Friday, July 20, 2018

Review - An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors (The Risen Kingdoms, #1)
Series: The Risen Kingdoms #1
Genre: High Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
Hardcover - 416pgs
Source: Library Book
Publication: 2017
Add it // Buy it 

Rating: 4/5

In a world of soaring continents and bottomless skies, where a burgeoning new science lifts skyships into the cloud-strewn heights and ancient blood-borne sorceries cling to a fading glory, Princess Isabelle des Zephyrs is about to be married to a man she has barely heard of, the second son of a dying king in an empire collapsing into civil war.

Born without the sorcery that is her birthright but with a perspicacious intellect, Isabelle believes her marriage will stave off disastrous conflict and bring her opportunity and influence. But the last two women betrothed to this prince were murdered, and a sorcerer-assassin is bent on making Isabelle the third. Aided and defended by her loyal musketeer, Jean-Claude, Isabelle plunges into a great maze of prophecy, intrigue, and betrayal, where everyone wears masks of glamour and lies. Step by dangerous step, she unravels the lies of her enemies and discovers a truth more perilous than any deception.

What brought this novel to my attention was a very interesting combination of genres and elements. I stayed because our heroine, Isabelle, and a fantasy world based on France and Spain. Though France and Spain are still solidly in the Western world, this story had a different flavor than many of the high fantasy stories I've read.

Overall I really enjoyed the story and I was really impressed by the way the story wove together. I adored how the magical, religious and political elements were all important parts of the plot and they were well balanced. Isabelle and Jean-Claude needed to unravel the complex mystery of this story by using both of their strengths and I really enjoyed their relationship. They worked together well and switching between their perspectives was effective and well done. 

Where this novel loses points is the pacing. The plot is incredibly slow at the beginning. There is a huge focus on the religious and geographical aspects of the world building. Combined with the descriptive language, the story took awhile to get off the ground. The plot is little like stone rolling down a hill. It is slow to start but accelerates almost out of control at the end. Overall, a little more balance would have been appreciated.

As I am an able-bodied person, I cannot speak to the representation of disability in this novel. I appreciated that Isabelle was portrayed as comfortable with herself and unfazed by others' reactions or views of her. There are moments where Isabelle's interactions with other people with disabilities are a bit clunky. However, her examinations of her own prejudices and assumption was an interesting commentary.
So far I've only found one review by a disabled review which you can check out here.

On the whole, this was an excellent debut and I'm really excited to see what direction the next book will take.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Review - The Sumage Solution by G.L. Carriger

The Sumage Solution (San Andreas Shifters, #1)
Series: San Andreas Shifters Series #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Age Group: Adult
Ebook - 314 pgs
Source: Overdrive
Published: 2017
Add it // Buy it

Rating: 4/5

Max fails at magic, relationships, and life. So he works as a sumage, cleaning up other mages’ messes. The job sucks and he’s in no mood to cope with redneck biker werewolves. Unfortunately, there’s something irresistible about the sexy muscled Beta visiting his office for processing.

Bryan is gay but he’s not out. There’s a good chance Max might be reason enough to leave the closet, if he can only get the man to go on a date.

Everyone knows werewolves hate mages, but Bryan is determined to prove everyone wrong, even the mage in question.

NYT bestseller Gail Carriger, writing as G. L. Carriger, presents an offbeat gay romance in which a sexy werewolf with a white knight complex meets a bad boy mage with an attitude problem. Sparks (and other things) fly.

This story contains M/M sexitimes and horrible puns. If you get offended easily, then you probably will. The San Andreas Shifter stories include blue language, dirty deeds, and outright admiration for the San Francisco Bay Area. Not for the faint of heart/mouth/tongue…

During the course of the past few years I have devoured a majority of Gail Carriger's books. Her blend of historical fiction, paranormal, and romance work very well for me and make the novels fly by. I love the characters and the witty banter that many of them have. She represents racial and gender diversity in the historical setting and overall I just adore her books. 
Today though, I wanted to talk about her contemporary M/M adult romance.  I loved this book. It was finished in just one sitting. The story is fast paced, the plot is addictive, and the characters are fantastic. Even though it is different than Carriger's other books (obviously since it is an adult  contemporary romance) it has a lot of the elements about her other YA books that I love so much like funny snarky banter and loveable side characters.

My only problem with this book was the world building. I was very confused by the magic system Max was a part of. Overall, the focus was on the romance, but I needed more information about Max's magic. This was also a problem because understanding the magic is essential to understand the climax of the book. So I feel like I missed something at the end of this book.

While I had an issue understanding the magic, the romance was built up very nicely. The conflict between Max and Bryan felt real and a deeper issue. The problem needed to be addressed for both characters and it didn't feel like something that was made up for drama or to keep them apart. Their relationship didn't feel forced and their chemistry was great. I loved them and I could gush about them.

I'm hoping to reread this before the next book comes out. If that doesn't resolve my confusion, I really hope the second book will clear up the world building issues and give a more detailed explanation of the magic.  

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Bookshelf Reorganization Footage

When I moved into my new house, I had grand plans of filming my bookshelf reorganization and having my bookshelves look amazing. None of that happened. I filmed the process, but I don't love how my shelves turned out and the footage didn't turn out well because the lighting was difficult to manage. So, here's some footage of me putting books away, but this will probably change in a few months and, hopefully, I'll like it more then!

Have you ever moved and reorganized your shelves? How did you find an order you liked? Did you need to reorganize more than once?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

May Book Haul

Look! It is a May Book Haul. Its been missing for a while. I meant to upload this in June, but I was busy and it was lost in my computer. Luckily, I haven't purchased anything in June and I'm doing my best not to buy any other books in July either. Check out what I picked up in May!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

Once again it is time to do the Mid-Year Freak Out Tag. This is one of my favorite tags to do each year. I love to look back at how things have gone during the first half of the year. 

It has been an interesting reading year so far and I can't wait to read more! 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Readathon Schedule for July 2018

Happy July! I am really excited to be participating in several readathons this month. Even though this is my busiest month of the year, I also go on vacation to the beach so I'm going to do my best to participate in all of them. 

If you have any questions about the rules of the readathons or what types of challenges they entail, check out the links below the calendar. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

June Wrap Up

What a month! June has been a wild and crazy ride from start to finish.

So what did I read? I picked up a few things this month, but I didn't have time to read very much. While there is a lot on my shelves that I want to read, nothing really grabbed me until I had a spontaneous four day weekend. With a little more time to myself, and a bath, I was finally able to really sink my teeth into a few books. If you want to see how that weekend went, check out my reading vlog.


After that weekend, I was off to the races and finished three books before the end of the month which brought my total to five. Although this isn't my best reading month, I really enjoyed what I read and finally felt like I got back in the swing of things. To check out my thoughts on what I read see my June Wrap Up.


I also reviewed one of my favorite books of the year in June on the blog: 

This story involves two men who hunt down ghosts together. One of them is the ghost hunter while the other is his chronicler though these two are also lovers in a magical and historical London. I mentioned it involves ghosts, but it also brings mystery, scandal and sexy times. Sound interesting? Check out more of my thoughts. 


June has been a lot of fun and I spent a lot of time hanging out with friends as well as getting back into playing video games. I mentioned that reading hasn't been going as well. Instead I've been hanging out with two of my friends at a new restaurant we've found. The place rotates beers after they finish one keg so we like to try new things when they sound interesting. It has been a lot of fun and we've spent a lot of time on their patio as well!

I also finished Bioshock 2 and Bioshock Infinite this month. While I'm excited that I've finally finished the trilogy, I don't think I was as blown away by Infinite as some other people were. Personally, I enjoyed the first two more, but I like Atlantis stories a lot. 

Something else I've been doing other than reading is watching NCIS. I watched reruns of this show a lot a few years ago when they were on the USA channel, but I never was caught up on the show. I started it from the beginning on Netflix about a week ago and I watched the entire first season already. I'm really excited to continue on with it. It is the perfect balance of familiar and new since I've watched quite a few of them before, but I forget the details. 

Anyway that was my June. How did things go for you this month? Did you finish all the books you wanted to or did you get sidetracked by other things like me? 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Tome Topple Readathon TBR (Round 6)

Once again we are ready to jump into Tome Topple and read some BIG books! I can't wait to start this readathon since it has been a while since we had a round. I'm excited to read the books I've picked out for my TBR, but since I rarely stick to TBRs, we shall see if this one sticks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

T5W - Books I want to Read Before the End of 2018

Sometimes picking five books can be really difficult. I want to read a lot of the books on my shelves so picking these should not have been difficult. Instead it was almost impossible because I wanted to put so many on my list!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

TTT - 7 Series I’ve Given Up On/Don’t Plan to Finish

There are so many series out in the world. I've started a lot and I haven't even scratched the surface. Finishing them is another whole problem in itself. There are so many that I've started and decided I didn't love enough to keep going. There are a few on this list that I'm still on the fence about, but overall I've decided to give up on these series.

1) Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - This one was something I picked during my Twilight faze and the romance is too problematic for me to continue.

2) Kay Scarpetta Series by Patricia Cornwell - After years of suffering through these novels, I finally gave up. My best friend in my neighborhood loved these books so I thought I should too. Once we stopped hanging out I figured out I loved fantasy and paranormal mysteries more than real ones. (Though I still get my fix for normal mysteries, I just go to a different author for that)

3) The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa - Another series a friend pushed on me! One of my coworkers pushed this series on me, but she quit! I never felt like buying or borrowing these books once I didn't have her lending them to me.

4) Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - The second book did not live up to the first and even though these are pretty I'm not interested in reading the rest of the series.

5) The Hangman's Daughter Series by  Oliver Pötzsch - I have these on ebook if I ever decide to go back to it, but I've given away my physical copies. The first book was interesting, but I read it over five years ago and I cannot remember anything.

Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1) Postmortem (Kay Scarpetta, #1) The Iron King (The Iron Fey, #1) Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1) The Hangman's Daughter (The Hangman's Daughter, #1)

The next two series are ones I'm not 100% decided on. I have conflicting feelings about both of them. If you have any advice on if I should keep or DNF these series, let me know! 

1) The Madman's Daughter Trilogy by Meghan Shepherd - Book one disappointed me a lot, but I already have books two and three. I'm on the fence if I want to give them a try.

2) Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness- While I've heard a lot of amazing things about this series, I wasn't impressed with book one. (I gave it a three stars) These books have been on my shelves for years already and I'm fairly sure I won't continue with the series.

The Madman’s Daughter (The Madman’s Daughter, #1) The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Reading Vlog - Four Day Weekend!

June has been a bit of a reading disaster. I'm a firm believer in doing things other than reading when you don't feel like reading. However, this month I just haven't had time to read even when I feel like it. In the middle of the month I decided enough is enough and I was going to make some time for reading! I took a couple of extra days off work and made myself do all my chores and make time for reading. Check out how it went!