The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids

by Michael McClung

***** (5 out of 5)

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Before I get into my review I want to shout out to Sigil Independent.  Sigil Independent is a writer’s guild for self-published fantasy authors.  Right now they have 11 authors and all of them were finalists or semi-finalists in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO).  I learned about Sigil through a guest post on Bibliosanctum’s blog.  Go check it out!  Seriously, go read it! I am not going to try and re-cap it for you!

I commented on the post that I had never read a self-published book, but that I had read books from small publishers that were pretty atrocious when it came to spelling and grammar. (Trust me, if I can notice a grammar error, then its bad!) My point was supposed to be that just because someone has a publisher doesn’t mean their work is good!  I don’t know how well I articulated that, but I received an e-mail from M.D. Presley (the author of the guest post and one of the co-founders of Sigil) asking if he “could tempt [me] to the dark side of self-publishing with one of [their] books for review.” He said “It’s our hope we can burnish off some of that self-publishing stigma with one of our 40+ novels.”

Of course I agreed! I LOVE fantasy books.  Plus he was the first person to ever contact ME asking for a review!! I know he probably e-mailed most, if not all, of the people who commented, but I don’t care! He asked me to review a book!!! AND I got to pick the book!!

I chose The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung (which I later learned was the inaugural winner of SPFBO) and I was not disappointed!

I HATE when a book is left “unfinished.” By that, I mean I hate it when an author just cuts the book off in a random spot and calls it a “cliffhanger.” It feels like their only goal is to get you to read the next book. This is not one of those books! This book is the perfect example of how a cliffhanger should be written!  Every loose end and plot point is closed.  You aren’t left wondering what happened to anybody.  Everything is completed.  But yet, you still know there is more to the story and you want to keep reading to find out what happens next!!  Its a subtle difference and I am not explaining it very well, but this book hits the nail on the head! I felt no frustration or annoyance with the ending and I can’t wait to read the next book! The ending was perfect!  Does that make sense? Do you feel this way about “unfinished” endings too?

Amra is an awesome protagonist.  She is strong and skillful and has made a name for herself in a male dominated society.  And, she didn’t have to use her looks or “feminine charm” to get there! Her looks are mentioned a few times and you get the impression she is not pretty, but grizzled and tough (at least that is what I am picturing) It was refreshing to have a book where there was almost no focus on looks.  You just got a basic description and that was it.  What the book did focus on was personality, and that actions spoke louder than words.

I liked the grey area that most of the book lived in.  Amra is a thief.  Her moral compass spins around a lot, but she is still a good person.  Even one of the bad guys isn’t really so bad.  (I mean he is pure evil, but he is not motivated by evilness, its something else which I can’t say)  Throughout the book you see a lot of the lines blurred and at times you can’t tell who is friend and who is foe.  And again it comes back to actions speak louder than words.  Some characters might claim they are evil and don’t care about anyone, but through their actions you can see that deep down they do care.

The only bad thing I have to say about this book is that some of the names were really weird, and I had trouble remembering who was who.  Its funny because just two days ago I answered a poll asking if you would rather read “Keyboard-smash fantasy names or all names that start with the same letter”  I picked Keyboard-smash fantasy names, and then completely coincidentally I started this book, later the same day.  The names in this book aren’t “keyboard-smash” bad, but there were a couple that I struggled with.

I loved this book! It was awesome and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!! (There are 4 books published right now, and according to Michael McClung’s Blog the 5th book is tentatively scheduled to be released in September!)

If you are even semi interested in this book then go buy it right now!!! It is only $0.99!! I don’t know how long this price will last! (though in the interest of full disclosure, I also don’t know if it will change either, that could be the set price?) Check it out:

Amazon | Goodreads

Michael McClung has a second series, The Skin Walker War, the second book just came out a week ago! The first book is also only $0.99.  So maybe check that one out too!

Amazon | Goodreads

One last note before I go! (Sorry I know this is a long post!) if you are wondering why I used Felicia Day gifs its because she is in the web series called The Guild and because Sigil is a guild, it just felt right. (shhhh it doesn’t have to make sense just deal with it)

 

 

The Hazel Wood – Guest Review

If you follow my blog regularly you may have noticed me talking about my friend Phil.  He is one of my best friends and one of three people that I know in real life that know about my blog.  Plus, he is the only person, outside of my blog, that I talk about books with on a regular basis! He was the one that told/asked me to read the Hazel Wood, so its only fair that he has to write a guest review! So without further ado, here is

Phil’s Review of The Hazel Wood

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To give some context, I really love dark fairy tales. I love the idea of taking sweet, pleasant stories that we typically tell to children, and turning them on their head with murder and mystery. It’s why I love the the show Grimm, the graphic novel series Fables and its spin off game, The Wolf among us. Its probably why I have such a soft spot for this book.

First, let me get out of the way what me and Brittany both agree on. The pacing is terrible! The beginning was way too slow and the ending way too fast. It felt as if the author was trying to hold back the intriguing mysteries of the story and forgot about a compelling beginning. The only argument I can make for the fast dizzying pace towards the end, would be that it was made to match the setting of the later half of the book. I also agree, to a lesser extent, with her point on how relationships play out in the book.

So why did I still love this book? It’s hard to fully describe without spoilers but I will try. To me (pacing aside) it was a hauntingly beautiful book. The love her mother had for her and all the trouble she went through for Alice made the stakes compelling. Alice’s growth and struggle to fight a possibly tragic destiny was the biggest draw for me. I personally hate the idea of fate or destiny. Like all the best dark fairy tales, The Hazel Wood has a great mix of beauty and tragedy.

I completely understand why some people didn’t like this book, but to me it hit a soft spot with the emotional punches it landed. Overall I have to give the book 4 stars. It would have been higher with a more compelling start and better pacing throughout.

The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood

by Melissa Albert

*** (3 out of 5)

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Amazon | Goodreads

Disclaimer: The above Amazon Link is an affiliate link. If you purchase any books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

Have you ever tried to fast forward something on the TV but accidentally pushed the button too many times and then it was going too fast that you couldn’t stop it in time?Thats what this book felt like.

It starts out really really slow.  Then it speeds up and starts to get exciting.  Then it goes too fast and just blurs through everything.  It would have been much better if the pace stayed the same throughout the whole book.

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Before I started reading I was worried about it being an Alice and Wonderland re-telling.  When I was halfway through I couldn’t tell why it was considered a re-telling, but in the last half it makes more sense.  She even mentions Alice and Wonderland in the book.  But the story overall was still good.  I liked the premise of it.

I liked the characters a lot but I wish we would have gotten to know more about some of them.  There were so many side characters that seemed super interesting, but you never really learned their stories.   A lot of them are alluded to as being stories from the Hinterland, but you don’t get to know anything about them,  just bits and pieces and random allusions that make no sense.  It was super frustrating!

Finally I didn’t really like the ending.  The relationships didn’t turn out the way I hoped (I can’t say more without spoilers) and there were new characters introduced right at the end.  This goes back to my last point! I want to know everyone’s stories!! Even if it is just a brief history!

Overall I thought the book was just “Meh” but I know a lot of people loved it.  My friend Phil really liked it and he is actually the one that convinced me to read it.  I will try to get him to write a review! But he is a butt so he probably won’t 😉 Help me convince him to write a guest review!!

Have you read The Hazel Wood? What did you think? Let me know in the comments! And tell Phil he needs to write a review since he made me read it!!

The Wendy

The Wendy

by Erin Michelle Sky & Steven Brown

**** (4 out of 5)

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Amazon | Goodreads

Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links. If you purchase any of these books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

I read this book as part of the April read-along hosted by Steff @ Reader Fox and a Box of Books.  Go check out this blog! Its awesome 🙂 And it has been really cool to participate in a read-along! Right now I am planning on participating in May too, but it is dependent on the book picked and my schedule, but fingers crossed!

Lets start out with the cover.  I LOVE this cover!  It might be one of my favorite covers ever!!!

The book itself is an easy read.  Its only 280 pages and I read most of it in one night.  The way it is written it fairly simple, but it works well with the story.  There are parts where the narrator breaks the fourth wall and I really enjoyed that.

I loved the way the incorporated the original story into 1780’s London.  At first the connection to the original story was subtle.  Mostly just their names were the same.  Wendy, John, and Michael are coworkers and they are best friends.  Close enough to be family, but definitely not related.  The connection got a little less subtle when Peter Pan and Captain Hook were introduced. In all honesty I thought they kept those two characters a little too much like their originals.  Peter is too childish and Hook is too mean.  I think it would have made for a better story if they were both a little bit less single faceted.  You can keep their basic personalities but not go too over the top.  I also think the conflict within Wendy would be more realistic if Hook was more likable.  If you slowly discovered his faults instead of having them thrust upon you, it would have been much better.

Even tho I wasn’t crazy about Peter or Hook, I LOVED Wendy! She is both feminine and a fighter and I love it! She has to work to fit in and be accepted in a male dominant society.  She has to get people to like her, then trust her, then accept her, then understand her and then finally she can show them her skills and ask them to help her improve.  Its brilliant.  She is such a strong woman and she knows what she wants and doesn’t let discrimination stand in her way!

The ending was just ok.  There is obviously going to be a sequel, and it just sort of ended without any real conclusion.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves.  You are just left hanging.  Plus with the book being so short why didn’t they just make it into one larger book? Why make it into a series?  It doesn’t make sense to me.

I debated giving this book a 3 instead of a 4.  I didn’t really like Hook or Peter and I found the ending lacking.  But the book isn’t about Peter or Hook, its about Wendy, and she is amazing.  Plus it was an easy fun read and overall I enjoyed it.  Even though it has its flaws, 3 just felt too low, so 4 is my final rating.  If you like fairy tale retellings then you will probably enjoy this book too!

Godsgrave

Godsgrave

by Jay Kristoff

***** (5 out of 5)

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Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links. If you purchase any of these books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

The Nevernight Chronicle Series

Who let me start another unfinished series?!?!  I don’t know if I can wait till September 4th to read Darkdawn!!  I should have known better!!

I can’t remember the last time a book took me on a roller coaster of emotions the way Godsgrave did.

Seriously! There were soooo many ups, downs, twists, and turns!

It was ridiculous! (in a good way)

I seriously don’t know what to say about this book other than it was all over the place!

Thats a lie, haha I know other things I can say 😀

If you read Nevernight you probably remember how the beginning jumped back and fourth between two stories?  One in the present and one in the past?  Godsgrave did the same thing, but not nearly as well.  In Nevernight the stories mirrored each other and the imagery was really cool.  In Godsgrave it was just the past and the present with nothing to tie them together. In Godsgrave the flipping also lasted a lot longer.  (Nevernight was just the first chapter.  Godsgrave I think went about halfway through? I got so engrossed in the story I didn’t noticed when the switching back and fourth stopped) I didn’t like the switching because I kept getting absorbed into the current story and every time it switched I had to re-calibrate my brain and re-adjust.  The switching also always occurred right when something exciting was going down!  It was super annoying! (but not enough to make me lower my opinion of the book)

I also didn’t enjoy the footnotes in Godsgrave as much as the footnotes in Nevernight.  They seemed longer and less important.  I found myself skimming them instead of fully reading them, and I rarely skim when I read.  At one point the narrator actually makes fun of the reader, in the footnote, for reading the footnote.  It was clever and funny, but it just goes to show how unimportant the footnotes were.  (Again this wasn’t enough to make me dock stars because I still LOVED the book!)

Those are the only two bad things I have to say about the book! As always Mia was completely awesome! She is such a kick-butt heroine and I love her and her shadows! (Mr. Kindly is still my favorite!) In Godsgrave we get to see a couple of the original characters from Nevernight but for the most part, the characters are new, and I love them just as much as the originals! There was such a wide range of characters.  Some were good, some were evil, (most were somewhere in between), and some you loved, some you hated (most were somewhere in between).  It was super diverse and that made it so much better!  You might think that with so many characters it would get confusing and hard to keep track, or that the characters wouldn’t have individual personalities, but you would be wrong.  You get to know, understand, and love (or hate) so many different characters, and each one stands out in their own way!

Like I mentioned above, this book was a roller coaster.  There were so many twists and turns it drove me crazy.  It kept me on my toes, and kept me guessing.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what was going to happen next.  I would think I had it all figured out and then, BOOM, another curve ball.  Seriously, this book was genius.

I highly recommend both Nevernight and Godsgrave!!!! They are amazing! Tho I would suggest waiting until mid August to start the series because the third and final book, Darkdawn, doesn’t come out till Sept. 4th, and waiting that long might actually kill me.

 

 

Nevernight

Nevernight

by Jay Kristoff

***** (5 out of 5)

Nevernight

Amazon | Goodreads

Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links. If you purchase any of these books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

I was inspired to read this book solely based on this picture:

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Source: Baby Chick @ Birdie Bookworm

I didn’t know anything about the book except that the cat pictured above was a character, and the Author, Jay Kristoff, contacted the artist, Baby Chick, on Instagram saying he liked her artwork and wanted a copy.  This picture is awesome and I was intrigued!  I love cats, especially black cats, and I wanted to know who this character was!! So I read the book! Just to figure out who the cat is!

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The cat’s name is Mr. Kindly and he is awesome!!! I want to go into more about him but I can’t because I don’t want to spoil anything! But I want him! He would be the best, best friend ever!

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All the characters are awesome! Mia is great! She isn’t perfect but that is part of what makes her so believable.  She is strong and stubborn and smart!  She sticks to her beliefs even when facing difficult situations.

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I really want to know more about Cassius!! Urg again I can’t go into more details without spoilers!!  But he is so mysterious you can’t help but be drawn to him!

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Its not just the characters that made the book great, it was the story line as well! I loved the plot! (Tho I am partial to assassin schools for some reason)  It is dark and twisted (duh its about a school for assassin’s) but at the same time its also hopeful and compelling.

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Forever ago, I created a poll asking which Audiobook I should read and Nevernight was one of the options.  Spasciuti helpfully pointed out that Nevernight has a lot of footnotes and doesn’t translate well to Audiobooks.  It was good to know and I agree it would not have worked very well in Audiobook! So if you are going to read this I highly suggest getting a physical book! (I don’t know how well it would work with e-books either because sometimes the footnotes are really long)

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Overall this is a great book and I highly recommend it! Here are some more black cat gifs:

Also I have been working on my bookstagram skills and here are some of the ones I liked:

Thats my cat Kaylee, by the way! She is awesome and I love her! Tho it was a pain in the butt to get her to pose with the book for pictures. (There may or may not have been cat nip involved) This is my favorite pic:

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I like it cuz Kaylee is all blurry and out of focus which fits really well with the story! The only bad thing is that she is kind of obstructing the cover.  She isn’t obstructing the cover in the top right picture but I don’t like her pose as much, so this one is still my favorite!

Update: For some reason the pictures in the collage keep changing their order so if my sentence above doesn’t make sense, just refresh your page until this pic is in the top right:

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Have you read Nevernight? Did you like it?

I bought Godsgrave last night and can’t wait to get started!

The Fire’s Stone (Audiobook)

The Fire’s Stone

by Tanya Huff (narrated by Bill Hensel)

***** (5 out of 5)

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I picked this book because I had already owned the kindle version (I got it for free) and it only cost a couple bucks to buy the audiobook.  I needed a book to listen to on my way to and from work, but I hadn’t gotten my Audible credit for the month.  I just wanted something cheap that would be semi-interesting.  I was expecting for it to be ok, at best.  Fortunately, I was wrong.

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This book was awesome!!!!

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The story was great! A Drunk Prince, A Young Wizard, and An Injured Thief must work together to recover the stolen stone and save the city.  Its a classic adventure story.  There was rarely a slow moment and I didn’t want to stop listening when I got to work.  I often didn’t stop listening when I got home.  Whats the audiobook equivalent of “I couldn’t put it down”?

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The characters were great too! The trio was snarky and caring and each one of them was strong in their own unique ways.  Their relationships were so realistic that you can’t help but fall in love with them.  I don’t even know what to write! I just loved all three so much and I wish I was part of a tro like that.

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I was worried that there was going to be a love triangle, since there were three main characters, but there wasn’t! There was still a little bit of a love story but it was subtle and it took second seat to the adventure, which was nice.  I read too many books where the love story is the main plot.  While there wasn’t a love triangle there was some points when the relationships were forming where I couldn’t figure out who was going to end up with who.  At one point I was even hoping that they would end up as a thrupple because I didn’t want anyone to get their feelings hurt!

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The book is great! I loved it! The Audiobook version I am not so sure about.  The guy reading did really good men’s voices, but his woman’s voices were AWFUL! They were comically squeaky and it was a little hard to look past, but he still did a good job at bringing the characters to life.  I loved all the characters and I wonder how much of that was the writing and how much of that was the reading.  If I had to guess it is the writing but I don’t know for sure.  Also, some of the transitions were confusing.  Time would skip forward and it would take me a minute to realize it.  I think that in the book they are probably marked somehow, maybe a paragraph break, but that would be hard to convey in an audiobook.

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Overall I would totally recommend this book! It was great!

And now because I can’t help myself and because this picture is kind of a perfect representation of two of the characters.  Here is an amazing pic from Sofie Wikstrom

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I just can’t get over how absolutely that picture is for so many reasons and its not helping with the book hangover I feel coming on.  Also here is my sad attempt at bookstagraming:

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