) but how awesome would it be to snuggle up inside a book?
Booktent
Thanks again for stopping by, and I hope you'll continue to be a part of my bookish journey!

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