T5W – Bookish Things I’ve Changed My Mind About

T5W is a weekly book meme created by Lainey from Gingereadslainey and hosted by Sam from Thought On Tomes with a different bookish topic each week. You can check out the GoodReads group here. The group is currently on a summer hiatus, so I’ll be picking out topics I think are fun for these three months.

Topic: Bookish Things I’ve Changed My Mind About

Bookmarks

Bookmarks are something to change your mind over, but I actually used to hate using bookmarks. When I was young (read elementary-high school), I was somehow able to just memorize the page number I was on, and as such, I thought bookmarks were for losers. As a 20-something, I have no idea how my younger self did it, and I need a bookmark to keep my place. Plus, a lot of them are super pretty.

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Anticipated June 2019 Releases

Summer comes on the tail of BookExpo/BookCon and I’m convinced some of the best releases come in the upcoming months. June is certainly solid for me, with several books I’ve received ARCs for but also several that I’m eagerly awaiting publication!


Magic for Liars – Sarah Gailey – 4 June 2019

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I read an excerpt of this one a while ago and for some reason, murder mystery in a magic school setting never occurred to me as a possibility. The prologue was thoroughly creepy (chattery sentient books observing a murder) and I’m interested in the rest.

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.


Empress of Forever – Max Gladstone – 18 June 2019

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Just reading the summary makes this book seem absolutely wild. I’ve admittedly never read a Max Gladstone book, but I have several blogger friends who will rave about him and this seems like a good place to start.

A wildly successful innovator to rival Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, Vivian Liao is prone to radical thinking, quick decision-making, and reckless action. On the eve of her greatest achievement, she’s trying to outrun those who are trying to steal her success.

In the chilly darkness of a Boston server farm, Viv sets her ultimate plan into motion. A terrifying instant later, Vivian Liao is catapulted through space and time to a far future where she confronts a destiny stranger and more deadly than she could ever imagine.

The end of time is ruled by an ancient, powerful Empress who blesses or blasts entire planets with a single thought. Rebellion is literally impossible to consider–until Vivian arrives. Trapped between the Pride, a ravening horde of sentient machines, and a fanatical sect of warrior monks who call themselves the Mirrorfaith, Viv must rally a strange group of allies to confront the Empress and find a way back to the world and life she left behind.


Soul of the Sword – Julie Kagawa – 25 June 2019

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This is the sequel to Shadow of the Fox (check out my review here) which I have raved about so much because that book was just so fun to read. The first book was a historical anime in book form and I just cannot wait to start reading the second. I’ve gotten it on NetGalley so I’m really hoping to get to it before June.

One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.

Now he has broken free.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. (more)


Hexarchate Stories – Yoon Ha Lee – 25 June 2019

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For fans of the Ninefox Gambit series, this collection is a must read. I was lucky enough to read this book early from NetGalley and it does a fantastic job filling in the gaps and fleshing out the characters. Highly recommended to fans of the Ninefox Gambit series!

The essential short story collection set in the universe of Ninefox Gambit.

An ex-Kel art thief has to save the world from a galaxy-shattering prototype weapon…

A general outnumbered eight-to-one must outsmart his opponent…

A renegade returns from seclusion to bury an old comrade… (more)


Wicked Fox – Kat Cho – 25 June 2019

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Admittedly, Wicked Fox isn’t my usual reading fare, but as usual, I’m a sucker of As/AsAm fantasy and the excerpt I read looked pretty good. Also, thanks to Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox books, I’ve found myself gravitating to anything with ninetailed foxes and guess what this book’s main character is. Finally, this cover is incredibly pretty.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process. (more)


 

The Last Sun by KD Edwards

36466732Publication Date: 12 June 2018
Publisher: Pyr
Format: eBook
Pages: 368
Word Count: ~113,000
ASIN: B075PW1YQN

Summary: 

Rune Saint John, last child of the fallen Sun Court, is hired to search for Lady Judgment’s missing son, Addam, on New Atlantis, the island city where the Atlanteans moved after ordinary humans destroyed their original home.

With his companion and bodyguard, Brand, he questions Addam’s relatives and business contacts through the highest ranks of the nobles of New Atlantis. But as they investigate, they uncover more than a missing man: a legendary creature connected to the secret of the massacre of Rune’s Court.

In looking for Addam, can Rune find the truth behind his family’s death and the torments of his past?

*****

Review:

How much did I love this book? Enough that I was sitting in a Cirque de Soleil performance and literally wishing intermission would happen faster so I could get back to reading. Damn this book was fantastic. Fun fact, Cirque de Soleil performances have no intermission.

What really makes this book is the main character Rune. He’s a sassy hot mess that absolutely refuses to back down from a challenge and I love him for it. Rune has a lot of depth and a lot of anger due to being the sole survivor and heir to a family that was massacred for unknown reasons, yet he manages to hold himself so well. I loved his interactions with Brand, his sworn human protector, and Lord Tower, an older(?) mentor-like figure after the death of, well, his entire household.

This is one of the few times I’ll ever say this, but I loved the romance in this book. The Last Sun blurbs itself as an M/M Urban Fantasy and the budding romance between Rune and Addam is just adorable to read. When I started reading, I was under the impression that Rune and Brand were together purely based on how much shit they gave each other, but nope, turns out they’re just extremely close childhood friends. Instead, Rune (slowly, very slowly) finds getting flirted at and it was fun to see him just ??? when trying to figure out how to respond.

The part I wasn’t expecting to jump out at me with this book was the worldbuilding. The magic and the “fantasy” part of this book comes from the personification of the Tarot Cards Arcana. (not sure if that’s the right term, I know very little about tarot cards but the art is pretty). Each of the 22 Major Arcana are represented by houses with a ruler as that Arcana personified. Rune, being the last of his family, is the heir to the Sun House (Number??). Lord Tower acts the Tower personified. We got a little backstory into the Arcana history, but there’s a whole layer of Tarot Card Politics that I just cannot wait to read more about.

Overall, I rate this book a 5/5. I admit I read very little urban fantasy, but I think I can already say this book is one of my favorites of the genre. Between the fascinating Tarot/Arcana worldbuilding, the M/M romance, and the absolutely amazing cast, this book is a must-read.

/r/Fantasy 2018-2019 Bingo Squares

  • none 😦

10 BookCon/BEA Survival Tips

Hi everyone! With BookCon 2019 just around the corner, I wanted to take the time and share some helpful tips I learned during my time at BookCon last year. And also because I’m getting massive FOMO because I can’t attend this year (damn work schedule) so this my way to express all of my frustrations. Not salty at all.


  • WEAR COMFY SHOES

This is tip number one. If you do absolutely nothing else, please for your feet, wear comfy shoes. Wear your comfiest shoes. Memory foam soles, three years old, what ever works. You’ll be standing pretty much all day, two days straight, carrying an increasingly heavy bag (or bags) of books. Your body will hurt, your back will hurt, but most importantly, your feet will hurt. You’ll start visiting the Penguin booth just so your feet can feel reprieve on their 6″ memory foam (not actually, but that’s what it’s going to feel like). So no matter how cute your outfit and how badly your shoes will go with the outfit, do yourself a favor and wear comfy shoes.

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Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

35715518Publication Date: 12 February 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: eBook, ARC
Pages: 496
Word Count: ~155,000
ISBN: 1534424628

Summary: I had a sister, once…

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.

****

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

Move over dragons, phoenixes are the new cool in ridable fantasy creatures. Crown of Feathers first piqued my interested when I saw the (absolutely beautiful) cover at BookCon last year and I’m so thankful I was able to get an early copy to read through NetGalley. Aside from a couple of small details, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this debut novel and it ranks among my top 5 favorite YA novels.
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How to (cleanly) convert PDF files to eBook files

For anyone’s who’s gotten an ARC in PDF format (looking at you NetGalley) and tried to read it on an e-Reader, you’ll know how frustrating the experience can be. The font isn’t adjustable so you’re stuck reading size 4 text, alignment can get screwed up, etc etc. Overall, not a great experience. For any Calibre users out there who’s tried a direct conversion from PDF to .mobi or .epub, the conversion isn’t much better. The line spacing and text alignment are all wonky, words get cut off in strange places, etc.

While I’m aware that there are plenty of online services that offer PDF to eBook conversion, there’s a small concern in the back of my head about uploading files (especially unpublished ARCS) to the Internet and not knowing where that file may end up.

Through trial and error and many a frustration, I’ve figured out a way to successfully convert PDFs to eBook files that leave the text (mostly) readable. This method isn’t perfect, but I’ve found it works for about 90% of the PDFs I’ve received and hopefully it’ll help some other bloggers out too.

For this guide, I’ll be converting a copy of Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells, which I received as a .pdf  from NetGalley without an option to send to my Kindle. If there are any issues, please let me know and I’ll take down the post and replace the images with something in the public domain.

What you’ll need:

  • Calibre (a free eBook management program and one of my person favorites, also completely FREE!)
  • MS Word (or a free equivalent: OpenOffice, LibreOffice, etc)
    • I’ve only ever done this with Word, so if someone uses another program, let me know the results!
  • the .pdf file

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The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

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Publication Date: 9 April 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 350
Word Count: ~98,000
ISBN: 1471162141

Summary: All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.

Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec will have to trust each other more than ever—even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping.

****

Review:

I never thought I’d read another Shadowhunters novel, but after reading the excerpt on NetGalley, I just knew I had to read the full thing. Magnus Bane was easily my favorite character of the original trilogy and that position has only been solidified after reading this book. The Red Scrolls of Magic is a solid romp starring a fantastic couple.

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Anticipated May 2019 Releases

Anticipated Releases is going to be a new monthly re-occurring post on this blog because recently my spring semester ended and I got this great idea in my head to say, hey, what if I talked about books I’m interested in this month? What a novel idea. I don’t plan to have a set number of books for these posts so I’m expecting some very long and very short posts in the future. This one happens to be long because of Mark Lawrence’s insane writing speed.


One Word Kill – Mark Lawrence – 1 May 2019

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This one’s already out, but it’s a May publication so it goes on the list. This one seems to be D&D based with an almost litRPG like setting/plot. Despite all the news around it (and Mark giving it to Amazon Prime members for free), I find that I know very little about it. However, this is Mark Lawrence and I’ve enjoyed all his other books

In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. (more)


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Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

37569318Publication Date: 6 November 2018
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 384
Word Count: ~91,000
ISBN: 0544530942

Summary: Each generation, a competition is held to find the next Empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become Empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

***

Review: 

Empress of All Seasons attempts to weave together a daunting number of plot threads. There’s Mari, an Animal Wife yōkai attempting to prove to both her and her village that she’s worthy of being an Animal Wife by stealing the ultimate fortune: the Emperor’s son. There’s Taro, the prince who doesn’t want to inherit the throne and dreams of a world where he can be left alone to engineer mechanical animals. And there’s Akira, half-human, half-yōkai who finds himself enveloped in a yōkai Rebellion to overthrow the Emperor and (justifiably) take back their rights. Unfortunately, I just didn’t think these three storylines properly meshed into one book.

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Hazel and Holly by Sara C. Snider

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Publication Date: 16 May 2019
Publisher: Double Beast Publishing
Format: eBook, ARC
Pages: 452
Word Count: ~144,000
ISBN: 9187657074

Summary:

Nestled within an enchanted forest is the Grove, a community where witches and warlocks practice elemental magic, brew mystical potions, and lock their cellars against beer thieving gnomes. Life is quiet and uneventful. Well, except when Hazel’s long-lost father uses necromancy to trap her dead mother’s soul.

That simply won’t do. Necromancy is forbidden in the Grove, and for good reason too. Nobody wants filthy corpses shambling around, mussing up one’s garden. Hazel is determined to find her father and undo his treachery.

But despite Hazel’s plans of becoming a one-woman army, she can’t do everything alone. It’s not until wild sister Holly convinces her to leave the house for once and go to a party that Hazel finds a pair of unlikely allies in two bickering warlock brothers.

Together, the four of them go on a journey that takes them out of the Grove and into a world where necromancy reigns and the dead won’t respectfully stay in the grave. Hazel will do whatever it takes to stop her father and save her mother’s soul. Even if it means turning to necromancy. Even if it means losing her friends. Because they would never help a necromancer. Would they?

*

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: 

DNF @20%

The characters I dislike to read about the most are ones with zero self-awareness, appear to act intentionally against their own interests, and just generally behave stupidly. Unfortunately, Hazel and Holly was full of those characters.

Hazel and Holly follows two witch sisters, Hazel and Holly, as older sister Hazel attempts to hunt down her missing father in order to restore her mother’s soul and younger sister Holly …exists. Mostly, my problem with this book was with Holly and her utter lack of any self-awareness. The first several conflicts Hazel gets into (or anything before the 20% mark) are pretty much all due to Holly insisting Hazel do something potentially life-threatening, probably illegal, and definitely rude task for her. There’s stealing buttons and other trinkets from another witch’s house because Holly doesn’t think her own supplies are good enough and hiding a (cellar?) gnome from guards after he and Holly go on a looting trip in a warlock’s mansion just because. It was borderline painful to read about a 17-year-old who has such little maturity and an older sister who, admittedly, raised her this way.

Overall, I rate this a 1/5. I very very rarely DNF books, but I found myself counting down to the 20% so I could put it down. The author appeared to correlate whimsical behaviour with nonsensical behavior and I simply couldn’t stand the characters.