Sunday, November 17, 2019

Book Review: Skyward

“People need stories, child. They bring us hope, and that hope is real. If that’s the case, what does it matter whether people in them actually lived?”

This book was both inspiring and entertaining, and wow, just wow. Since I started reading Brandon Sanderson’s books last year, I’ve been hooked ever since. This one, however, has got to be my favorite so far. The writing style is clear, the characters are compelling, and the plot me had me on the edge of my seat. I ended up finishing the book in two days.

Book: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Young Adult, Science-Fiction, Fantasy
My rating: 5/5 stars
One-word description: g-force

One of the reasons I enjoy Sanderson’s works is because the details of his world building are so rich, and the plot is so compelling. I really felt like he knew what he was talking about when he described space flight, especially with the added g-forces and coordinates.

He certainly did his research.

Yet, with Skyward, the story never bogged down like it seemed to with a few of his Mistborn novels. Sure, I found the beginning of Skyward to be a bit of a downer, but it picked up after the first fifty pages or so. That’s not to say that the rest of the book was completely happy—I don’t trust Sanderson with my favorite characters—but rather that I couldn’t help but read the rest of the book.

Another reason I enjoy Sanderson’s book is because of his ability to write multiple genres. The Mistborn trilogy is adult fantasy, The Alloy Era is its companion series but also a mystery/western, and Skyward is of course science fiction with a touch of fantastical elements.

Apparently female pilots are one of my favorite character types. They. Are. Epic. In this book you’ve got Spensa (callsign: Spin) who will gladly crash her simulated ship into her flightleader just to spite him and who talks like a hero of old. Then there’s Morningtide, Freyja (callsign: FM) who likes to point out and defy the status quo, Hudiya (callsign: Hurl) who is enthusiastic to no end, and Kimmalyn (callsign: Quirk) who’s a little on the timid side but makes an excellent friend.

It would be a shame not to mention the humor and the AI, and the AI’s quirky sense of humor. Oh yeah, and Cobb (callsign: Mongrel) is another of my favorites as he is probably the best teacher in the flight school, though he can be a little confusing. At one moment, after their first experience actually flying, he tells them, “That […] was somehow the most embarrassing and inspiring display I’ve ever seen out of cadets! You should be ashamed. And proud.”

That’s when I decided he was one of my favorite characters.

My only complaint right now is the way the cover design made Spensa’s hair look black, not brown. Like excuse you, cover designer, no. Wow, am I picky or what?

Interested in Skyward? Have you read it yet? You might also enjoy these books: A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole, Renegades by Marissa Meyer, and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

Let’s chat! Has Skyward made it to your to-be-read list yet? Have you read it yet? Have any sci-fi recommendations?


Sunday, November 10, 2019

8 Popular Fantasy Novels I Enjoyed

Before I’ve written on 8 Obscure Books I Thoroughly Enjoyed, (some of which I should have classified as popular; oh, well) but today I’m here to talk about some of the popular ones. Obscure books are fun to introduce, sure, but popular books can help people find fellow readers with similar tastes, and you can talk with your bookworm friends about your favorite stories for hours on end. Here goes!

The following books are not books from my Treasured Books list. I originally had the books listed on this post, but the list got too long for one post. I rant enough about those anyway, so here are just a few books I may not mention much but deserve notice. Book are organized by author’s last name.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

Though lesser known than his fellow Inklings and writer friends J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain are still read and enjoyed today with over 66,000 ratings on Goodreads. The second book, The Black Cauldron, was probably my favorite of the series, but The Book of Three does an excellent job introducing this strange yet endearing world.

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Can we just take a moment to appreciate the author’s last name with the book’s title? I was one of those kids who grew up watching the movies, wishing I could be a great warrior like Atréju and befriend a luck dragon. In college I read the book and fell in love with the story all over again, and more so. While the movies wrap up their plots with a neat little bow, the book just keeps going, reinforcing the title in a new way. The book is much better than its adaptations.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Pretty sure I rant about this one a lot. A really quirky and kinda dark fantasy with one of those movies that’s just as good as the book, though listening to Gaiman read his own book is rather enchanting! I particularly enjoyed the way the story included multiple types of fairytale tropes from the hapless (and somewhat idiotic) romantic to clever women (not all of whom are good) and greedy princes, all within the land of Faerie.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

A magical realism novel that left me wondering what was real and what was magical—this book is heartbreakingly beautiful. The story combines the myths surrounding Russian folklore of the snow child with the harsh reality of winter—and life—in rural Alaska. Not only is it an excellent portrayal of the harsh beauty of nature, but it’s also a profound story about the loss of a child and found love.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

I enjoyed this one way more than I thought I would, considering it’s length and how I initially didn’t make it past the prologue. But I’m glad I made the effort to read it. Like The Naming, the story features a musician, but from there on the stories differ. The main character Kvothe, as it turns out, is a troublemaker but will still go to extreme measures to help people. The only problem is that I didn’t care as much for the sequel, and the third book still isn’t out yet.

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Do you ever have those go-to authors? You know the ones, when you don’t quite know which genre you’re in the mood for, but you always enjoy X’s work? Sanderson is one of those authors for me.

While his writing style gets better with each book in the series, The Final Empire is still my favorite because the magic system is so well thought out, the characters are incredibly dynamic, Elend is a cinnamon roll, Vin is a beast, and Kelsier kinda scares me but I like him.

But let me warn you before you start… EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW IS A LIE! All right. You’ve been warned. Enjoy!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Never judge a book by it’s cover. Hahahaha! (That is 12% authentic laugh.) I may have read this book because I saw it’s cover in England, thought it was so intriguing, then went back to my library in Italy and checked it out. That right there is effective marketing at work.

While the book reminded me a little bit of The Lord of the Rings—beware the evil trinket—and an even tinier bit of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell—haven’t we met this mad king of England before?—A Darker Shade of Magic also manages to have an intricately-built world. Or shall I saw worlds? There are four Londons after all.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

"I'm not a girl. I'm a shark!"

This graphic novel was an impulse read at my local library and later an impulse buy. 99% of the time my impulse reads or my impulse buys, when I haven’t read the book yet—those impulses are terrible. Nimona was that brilliant 1% exception. The art is quirky yet beautiful, and I enjoy the way the story confronts the definition of what a villain is and what a hero can be.

Let’s chat! What are some of your favorite popular fantasy novels? How about favorite characters? Enjoy any of the ones I listed?


Sunday, November 3, 2019

Poem: At Night (Audio)

I’m working two jobs now, both part-time positions. One is substitute teaching, which can be nice depending on the role I sign up for that day, and the other deals with space, which is pretty awesome, especially since I’m working on a sci-fi novel now. I particularly like how it’s pushed me to research more and ask questions I wouldn’t have initially known to ask, like “How many people are going on the Mars mission?”

Oh, and did you know we’re going back to the Moon, and then we’re planning on building a space station that orbits it called Lunar Gateway? Super exciting stuff.

If you couldn’t tell, I really like my job, which is such a change from working retail. I may not work as many hours as I did—not yet anyway. I’ll be pushing for full time. But I am super passionate about what I do, which has helped the transition from Europe back to the States be all the more bearable.

At Night

I used to feel robbed
by the way the night crept in
and stole my light—
my time to tend my plants,
time to read in the warmth
of the sun.

But now, I see the stars
once again.
The light is still here
if I take the time to look for it—
to spot the International Space Station,
to let the land rest,
to read in the warmth
of the fire.


Let’s chat! What did you think of the poem? What’s your take on nighttime?