This week’s TOp 5 Wednesday prompt was a difficult one to narrow down. –which I think is a good thing! That means that there’s no shortage of great authors out there! Seeing how Fantasy is the genre I most commonly read, it’s easy to want to […]
Wheels Gone Cats PUBLISHER: PARLIAMENT HOUSE PRESS Synopsis In a future where violence is encouraged and duels are required by law, Dathin Long has the answer: devolution. He proposes a medical procedure that will restore humanity to the state of primal bliss—to pure reptilian instinct, before […]
Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets… and secrets hide in every shadow.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Ace Of Shades
Series: The Shadow Game #1
Author: Amanda Foody
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Page Count: 416
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Mystery
My Rating: ★★★½
Enne Salta, a young low-family dancer arrives in New Reynes, better known as the City of Sin in order to track down her mother. Lourdes had gone missing a few months before. Enne had received from Lourdes instructed her to find and speak to a Mr. Levi Glaisyer, a friend of Lourdes, if she didn’t return. Hence, to Ney Reynes she travels.
Seeking out Mr. Glaisyer, Enne stumbles across a boy part of the Iron gang. The boy lead her directly to Levi Glaisyer, who happens to be the Lord of the notorious gang. Levi, in debt to the captain, Sedric Torren, and some other powerful people, looks for any opportunity to make money to pay off his debt–including Enn’s pockets.
However, things turn a severe turn when Levi is handed a Shadow Card, marking him as “wanted” by the Phoenix club. Having only ten days to pay Sedric Torren back, he must do what he can to make the money and avoid the Shadow Game…in other terms, his demise.
Between Enne and Levi, it is a race against the clock to locate Enne’s mysterious mother, and Levi to come up with ten thousand volts in ten days.
All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
If I’m not home in two months, I’m dead.
I’ve seen mixed reviews on this book. Naturally heading into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect after reading such a wide range of thoughts and feelings from other readers. To my surprise, while I did have some minor issues with the book, the eloquent writing, complex characters, and delicious combination of magic and grit captivated my attention. Hold on to your hats folks, as I try to break down some of the lengthy elements within this story.
“Better be careful, missy. Souls can go black in this city.”
The entire plot is set in New Reynes, better known as the City of Sin. Clearly having a bad reputation for its gangs, casinos, prostitution, and the like, everyone entering the city is made well aware to take precautions.
New Reynes is split up, as the North side of the city has the worst reputation, and the South being the “better” of the two. New Reynes is one city of a larger “Republic” also consisting of territories like Bellamy, and several others briefly mentioned. Bellamy is an island that has a reputation for being quite behind the times and popular trends. Notably, it’s preferences in propriety are much different than fast-paced New Reynes. I’m not quite sure which era this is supposed to take place in. With the lifestyles that people lead and the fact that there are cars and telephones, (or that propriety itself is even mentioned) I’m thinking the early 1900’s?
Much of the city is run by gangs, three total, and casino families. The gangs, the Irons, Scarhands, and the Doves each have established hierarchies and territories within New Reynes. Naturally, they have run-ins with one another in all types of scenarios. These gangs also frequently cross paths with the notorious casino families, the Augustines and the Torrens. Known for being ruthless in their own ways, these groups are constantly battling for power and control in the City of Sin.
Politically, the Republic is governed by a group of elitists known as the “wigheads.” Only having been in power for twenty-five years, they took over when the Mizer reign was demolished during the Revolution. The Mizer kings were feared, as they were gifted with Talents of Mystery–better known as magic. These talents that couldn’t be learned were considered to be a threat, and harsh restrictions were placed upon people with these abilities. These restrictions eventually were the reason for the Mizers being overthrown.
Other Talents that people possess are Talents of Aptitude–skills which can be learned like dancing, singing, arithmetic, and the like. All people have a Talent, technically two, as they inherit them from both their father and mother’s sides.
The most mysterious of these Talents exist among the Talent of Immortality, which belongs only to the members of the Phoenix Club, including Chancellor Semper and other elite.
“Have you ever heard of the Phoenix Club? They’re the most powerful and dangerous people in the Republic. Businessmen, wigheads, scholars…all with a talent for immortality. They’re the ones who orchestrated the Mizer executions. The whole Revolution, even.”
Not a lot of information is disclosed about the Mizers, other than their controversial reign and ultimate demise. While greed and other obvious factors had a play into them being overthrown, more exists to the story.
“Mizers created volts, that was their talent. Being an orb-maker, I was taught a lot about the Mizers–I’m sure I know more than you. We’re different from the metalsmiths or glassmaker families. As you might know, Mizers don’t technically make volts–they make energy. Orb-makers filter that energy into volts, sort of like a by-product. Without orb-makers, no one would’ve ever started using volts as money. Without orbmakers, holding that energy in your skin would be unbearably painful.”
While the Talents hold a high place in the structuring of society, there isn’t much to speak of in terms of there being an established religion. There are brief references to “the old Faith,” but very little is disclosed about what exactly the religion consisted of.
“…Jac was already pulling out his Creed, the necklace he wore that was a symbol of the old Faith. Not many believed anymore; the Mizers had perpetuated its stories for their own gain, and, after the Revolution, the wigheads had declared the Faith illegal…Jac rubbed the Creed–which looked like an intricate knot in the shape of a diamond–between his fingers.”
Artifacts of the old Faith appear here and there throughout the plot, yet again, little information is divulged as to their importance.
Pacing & Readability
While the plot is slower where it involves more information-heavy sections, the pacing remains consistent throughout. Due to the fact that there are complex backstories and world-building, it makes this a very engaging, yet heavy read. It’s worth mentioning to take a few notes here and there (unless you are able to give your undivided attention) to keep track of all that is going on, specifically with the terms and who-is-working-with-whom!
Point-Of-View & Characters
Enne Salta (full name Erienne Abacus Salta (view spoiler)[AKA Enne Dondelair Scordata (hide spoiler)]) serves as the protagonist. A “low blood” dancer from Bellamy, she travels to New Reynes to find her missing mother after receiving a strange letter.
“School began again in September, and this was Enne’s final year before graduation, before her debut into society. All her life, she had perfected her fouettes, memorized her table settings and obsessed over every salon invitation…all to graduate and earn the title of lady. She wanted it more than she wanted anything. It was all she’d cared about…
Until Lourdes went missing.”
Growing up on the reserved island of Bellamy with her loving but strange mother Lourdes, the City of Sin is a major culture shock. Not only that, Enne realizes that she must adapt in order to survive in the wretched place. Surprisingly enough, Enne thrives in the face of adversity. The shy girl who has always been overlooked and had to work extra hard to prove herself discovers a hardness beneath the surface that enables her to surpass obstacles thrown at her. Enne showcases an admirable amount of grit while mostly staying true to who she is.
”Enne had always considered herself someone who rose to the occasion. After all, being from one of the lowest-tier dancing families at her school, every challenge was an opportunity to prove herself. This might not have been ballet, and this certainly was not her finishing school, but her familiar competitive drive began to take over.”
However, Enne quickly learns how precarious each situation is and how dangerous the Talent of Mysteries can be, as an omerta is placed upon her by Vianca Augustine. Hopelessly tied to not only Levi, the leader of the Iron gang, but also Vianca, one of the most powerful women in the city, Enne plays a dance between the two in hopes of finding her mother.
Levi Glaisyer, Lord of the Irons, is an altogether different type of character. While his first encounter with Enne labels him as a self-absorbed, power-hungry thug, he really isn’t.
“What makes a lord isn’t the bravest, the smartest or the first person to whip out a knife. It’s the one who earns the volts and keeps everyone alive. No one else can lead like me.”
While he has confidence, he also understands that there is more at stake than just his reputation.
“He needed to figure out how to deliver ten thousand volts to Sedric Torren before Sedric Torren delivered him.”
Having a strong devotion to his fellow Irons, Levi tries to be as resourceful as possible in order to care for those he oversees. However, his responsibilities begin to strangle him when he finds himself deep in debt to one of the notorious casino family members, Sedric Torren. After evading him for a while, Sedric finally catches up to him and issues him a “warning” shadow card. Knowing that he has only ten days to pay back the debt, the takes on helping Enne find Lourdes.
I know that Levi’s character specifically has been receiving a lot of attention because he’s black and bisexual. However, I wanted to point out that I didn’t read him as he’s been described by others. There were hardly any references to his gender orientation, and once an obvious attraction between he and Enne developed, pretty much all of that labeling fell away. I could definitely be wrong in this because I was rather caught up in other aspects of the book and I could have overlooked some of it. However, if I could read him as being a straight guy for the majority of the book, then I think this is being more hyped up that necessary as it really wasn’t so blatantly obvious?
Lourdes, the elusive mother to Enne Salta is incredibly mysterious. While I can’t say much about her, everything surrounding her and her character made the plot all-the-more gripping.
While Vianca Augustine is not a major character, she is definitely worth mentioning. Being a part of the elite, Vianca has special abilities that ensure both Levi and Enne to do her bidding. Having the ability to place omertas on a select few, she can bend them to her will and carry out her dirty deeds. In a way, Vianca’s vendetta towards the Torrens works in favor of both Enne and Levi–except for when it doesn’t.
“Everything you do, Miss Salta, you do for me.” Enn felt ghostly fingers scrape across her throat, the omerta teasing her.
Sedric Torren, in conjunction with other characters part of the Phoenix club serves as the main antagonists. The Shadow Game itself, or the threat of being invited to play is also a constant intimidator to the characters.
Many, many other characters exist throughout the timeframe of this book, however, I felt it necessary to list only the most prominent of them.
Mostly observed in Enne’s character, she grows up her entire life wanting to be more. She works tirelessly in order to prove herself to others, but more importantly, to herself. In the long-run, her hard work paid off as she is able to distinguish a capacity within her that wouldn’t have existed without her determination to prove that she is capable of being more.
An obvious theme, especially among the different gangs, casino families, and the Phoenix club, the desire for power and control, is evident. Fighting among themselves, these groups navigate the grimy streets of New Reynes with their grimy and selfish intentions only for personal gain.
⇒ Opposites Attract
It is immediately evident that the life in Bellamy and life in New Reynes are like those from different worlds. Enne and Levi couldn’t be more different. Yet, events somehow keep leading them back to one another.
Things that I liked:
⇒ The writing is eloquent, visual, and simply beautiful.
Here are a few examples:
“If St. Morse were a palace, then the Tropps Room was the throne room, and greed was king.”
“His smile was filthy with insincerity.”
⇒ The depth of the main characters and how they were realistically represented (especially Enne). know, I’m one of the few that actually liked Enne.
⇒ The backstory is magnificent, and holds its mystery throughout and really pulled me in.
Things that I didn’t like:
⇒ There is a lot of backstory and world-building in this plot (which is great). However, it could be very info-dumpy at times, making it difficult to keep up with everything playing into the society of New Reynes. With that, some of the world-building needs much more explanation!
⇒ What really is the Old Religion? It’s never really explained and I’d like to know more about it!.
⇒ The Shadow Games, while they were veryintriguing, needed more to them! I felt that there was a lot of build-up to the moment of this game, but was let down by how it played out.
⇒ At times, I was surprised with Levi’s character. Being the Lord of a gang, I’d take him to be some tough cookie. At times, however, he proved himself to be the opposite. I’m not saying it’s wrong for a street lord to be more sensitive, but, I’m not sure if he’d realistically survive?
Overall, I thought this was a fantastic start to the series. The main reason why I rated this 3.5 out of five stars was because of the areas in the world building that felt incomplete. Without them, I couldn’t quite grasp the full picture of New Reynes and exactly what is happening behind the scenes of this dog-eat-dog city (and there’s a LOT, I’m sure.) Despite that, I’m very much looking forward to the next installment in this series!
Vulgarity: 17 words counted altogether.
Sexual content: Considering this is the “City of Sin” there’s definitely some racy material scattered throughout. In particular, there is a weird scene with Enne.
Violence: Quite a bit with some gory scenes.
Garden of Ashes (Snow SPark Saga #2) PUBLISHER: PARLIAMENT HOUSE PRESS Synopsis It’s the one place no rustler ever wants to end up. Having survived Rondo’s destruction, sixteen-year- old Rags has been taken captive by the Kingdom and sentenced to ‘rehabilitation’ at the Kingdom’s Threshing […]
The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le Avventure Di Pinocchio)
By Carlo Collodi
The Adventures of Pinocchio, originally titled Le Avventure Di Pinocchio was written by Carlo Lorenzini, better known by his pen name of Carlo Collodi. Carlo was an Italian author, who liked writing about characters who were rascals in allegorical ways.
Pinocchio, being one of the most rascally of rascals, was published in 1880 in an Italian children’s journal as a series. It was later adapted by Disney into a movie in 1940.
See my The Adventures of Pinocchio inspired Pinterest board here!
This tale has been paraphrased in my own words.
Once upon a time there was an ordinary piece of wood which found its way into the carpentry shop of Master Antonio (also called Master Cherry). The tip of his nose was so shiny that it looked like a cherry. When he saw the piece of wood, he was excited, thinking he’d make a table leg out of it.
When he went to cut it, a voice came out of the wood, begging him not to hit it too hard. Thinking that he didn’t really hear the voice, he hit the wood with his axe. The wood cried out, and Master Antonio was terrified. He grabbed the log and beat it around the room to see if he could replicate the lamenting voice. Hearing nothing, he continued his work. He began to polish the wood, then heard the voice asking him to stop because it was tickling him. He fell backwards out of fright.
At the same moment, someone knocked at the door. Yelling for whomever it was to enter, Geppetto walked in. The ill-tempered man hated the nickname “Polendina” given to him because of his yellow wig. Geppetto informed Master Antonio that he planned to make a puppet out of wood and travel the world with it in order to make money. The mysterious voice which scared Master Antonio so said “Bravo, Polendia!” – which made Geppetto very angry and he accused the carpenter of insulting him. Getting into a fight, they resolved it and promised to be friends for life. Master Antonio gives Geppetto the troublesome piece of wood to take home for his puppet.
Upon arriving home, Geppetto carves the puppet out of the log and names it Pinocchio. When he set to making the facial features, he saw that they moved! Each feature of the puppet taunted Geppetto. As soon as he fashioned the legs and feet, Pinocchio took off and ran outside and down the street. Luckily, a policeman was able to catch him by grabbing his extremely long nose and gave him back to Geppetto. But onlookers remarked at how Geppetto would beat the poor puppet,and he was in turn, thrown in jail.
Set free, Pinocchio ran back home where he met the Talking Cricket. Pinocchio tried to get the cricket to leave, but he wouldn’t–until he had told him a great truth. The cricket scolded Pinocchio for running away from home and for not obeying his parents. Pinocchio retorted that in the morning he’d leave the place forever because he didn’t want to be sent to school. The cricket warned him that he’d turn into a donkey and be laughed at by everyone. Not liking to be reprimanded, Pinocchio took a hammer and threw it at the cricket, killing him.
Growing hungry, Pinocchio finds an egg. Cracking it open to fry it, he finds a chick staring up at him instead. Thanking him for breaking his egg, the chick flies out the window. His hunger becomes overwhelming and Pinocchio decides to go into town to see if charitable person would give him food.
The night was pitch black and Pinocchio was afraid for it was thundering and lightening. But his hunger drove him on. He came to a house and rung the bell loudly. An old man poked his head out of the window and asked what he wanted. Asking for food, the man retreated into the house and told Pinocchio to hold out his hat. The man dumped a bucket of cold water on him. Pinocchio went back home and put his feet on the stove to dry. He fell asleep and his feet burned off.
In the morning, Geppetto returned and told Pinocchio to open the door. He tried to stand but fell to the floor. Angry and thinking he was lying, Geppetto climbed in through the window. Seeing Pinocchio’s state, he wept and held him. Pinocchio recounted the previous night’s events, and how his hunger had not abated. Geppetto gives Pinocchio three pears to eat.
Promising not to run away again, Pinocchio begs Geppetto to make new feet for him. Once attached he jumps up and promises Geppetto that he will go to school. Geppetto makes him clothes to wear, and went and sold his coat for the A-B-C book Pinocchio needs for class.
The next morning it snowed and Pinocchio headed to school and Geppetto stayed home in his shirt without a coat. On his way to class, Pinocchio hears a ruckus of instruments and heads towards it. Seeing a puppet show, he sells his book to a boy for four pennies in order to enter and see what it is about. Inside the show, fellow puppets known as Harlequin and Pulcinella recognized him and stopped the show out of excitement. The celebration is short-lived, as the puppets become fearful when the Director comes out and inquires about why Pinocchio made such a fuss.
Threatening to use him as firewood, the Fire Eater (the puppet master) ends up feeling sympathy for Pinocchio and lets him go free. The next day, Fire Eater gives Pinocchio five gold pieces to give to his poor father Geppetto. On his way home, he needs a lame Fox and a blind Cat who learn that he has five gold coins. Lured by the mischievous pair, they take him to the City of Simple Simons.
On their way there, they stop to stay at the Inn of the Red Prawn to eat and sleep until midnight. When the Innkeeper woke Pinocchio at the designated hour, he revealed that the Fox and Cat had left two hours prior, and hadn’t paid so Pinocchio had to foot the bill. The two said they would meet him at the Field of Miracles at sunrise in the morning.
Travelling through the dark woods, the ghost of the Talking Cricket advised him to turn home and give the remaining money to his father. Failing to listen, the cricket warns Pinocchio that he will fall into the hands of the Assassins. As foretold two Assassins fell upon him, demanding his money. He hid his coin and fled. At one point, they nearly caught him, and he bit off the hand of one of the Assassins, noticing that it was a paw and not a man’s hand.
He came to a white house in the woods and banged on the door. After no one answering for a while, a window opened and a beautiful girl with deep blue hair and pale skin spoke in a weak voice that everyone in the house was dead. Her eyes were closed and arms crossed over her chest. Imploring her to open the door, she said she could not for she too, was dead. Just then, the Assassins captured Pinocchio, tied his hands behind his back, and hung him from a giant oak tree. After three hours and seeing that he wouldn’t die, the Assassins said they would return in the morning.
A great wind blew up and nearly choked him to death. Luckily, the lovely maiden with blue hair (who was actually an ancient fairy) saw him from her window. She summoned a large Falcon to take him down from the tree, and her poodle drive to fetch him in the carriage. She then had three of the best physicians come to tell her if he were dead or alive–one was an owl, the other a crow, and the last was the Talking Cricket well acquainted with the puppet.
Pinocchio, still being alive, came down with a bad fever. He refused to take medicine the fairy tried to give him. When he did, black rabbits with a coffin came into the room to bear him from his death bed. Not wanting to die, Pinocchio took the medicine and immediately recovered. The fairy asked him to reaccount his tale with the Assassins. Each time he lied, his nose grew, to the point of where he couldn’t exit the room. Distraught with being trapped, the fairy gave in and called for woodpeckers to come in and shorten his nose. He thanked the fairy and told her that he loved her. She desired to adopt him as a brother, and had sent for Geppetto to be brought to their current location. Pinocchio asked to leave to go and meet him on his journey.
On his way, he met up with the Fox and the Cat near the tree where he was hung. They asked if he still wanted to turn his four pieces of gold into a thousand, which he agreed to. They led him to the City of Catchfools and told him to bury his coins. In his absence, they dug up the gold and ran. A parrot in a nearby tree tells Pinocchio what happened. Furious, he went to the town hall and explained how he had been robbed. He was then sentenced to four months in prison for his foolery for being robbed.
After his time was paid, he immediately returned to the home of the fairy. On the way, he encountered a massive snake which died laughing at him, and he became a watchdog for a farmer. Able to catch the thieves stealing his chickens, he was sent free. When he reached where the fairy had lived, a tombstone lay in place of the small house saying that the fairy had died out of grief from her brother Pinocchio abandoning her. He mourned for her and his father, unsure of his father’s whereabouts.
Just then, a large pigeon flying overhead asked if he knew Pinocchio. Revealing that he himself was Pinocchio, the pigeon told him that his father was out at sea. He had searched in vain for Pinocchio all across Europe while he was imprisoned. Not finding him, he decided to sail to the New World to search there. Allowing him on his back, the pigeon took him to the seashore.
A bad storm had kicked up. Seeing Geppetto out in his boat being tossed about by the waves, Pinocchio becomes worried. The boat capsizes, and Pinocchio jumps in to save him. Unable to reach him due to the storm, Pinocchio ends up on the shore of an island. Hungry, he begs for money to buy food from the inhabitants, but no one is willing to help him without him working to earn the money.
He happens across a woman who allows him a drink of water from her water jugs. He then asks her for some food and she said that if he carry a jug, she will feed him. He suddenly realizes that the woman is no other than the blue-haired fairy. Relieved that she was still alive, he apologized for running off. She said that she would be his mother as long as he was good and went to school.
In school, Pinocchio actually excelled. Committed to his studies, his fellow classmates led him astray by persuading him to skip school one day to see the massive shark that had come to near the shore. It was the same shark that was sighted near the place where Geppetto was last seen. Reaching the shore, he realized his “friends” tricked him into skipping class. Upset, they got in a fight. One of the boys was hurt, and the others fled when police came on the scene. Believing Pinocchio guilty, they set their dog to chase him. Pinocchio ran into the sea and the dog followed. Not able to swim, Pinocchio helped the dog to shore, then swam to a cave to warm up.
There, he is caught in a net by a terrible green man. Thinking he’s a fish, the man nearly fries him along with the other fish when the police’s dog showed up and saved Pinocchio. Heading back to the good fairy’s home, she says that she will forgive him this time for his folly, but it is the last time. He agreed and was a good student for the next year, earning high scores at the end of the season. The fairy told him that the next day he would get his wish of becoming a real boy.
In celebration, the fairy was to hold him a big party where he could invite his friends to celebrate. Pinocchio went out that evening to invite his friends. He went to his dearest friend Lamp-Wick’s home, only to find him waiting for a carriage to the Land of Toys. Pinocchio, unable to stick with making good choices, also decided to go. The two stayed there for five months, without any schooling and only play.
One day, they both sprouted donkey ears and soon turned into donkeys. Both were sold and Lamp-Wick was never seen again. Pinocchio was sold to an equestrian trainer, but after being injured in a show, was sold again to a man who wanted to make a drum out of his skin. He through Pinocchio into the sea in order to drown him. When he pulled him back up, Pinocchio had turned back into a puppet.
Pinocchio threw himself back into the sea to escape the man, but is swallowed by the massive shark. In its belly, he comes across none other than his father! He had survived in the belly of the shark for two years. Th shark, having suffered from asthma, had to sleep with his mouth open. Pinocchio and Geppetto were able to escape through its mouth at night and swim to shore with the help of a tuna fish.
Traveling to the road, Pinocchio happened upon the Fox and the Cat who had robbed him before. They are old, broken down, and begging for food and money. He didn’t take pity on them and kept on to find a place were his father could rest. They happened upon a small cottage which was owned by the Talking Cricket. Through hard work, Pinocchio was able to earn money and help care for his ailing father. In reward for his good works and changing his perspective, the fairy with blue hair appears and changes him into a real boy.
Le avventure di Pinocchio (Storia di un burattino) – The Adventures of Pinocchio (The Tale of a Puppet): Bilingual parallel text – Bilingue con testo a … Inglese by Carlo Collodi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“That Puppet is a disobedient son who is breaking his father’s heart!”
This was nothing like the Pinocchio I was familiar with. Granted, I only watched the Disney (yeah, I know Disney’s adaptations don’t really stick close to the original fairy tale) movie probably one time in my life, so I didn’t remember much of Pinocchio’s story, to begin with. But, I wasn’t expecting such a story as this.
Pinocchio is probably one of the most unlikeable main characters I’ve come across in a book thus far, and was one of the key points I hadn’t remembered. This infuriating little puppet was incredibly disobedient and selfish. While I understand why he was drafted to be so, I couldn’t help but bid against him and his endeavors. Chance after chance, he just…does whatever he wants, and it was downright irritating! Not to mention, there are a few elements to the plot which are utterly terrifying for children to read! At one point, Pinocchio is hung, he bites off the paw of a cat, and so on and so forth.
Pinocchio definitely goes through a lot of trials, but a majority of them are of his own making. Through many (MANY) wrong choices, he eventually realizes that if he makes selfless decisions, life is much easier and truly enjoyable.
“When bad boys become good and kind, they have the power of making their homes bright and new with happiness.”
Overall, I think the summation of this book is good, it was simply an unpleasant journey to get to the end.
My Rating: ★★½
What are your thoughts on this tale?
Did you know about the darker elements in the original tale before?
What was your take on Pinocchio's character overall?
Happy Thursday, everyone! Here we are again. There are some great posts to check out this week, from self-care guides for book bloggers to book review tips! Thursday Blog Trot is a weekly meme dedicated to passing along great information provided by bloggers from all over […]
This week's TOp 5 Wednesday prompt was a difficult one to narrow down.
–which I think is a good thing! That means that there’s no shortage of great authors out there! Seeing how Fantasy is the genre I most commonly read, it’s easy to want to only include Fantasy authors (which I sort of did…but some also write Sci-Fi!)
This one may be a no-brainer for many fantasy lovers. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, among several other works by Tolkien set in Middle Earth are easy instant-buys for me. While Tolkien passed away in 1973, his works are still being published, and his legacy carried on by his son, Christopher Tolkien. His most recently published book came out in 2017 (which I still need to buy but definitely will), and tells the story of Beren and Lúthien, elves existing long before the famous trilogy took place.
While I haven't read her most popular series, the Sevenwaters series yet, Juliet Marillier is one of those authors that I know I will love whatever she creates. Having multiple books published including several book series, Marillier is well versed in folklore, retellings, and everything whimsical. She writes in mainly the Young Adult fantasy genre, but these books often suitable for adults as well.
Quite new to the Young Adult Fantasy scene, Ciccarelli released her debut novel in October 2017. Her writing is lush, imaginative, and immersive. I was greatly surprised at the talent she exhibited in her first novel, and how she craftily wove such meaning throughout her plot. I'm greatly looking forward to more work from her!
I've been following Blake's Three Dark Crowns series since the first novel came out. When I read it, I knew that this was an author I wanted to keep tabs on. While her writing isn't as lush and derivative as some authors, her ability at writing a plot and incorporating so many twists is astounding! She also dabbles in horror, and has two other series published. I'm not sure if I'll read the horror series, but plan to keep an eye out for more from her in the future!
Technically a cross-over author, Amie Kaufman writes both Young Adult Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels. While I've only read The Illuminae Files which she co-authored, I can tell from this series that her other books should be given a shot!
What are some of your auto-purchase authors? (They can be from any genre!)
Which authors would you recommend fans of Fantasy or Sci-Fi to check out?
My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen and I’m about to die. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Identity Series: Eyes Wide Open #1Author: Ted DekkerPublication Date: December 26, 2012Publisher: Outlaw StudiosPage Count: 66Format: ebookGenre: Young Adult, Christian Fiction, Mystery, ThrillerMy Rating: ★★★½ “Christy was familiar […]
Six months alone in the labyrinth has made her strong. But the search for the exit means gambling on an old ‘friend’ and going against everything she’s been taught to survive.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Series: Children of Icarus #2
Author: Caighlan Smith
Publication Date: April 1, 2018
Page Count: 336
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror, Dystopia
Cover Artist: ---
My Rating: ★★
Finding one’s way through a maze can feel like an eternity. For the Icarii, eternity is a probability with their trek through the labyrinth surrounding Daedala.
“Fey Bell” as the nameless main character has been nicknamed, has existed on her own in the labyrinth for six months now. Now that she has the journal explaining how to get out of the dismal place, she needs only one thing: to translate it into her language. In order to do so, she must seek out help from her former group, the Fates.
However, she left Fates on bad terms. Collin, the group’s leader, has had it out for her since he discovered that she was faking to be his little sister, Clara. With her best friend gone, the Executioner no longer around to teacher her, and no one to help her, she much depend on herself for everything–and for getting the answers she needs to unravel the journal’s secrets. Little does she know that Fates are the least of her worries.
1) Children of Icarus: ★★
All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
”Six months is a long time in the labyrinth.”
There’s always a lot riding on sequels in a series. If certain aspects aren’t delivered in the first installment of a series, I hope that the sequel will shed some light on those areas that I think are important to touch on as the reader. Unfortunately, Children of Daedala simply didn’t deliver as much as I had hoped for. While some aspects were much more tolerable, the plot did not develop as much as it needed to the really engage the reader.
The entire plot of Children of Daedala takes place in the labyrinth. Little information of the labyrinth itself is given and it is difficult to get a good sense of where the characters are. I constantly felt lost, which is ideally the point (since everyone is lost), but it’s also difficult to tell a story not really understanding the surroundings.
The society within the labyrinth itself takes on a different form. The Icarii literally enter a new world when they entered the labyrinth and they must learn how to survive. The best way to survive is by strength in numbers. Several pods of Icarii are developed, where the groups’ members look after and protect one another.
But where there are people, there is treachery. Supplies are limited in the labyrinth, including hunting grounds, freshwater, medical supplies, and weapons. It isn’t uncommon for fighting to happen between the groups for these resources. These fights, however, aren’t always provision-related. Bad blood exists between Kleos and Harmonia, two groups with a long and dark history. When the main character finds herself being shoved between the two groups after Fates is ransacked, she must dig to the bottom of the mystery in order to discover who is at fault.
Within these groups exists hierarchy. Being out on her own for six months had made “nameless” a sought out legend among the other Icarii. Nicknamed “Fey Bell” (after the silent bell she wears around her neck) she tries to remain elusive as she searches for the labyrinth’s exit. However, she can only make it so far without help. She must take measures into her own hands to have the mysterious journal the Executioner left her translated. The leaders of the groups have their own agendas and are constantly taunting her when they cross paths. Wanting to remain out of the drama, she tries to limit her interactions with them, but can only succeed for so long.
Pacing & Readability
The pacing mimics Children of Icarus. It is slow, slow, slow. In three hundred plus pages, not a lot happens. Even during the climax in the final pages, nothing grabbed me. Without having many variations in the pacing, it made this a difficult read to get through because it was slow and unengaging.
Point-Of-View & Characters
The point of view is again from the perspective of the main character, who again remains nameless throughout the entire story. “Nameless'”–I’ll refer to by her nickname of Fey Bell–character grows tremendously from Children of Icarus–but only in her capabilities. In many ways, she still acts quite immature for her age, which becomes tiresome to read. Honestly, I think I stuck it out through this book just because I want to find out what her name is! Otherwise, I don’t think I would have made it this far.
There are several characters in this series, and it is difficult to keep them all straight. With little distinction between them physically, many of these minor characters blended together.
For me, Ryan was one of the more interesting characters in this series. Sadly, his character became rather flat in this sequel. I felt he could have been utilized in more effective ways to keep that initial intrigue going, but that simply didn’t happen.
Theo becomes a more prominent character in this sequel. Becoming a “sort of” love interest, he’s constantly riding the fence of being trustworthy. Because his character also suffers from flatness, I found him and his motivations to be transparent and without surprise.
Elle’s character blossomed before my very eyes. I think I didn’t recognize her in Children of Icarus because I was so distracted with all of the gore and overall treachery. While she doesn’t have a massive role in the plot, what she represents makes her all-the-more important to bring up.
The main antagonist against is the labyrinth itself, but later on shifts to other characters as well.
It’s easy not to take chances when the price is someone else’s secrets.
Survival is the entire point of this series. Survival in the labyrinth, survival from one another, and survival from oneself in specific instances is constantly on the characters’ and readers minds.
⇒ Mental illness
”Elle is the beautiful one. I always knew it, but at first I thought it was just her exterior. I thought what was inside Elle was cruel. And it is. Elle has a cruel side, an inhumane side, a manipulative side, but that like her physical beauty, is just something else in the way of the beauty inside. A part of Elle, deep down, is still the child she was when she entered the labyrinth. That child is inside all Icarii, but most Icarii kill that child to survive. Instead, Elle killed her sanity, and used its corpse to shelter the child. Because of that, a part of Elle will always have her innocence. A part of her will always have Prosper.”
Represented by Elle’s character, mental illness becomes a large theme throughout this installment. This theme also exists in the first book, but I think I was too distracted by everything else to really notice it. While I believe this adds an interesting addition to the plot, I’m not sure if I actually like the way Elle’s character is represented. Perhaps it is because I feel that her (and everyone else’s) character is left incomplete. In a positive way, however, I feel that Elle’s able to bring opponents together.
“But thank you. For looking out for Elle.”
“It’s easy to look out for Elle,” Risa says, then gestures to the gauze in my hand. Maybe not always easy, but it’s easy to want to, you know?”
Things that I liked:
⇒ The main character’s growth from the first book.
⇒ We finally get a little more explanation behind the Icarii.
Things that I didn’t like:
⇒ Still not having a good sense of the world or where the characters are at. Scenes blend into one another.
⇒ The slow pacing and anticlimactic end which was supposed to be a massive “cliffhanger” for the next book.
⇒ While we get a better idea as to how the Icarii started, the entire backstory needed a lot more explanation.
Overall, I wasn’t thrilled with this sequel, and found it to be without much purpose. I really was hoping for more progression, but this entire book felt like a “time filler” until the next book in the series is published.
Vulgarity: Minimal. Only five words were counted.
Sexual content: Minimal – kissing scenes only. However, there are some references to more going on between some characters.
Violence: Quite a lot. While this installment isn’t as gory as it’s predecessor, there’s still a decent amount.
This has been a surprisingly difficult prompt for me to meet.
I love humor. I mean, who doesn’t? When I went through my “read” list on Goodreads, I realized that I haven’t read many books that weren’t serious in some sense. So, this prompt was a difficult one for me to meet.
However, the more I thought about a “prankster,” I began to realize that I don’t necessarily think of a prankster as someone who is just funny–I think of someone who is tricky. This opens the doors to allow the character to be either a protagonist, antagonist, or both.
Before we get started, I’ll need some help from Count Olaf to clear the air as to what this post is about:
Okay, maybe that was more funny in my head than it really was.
Either way, let’s move on to the list I compiled of my favorite (heroic or villainous) literary pranksters.
So, Chip Gaines is not a fictional character, but he technically is a literary character because he's in two books (written by himself and his wife, Joanna Gaines.) If you aren't familiar with this couple, they have a show on HGTV called "Fixer Upper," where they renovate houses for people around Waco, Texas.
Chip is absolutely hilarious and was one of the main reasons why I became hooked on the show. In all honesty, he reminds me of my Dad with the sense of humor he has but he is way more over the top. He's constantly playing pranks on those around him, especially his wife, and that same spirit comes through his writing.
The Phantom (Of The Opera)
The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera is one of those antagonist pranksters I mentioned in the intro. This is the trait that made me like his character so much. While he's definitely creepy, he's constantly taunting the opera, and it adds some unexpected humor to this rather dismal tale.
Count Olaf from The Series of Unfortunate Events is yet another antagonist "prankster" or more appropriately titled, trickster. Constantly hunting the Baudelaire orphans in order to get their fortune, he's a pro at tricking everyone but the orphans with his appearance . His strange, eccentric, and rather comical character adds such a unique twist to each installment in this series.
Merry & Pippin
Peregrin Took (Pippin) and Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry) are two of my favorite characters from The Lord of the Rings series. These two add comic relief to a rather serious plot line. When they aren't pulling pranks on each other and other characters, they are getting in trouble with someone (normally Gandalf.)
Fred & George Weasley
These guys are probably the most obvious choice out of all the characters in this list. The fact that they are pranksters is why people enjoy their characters so much. They always show up at the right times to ensure that the serious parts aren't too serious.