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Andrea K. Höst Week

And All the StarsTouchstone TrilogySilence of MedairVoice of the LostChampion of the Rose

Andrea K. Höst is one of my favorite recent discoveries. I’ve loved her novels And All the Stars, the Touchstone trilogy and the Medair duology. When Rachel Neumeier informed me that she will be hosting an Andrea K. Höst week, I jumped at the chance to contribute. I think it’s awesome that Rachel is hosting this blog event because I would love for more readers to discover Andrea’s novels. Today, I have a guest post about thoroughly enjoying the romance in Andrea’s books. I have kept my guest post free of spoilers, so go ahead and check it out even if you haven’t read any of the titles mentioned. I hope it helps convince more of you to give them a try.


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Top Ten Books in Sci-Fi

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week, we got to choose what genre to focus on for our lists. I wanted to highlight sci-fi because it’s a genre that I haven’t fully explored. In no particular order, here are the sci-fi books that I’ve enjoyed reading:

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews

Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews

Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Höst

And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy

Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

… and I’m one short. I couldn’t even make it to ten! I wasn’t sure if dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels are considered sci-fi so I decided not to include them (in any case, I haven’t read a lot in that sub-genre either). I guess it’s pretty obvious that I need to read more from this genre. Would you happen to have any recommendations for me based on the titles listed above? Connie Willis and Linnea Sinclair are already on my TBR pile.


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Want Books: Generation V (American Vampire #1)

Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted here at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now. Everyone is free to join, just grab the image above. Leave a comment with a link to your post so I can do a roundup with each post.

I keep wanting to try new-to-me adult urban fantasy books because I’ve only found two series (Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews and the World of the Lupi by Eileen Wilks) that I loved enough to keep following. I’ve tried a couple of other series but sadly, didn’t feel compelled to read the rest of the books after the first two or three titles. My friend Kristen of Fantasy Cafe mentioned that she really enjoyed reading Generation V, the first book in the American Vampire series by M.L. Brennan. I looked it up and the premise looks promising. I’ve added it to my wishlist but I told Kristen that I have no idea when I would get to read it because I have such a huge TBR pile.

Generation VHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

Fortitude Scott’s life is a mess. A degree in film theory has left him with zero marketable skills, his job revolves around pouring coffee, his roommate hasn’t paid rent in four months, and he’s also a vampire. Well, sort of. He’s still mostly human.

But when a new vampire comes into his family’s territory and young girls start going missing, Fort can’t ignore his heritage anymore. His mother and his older, stronger siblings think he’s crazy for wanting to get involved. So it’s up to Fort to take action, with the assistance of Suzume Hollis, a dangerous and sexy shape-shifter. Fort is determined to find a way to outsmart the deadly vamp, even if he isn’t quite sure how.

But without having matured into full vampirehood and with Suzume ready to split if things get too risky, Fort’s rescue mission might just kill him…

What about you, what book is at the top of your wishlist? What’s your favorite urban fantasy series? Hope you’re all having a good weekend so far.


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Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier

I enjoyed reading Rachel Neumeier’s House of Shadows so I jumped at the chance to read Black Dog when I was offered a review copy. I was intrigued when I first found out the premise of the book. Also, I wanted to see how Rachel’s writing will translate from epic fantasy to urban fantasy.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Black DogNatividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge – the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases – like for Natividad’s father and older brother – Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

In the snowy forests of Vermont they are discovered by Ezekiel Korte, despite his youth the strongest black dog at Dimilioc and the appointed pack executioner. Intrigued by Natividad he takes them to Dimilioc instead of killing them.

Now they must pass the tests of the Dimilioc Master. Alejandro must prove he can learn loyalty and control even without his sister’s Pure magic. Natividad’s twin Miguel must prove that an ordinary human can be more than a burden to be protected. And even at Dimilioc a Pure girl like Natividad cannot remain unclaimed to cause fighting and distraction. If she is to stay she must choose a black dog mate.

But, first, they must all survive the looming battle

It’s been weeks since I finished reading Black Dog and I still have fond memories of it. I remember staying up late one week night to finish reading this novel. It didn’t take that much effort for me to be immersed in the story and I found myself absorbed until I reached the end. I found the characters intriguing and felt that the worldbuilding was solid. I like how the reader is thrown into the story without lengthy descriptions, you just learn more about the world as you keep reading. The magic in this world can be found in black dogs and the Pure. Black dogs are shapeshifters who can change from their human to black dog forms as needed. While Pure women are able to wield their magic to invoke peace and to protect other people from malicious magic. The calmness that the Pure can provide serves as a counterpoint to the anger and violence that are part of a black dog’s nature. Natividad is a Pure, her brother Alejandro is a black dog while her twin Miguel is human. I like how these three siblings each have their own strengths and weaknesses. They each have something to contribute to their family, and eventually the Dimilioc clan. Even Miguel, who has no supernatural abilities, has skills in other areas. Aside from having magical skills, I also found it interesting that these siblings are half-Mexican and half-American. They were brought up in Mexico but had to flee to North America to run away from danger, and to hopefully gain allies in the Dimilioc clan. The Dimilioc black dogs also have a mix of interesting characters and I was curious about them as well.

I like how the point of view shifts from Natividad to Alejandro, giving us a better understanding of what this world is like from both Pure and black dog perspectives. I did wonder if the story would have been richer if we also got Miguel’s POV but it wasn’t a major issue. Black Dog was such an enjoyable read for me. I liked how the story progressed until the climax was reached. So many things happened in a short span of time but I thought the events were paced well. I really wasn’t able to predict how things will go, so I kept turning the pages to find out. It’s a good introduction to the world in this series and it made me want to read the sequel even though it hasn’t even been released. I would be more than interested to find out how the members of the Dimilioc clan will adapt based on recent changes that they’ve implemented. The world is on the cusp of change as they enter a new age where vampires no longer exist. I found that aspect of the story intriguing, as well as the history and culture of black dogs. There’s also a tentative romance in the first book that I’m hoping will be further developed in the sequel. I felt that the love story was barely there and would have loved more scenes between the two characters. I also thought that Black Dog had beautiful writing – here’s a non-spoilery snippet to illustrate my point:

“Out there in the cold, mountains rose against the sky, white and gray and black: snow and naked trees and granite and the sky above all… The sky itself was different here, crystalline and transparent, seeming farther away than any Mexican sky. The sun seemed smaller here, too, than the one that burned across the dry mountains of Nuevo Leon: this sun poured out not heat, but a cold brilliant luminiscence that the endless snow reflected back into the sky, until the whole world seemed made of light.”

Further proof of how much I enjoyed reading this book was that it reminded a little of the World of the Lupi series by Eileen Wilks, which was one of my favorite discoveries last year. I’m happy to report that I feel like Rachel Neumeier made a successful foray into urban fantasy with Black Dog. Like I said, I look forward to reading the next installment in the series.

Other reviews:
Random Musings of a Bibliphile
By Singing Light
Charlotte’s Library


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February 2014 Recap

March has started! One of my favorite months in the year. Time to look back on the month that has passed by. I was only able to publish two reviews in February that’s better than nothing, right? I’ve put together a recap for all of the books that I read, with brief comments and links to ones that I have reviews for:

The Touchstone Trilogy by Andrea K. Höst – Review can be found here.

Staking His Claim by Tessa Bailey – A bit darker that Tessa Bailey’s earlier books but I still finished it fairly quickly. She’s an auto-read romance author for me.

The Diviners by Libba Bray – Read this one for our YAckers discussion. I started out liking it but never connected with any of the characters and felt that the various plot threads weren’t successfully brought together so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was expecting.

The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand – A new Laura Florand novel always feels like a treat. I love reading her books and this was no exception. I really liked both Patrick and Sarah and I found their romance sweet.

Medair duology by Andrea K. Höst – Review can be found here.

The Champion of the Rose by Andrea K. Höst – I didn’t enjoy reading this as much as the other Andrea K. Höst novels that I’ve read. I found the world and the magic in it intriguing but there were some aspects of the story that bothered me and I couldn’t get past them to fully appreciate the book. Hopefully I’ll like the sequel more.

I read more books back in January partly because February is shorter and also because I had a really busy month (which included a work trip to Kuala Lumpur and packing and moving to a different flat). I also posted a list of my favorite fictional couples from books I’ve read in the past year. What about the rest of you, what were the books that you’ve read in February? Any particular title that stood out for you?


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Retro Friday: Medair by Andrea K. Höst

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

MedairHaving previously loved Andrea K. Höst’s sci-fi novels And All the Stars and the Touchstone trilogy, I picked up her Medair duology when I needed to be fully absorbed by a good novel. It’s funny because out of all of her books, I wanted to read this epic fantasy duology first but I didn’t get the chance to read them until recently. Once again, I would like to thank the author for providing a review copy of the omnibus edition which contains both The Silence of Medair and Voice of the Lost. I feel that both books have to be read together so I’m glad I got them in one edition.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Medair an Rynstar returned too late to drive back the Ibisian invasion. Centuries too late.

When friend and enemy have become the same thing, what use are the weapons Medair planned to use to protect her Empire? There is no magic, no artefact, no enchanted trinket which can undo the past.

But no matter how Medair wishes to hide from the consequences of her failure, there are those who will not allow her the luxury of denying the present. Her war is already lost, but she carries weapons which could change the course of new battles.

With the skirmishes of war beginning, and hunters in near pursuit, it is her conscience Medair cannot escape. Whose side should she be on? What is she really running from?

Silence of MedairI was completely immersed in Medair’s world right from the start. I read the whole thing in just one weekend because I couldn’t get enough of the story and just had to reach the end as soon as I could. I wanted to be swept away into a wonderful world filled with magic and adventure and I’m happy to report that Medair lived up to my expectations. Having had prior experience reading Andrea K. Höst’s other novels, I knew there would be surprising twists and turns in both The Silence of Medair and Voice of the Lost and I was right. I was immediately intrigued by the premise – Medair is a Herald of her kingdom, tasked with finding a powerful magical object that will help her people win the war. She succeeded in finding what she was looking for, but she stopped to rest in a place outside of time and when she woke up, she discovered that 500 years have passed. Not surprisingly, Medair feels lost, with no idea how to move forward. A large part of the reader’s enjoyment of Medair would depend on whether one will be able to sympathize with her and the issues that she faces. Her narration is very introspective, going back and forth from the past to the present, and trying to reconcile the differences between them. There’s a lot of reflection on her part as she reluctantly becomes involved in making decisions that would irrevocably change the world she found herself in. I loved Medair’s character, I understood her hesitations, her feelings and her worries. She’s an intelligent and resourceful woman, loyal to her liege and her country, and inherently a good person. But completely at a loss with how much has been altered in her world. I do admit that there could have been less of her thoughts going around in circles, even Medair was self-aware enough to realize that she keeps doing that, but I wasn’t really bothered by it. I can see why the narration wouldn’t work for everyone but I’m delighted that I was completely engrossed by it. Aside from Medair, I was also invested in several other characters in the story and I loved seeing her interact with them even as she tries to keep a distance.

Voice of the LostThere’s a whole lot of history and political intrigue intertwined with the story, partly because of the invasion centuries ago, and also because of the alliances of the various governing bodies around the region. I enjoyed these aspects and how magic was also involved in all of it. I like that there weren’t any lengthy explanations on how the magic works but it never got confusing for me. I felt that it was seamlessly woven into the story. I believe that this review wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t talk about the romance in these two books. While I could see it coming, it was how the characters got there that mattered. In keeping with her personality and the situation she’s in, Medair doesn’t take her attraction to a certain someone lightly. As a result, there’s tension and ambiguity. I really had no idea how things would unfold between them. Andrea K. Höst has consistently surprised me with how she builds and develops relationships in her books. While I wasn’t exactly able to predict how things would end, I can say that there was a nice build up and I couldn’t see Medair’s story ending any other way. Similar to the Touchstone trilogy, I can see the Medair duology will be a very good reread. I look forward to finding the time for it. In the meantime, I need to work on convincing more readers to pick up her books because I seriously find it surprising that they’re not as well-known as they should be. I had a book hangover after reading these two books and the only solution I could think of was to start on another Andrea K. Höst title.

Other reviews:
Me and My Books


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Social Media

With Facebook’s recent acquisition of Whatsapp, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about social media. As a book blogger, I’m very active on several social networks. It made me realize that I’ve always been active on whatever was the most commonly used social network of the moment. I’m an outgoing person and I guess that is also reflected online. mIRC, ICQ, Friendster, Yahoo Messenger, Multiply – I had accounts in all of those sites and kept all of them updated. MySpace isn’t included in the list because it wasn’t popular in the Philippines. Today, I have blog-related accounts for Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Tumblr. I also think of my Instagram account as blog-related since it’s a public account and I rarely post personal photos, you’re more likely to see a picture of the book that I’m reading or the meal that I’m having instead of a selfie. Most of my accounts in these sites are linked together (e.g. an Instagram post gets published in Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook).

Instagram snapshot

It’s funny how I use social networks based on how I compartmentalize my life. All of the sites I mentioned above are for the blog while my personal Facebook account is for friends and family – although I also use the groups function for YAckers. I also use Whatsapp and Viber to exchange messages with real life friends on a daily basis. But I also have a couple of blogger friends in those apps. I’m not even going to link to my LinkedIn account because that’s strictly for work, I don’t ever talk about the blog or personal stuff in there. There was a time when I thought about creating a LinkedIn account for the blog but didn’t feel like it would be worth the effort.

Out of all of these sites, I’m most active on Twitter and Instagram. Because of my smart phone, I’m on both of those sites everyday. I think being on social media depends on where you’re comfortable and where your friends are. I think you also have to pick which sites to prioritize so you won’t be overwhelmed with everything that’s out there. I love Twitter because it lets me keep up with the blogosphere even if I don’t get to publish my own posts or browse through other blogs. It’s also easier for me to reply to a tweet during the work day because it doesn’t take as much time as replying to emails. And like I mentioned above, all my other accounts are linked to Twitter. I have friends who are active in various social media sites while some prefer to use messaging apps instead.

What about the rest of you, what are your favorite social networking sites? What are the most useful social media sites for you as a blogger? Do you compartmentalize like I do or are you comfortable with mixing your professional life with your personal life and your blog persona?

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