Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Comics with Female Protagonists

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I have recently, within the past year or so, started reading a lot more comics. But when I look at the comics that I do read, I noticed a bit of a trend. I mostly read comics with female protagonists. If it's about a kickass woman or girl I am all about it. So obviously this week I had to mention some of my favorites.

1.) Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
(Comixology / Amazon / Goodreads)
Kamala Khan is the absolute best. I put this first on the list because it is the comic I read which convinced me that I could in fact find comics that I would love. First of all, the protagonist is so relateable and on top of that she's a diverse character which I love. Plus it's super compelling.

2.) Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn, Cliff Chiang, and Matthew Wilson
(Comixology / Amazon / Goodreads)
Paper Girls is weird. Like real weird. Weird and confusing. But that's what I love about it. It definitely feels like no other comic I have read or even heard about. The plot is super unique. Plus the characters are great and the art is bright and engaging.

3.) Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Weibe and Roc Upchurch
(Comixology / Amazon / Goodreads)
I read this about the same time that I read Ms. Marvel and it was another one of those comics that really impressed me and made me realize I could find comics that I loved. It's an amazing sword and sorcery plot, unique and super badass female characters, and amazing art.

4.) Batgirl (The New 52) by Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher, Jared K. Fletcher, Maris Wick, and Babs Tarr
(Comixology / Amazon / Goodreads)
I know comics fans hated The New 52 but it was when I started reading comics so I really don't mind it. Plus I really liked this Batgirl. I liked the way that they made her modern and fun and kept the history of the original character while moving her on.

5.) Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson
(Comixology / Amazon / Goodreads)
I'm assuming a lot of you love Lumberjanes. I mean, how could you not love it? It's got great female characters and is all about female friendship. Plus it's such a quirky and fun plot. I mean it's a summer camp and their is mystery and supernatural goings on.

6.) Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher, and Karl Kerschel
(Comixology / Amazon / Goodreads)
This is a comic that I think a ton of people have never heard of but it is so good. It's got like a gothic mystery vibe to it which I love and totally unique characters that I think people who are not a big fan of comics will enjoy.

7.) The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
(Comixology / Amazon / Goodreads)
I read this really recently and I loved it. Squirrel Girl is such a unique superhero. I mean who would have thought that a character who is part squirrel and communicates with squirrels would be so kickass but let me tell you, she is.

8.) Princeless by Jeremy Whitley, Mia Goodwin, Jung-Ha Kim, and Dave Dwonch
(Comixology / Amazon / Goodreads)
I love the concept of this comic. A princess who someone tries to rescue decides she's going to save herself, befriend the dragon, and rescue other damsels who have been distressed most notably her sisters. It's definitely on the younger side but it's so good.

9.) Bombshells by Marguerite Bennett and Marguerite Sauvage 
(Comixology / Amazon / Goodreads)
And this was my most recent comic I read. I read this on a recommendation (thanks Shelly!) and I really liked it. It has basically all the female protagonists in DC Universe and their kicking ass during WWII and some of them have 40's pinup style designs.

To Read
- Mockingbird by Chelsea Cain
I hadn't even heard of this until the outrage about the cover. But I love the character on Agents of SHEILD so I really want to read it.

- Monstress by Marjoire M. Lu
I read the first issue and liked it but I haven't gotten around to reading more. I need to because I have heard great things. Plus it's super dark.

- Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp
It's Wonder Woman and I love Wonder Woman (but The New 52 was weird) so I'm super excited to see what they've done with the character with the DC Rebirth.

- The Adventures of Supergirl (D.C. Rebirth) by Sterling Gates
I love the Supergirl TV show and I've heard that the new version in the comic is more inspired by the character on the show.

What comics do you like? Would you recommend any with female protagonists? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, January 30, 2017

DNF Mini Review: The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

Ugh, this one hurts. Please don't hate me bloggers friends who love Elise Kova. Read this first. It's not the book, it's me. I don't mark a lot of books as Did Not Finish but every once and a while a book is just not working for me. It's been a few months but I have to once again mark a book as DNF. I gave it a good go but after following my rule of putting it down for a few days to gauge interest, I still didn't want to pick it up.

I decided to to a quick posts to explain my thoughts on the book I shelved as "DNF" this month. Writing DNF reviews is a tricky subject. I don't want to do full reviews on the book because I don't really have a well-rounded enough view on it. But I also wanted to explain why I didn't quite like the books because I try to be really honest here. So I based this post on Nikki at There Were Books Involved's DNF Q+As. This allows me to explain why the book didn't quite work for me without giving a full review. So here you go, my DNF Reviews

Title: The Alchemists of Loom
Author: Elise Kova
Published: January 10, 2017 by Keymaster Press
Source: Netgalley
(Amazon / Goodreads)                                                                                          

Synopsis: Her vengeance. His vision. 

 Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors. 

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins. 

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go. 

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

How Much I Read:
38% of the e-ARC

Why it Didn't Work For Me:

Well first, I think this is just a serious case of it's not you, it's me. I'm in a hardcore reading slump right now. I read about half what I normally read in a month because life. I've been sick and super busy and just haven't been in the mood or even able to focus on reading. I just think this book had the unfortunate position of being the book I started during that time period. I tried to power through that but I don't think this will be the book which is able to do that.

I think the biggest thing here was that it's just a case of being such a plot driven reader. It's not that this book was boring, it just it's the first book in a new series and therefore there is a ton of exposition. It was just so much world building. I know new fantasies have to do that to establish everything but when you are a plot-driven reader in a book slump that's just not going to do it for you. It's just a case of wrong book at the wrong time. I mean don't get me wrong, the world was interesting but right now I can't spend a month reading something that isn't going to hook me.

In addition I didn't really connect with the characters. The book was split up into multiple perspectives and while some characters were interesting, I found it really hard yo keep track of who was who and what they were doing. Both main characters where interesting I just wasn't invested in their struggle. It's like we joined them in the middle of their story and at that point I wasn't invested. I did however like a different character whose name I don't even know. She was such a small part of the story but her struggle I found engaging. But it still wasn't enough.

Will I Go Back to It:
Maybe. I am kind of curious about what happens. I feel like if I wasn't in such a reading slump this may have worked for me. And I am really interested in this author. I know a lot of blogger friends really love her and I have a copy of the first book in her other series. Maybe I will read that first and then depending how I feel, go back to this one. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't the kind of book for me to read during such a hardcore slump.

Have you read The Alchemists of Loom? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Book Review: Windwitch by Susan Dennard

*** This is the second book in a series. If you have not read Truthwitch be careful of spoilers. Also read it's great and was one of my favorite books of 2016. ***

Title: Windwitch
Series: The Witchlamds #2
Written by: Alexandra Bracken
Published: January 10, 2017 by Tor Teen
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies… 

 After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed. 

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first? 

 After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

For a very long time, Truthwitch was one of my favorite books of 2016. I absolutely loved the world Susan created, the characters who inhabited it, and the slow but thrilling plot. Therefore I have been super excited for it's sequel to find out what happens next in this series. And Windwitch did not disappoint.

I think the thing that I love most about this series, and this book in general, is the characters. I have always loved the way the author is able to create a whole cast of interesting and diverse characters and make you like every last one of them (well, almost everyone). And she proved yet again that she is a master of characterization in Windwitch. This is a book with changing perspectives as all of our main characters are separated and off on their own adventures. But I am so invested in each character that I didn't mind at all when it switched. Arguable the lead character here is Merik, I mean the book is named after him. I really liked his character development in this one. As we learned more about him and he learned more about the world he grew a lot and I appreciated that. But if you ask me, the real stars of this book are Aeduan and Isuelt. Those two are fantastically complex and mysterious. We got some fantastic information and revelations about them and I still want to know more. In general though I just want more from these characters because I love them and find them so interesting.

I also want more from this world. It's definitely a fascinating world. Like a lot of high fantasy it is based on real like and Medival Europe but is also has this really creative feel to it. It's a world at war and we get to see that first hand with each book. But honestly we know very little about the larger world and the politics of it. I want to know more and I'm really hopeful that the next book will show us at least some of that. But the main thing that seems lacking is information about the history and magic of the world. I'm generally a big fan of the magical system here. It's elemental magic reminiscent of Avatar the Last Airbender but more evolved. It's super interesting with rules and guidelines which I like. But we know so little about it. There are references to origins but we never hear about it. And don't even get me started on how little we know about the mythical chosen ones the Cahr Awen even though they keep talking about them. The world of this book is keeping things very close to the vest and I wish they wouldn't. It's such an interesting world but it's bordering on frustrating at times.

But for me, what it lacks in world building it makes up for in plot development. This is a slower paced plot, it is not the kind of book where you can dive in and power through but it is super thrilling. It slowly builds to a thrilling conclusion with a ton of action along the way. One thing that I do think made the plot challenging and slightly confusing was the fact that there were kind of three different plots for each of the main characters perspectives. There was some overlap but for the most part they are independent of each other with their own endings and climaxes. It made each of them really interesting but it made the overall story of the book a little muddled. But on the whole I love the direction of this series. The stakes are high and there are tons of action scenes and thrilling escapes. It's also full of surprises and mystery. I was incredibly shocked by more than one big reveal and a few of them are making me real excited for the next book.

Despite the fact that I didn't love some aspects about it this was a fantastic book that I really loved. It's got fantastic characters with great development, an exciting plot full of action and surprises, and a world with a cool magical system.

I give Windwitch by Susan Dennard 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you liked the first book in this series you will not be disappointed by the sequel. This series is developing into a fascinating and engaging high fantasy series with characters I am totally in love with. I definitely recommend it.

Have you read Windwitch? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Throwback Thursday Review: The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire

So I haven't done one of these in awhile but because I am in a reading slump at the moment and didn't have a review ready to post as planned I thought I would instead review a book/series that I read before I started blogging. A series that I really love and have never really talked about. It's a feature I do time to time here and may try to do a little more regularly, I call it Throwback Thursday Reviews.

This is my fantasy month so it only made sense that I talk about a fantasy for this post. But honestly, that is a really hard book to decide on. As many of you know, I am a total fantasy junkie. And this is nothing new, I have always read a ton of fantasy. And there are plenty of really great and even some mediocre fantasy that I could review. Harry Potter? Lord of the Rings? The Chronicles of Narnia? The classics. But instead I decided to go with something on the newer end. Something I talk about pretty often and I haven't reviewed, The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire.

If you are unfamiliar with this name, you know it better as Wicked. Yes, that Wicked. The Defying Gravity musical about the witches of Oz before Dorothy arrived. But honestly, that's only the beginning of this series. Yes, that is the general plot of the first book. It's an origin story, a villain origin story about the Wicked Witch of the West. It's a much more self-contained story plot wise. It introduces us to the characters that we know and love from the original Wizard of Oz but in a new and different way. If you have seen the musical, I will say, it is very different. They are much more overt in their reference to characters beyond the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda. But it's still really cool to see the origin for these characters. And it also develops some of the unexplained questions from the original like why the witch is so wicked, why she wants the ruby slippers so bad, and why she's out west in Winkie territory. But my favorite thing is how dark it is. It's surprsingly complex and mature especially compared to the

The rest of the series is even more complex and mature. It focuses on the question of what happened in Oz once the Wicked Witch of the West is killed and the Wizard leaves. It also continues a lot of the big picture plot points that started in the first book. For that what I mean is that Oz is at war and there is a power struggle between who is going to control it. It's not the focus of the book but it's a big part of the world of the series. I think that it gives it this great combination of classic sword and sorcery kind of books and the more modern fantasy with political intrigue. Now don't get me wrong, it's not about scheming and plotting like some of the books with politics that I love but it does have a really interesting plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat with plenty of surprises.

The other thing that I really like about the series and the way it develops is the interconnection of the characters. I don't want to give too much away but considering that you can see by the title of the second book that this is about the descendants of the Wicked Witch. Or maybe you assumed it was about Glinda's son. Crap. Sorry. Spoiler alert? Whatever. Anyway, it's about Elphaba's descendants and kind of the lasting affects of her legacy on Oz. Each book you are interested to a new main character but you are able to connect with them because of their connection to the previous character. It's kind of an interesting way to structure a series and I really think it works. But it's not just the main characters, there is so much connection with secondary characters too. Certain ones appear throughout all the books where others make an appearance and then come back later in unexpected ways.

My only criticism of this series is the pacing. These are not fast reads. These are complex and long books that you need to slow down and take your time reading. It develops in a very methodical way as it takes us through the world and experiences of the characters. Now it's not a bad thing to have a slower paced book but it's not something that I prefer. It took me a long time to finish each of these books because I think it took me a long time to get into them. I think because each book has a different character and each book has to set up their story and how it connects to the larger story so it takes a little bit longer to get to "the good stuff." It's been awhile since I read them so I can't say if it's because there is a lot of exposition or why exactly this happens, but I do very distinctly remember it happening with every book in the series.

But on the whole, I really love this series. I'm a hug fan of Gregory Maguire and his retellings. He does such a great job in creating a new and unique story that captures the spirit and characters from the original book. This is the series that started it all for me. It's got great characters and a fascinating world. It's surprisingly complex and I loved the way it developed. It's a must read for fans of the original Wizard of Oz or fantasy fans.

I give The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I'm a huge fan of this series. I love the way it developed and I loved how dark and compelling it was. If you liked the musical I think you should probably check it out.  And if you read Wicked and didn't realize there were more books in the series, there are and the rest of them are really good.

There you have it. My thoughts on a book I read years ago, before I started blogging. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe got a case of nostalgia along with me. Have you read The WIcked Years? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: TV Shows I'm Loving

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

So, you may have noticed that I'm not up to my usual level when it comes to my book reviews. I honestly have not been reading much lately. There are a lot of reasons for this that are kind of personal and I don't really want to talk about them but suffice it to say that I'm in a super serious reading slump. But I have been watching a ton of TV/Netflix lately. So I thought I would share some of the shows I have been loving.

1.) Avatar: the Last Airbender
I started rewatching this recently and oh man do I love this show. The characters are amazing, the plot is amazing. It's funny, it's serious, it's dramatic. I am all about it. It's one of my all-time favorite shows and it's just what I need to watch these days.

2.) Westworld
I was late to the Westworld party but I just got the HBO channel for Amazon Prime Video and I marathoned it in a weekend. It was intense. Confusing, but intense. And I mean both of those in a good way. I like shows that confuse me, it keeps me interested.

3.) Veep
I had watched the first two seasons but now that I'm signed up for HBO I can finish it. It's really fantastic. I mean I just watched season 4 and the election they just had was scary in how true to life it felt but it's still really good. And being someone who kind of works in politics, this is the most accurate portrayal I've seen since Parks & Rec.

4.) The Middle
I am a big fan of this show because I find it super relatable. I feel like it was a little bit my upbringing. I came from a family of five and we didn't have a lot of anything except fun. Plus honestly it's scary how much like Sue I am and like Axel my brother is.

5.) This is Us
This is the hot new show of the fall, amiright? I have been really liking it and I don't watch a lot of dramas like this. (I'm more and action or comedy kind of girl). But the characters are so good and complex. Like I love how they show people at their best and their worst.

6.) Supergirl
I had been wanting to watch this for awhile but never got around to it. But with the first season being on Netflix and the changeover to The CW I finally got around to it. And it is seriously so good. Kara is a fantastic heroine and the show is really engaging.

7.) The Good Place 
This is another one of my favorite new shoes. I am a huge fan of Kristen Bell. She's just amazing. I was going to watch this just for her but it is actually really funny. It's kind of goofy but that's what makes it enjoyable.

8.) Superstore
I really wasn't much interested in this show the first time I saw it but it really grew on me. Now I get really excited when I see a new episode. It's also a really funny show because it's so goofy. And it does kind of have that The Office feel to it with the quirky characters and workplace setting.

9.) Bob's Burgers

This show will never not cheer me up. And honestly that is what I have needed lately. It's such a hilarious show. And this season there have been some really fantastic episodes. Recently there was a Tina focused episode that was top notch.

10.) The Magicians
I mean you all probably know that I loved the books and they changed a lot. Like a lot a lot. And at first I was like, "this is for the better." But then it impacted the character development and I was a little less happy. But it's a great show and I'm excited for season 2.

11.) Honorable Mention for Need to Watch
A Series of Unfortunate Events
This just came out and I haven't gotten around to watching it yet. It looks so good though. NPH as Count Olaf, how could that be bad.

The OA
Michelle really liked this and said I should watch it, so I want to. But I wanted to watch Westworld first.

I watched the first few episodes and then didn't finish for some reason. I didn't dislike it, I just watched other stuff.

There you have it, all the shows I have been watching lately. What shows have you been into? Do we watch any of the same shows? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Discussion Post: Fantasy Tropes I Actually Like

Hey everyone, I'm taking part in the 2017 Discussion Challenge hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight. The goal of this challenge is to do at least 12 discussion posts ina year. I'm not great with discussions and I am currently in the think of a severe reading slump so I thought, why not. Let's do a discussion.

You all probably know that I read a lot of YA fantasy. It's my favorite. Fantasy is my favorite genre and these days I am just more excited about YA novels that Adult or Middle Grade. This usually means that a solid 1/3 (maybe more) of the books I read in the year fall squarely in this category. And as original as they may seem, after a few they start to get real tropey. You start to see the same things over and over again. And sometimes it makes for a frustrating and predictable narrative. But to be entirely honest, there are also some really tropey books that I love. Why, because I like certain tropes. So here I want to explain a few of my favorites.

Side Note: If you want to fall down a rabbit hole of tropes check out this website called TV Tropes where I got a lot of information from. It's basically Wikipedia for tropes. All of the definitions here are taken directly or paraphrased from these entries.

1.) Reluctant Hero

Definition: They didn't want these powers, this magic, this curse, or whatever it is that was foisted upon them. The responsibility to save the world? Forget it! All those exciting adventures and the ability to potentially do anything? Take it away. They want nothing to do with it.

Why I Like Them: This is my favorite kind of protagonist. You will notice throughout this list that I don't typically go for the more traditional kind of heroes. The kind of people who think it's totally normal and acceptable to just drop everything to fight, the kind of people totally prepared mentally and physically for the task before them. I like heroes that are like "I kave no idea what I'm doing, this task is way out of my league, but I'll see what I can do." Not only is that easier to relate to but it's also so much more entertaining. It makes for more drama and conflict as the hero figures out what they need to do and better development as the go on a classic "Hero's Journey" which I love.

Examples: Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games by Susan Collins, Frodo in the Lord of the Rings, All These People in this Top Ten Tuesday Post.

2.) Badass Princess

Definition: With all the luxury afforded to a princess and all the knights dedicated to her protection, who would have thought the most dangerous person in the castle is the princess herself? Instead of knitting or gossiping, this princess has developed powers or abilities that make her more like a cactus than a delicate flower. Instead of the Damsel in Distress, this princess's role in the plot is active. She still might fall in love with the hero, as a princess traditionally would, but she'll be fighting next to him instead of crying for help

Why I Like It: This I think should be pretty obvious. I know that the strong female protagonist cliche is pretty tired, especially in YA Fantasy but honestly I am seriously a sucker for it. For so long we had to endure damsels in distress or ineffectual and virtually unimportant female leads, but no longer. Now we have tough women who are the heroes of their own story. But as much as I am all for the SFP I am not a huge fan of the female warrior trope. I'm cool with the Lady of War but I personally prefer my kickass ladies to not feel like they have to act or dress like men to kick ass. That's why I love the badass princess. She will fight by the side of the male hero but she will do it in her skirts and crown to save her kingdom.

Examples: Aelin Galathynius in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, Danarys Targeryan in A Song of Ice and Fire, Lada Dragwyla in And I Darken by Kiersten White, A certain character in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, and a ton of others that seem to be spoilers. Apparently badass princesses do have to be in disguise.

3.) The Lovable Rogue

Definition: A person who breaks the law for their own profit but is nice enough and charming enough that the audience roots for them, especially if they don't kill or otherwise harm anyone.

Why I Like Them: I mean this is honestly one of my favorite tropes and often my favorite character, especially my favorite secondary character, will be a lovable rogue. For one thing I love an amoral character, especially if they fall on the hero side of the equation (more on that later). But what I really appreciate about Lovable Rogues is when they aren't the hero at all. They make such great "sidekicks" because they are the perfect foil for the more high strung hero types who seem to fixated on doing what is right. Plus bonus points if the lovable rogue is also the romantic lead because BANTER!

Examples: Sturmhond in the Grisha Trilogy, Thorne in the Lunar Chronicles, Rob in the Scarlet Trilogy, Kelsier's Crew in Mistborn, Basically Everyone in The Lies of Locke Lamora.

4.) The Chessmaster

Definition: The Chessmasters tug at their strings of influence, patiently move their pieces into places that often seem harmless or pointless until the trap is closed, and get innocent unwitting pawns to do all the heavy lifting. The best will also have layers upon layers of misdirection and backup plans in case an unexpected hero gums up the works.

Why I Like Them: Well for one thing, Chessmasters are my favorite kind of villians. There is nothing more satisfying than learning that everything you thought was harmless is actually been orchestrated by some malevolent force who has been pulling the strings without you even realizing. Plus I love when my fantasy has a lot of scheming and plotting and usually that means there is some kind of Chessmaster somewhere within the book. It makes for such compelling characterization and plot development.

Examples: I don't want to tell you because that ruins all the fun reveals. But you know some, right? Of course you do.

5.) Plucky Girl

Definition: Chessmasters tug at their strings of influence, patiently move their pieces into places that often seem harmless or pointless until the trap is closed, and get innocent Unwitting Pawns (who else?) to do all the heavy lifting. The best will also have layers upon layers of misdirection and backup plans in case some unexpected hero appears to gum up the works.

Why I Like It: I mean how can you not like a character who doesn't give up? I am the eternal pessimist, I am a worst case scenario kind of person, therefore I greatly admire characters who really should throw in the towel and don't. Seriously, these characters could very easily just say that's it, I give up, and I wouldn't blame them. But they don't and to me that makes the most amazing protagonist. It's really easy to root for a heroine who keeps getting back up. And in the end often the challenges that they are thrown make them, stronger, smarter, and a better hero.

Examples: Sansa Stark in A Song of Ice and Fire (fight me!),

6.) Anti-Hero

Definition: An antihero is a protagonist who has the opposite of most of the traditional attributes of a hero. They may be bewildered, ineffectual, deluded, or merely apathetic. More often an antihero is just an amoral misfit. While heroes are typically conventional, anti-heroes, depending on the circumstances, may be preconventional (in a "good" society), postconventional (if the government is "evil") or even unconventional.

Why I Like It: Remember when I said I like amoral characters? Yup, this is what I meant. I honestly love a good anti-hero. I love when you root for the character that you would not typically root for. I love when the actual hero of the story, the protagonist, the one who saves the day, is the one who is generally a terrible person.  Just like all the characters here it makes for really interesting characterizations and even though I know this is a trope it feel so much more creative and interesting than the steretypical hero who does everything perfect while saving the day. Those are not the tropes I enjoy. This however, I love.

Examples: Adelina Amouteru in The Young Elites, Quentin Coldwater in The Magicians trilogy. Joe Goldberg in You.

There you have it, all my favorite fantasy tropes. Obviously this is mostly for characters. I didn't set out to do that but it's just what this became. What are your favorite tropes. Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Tsar's Guard Spotlight: Vika and Nikolai's Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Hi Everyone,
I am so excited to be a part of the Tsar's Guard Spotlight Tour. The tour is a fan generated event to flail about our excitement for the upcoming release, The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye. I am super excited for this book because as some of you may know was one of my favorite debuts and audiobooks of last year. So I jumped on the opportunity to be part of this tour. Thanks Brittany for picking me!

Last year I loved being part of the Tsar's Guard Parade and shared a bookish recipe with you all that was inspired by the book. Last year it was Ludmila's Pumpkin Caramel Bars which were amazing and delicious. So I had to share another recipe with you all for this one.

I haven't read the book yet so I don't know what might be appropriate but I did hear from Brittany that multiple times throughout the book one character says the other smells of cinnamon and obviously that means that I had to make cinnamon rolls.Not only because of the whole smell this but because the main characters in this series are just so adorable and they are precious cinnamon rolls. You know what I mean, like the fandom Urban Dictionary definition of a cinnamon roll. "A character that is very kind and sweet but faces more hardship and suffering than they truly deserve. Comes from the usage of an article headline from 'The Onion' titled 'Beautiful Cinnamon Roll Too Good For This World, Too Pure.' to describe a person or character that is very good but faces a lot of pain in their life. " It just made total sense to make Vika and Nikolai's cinnamon rolls for both of these reasons.

But before we get into the recipe... Let's talk about the book.

Book Details:

Hardcover, 432 pages
Expected publication: May 16th, 2016 by Balzer + Bray


The gorgeous and darkly compelling sequel to The Crown’s Game—perfect for fans of Red Queen and Shadow and Bone.

Magic is growing, shadows are rising, and the throne is at stake…

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

Author Info + Social Media Links:

Evelyn Skye is the New York Times bestselling author of THE CROWN’S GAME (out now!) and THE CROWN’S FATE (May 16, 2017). She was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When Evelyn isn’t writing, she can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. Author Links: Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram | Facebook

Now... On with the recipe! *** Thanks food.com for the recipe. ***

Vika and Nikolai's Precious Little Cinnamon Rolls


2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
3⁄4 cup milk

 4 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar or 1 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon

1⁄2 cup powdered sugar
1⁄4 cup milk


For the filling, in a small bowl combine softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon to form a crumbly mixture.

Sprinkle 1/2 of the mixture over the bottom of a 9x9 pan.

In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Cut in softened butter (the directions say sometimes your hands are the best tools. I use a pastry blender but in a pinch, a whisk works).

Stir in milk to form a soft dough.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.

Spread the remaining filling on the rolled out dough.

Roll up the rectangle, with a sharp knife slice into 18 small rolls (12 if you want them a little bigger).

Bake for 20-25 min at 400°F.

For glaze, combine powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl and stir until smooth. (pro-tip: add the milk slowly. You honestly may not need to add as much as it calls for)

Once rolls are finished, drizzle on glaze and serve warm.

A few things I learned: I have a very small kitchen and because of that I couldn't make one big roll so I made three small ones. This ended up making more individual cinnamon rolls which is never a problem. Add the milk slowly. The glaze got really liquidy and I had to add more sugar. I would suggest adding it a tablespoon at a time and when it gets to a desired consistency stop adding milk even if it's less than the recipe calls for. The pan will get disgusting and carmelized but that's good. It gives the bottom that crispiness.

But most importantly, these smell and taste absolutely amazing. I may have to make them again when the book comes out so I can eat them while I read or listen. Obviously I can't wait for May and the book to come out. I hope you enjoyed the recipe and any fellow bakers out there, be sure to make them for yourself. This was a really quick and easy recipe.

Before you go be sure to enter the giveaway that's part of the tour and check out all the posts. The ones I have been able to see so far have been amazing. There is a full list over on Brittany's Book Rambles/


Alright, that's all I have for now. Are you excited about The Crown's Fate? In honor of what character would you bake "Precious Cinnamon Rolls?" Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: A Crown of Wishes
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #2
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Published: March 28, 2017 by St Martin's Griffin

Synopsis: Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Why I'm Waiting:

I really liked The Star-Touched Queen. It wasn't as amazing as I was hoping it would be with all the rave reviews I had seen but I think maybe that it suffered a little bit from the hype monster for me. And if I'm being entirely honest it wasn't the kind of fantasy plot that I go for. I'm not a big fan of Hades and Persephone/Beauty and the Beast kind of stories. Why am I saying this, well because this is the kind of read I do go for.

First things first, I loved the world building in The Star-Touched Queen and so I am really excited to explore it a little bit more, specifically I'm excited to explore the "real world" a little bit more. This is a series with a world within a world and exploring more of that is super exciting to me. Plus Roshani definitely created an atmospheric and lyrical read in the first one so I expect nothing less here.

But seriously guys, I am even more excited about this one because it is my kind of plot. One of my favorite things about fantasy is when it has heavy political intrigue and this feels like it has those elements. Not to mention I love a good warrior princess and I found Guari really compelling in the first book and want to know more of her story. I'm probably one a few people who would not be all that bummed if the characters from the first book made a reappearance. Well except for Kamala, more talking demon horse, please.

I am hoping to get my hands on a review copy of this book but I may also check out the audio. It seems like the kind of writing that would work really well with an audiobook for me. I haven't listened to the audio for The Star-Touched Queen so maybe I'll start there. Or wait to see who the narrator is. If it's a favorite I may have to pick it up. 

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting on A Crown of Wishes along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems of 2016

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

1.) The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie - My Review / Goodreads
This was one of my favorite debuts last year and definitely flew under the radar. It's an indie release so that kind of makes sense but it's so good. It's got diverse LGBT characters and is about sci-fi sea monsters and pirates.

2.) The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock - My Review / Goodreads
This is another or my favorite debuts. I feel like it's the kind of book that will appeal to a wide range of readers. It's technically historical fiction but reads like contemporary. It's a great and interesting story about people connecting in the most unlikely places.

3.) Roses and Rot by Kat Howard - My Review / Goodreads
I really enjoyed this book. I liked it more than I thought I would. It was more complex than I thought it would be too. I really don't want to give too much away though. Just suffice it to say, if you like fairy tales you must read this.

4.) Kingdom of Ash and Briar by Hannah West - My Review / Goodreads
Another debut that I loved from an indie publisher. It was a fantastic YA fantasy that had god elements of a fairy tale retelling. The beginning wasn't super creative but it did take a unique turn and I loved it for that. Plus it was an action-packed fantasy standalone.

5.) Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine - My Review / Goodreads
This was one of my favorite books of last year and I am super in love with this series but I don't really hear anyone talking about it. I mean besides me and the people who I recommended it to. But it's a really fantastic alternate history/sci-f/fantasy series.

6.) Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson - My Review / Goodreads
I know a few fellow bloggers read and loved this YA contemporary but I feel like more people didn't talk about this one. Or at least as many people who should be talking about. All contemporary fans should read it. It's got the perfect combination of humor and seriousness.

7.) The Skylighter by Becky Wallace - My Review / Goodreads
This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and it did not disappoint. I know a few people were talking about the first book in this series when it came out but not very many were talking about this one and I feel like they should have been.

8.) The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury - My Review / Goodreads
Same as above. I love this series and I am super excited for thelast book in the series to come out this summer. I think a few people were talking about it when it first came out and I know it got mixed reviews but I loved it. I think this series is a surprisingly dark and complex YA fantasy.

9.) Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar - My Review / Goodreads
This is one of the most unique books I read last year and is definitely a hidden gem. It's a little bit of everything: magical realism, mystery, contemporary, fantasy. It's a weird and fun book that I think more people should read.

10.) Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia - My Review / Goodreads
And another debut I loved that not a lot of people were talking about. I don't think it's the book for everyone but I loved the way it played with some of the tropes of YA contemporaries. It was a really unique read too.

11.) The Swan Riders by Erin Bow - My Review / Goodreads
And another sequel that I loved and not a lot of people were talking about. I know a handful of people loved The Scorpion Rules along with me but I feel like I was the only person talking about this book when it came out. And while this wasn't as good as the first one, it was great!

12.) When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore - My Review / Goodreads
I thought a lot of people were raving about this one along with me but it has less than 1,000 ratings on Goodreads which makes me remember that I live in a blogging bubble. In case you haven't read this amazing diverse YA Magical Realism you should.

Honorable Mention: 
The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson - My Review / Goodreads
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis - My Review / Goodreads