Thursday, April 13, 2017

Throwback Titles (2): Tender Morsels, or, The One with All the Man-Bears and Squeamishness

Throwback titles are books that I've been meaning to read for a very, very long time, but have just now gotten around to it. In other words, it's that book you picked up in middle school that may have been a little bit above your reading level, and also happened to have 14 sequels. And what do you, a rational adult do now that you've realized that you stopped a mere five books from finishing the series? Continue, of course.

That's most of my stories, but I consider a throwback title to be any book 5 or more years old. Let's clear these babies out of to-be-reads and remind people of their favorite 2005 novel! I'll be posting a throwback title every Thursday (naturally). Please join in the fun by adding to the linky below and adding my graphic (or one of yours, as long as it links back here) above to your post!


Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

Pages: 436
Publisher: Knopf Books
Publication Date: October 14th, 2008
Cover Comments: This is a beautiful cover, and one of the reasons I was attracted to this novel. It even gives subtle clues about what sadness lies within, in the expression on the girl's face, and the claws digging into her back.
First Lines: "There are plenty would call her a slut for it."

Tender Morsels is a dark and vivid story, set in two worlds and worrying at the border between them. Liga lives modestly in her own personal heaven, a world given to her in exchange for her earthly life. Her two daughters grow up in this soft place, protected from the violence that once harmed their mother. But the real world cannot be denied forever—magicked men and wild bears break down the borders of Liga’s refuge. Now, having known Heaven, how will these three women survive in a world where beauty and brutality lie side by side?

I read reviews on Tender Morsels before I started it, so I thought I was prepared for the nastier elements of this dark fairy tale: rape, bestiality, etc. Even so, I wasn't prepared for those first few chapters of hopeless cruelty. After I got through that part, I was so relieved for Liga and I was able to settle in and enjoy Margo Lanagan's writing. And y'all, it is gorgeous. So beautiful, in fact, that this book can almost get away with not really having much of a plot for 3/4 of the book. Almost.

Tender Morsels is very much a dark, Brothers-Grimm esque fairy tale, with unpleasant topics out the wazoo. That 3/4 part of the book that I mentioned where nothing much happens? Basically the only thing that happens in that section is the main characters of the book making friends and perhaps a little bit more than friends with bears. To be fair, these bears are men in the true world, but Liga and Branza have no way of knowing that. Not being in a society of any sort, Branza, I suppose, would have no idea of the wrongness of it either though. This whole section made me pretty squeamish, so obviously I tried to intellectualize myself out of the discomfort. Here's what I came up with: Liga would not allow a man with any sexual intentions of any sort into her dream world, especially since she created it after traumatic events involving men. But the growing Liga, who has come to feel safe in her world and perhaps wanting more to life now, is curious about the idea of romance - maybe not even consciously. So in come the bears who are men, but not really men. Her world is trying to find a way to grow with her without breaking the no-men rules of young Liga's world. I also think there must be something symbolic about how only men break into Liga's dream world, and only men of no real threat, either being a "littlee-man" or men in the skin of bears. Anyway, wanna-be English major rant over.

I really enjoyed the last part of the book, in which everyone makes their entry into the true world (I don't feel that that's a spoiler since it's in the synopsis). I love love love the character introduced around this time. As Urdda describes her:

"She had a different kind of boldness, a strength that did not defy that of men so much as ignore it, or take its place without question beside it - Urdda wanted some of that boldness."

Lanagan's writing really shines through this character. Liga and her daughters adjusting to the true world after their dream world reminded me of Room, in which the young boy has to adjust after being trapped in a small, never-changing room. Branza especially can't fathom the cruelty that exists in this true world, although she does have a bit of a bite to her, as we find out. I love this gem of a paragraph below about adjusting to the world:

"Now you are in the true world, and a great deal more is required of you. Here you must befriend real wolves, and lure real birds down from the sky. Here you must endure real people around you, and we are not uniformly kind; we are damaged and impulsive, each in our own way. It is harder. It is not safe. But it is what you were born to."

Verdict: First off, I certainly would not recommend Tender Morsels to anyone under the age of 17, possibly 18, or with anyone who might be triggered by rape scenes. Those scenes are not all that graphic, but they do paint a very clear picture emotionally, which is even harder sometimes. If you are one who devours pretty prose and doesn't mind a meandering plot or themes of bestiality, I'd give this a shot. I give it 3 stars for the writing and the achingly lovely ending.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Throwback Titles (1): The Quillan Games, or, The One Where Pre-Hunger Games + Clowns = Eesh

The Quillan Games by D.J. Machale
Pages: 486
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 16th, 2006
Cover Comments: Pretty straightforward cover. Nothing to write home about, but it does reflect the plot, and how Bobby has grown a lot and really needs a haircut.
First Lines: "I like to play games."


Quillan is a territory on the verge of destruction. The people have lost control of their own future and must struggle simply to survive. The only chance they have of finding a better life is by playing the Quillan Games. Hosted by a strange pair of game masters, Veego and LaBerge, the games are a mix of sport and combat. They use the people of Quillan as pawns for their amusement as they force them to enter competitions that range from physical battles, to impossible obstacle courses, to computer-driven tests of agility. To triumph in the games is to live the life of a king. To lose is to die.

This is the dangerous and deadly situation Bobby Pendragon finds on Quillan. He quickly realizes that the only way to save this troubled territory is to beat Veego and LaBerge at their own games and dismantle their horrible fun house. But there is more at stake for Bobby. The prize for winning the Quillan Games may be discovering the truth of what it really means a Traveler.

Throwback titles are books that I've been meaning to read for a very, very long time, but have just now gotten around to it. In other words, it's that book you picked up in middle school that may have been a little bit above your reading level, and also happened to have 14 sequels. And what do you, a rational adult do now that you've realized that you stopped a mere five books from finishing the series? Continue, of course.

That's most of my stories, but I consider a throwback title to be any book 5 or more years old. Let's clear these babies out of to-be-reads and remind people of their favorite 2005 novel! I'll be posting a throwback title every Thursday (naturally). Please join in the fun by adding to the linky below and adding my graphic (or one of yours, as long as it links back here) above to your post!

The Quillan Games: Throwing it Back to 2006

"There are two types of people in this world. People who hate clowns...and clowns."

^ I identify very strongly with this quote.

Also, let's just get it out of the way right now that I've been pronouncing the title of this book "The Killin Games" and it's given me a lot more giggles than it probably should.

This is the 7th book in D.J. Machale's Pendragon series, which revolves around Bobby Pendragon, the Traveler from Second Earth (there are three Earths cause we're just the most important territory obviously). Bobby has spent the last three years or so traveling through the ten territories of Halla, which comprise all of time and space. The big bad in this series is Saint Dane, a demon traveler who wants to bring all of Halla into chaos so he can rule over it himself. But don't worry, he's doing it all for the best.
I remember beginning this series when I was around 13 - we were on a vacation to Disneyworld and all I really wanted to do was sit on the patio and read The Merchant of Death. What a dork. Now, 10 years later, on a beautiful weekend, all I wanted to do was finish The Quillan Games (heh. Killin). What's really obvious to me, reading this after The Hunger Games was published, is the striking similarities between the two. This book was published in 2006, while The Hunger Games came out in 2008, but it's a bit uncanny how many ties there are between the two.

On this territory, Quillan, a huge corporation owns pretty much everything and everyone, and forces people to compete in games in order to survive or have enough food to eat. The games are publicized, and the only source of entertainment for the people. Of course, their darker purpose is to keep the people under control and distracted. Bobby is a challenger in the games, and rebels from the territory want him to be a symbol of hope for the rebellion, even calling him "a tribute" to the people of Quillan. "We want a symbol. A spark. It doesn't have to be huge, but it must be stirring." So, yeah. D.J. Machale did it first, y'all.

I found this installation in the Pendragon series pretty thrilling and intriguing, but I do think a good 100 pages could have been cut out, and none would have been worse for the wear. The books are all written in the form of a journal from Bobby to his friends back home on Second Earth, which means lots of recap and introspection opportunities, and the author makes heavy usage of these. MacHale does great with the action scenes, but his writing tends to be a bit choppy, i.e. "At least I thought it was a wall. It sure felt like one. It was hard. It was flat. It stretched out on either side of me. You know... wall." When the action is going, you don't notice the choppiness as much, but it's really evident with the amount of downtime in this book.

Saint Dane is always a great villain, and I think it's because of his persuasive powers. He really has a way of making Bobby and the other travelers question their purpose and what the "right thing" is to do. He reminds me of an intellectual, but evil genius - the things he says make complete sense, but when you actually look a little deeper, it's just fancy words on top of violence and greed. There's a pretty big betrayal in this book on account of Saint Dane's power to manipulate.

I do wish that there had been more secrets revealed about the nature of the travelers themselves in this book. It was hinted and teased at, but no new information really appeared, which is a shame. I've been wanting to know what happened with Bobby's family since the first book, but we're still no closer to discovering the dealio. This book does a great job at setting up for the next one though, and there are some great storylines I can see forming up ahead. I may have started this series 10 years ago, but I won't be taking that long to finish them. They're thrilling, action-packed, and are finally beginning to mature enough to where I don't feel embarrassed reading them in the privacy of my home.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Cover Love (2): The Dazzling Heights

Cover Love is a bookish meme that I'm starting every Wednesday in which we select our favorite cover reveals!

This week, I have to go with The Dazzling Heights by Katie McGee:

Isn't that just gorgeous?! I haven't started this series yet, but the covers are A+++

Join below if you'd like to showcase your cover reveal!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Top Ten Tuesdays: Fangirling with Fandoms

Top Ten Tuesdays is a bookish meme hosted by The Broke & the Bookish! There's a prompt every week, and you respond with 10 things, or 2 or 5 or 15. Me being me, I will never not do exactly ten. *straightens laptop on table*

This week, the prompt is fandoms. And boy, do I have a list for you. 
In no particular order: the fandoms of which I claim membership:

Image result for buffy the vampire slayer
I literally squeal when I talk about Buffy. Hands down my favorite tv series ever. I love it so much that I've continued the series in comic book form, which is not really my style, but I'll do it for Buffy! The kick-ass main heroine, the hilarious sidekicks, the fast-paced plot, the episode where everyone sings! I can't say enough good things about the Buffyverse.

Image result for harry potter
If you are alive today and don't like Harry Potter, I immediately don't trust you. I understand that there are poor ignorant souls who have not yet learned the glory of being a Potterhead, but I don't understand how you can not like it. Friendship, magic, laughter, British people: it's got all my favorite things, and this series literally grew up with me. It'll always be my favorite series. After all this time? Always. *bursts into tears*

Image result for lord of the rings

Lord of the Rings was my first foray into epic fantasy, and I've never looked back. This fandom is definitely one of the most rich and layered. I mean, you can learn new languages in this fandom. I'm not that deep in, but I have aspirations.

Image result for nerdfighters
Before I even knew that John Green had the ability to rip out my heart with a single penstroke, I was a nerdfighter. For those of you who don't know (what have you been doing off of Youtube???), John and his brother Hank started a vlog channel many moons ago called vlogbrothers. They've now expanded into teaching history, science, art, and most other things you can think of through their youtube platform, but I love the old days when I could watch Hank try to give Peeps out on the street or watch John rant about literally anything until his hair stands up. DFTBA.

Image result for gilmore girls
I feel like Gilmore Girls is less of a fandom and more of a lifestyle. I wanted to become Rory Gilmore, in every way. I cut my hair when I went to college like she did and tried to do the whole collegiate sweater skirt thing (didn't really work out tbh) that she was rocking in season four. I cried when Lorelai sang "I Will Always Love You" to Luke, and I had a conniption fit at the ending, and basically throughout all of the new episodes because nothing will ever compare to the original magic this show was. This show made me feel like it was okay, even cool, to like books more than people (sometimes... okay most of the time) and showed me that even strong, beautiful women like the Gilmore girls make mistakes. Also, Jess is so hawt.

Image result for hamilton
This is the newest fandom I've joined, but I'm already in pretty deep. I've been sending fully armed battalions to show my love, so there's that. I have yet to actually see this musical, only listen to it, but it's one of the best I've ever heard. I love history, singing, and now I love historical rapping. Awesome, wow.

Image result for disney
Disney is sort of the fandom that holds most of my fandoms - I love all the princess movies with a passion, plus the newer offerings like Finding Nemo, The Emporer's New Groove, Moana, Up, and hey, even Star Wars now! *dodges rotten fruit from true Star Wars fans* Disney never fails to make me feel magical. And those musicals are just groovin!

I'm pretty late to the game with this one, but I'm on season 5 of Friends, and I can't believe I've waited so long to watch it! It makes me laugh, cry, and roll my eyes, and makes me feel like being and ordinary 20-something person isn't bad. In fact, it might be the best thing ever. SO NO ONE TOLD YOU LIFE WAS GONNA BE THIS WAY BUH BUH BUH BUH

Image result for HUNGER GAMES
My first foray into dystopia! The Hunger Games is still the only series after Harry Potter to succeed in sucking me in so deeply and quickly. I love this series with a passion, and the movies are pretty cool too, when you don't compare directly with the awesomeness of the books. 

Image result for pretty little liars
This is the tv series that just won't die, but I love it! The combination of mystery, thrills, and cute outfits is so up my alley it's insane. I love the books too, and they're a different plot, so it's like being able to watch your favorite movie again with alternate ending! Like 16 times cause that series is hella long but still!

If by fandom you mean constantly quoting something and being reminded of how this movie relates to your life so much on the daily (even though it doesn't remotely), then this is the ultimate fandom. Also, I love the Harry Potter crossover memes lolol:
Image result for mean girls harry potter
Image result for mean girls harry potter
Image result for mean girls harry potter

If puppies are a fandom, then them too.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Frostblood by Elly Blake, or, The One with Cold, Hot Men

Frostblood by Elly Blake
Pages: 376
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: January 10th, 2017
Cover Comments: I love love love this cover. It perfectly reflects the story within, it's got great font, and the shiny ice-like iridescence is beautiful.
First Lines: "I offered my hand to the fire."

The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

"Face them all like a warrior, whether you are one or not."

I really don't know where I land on Frostblood. This was a novel with a really promising beginning, a lackluster middle section, and a fascinating and exciting end. The romantic relationship in the novel has a lot of great potential that sort of went unfulfilled, but the worldbuilding and mythology were entrancing, and there were some wonderful side characters. Let us begin a list, because I <3 lists.

1. Pacing. 

Pacing has been all off in all the novels I've read recently. I don't know if I'm being too picky, or my interest is harder to hold than it used to be, but disclaimer: this has been a problem with me as of late, so Frostblood might not bother you in that way as it did me. When I began this book, I was enthralled. The beginning set up a great journey for Ruby (haha, ruby like red like fire -_-), and I was looking forward to some cool training scenes, tension building between Ruby and the hot (but cold) Frostblood Arcus, and general Yoda type philosophies from the brothers at the abbey Ruby takes shelter in. Instead, I got a lot of whining from Ruby about not being able to control her powers, awkward and cold scenes between Ruby and Arcus, and, well actually I did get some nice Yoda stuff from Brother Thistle and co., so that was nice. After the slow middle though, a scenery change made the book pick up speed x100 for me, and I was enthralled from then until the end.

2. Instalove. 

As I hinted at above, I wasn't terribly impressed by the romance in Frostblood. It had the great love/hate dynamic going on in the beginning, but there was never really anything that changed that dynamic. It was like Beauty falling in love with the Beast without the middle part, the "Something There" number. Ruby hated Arcus and then all of a sudden decides she likes him, despite nothing having changed whatsoever to deepen their relationship. There was something there that wasn't there before, but we the reader get left out of whatever that something is. I was actually more into another, darker, romance that occurred near the end than with Arcus and Ruby, surprisingly.

3. Monks. 

I'm not sure what it is about abbeys and convents and the like, but I love this setting! Maybe it was all the Redwall I read when I was younger. It's so serene and full of kindness and wisdom (certain characters excepting), and I feel like they make really good bread and cheese and maybe burst into song and dance sometimes.

4. Good or Evil?

Another reason that I love the end and will probably read the rest of the series, is that there was a great plot shift where you don't really know who the villain is, and who the hero is. It's a very complex, philosophical type of thing, and not black and white at all. I loved that, and it's set up intriguing possibilities for the rest of the series.

Verdict: I enjoyed Frostblood for the most part, especially the very beginning and end. The middle was a bit slow for me, and I'm not a huge fan of the romance, but the monks and fire made up for it in the end.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (1)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted at The Book Date and is a way to share what we've read in the past week, what we're currently reading, and what's next!


I just finished Tender Morsels after a long long time waiting (I've probably had it since 2009), and it seemed to take forever to finish. I did enjoy it for the most part, but the middle part was entirely too slow, with too many man-bears. Such beautiful writing though. 3/5, review to come.

I was super into this book at the beginning, my interest waned near the middle, and then it picked right back up again at the end. I look forward to the sequel. Plus, what a pretty book! 4/5


I've been waiting to continue this series for forever, and I'm loving it so far! The mixture of fantasy and historical fiction is just perfect.


That cover!!! I've heard some really lackluster reviews on this one, but I'm loving it so far. It's unique and atmospheric, and FRANCE <3


This is a re-read. It's been way too long since I've done a read-through of LOTR.


So cute so far! And I love the boots on the cover.


I got this from Netgalley; I love Ann Brashares and I'm really enjoying the story so far.


I'm getting close to finishing the Pendragon series legit 10 years after starting it!!!


In keeping with the LOTR theme.


SO excited!! I've heard nothing but good things.


I just can't get enough.

Have an amazing week everyone!