Chachic's Book Nook


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Ten Books I Think Should Be Required Reading for YA Fantasy Fans

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week is a back to school freebie and I choose Required Reading for YA Fantasy Fans as my topic. Now I’m not claiming to be an expert on YA fantasy, it’s just that I’m a huge fan of the genre and these are the titles that I think can be used to introduce new readers to it. In no particular order, my picks are:

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Howl's Moving Castle Ella Enchanted QueenOfAttolia

Crown Duel2 The Blue Sword Goose Girl_Alison Jay The Golden Compass Fire

What about you, what book would you include if you had to come up with a required reading list for YA fantasy? Do we share some titles?


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Fantasy Romance Book Haul

Last week’s book haul featured three romance titles, the last of which (A Promise of Fire Amanda Bouchet) was a fantasy romance. Ever since I finished reading that book, I have been in the mood for more fantasy romance. Which is why this week’s haul is all about that subgenre:

 

After The Winter King, I read Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan but I didn’t get a picture! Which is a shame because I enjoyed reading the latter more than the former. If I ever find the time to actually sit down and write reviews, maybe I can do short ones for these.

I then went on a Grace Draven marathon this weekend, starting with Master of Crows:

 

Which was quickly followed up by The Lightning God’s Wife:

 

Which is so short that I finished reading it in one sitting! So then I read The Light Within:

 

Also finished that one in one sitting. I think both The Lightning God’s Wife and The Light Within are bonus short stories that serve like outtakes or epilogues for Master of Crows. The next in the series is a longer novella and is set a few years after the first book. I’ve already downloaded The Brush of Black Wings on my Kindle but haven’t started it yet:

 

I think I may have to pick up some contemporary titles after this. I don’t want to get burned out on fantasy romance! Also, it hasn’t been easy looking for fantasy romance books that I’m interested enough to try, so feel free to recommend titles if you have favorites.

Even though I’ve bought a couple of ebooks the past week, I’ve tried to be a good girl by resisting temptation in the form of a Kinokuniya sale. I still have so many unread physical books in my TBR pile so I resisted going to the bookstore because I know I might end up buying something. I need to go to bed soon because ugh, Monday will be here in a few minutes! But I’m curious, have you bought or received any books recently?


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Ten Books I’d Buy If Someone Handed Me a Fully Loaded Gift Card

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Ten Books You’d Buy Right This Second If Someone Handed You A Fully Loaded Gift Card. I already have a mountain of books in my TBR pile and yet, there are still so many books out there that I would love to get a copy of. If I was handed a fully loaded gift card now, these are the titles I’d buy right away:

This Savage Song The Start-Touched Queen The Keeper of the Mist Jinx Mistborn - UK edition

The Fifth Season Amulet The Stonekeeper's Curse Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant Loki Agent of Asgard The Sculptor

Interestingly, all of the titles in this list are fantasy! I think that means I’m craving for fantasy reads at the moment. Although my mood can change in a matter of days so who knows what I’ll want to read by next week. Anyway, what books would you grab if you were given a gift card?


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V.E. Schwab Book Haul

I survived my first week at the new job! To reward myself, I went to the bookstore and bought two books from this shelf… can you guess which ones they are?🙂

Kinokuniya bookshelf - taken with Samsung S7

If you guessed A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab then you’re absolutely right! I keep hearing good things about both books from friends so I’ve been wanting to check them out. I know I keep saying I need to buy books in ebook format to save space, but the Kindle editions for these are still pretty pricey, and the UK paperback editions cost just a few more dollars so might as well get physical copies for the prettiness.

V.E. Schwab books

I hope I get to read these soon. Although I’ve heard that the second book ends on a cliffhanger. Maybe I should have waited for all three books to be released before getting the series? Oh well, too late now.😛

As an aside, I finally switched from a Samsung S3 to an S7 Edge. The bookshelf pic above was the first one I posted on Instagram using the new phone. I got my old phone when I first moved to Singapore and had it for almost 4 years. I’m loving the upgrade, including having a way better phone camera. So expect nicer shots from me!


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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve heard of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy but I’ve seen mixed reviews of it so I’ve always been hesitant about picking it up. Especially now that we’re so close to the end of the year, I feel like sticking to books that come highly recommended. So when my good friends Angie and Michelle started raving about Six of Crows, I paid attention. If they both loved it then I knew chances were high that I would enjoy reading it too. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
Six of CrowsKetterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price — and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Six of Crows was such a fun read! I would have devoured it more quickly if I wasn’t having such a busy work week. The pace was a bit slow at the start but quickly picked up after the crew of six has been assembled. And what a crew! I’m normally not a huge fan of having too many POVs in one novel but I didn’t mind getting a glimpse inside the heads of Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, and Jesper. Only Wylan didn’t get his own POV but he was very much a part of the story. I couldn’t imagine the story being told any other way. I really liked all six of these characters – they were all well-developed and complex, with a full backstory of how they found themselves in the slums. I found all of their stories interesting, and I liked how their layers were peeled away throughout the course of the novel. Kaz and Inej are probably my favorites of the bunch. Kaz the scheming, lying and brilliant thief that he is. And his right hand, Inej, unparalleled in moving undetected and collecting valuable information. A thief and a spy, two types of characters that I thoroughly enjoy reading about! An early non-spoilery snippet that I think describes the characters well:

Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”

“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.

“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.

“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.

“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.

Kaz rolled his eyes. “The easiest way to steal a man’s wallet is to tell him you’re going to steal his watch. You take his attention and direct it where you want it to go…”

Words of wisdom from Kaz Brekker, ladies and gentlemen. It was just a pleasure to see all six of them working together, doing their best to trust and rely on each other. Even if they don’t always know what’s going to happen next. Even though they know each person in their group has done things he/she is not proud of. Each of them had their limits stretched during the time they’re all together. Their adventure kept me absorbed because the action never let up. I had no way of predicting how things will turn out and how these characters react to the situations they found themselves in. I was rooting so hard for them to get the prize that they all deserve. I also enjoyed the worldbuilding in this one. I was a little confused by the different kinds of powers the Grisha had (Six of Crows is my introduction to the world) but I became more familiar with them as the story progressed. Based on the descriptions, I think Ravka is based on Russia while Fjerda is probably one of the Scandinavian countries. I was also a fan of Leigh Bardugo’s writing in this one. I felt like the story just flowed smoothly, and there were lines from the characters that I kept highlighting. Last but certainly not the least, there’s more than one slow burn romance in Six of Crows with flawed characters that totally deserve to be together even if they don’t realize it yet. I can’t wait to see how these romances develop, especially the one which is the most subtle out of all of them. It must be noted that the story is not fully finished in this novel, and there will be a next installment due to be released next year. I was mildly surprised to reach the end, partly because I wanted to keep reading, and also because I wanted to know how the story ends. The second book can’t come soon enough.

Other reviews:
Angieville
Ivy Book Bindings


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Uprooted by Naomi Novik

I have been curious about Naomi Novik’s standalone fantasy, Uprooted, ever since I first heard about it. I read the first few Temeraire books and thought they were well-written. I just didn’t feel like continuing with the rest of the series. Closer to Uprooted’s release date, I saw glowing reviews pop up in the blogosphere and that just made me want to read the book even more. I picked it up when I was in the mood for a good fantasy novel – Uprooted delivered and even went beyond my expectations. It’s one of my favorite reads this year.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
UprootedAgnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows — everyone knows — that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I love how Uprooted’s first line just drew me in. Right away, I wanted to know more about Agnieszka and her village’s arrangement with the Dragon (who is a wizard and not a mythical beast). I really liked Agnieszka’s character. She had a lot of freedom because she was a Dragon girl and was able to run wild as a young girl. She used to think that one of her greatest skills was that she could always be counted on to mess up her appearance, getting her clothes torn and having mud stick to her skirts. But I think what’s great about her is that she cares deeply about people, especially her family and her best friend Kasia. I knew this was a significant trait that would shape her actions for the rest of the novel. At the start of the book, she has no idea why the Dragon chooses her and was as surprised as anyone else to discover that she is actually capable of doing magic. It was interesting to see her grow and develop her skills as a witch, more so because she has a different way of doing magic. I found her interactions with the Dragon entertaining! Some of the scenes were surprisingly funny for me. The Dragon was so ill-tempered, arrogant and a little vain. He was very reluctant to be a teacher to Agnieszka, he only did it because he felt it was his duty to train anyone who has magical abilities. He was snooty and kept looking down at Agnieszka when she couldn’t manage the simplest forms of magic. He thought she was a hopeless case. He strongly reminded me of Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle, which is not a bad thing because I loved that book. I just wish there was more about the Dragon, I wanted to know more about his backstory and I also wanted him to have more scenes in the latter half of the book. I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I liked Kasia. I thought she would have a small role to play in the story but she has an inner strength that’s very different from Agnieszka’s. I loved how solid their friendship was because I always enjoy reading about strong friendships in fiction.

Uprooted - first line

I loved the fairytale feel of the writing. It reminded me of some of my favorite authors like Robin McKinley, Juliet Marillier and Diana Wynne Jones (because of the Howl-like character). I thought the first half of the book had great pacing. I was very absorbed and wanted to ignore everything else so I can keep reading. The pace slowed down a bit after reaching the halfway mark, but it picked up again for the last few chapters. I enjoyed reading about the world that Naomi Novik created, from the mysterious and horrifying Wood to how magic works in different ways. Agnieszka’s magic is more instinctive and closely tied to nature and her environment. While the kind of magic that the Dragon wields is a more traditional (in their world), more scientific, with specific steps that need to be followed in order for a spell to be executed well. I also liked the experimental feel of the two kinds of magic being combined, I thought that was described beautifully. It felt like the combined magic worked specifically because it was Agnieszka and the Dragon doing them. Even though I wanted to read more about this world, I’m very satisfied that Uprooted is a standalone novel. Nowadays when so many series books are being released, it’s refreshing to read a book that is complete on its own. Beautifully written, Uprooted has everything that I love in a good fantasy novel: solid worldbuilding, political intrigue, strong heroine, friendships and family ties, and a romance that has a bit of a love-hate flavor. Highly recommended for fantasy fans. I felt like I was reading an old favorite when I picked this up. I’m pretty sure it’s a book that I will be rereading in the future. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Naomi Novik will write a companion novel set in this world with cameos from Agnieszka and the Dragon! I’ve also heard the news that the rights for an Uprooted movie adaptation have been bought and I’m really hoping they’d do a good job with that.

Other reviews:
Random Musings of a Bibliophile
By Singing Light
Angieville
Fantasy Cafe
The Book Smugglers
Me and My Books


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Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

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As always, thank you to The Broke and the Bookish for hosting. I can’t believe half of the year has gone by! I like this week’s topic because it lets me catch up on my past reads and see which are the ones that I’ve included in my best of 2015. I don’t have enough favorites (so far) to make it to ten but these are the titles that I’ve loved this year:

Adult Contemporary:
Girl Before a Mirror Once Upon a Rose
Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer
Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand

Young Adult / New Adult Contemporary:
I'll Meet You There The Deal
I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
The Deal by Elle Kennedy

Fantasy:
Pure Magic Uprooted
Pure Magic by Rachel Neumeier
Uprooted by Naomi Novik

wpid-img_20150701_104754.jpg

I haven’t written reviews for all of these but I hope I’ll be able to find some time to do so! Also, I want to read more fantasy novels in the latter half of the year. It’s going to be fun to go through other people’s lists to see what have been their favorites in 2015 so far. I have a feeling I’ll be adding some titles to my wishlist. Care to share what you’ve loved reading this year?