Book List of 2014

This is a list of books I read during 2014, I’ve been making an effort to finish more books. I’m getting to that place in my life where I have trouble finding time to read, I remember when I was younger wondering how that was even possible, but I’m starting to understand. A lot of times it isn’t even that I don’t have enough time, it’s simply that I don’t have enough energy or focus. After a long day it’s so much easier to veg out in front of the Tv, instead of reading. The problem is I’m a reader, I love to read, and when I don’t read I feel like I’m failing myself in someway. So I’m working on regaining an attention span that’s been stolen by hours of tv and the internet. At the end of 2015 I hope to post a longer list.

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Supervillian Hunters: International

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Dreams and Shadows

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Supervillains of London

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Regan O’Reilly: Private Investigator

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Writing your Novel from the Middle

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Fortunately the Milk

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Steelheart

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Chasing the Star Garden

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Emperor’s Soul

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S.H.R.A.I.D: Shadow Play

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The Alchemist

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Superhero of the Day

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Shadow and Bone

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Lady of Devices

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The Night Circus

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The Book of Kindly Deaths

download (9)Ocean at the End of the Lane (reread)

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In Silence Waiting

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Alice and Wonderland

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Coraline

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Slow Regard of Silent Things

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Dragons of Dorcastle

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Stormdancer

Stormdancer

pressStormdancerUSI recently read a book called Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff. It caught my attention because it’s Japanese steampunk and what could be more glorious than Japanese steampunk?—I mean seriously!

After reading it I have to give it 3 out of 5 stars. I liked it a lot, but there were elements that stopped me from liking it as much as I hoped.

Setting: The setting was fantastic! There’s rich, colorful world building, it’s something you can really sink your teeth into. The story is set in the Shima Isles, which would likely translate to Feudal Japan in the real world. But Shima has airships, Iron Samurai, and chainsaw katana. All of which is fueled by lotus flower, a plant which poisons the land and has turned the skies red. It’s a fascinating setting and one which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Story: The main character is 16 year old Yukiko. Her father is Masaru, the Black Fox, the Shogun’s Master Hunter. They are sent on a mission to capture a Griffin—a creature of legend, a Thunder Tiger, that is said to be extinct—for the Shogun. Failure means death.

     To everyone’s surprise they find a griffin in the heart of a storm and manage to capture it. Masaru clips its wings to control the beast, but soon after the airship is torn apart by the storm. The crew abandons ship, but Yukiko can’t allow the Thunder Tiger to die like this. They end up stranded in the wilderness. Yukiko has an ability called the Kenning, which allows her to touch the mind’s of animals. She discovers that the Thunder Tiger has a very unique mind. Yukiko and the Thunder Tiger are forced to form an unlikely alliance in order to survive.

This is only the tip of the iceberg in a story full of corruption and intrigue.

Characters: I liked the characters. Yukiko’s character is forced to be the responsible one in her family, her father is a lotus fiend and makes a habit of smoking and drinking himself into stupor. Her relationship with her father is complex and interesting. She’s relatable and has strong potential. Yet I wasn’t entirely satisfied with her character arc. I didn’t feel like she did enough on her own, it seemed like she was always getting help from someone else and I wanted to see her stand on her own more.

There’s a cast of fascinating characters, many I became quite fond of, sadly most of them didn’t get as much page time as I would have liked.

Style: The author likes to paint a picture for the reader, sometimes this is a far more vivid picture than is necessary. The descriptions are often weighed down by elaborate metaphors and similes. While many of these helped add to the atmosphere of the setting, it bogged down the writing in places. The author also did a fair amount of character hopping. This doesn’t bother me as long as the changes are clearly marked, but there were times when I wasn’t sure who’s mind I was reading from. My final peeve with the writing was that during intense action sequences the author switched from third person past tense, to present tense, which was obviously an attempt to make the action more immediate, but I found it jarring and annoying.

Conclusion: I loved the setting and enjoyed the book, but not as much as I hoped. I have started reading the sequel and so far I’m enjoying it more than the first and I’m hopeful that it will rectify some of my complaints. Because I truly love the idea of the books and there’s so much potential there. So despite it’s imperfections I still encourage anyone who likes dark fantasy, steampunk, or Japanese culture, to give these books a shot.

Story Serial

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I’m playing with an idea and would love to hear some feedback. What do you guys thing about a series of short stories on the blog? I have a Victorian Space Adventure I’m working on, the main character is Lady Florence D’Arbanville, Space pilot extraordinar. The stories would center around her and the crew’s adventures in Space. Would this be something you would be interested in reading? And what do you feel is a good length for a short story via blog? Love some impute!

 

~~Lady of the Pen~~ 

Two Worlds

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Life can be challenging for writers and artists because we live in two worlds. We live in reality where we work our 9 to 5 jobs, we do chores, we run errands and spend time with family and friends, we live like most everyone else. But for the creatively minded we live in a second world as well, one that often seems to conflict with reality, we live in our heads, we live with our dreams and our imagination. We want to spend our days creating new masterpieces, but most of us can’t do that. Instead we spend a majority of our time doing the things that need to get done. We must settle for doing the things we want to do in our sparse free time, a time that we divide between: errands, chores and spending time with the important people in our lives, and sometimes by the time we have free time all we want to do is sleep. It’s hard to live in two worlds at once.

Sometimes it feels as though our dreams are being weighed down by a giant millestone called Reality. Unfortunately reality isn’t going to go away. The only thing we can do is make our dreams strong enough that they can bear the weight. It’s not easy, it’s hard work, but it’s the price we pay for living in two worlds.

~~Lady of the Pen~~

War of the E-book vs the Printed Book?

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What’s your opinion of e-books? We all have one. Some people love them because it’s convenient, others are purely traditional, some people don’t really care and will read either, and others consider e-books to be a horrible sacrilege which will herald the downfall of books.

For me I have a strong attachment to physical books. I love being able to flip through the pages, put it on my shelf and remember the adventure I experienced between its covers each time I look at it. Not to mention there’s a very particular book smell that I simply adore; it’s the smell of a book that’s been around, it’s passed from hand to hand and shared the company of many other great books and as a result has gained a rich scent like a fine vintage wine…

I think I’m beginning to get off topic. The point is I love physical books and nothing can ever replace that love. But having said that, digital books do have their place in the world. They’re small and compact and I can buy books and receive them instantly, it’s very convenient. E-books are also giving Indie authors more options to work with. I for one keep an eye open for promising looking free and 99 cent e-books, even if I’ve never heard of the author before. It’s a good way for new authors to establish themselves.

I know some people feel threatened by e-books. They’re afraid traditional books will disappears. But from what I’ve seen most people who read e-book still read physical books as well. I doubt the physical book is going anywhere soon. But even if it does I recently read something that Stephen King said that put it all into prospective…”The book is not the important part, the book is the delivery system. The important part is the story and the talent.” I think sometime we get too caught up in the medium, the truth of the matter is that what we really love are stories. We might have a preference of what form that story comes in, but in the end it’s about the story, not the packaging.

~~Lady of the Pen~~

The Emperor’s Soul

 

 

I recently got a bundle of e-book for $12 and Brandon Sanderson’s novella, “The Emperor’s Soul” was among them. I highly recommend this short fantasy book. The writing is beautiful and rich, the characters are fascinating, and did I mention the magic system is brilliant?

The story’s about a woman named Shai who is a Forger, a person who rewrites an objects history in order to transform it. The story starts with her being in prison awaiting execution, having been caught trying to replace the Moon Scepter with a forgery. But then she is offered a unique challenge that might save her life; to succeed she will have to create her masterpiece.

The story is wonderful and it is written with a unique understanding of its characters. I believe it is the finest piece of writing I’ve read from Brandon Sanderson thus far–I admittedly haven’t read that many, but it is excellent.

~~Lady of the Pen~~

Bookshelves

 

I totally need a new bookshelf! Mine is overflowing. The shelves are two rows deep and I’m starting to stack book on top and around the shelves. The other day I went to the thrift store in search of a small bookshelf I could put in the corner, but instead I came home with more books…

 

I’m pretty sure this counts as an addiction, the only problem is I don’t want to be cured. 

But that means I get to try out this ideaI of using crates to create a bookshelf. It’s easy and it looks super cool! I think I should be able to find some at Michaels and then stain them to look pretty 😀

I’ll post pictures when I make my own.

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~~Lady of the Pen~~