Spell the Month in Books: December 2023

Guess who crashed yet again last night? …Me. It was me. (I really should stop doing that.)

Spell the Month in Books is a monthly post created and hosted by Jana @ Reviews from the Stacks. I started participating in it a few months ago. It’s typically a Saturday post (as I might have mentioned above), but let’s all agree the Mar had a busy day yesterday and maybe, accidentally fell asleep before they could post.

It’s finally December, the heart of the holiday season and the end of the year. Baking intensifies 🍪 and Christmas decorations are everywhere 🔔 and trees are up🎄and snow is sometimes on the ground ❄️⛄- not to mention gifts 🎁🌟 and friendship.

But yeah, let’s get to spelling December with books.


D

Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding, The

AUTHOR: Alexandra Bracken

RELEASE DATE: 5 September 2017

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

The first in a “devious and delightful” new series by Alexandra Bracken, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Darkest Minds, soon to be a major motion picture.

“I would say it’s a pleasure to meet thee, Prosperity Oceanus Redding, but truly, I only anticipate the delights of destroying thy happiness?”

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history – that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made-and then broke-a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, eight-hundred-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type.

The fiend has reawakened with one purpose – to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts to trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his afterlife without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.

But with the help of his long-lost uncle, Barnabas, and his daughter, Nell, a witch-in-training, it seems like Prosper has at least a fighting chance of ridding himself of Alastor before the demon escapes and wreaks havoc on his family.

Little does Prosper know, the malefactor’s control over his body grows stronger with each passing night and there’s a lot Alastor isn’t telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host?

From #1 New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken comes a tale of betrayal and revenge, of old hurts passed down from generation to generation. Can you ever fully right a wrong, ever truly escape your history? Or will Prosper and Alastor be doomed to repeat it?

My review of The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding

E

Evermore

AUTHOR: Alyson Noël

RELEASE DATE: 3 February 2009

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Don’t miss Evermore, the first book in Alyson Noël’s #1 New York Times bestselling The Immortals series. Enter an enchanting new world where true love never dies…

After a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever Bloom can see people’s auras, hear their thoughts, and know someone’s entire life story by touching them. Going out of her way to avoid human contact and suppress her abilities, she has been branded a freak at her new high school―but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste.

Damen is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy. He’s the only one who can silence the noise and random energy in her head―wielding a magic so intense, it’s as though he can peer straight into her soul. As Ever is drawn deeper into his enticing world of secrets and mystery, she’s left with more questions than answers. And she has no idea just who he really is―or what he is. The only thing she knows to be true is that she’s falling deeply and helplessly in love with him.

C

Curse for True Love, A

AUTHOR: Stephanie Garber

RELEASE DATE: 24 October 2023

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Two villains, one girl, and a deadly battle for happily ever after…

Evangeline Fox ventured to the Magnificent North in search of her happy ending, and it seems as if she has it. She’s married to a handsome prince and lives in a legendary castle. 

But Evangeline has no idea of the devastating price she’s paid for this fairytale. She doesn’t know what she has lost, and her husband is determined to make sure she never finds out.

But first he must kill Jacks, the Prince of Hearts. Blood will be shed, hearts will be stolen, and true love will be put to the test.

My review of A Curse for True Love

E

Erased

AUTHOR: Kei Sanbe

RELEASE DATE: 21 February 2017

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Twenty-nine-year-old Satoru Fujinuma is floundering through life. Amid his daily drudgery, he finds himself in the grip of an incredible, inexplicable, and uncontrollable phenomenon that rewinds time, a condition that seems to only make his drab life worse. But then, one day, everything changes. A terrible incident forever changes Satoru’s life as he knows it…and with it, comes a “Revival” that sends Satoru eighteen years into the past! In the body of his boyhood self, Satoru encounters sights he never imagined he would see again–the smile of his mother, alive and well, his old friends, and Kayo Hinazuki, the girl who was kidnapped and murdered when he was a boy the first time around. To return to the present and prevent the tragedy that brought him back to his childhood in the first place, Satoru begins plotting a way to change Hinazuki’s fate…But up against the clock and a faceless evil, does eleven-year-old Satoru even stand a chance?

M

Mooncakes

AUTHOR: Suzanne Walker, Wendy Xu (Illustrator)

RELEASE DATE: 15 October 2019

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft. Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town. One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any townhome. Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

My review of Mooncakes

B

Book Thief, The

AUTHOR: Markus Zusak

RELEASE DATE: 18 December 2023

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE’S 100 BEST YA BOOKS OF ALL TIME

The extraordinary, beloved novel about the ability of books to feed the soul even in the darkest of times.

When Death has a story to tell, you listen.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

E

Everlost

AUTHOR: Neal Shusterman

RELEASE DATE: 1 October 2006

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Nick and Allie don’t survive the car accident…

…but their souls don’t exactly get where they’re supposed to get either. Instead, they’re caught halfway between life and death, in a sort of limbo known as Everlost: a shadow of the living world, filled with all the things and places that no onger exist. It’s a magical, yet dangerous place where bands of lost children run wild and anyone who stands in the same place too long sinks to the center of the Earth.

When they find Mary, the self-proclaimed queen of lost kids, Nick feels like he he’s found a home, but allie isn’t satisfied spending eternity between worlds. Against all warnings, Allie begins learning the “Criminal Art” of haunting, and ventures into dangerous territory, where a monster called the McGill threatens all the souls of Everlost.

In this imaginative novel, Neal Shusterman explores questions of life, death, and what just might lie in between.

R

Ruin and Rising

AUTHOR: Leigh Bardugo

RELEASE DATE: 17 June 2014

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Enter the Grishaverse with Book Three of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy by the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom.

Soldier. Summoner. Saint. The nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army. 

The Darkling rules from his shadow throne while a weakened Alina Starkov recovers from their battle under the dubious protection of the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Now her hopes lie with the magic of a long-vanished ancient creature and the chance that an outlaw prince still survives. 


What books have you been reading lately? Have you been reading any with an autumnal theme? What have you thought of them?

Thanks again for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

WWW Wednesday: 12/6

It’s been, what, like two and a half months since I left did this post? Yeah, I fell off of it for a bit for whatever reason. I don’t really know why. (Also, I know I said I was gonna do a Tasteful Tuesday yesterday, but… yeah, the stars just didn’t align.)

Anyway.

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme that used to be hosted at A Daily Rhythm, but has been taken over by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. Now, without further ado, let’s get into the 3 Ws!

The 3 Ws of WWW Wednesday:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?


The Thing I’m Currently Reading

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

CURRENT STATUS: 22%

CURRENT FEELS: 🫤 (really bored, I think it’s too slow for me) (this is why I don’t normally go for 800+ page books) (might DNF it)

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings, Book One of the Stormlight Archive begins an incredible new saga of epic proportion.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter. 

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them. 

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable. 

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity. 

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war. 

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making. 

Speak again the ancient oaths: 

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination. 

and return to men the Shards they once bore. 

The Knights Radiant must stand again. 


The Thing I Most Recently Finished Reading

One Piece: Volumes 22 - 23 - 24 by Eiichiro Oda

One Piece: Volumes 22 – 23 – 24 by Eiichiro Oda

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Join Monkey D. Luffy and his swashbuckling crew in their search for the ultimate treasure, the One Piece. 

As a child, Monkey D. Luffy dreamed of becoming King of the Pirates. But his life changed when he accidentally ate the Gum-Gum Fruit, an enchanted Devil Fruit that gave him the ability to stretch like rubber. Its only drawback? He’ll never be able to swim again–a serious handicap for an aspiring sea dog Years later, Luffy sets off on his quest to find the “One Piece,” said to be the greatest treasure in the world… 

Luffy’s epic clash with Baroque Works pirate captain Crocodile continues, while deposed princess Vivi and the rest of the Straw Hat crew race against time to save the ancient kingdom of Alabasta. Just when it seems smooth sailing is ahead, Luffy and crew discover an interloper among their ranks Who is this former Baroque Works member, and what does she want from the Straw Hats?


The Thing I Might Read Next

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

(This is something I got years ago but never read. I think I’m interested in reading it now, though)

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.


What books are you guys currently reading? Have you read any of the ones on my list this week? What did you think of them, if you had? How do you feel about the book(s) you’re reading now?

Anyway, thank you to everyone for reading, and I hope that you have a fantastic day/night!

See ya ~Mar

Weekly Wrap-Up: 11/20 – 12/4

So it’s been some time since my last weekly wrap-up. It wasn’t very weekly, was it?

But hear me out! I only skipped last week’s because I was only able to post once the week before. And I didn’t think that that really warranted a weekly wrap-up post just for that. It seemed… overkill.

So I’m doing the past two weeks in this one post. That’s it, that’s what I really wanted to say. On with the wrap-up.

roasted turkey on white ceramic plate

I didn’t do a post this day, or on the day after, so here’s a very, very late Happy Thanksgiving!! 🦃🥧 I hope that everyone who celebrated enjoyed good food and good company!

Sunday 11/26: Books I’m Thankful For

Two Sundays ago was the only post I managed to do the week of Thanksgiving, unfortunately. But seeing as it was said week and I hadn’t done my Books I’m Thankful For post of the year yet, I decided to do that one.

Books I’m Thankful For: Leven Thumps

Thursday 11/30: System Collapse Review

This past Thursday, I finally got my book review posted for System Collapse by Martha Wells. It was a perfectly fine addition to the Murderbot Diaries. I gave it ★★★★✯.

My review of System Collapse

Friday 12/1: First Lines Friday

On Friday, I participated in another First Line Fridays for the first time in a while. First Line Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers (formerly) hosted by Wandering Words.

First Line Friday: 12/1

Sunday 12/3: November 2023 Monthly Reading Wrap-Up

Yesterday, I posted my monthly reading wrap-up for November 2023. For those who don’t know, monthly wrap-ups are when I go over the books I read over the past month, as well as my stats over on The StoryGraph.

Monthly Wrap-Up: November Reading 2023

Books I Read in the Last Two Weeks

One Piece: Volumes 19 - 20 - 21 by Eiichiro Oda
One Piece: Volumes 22 - 23 - 24 by Eiichiro Oda
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

💖🎁 Wrapping It All Up 💖🎁

So yeah, that’s it. This time I wrapped up not one, but two, weeks. And since both these past weeks are finally done and acknowledged on the blog, my conscious is now clear.

This coming week I’d like to do a Tasteful Tuesday, seeing as it’s been a few weeks since I last did it. I promise, I really do want this to be a weekly thing! It just… hasn’t worked out that way lately.

I’m also definitely going to be posting my book review for Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett later this week. It’s been a long time coming, and I’ve been dying to talk about this book since I read it. I had originally hoped to post the review for it last week but… yeah. Oh! And I’ll probably participate in Spell the Month in Books this coming weekend, too. I’m not sure what else I’ll do this week, however.

close up of christmas decoration hanging on tree
Photo by Gary Spears on Pexels.com

Also, speaking of stuff I did last week that didn’t have anything to do with reading books or the blog, I changed the home decor. Yup, I put the Christmas decorations up! And decorated the tree! And changed the scents around the house. So now everything’s all festive and perfect for the season at Mar’s!

But yeah, as always, thank you all so much for reading and I hope you have an amazing day/night!

See ya ~Mar

Monthly Wrap-Up: November Reading 2023

November Reading 2023

Here I am. With another monthly wrap-up. As I do every month. This time it’s for my November Reading of 2023, featuring my reading statistics from The StoryGraph from that month. (Say month again, why don’t you?)

I read less, comparatively, than I did in October, but I still read a ton. I feel like ten books is nothing to sneeze at, even though four of them were manga super-volumes and one was a 20 page short story. But November was kind of busy for me at some parts, so cut me some slack? (I think December might have a few of the same problems for a few of the same reasons, ei: holidays.)

Bur yeah, I’ll shut up now. Let’s get into the wrap-up.

November 2023 Reading

😐 MOODS: Adventurous was the biggest slice of pie, as it always is. Lighthearted was surprising in being the second biggest piece though – it’s only the second time this has happened, so far. The other ones were: ReflectiveEmotionalDark, and Mysterious.

👢 PACE: I read all three different kinds of paced books: slow, medium and fast. They were mostly fast and medium paced novels, though.

🔢 PAGE NUMBER: Everything I read was between 240 and 600 pages. But the majority of books I read were between 300 and 499 pages.

📖 FICTION/NONFICTION: It was once again all fiction this month.

🎭 GENRES: Fantasy, as usual, was the biggest bar of the graph. Manga, Graphic NovelYAScience Fiction and Romance were the second longest bars after Fantasy. The other genres on the graph were ComicsLGBTQIA+Historical and Short Stories. I think this might be the most genres I’ve read in the same month yet.

📄 FORMAT: This little StoryGraph pie chart is not correct (again). Most of the books I read last month were digital.

⭐ RATING: My median star rating for last month was 4.13. My ratings for November weren’t as varied as in October, but they were about as high. Most of them were 4.0 and above.

📉 PAGES READ DAILY: I read a ton throughout November. The time I read the least was between the 21st and the 28th, and my peak of reading was on the 18th.

The Books I Read in November

★★☆☆☆ • my review

★✬☆☆☆ • my review

★★★★★ • my review

★★★★☆ • my review

★★★★★ • review to be posted

★★★★✯ • my review

★★★★★

★★★★★

★★★★✯

★★★★★

Wrapping Up the Wrap-Up

So yeah, November reading in 2023 was pretty strong. I’m really happy with what I was able to read though I do wish I was able to do a bit more. Ah well, we’ll see how what happens in December.

December doesn’t have any books coming out (that I’m aware of, at least) that I’m super excited about reading. Yeah, I had one on my anticipated reads releasing October through December list, but I’m not all that stoked about it. Just moderately – it looks interesting, but I won’t be upset if I don’t end up reading it. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, though. (Well, most of it anyway. I find Shallan’s chapters to be kind of boring at the moment.)

I’m also hoping to read some winter themed fantasy books, if I can find some. Tell me your recs in the comments, please! I love reading festively!

And well, I guess we’ll all find out what else I want to read this month together, because I’m honestly not sure now. Oh wait, maybe The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I got a really nice edition last month as a gift, and I’ve wanted to read this book for ages. But we’ll see.

So yeah, thank you so much for reading and I hope you have an excellent day/night!

See ya ~Mar

First Line Friday: 12/1

It’s been a bit since I’ve participated in this post, but I’m ready for something familiar after a rather stressful week and a half. So let’s jump right in to the post!

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers (formerly) hosted by Wandering Words, but I saw it over at One Book More.

What if instead of judging a book by the cover, author or most everything else, we judged it by its content? Its first lines?

If you want to join in, all you gotta do is:

📚 Take a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open it to the first page
📝 Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
📙 Finally… reveal the book!

Here are the first lines:

The dragon wasn’t happy with the roses. No matter how Autumn cajoled and pleaded, Amfidzel refused to leave her garden, declaring that she wasn’t going anywhere until she’d plucked all the aphids off the drooping stems.

Jack’s round face was pale. “What do we do?”

Know what book it is? Here’s another hint (or two) if you need it.

Still don’t know? Here are some lovely photos of books to admire while you think about it…

flowers on top of stacked books and mug
Photo by Bianca Debisko on Pexels.com
sill life with gingerbread red berries and old books lying on a windowsill
Photo by Ioana Motoc on Pexels.com
wooden christmas decorations with open book
Photo by Demetra Ioannidou on Pexels.com
christmas gingerbread cookies tea candles and other decorations
Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com
Annnd the book is 🥁🥁… The School Between Winter and Fairyland by Heather Fawcett!!

(Did you get it right??)


The School Between Winter and Fairyland by Heather Fawcett

The School Between Winter and Fairyland by Heather Fawcett


What books have you been reading lately? What’s on your TBR that you’re most excited about?

As always, thank you for reading, and I hope you have an amazing day/night!

See ya ~Mar

System Collapse by Martha Wells | Book Review

I gained interesting insights, ART- drone said. You should stop worrying.

Yeah, I’ll just code a patch to stop feeling anxiety, wow, why didn’t I think of that earlier. (That was sarcasm, I have too much organic neural tissue for that to work.) (Of course I’ve already tried it.)

System Collapse by Martha Wells

System Collapse by Martha Wells

SERIES: The Murderbot Diaries (Book #7)

LENGTH: 245 pages

GENRES: Science Fiction, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Tor.com

RELEASE DATE: 14 November 2023

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Am I making it worse? I think I’m making it worse.

Everyone’s favorite lethal SecUnit is back.

Following the events in Network Effect, the Barish-Estranza corporation has sent rescue ships to a newly-colonized planet in peril, as well as additional SecUnits. But if there’s an ethical corporation out there, Murderbot has yet to find it, and if Barish-Estranza can’t have the planet, they’re sure as hell not leaving without something. If that something just happens to be an entire colony of humans, well, a free workforce is a decent runner-up prize.

But there’s something wrong with Murderbot; it isn’t running within normal operational parameters. ART’s crew and the humans from Preservation are doing everything they can to protect the colonists, but with Barish-Estranza’s SecUnit-heavy persuasion teams, they’re going to have to hope Murderbot figures out what’s wrong with itself, and fast!

Yeah, this plan is… not going to work.

My Review

I am not meant to function without multiple simultaneous inputs. If this was what being a human was like, it sucked massively.

Sooo… this review is like, extremely late. I had fully intended to post this review sometime early last week, before Thanksgiving, but I just ended up being too busy and stressed out.

But I’m back at the blog, and finally here with my review of System Collapse by Martha Wells. This was probably my most anticipated book of 2023 and it was… fine. Pretty good even. It just turned out a little differently than I expected. Honestly, I’m still on the fence about my rating for this novel – I’m torn between four stars or four and a half.

Let’s just get into it…

• The characters

ART- drone reached out a limb to Iris. My function is impaired, Iris. So is SecUnit’s.

Will you shut the hell up? I said.

You shut up, it replied.

“Let’s everybody shut up and get in the flyer,” Iris said, and shouldered ART- drone’s limb, taking part of its weight.

I’ve always felt that the characters were the strongest part of the Murderbot Diaries, particularly its titular character, and the same is still true here. But this story focused more on an internal conflict that Murderbot is dealing with. So the other characters I love from this series took a backseat in this book.

SecUnit also didn’t seem to be nearly as sassy as it usually is. There weren’t all that many fantastic and funny quotes and dialogue compared to the rest of the series that I noticed. And that’s one of my favorite things about this series – I love how sassy and fun it is. And yeah, I understand that Murderbot was working through something, but everything seemed to matter a lot less than its thoughts on what it was going through. Constantly.

But when other characters did feature, and SecUnit did interact with them, it was fantastic. These were my favorite moments reading and I wish there were more of them. ART actually had more pagetime than I initially gave it credit for, now that I think about it, and its banter with SecUnit is always a treat.

• The plot

“I’ve fucked everything up,” I’d told ART.

ART had said, That’s nothing new.

I didn’t really care about it. It was about saving the descendents of the colonists that were found on the planet in book five. But I never found myself caring about these people, then or now. They just felt like a motivation or a plot device in order for SecUnit and ART and its crew and Preservation to do stuff.

Honestly, the A plot just felt like it was stalling in order for the B plot to happen. Which was Murderbot’s inner conflict – that its organic neural tissue is starting to exhibit signs of PTSD. Which was far more interesting to me than the thing with the colonists.

• Other favorite quotes

I didn’t say anything. (I know I get pissed off when humans don’t acknowledge my work, but why is too much acknowledgment also upsetting? Sentience sucks.)

and

You’re stalling, ART- drone said. I am not. I can stand here and be useless without any ulterior motives, thanks.

and

So the next time I get optimistic about something, I want one of you to punch me in the face.

and

I was not even going to respond to that. ART had told Mensah it wouldn’t push me. Just because its MedSystem was certified for emotional support and trauma recovery it thought it knew everything.

and finally

Wow, you don’t think it can get any worse, and it always does.

• Final Thoughts

This review is a little shorter than usual, but I’m honestly struggling with stuff to say about it. I think that’s another reason why this review took so long. I just don’t have too many opinions on it.

But System Collapse is still a solid addition to the Murderbot Diaries. It was still fun and sassy, even if it was less so than usual. This is a must read for anyone who enjoys the rest of the series, especially since the ending sets up a new arc for the series.

Thank you so much for reading, and have an awesome day/night!

See ya ~Mar


My Links:

My review of the first six books in The Murderbot Diaries

My review of the Murderbot Diaries short story Home


gray scissors on dry leaves

Books I’m Thankful For: Leven Thumps

Sooo… I’ve been unexpectedly MIA this week. I’m sorry about that, I got a little stressed out with the holiday coming up (Thanksgiving) and it triggered a flare up. So I was out of action for part of the week, unfortunately. And the time I did have was spent cleaning and prepping for Thanksgiving or doing family stuff. So yeah, those are my excuses for not posting basically at all this week.

But I’m rectifying it now. This is my Thanksgiving post, Books I’m Thankful For, and it’s something that I started last year. Speaking of which, my BITF post of 2022 was a soliloquy about the series that got me into reading – The Magic Treehouse series. This year I’m gonna do something slightly less impactful but no less thankful for – the Leven Thumps series by Robert Skye.

The Leven Thumps series by Obert Skye

My journey with this series began in 2006 on my birthday. I got the first book Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo as one of my birthday gifts. (The other one was another book, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it is. I guess that shows which book ended up being more important to me, lol.) I read it, fell in love with the sketch style art within, and was frothing at the mouth for more.

Then, mere weeks later I saw the sequel, Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret, at Borders and immediately picked it up. And thus, I was hooked on the series. I then waited every year for each release, eagerly anticipating the next three books. And I was never disappointed.

These books were here with their weird plots and great humor whenever I needed to be cheered up, and they fostered a unique brand of creativity within me, encouraging me to think outside the box when coming up with ideas. I read and reread these novels so many times I’ve lost count. I also buddy read them with at least one friend, and we adored them. The story, the world, the characters – all of it.

This is a series that will always be in my heart, and I absolutely have to give a hearty recommendation for. They have weird but unique plots, imaginative rich worlds, and are generally just fun. I’ll always remember Leven and his friends’ adventures very, very fondly. I’m so thankful for this series I don’t have enough words.

(Before I close off, I will say that these books are definitely not perfect. The world building has a ton of issues, but I liked the writing and most of everything else so I was kind of able to turn off my brain and enjoy it. Plus, I was like 10 or 11 when I first read it, and I honestly didn’t care that much about any of that stuff until several years later in college. I just wanted to enjoy the story and characters. I will say, though, that there were some plot points and character motivations that were that were never addressed properly by series end, which I did find a little irritating.)

(This is also definitely geared towards kids and I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this too much as an adult, had I read it for the first time now. The protagonists aren’t very active in the first book, which is also a problem, but I kind of let the magic and whimsy carry me through that one. (Also, Leven’s powers are poorly defined and never mean or amount to anything in the first couple of books, unless the plot needed something to happen and this has always bothered me.) (Book four is the best, BTW.))

So yeah, I know it’s extraordinarily late, but Happy Thanksgiving 🦃🥧 to everyone and anyone who celebrates it! I hope you all enjoyed good food with the ones you love.

What books are you thankful for? What are your favorite novels?

Thank you for reading. I’m always so thankful that anyone reads or follows my little blog at all. I hope you have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

Weekly Wrap-Up: 11/13 – 11/19

So, I’m just gonna go right out and say it. I think last week was great. It could have been slightly better, but I ended up having some annoying stomach problems over the weekend. So I didn’t finish the book review I had planned (now coming: tomorrow).

Anyway, let’s wrap-up last week.

Tuesday 11/14: Tasteful Tuesday

Last Tuesday I finally did another Tasteful Tuesday. Tasteful Tuesday, if you aren’t aware, is when I highlight an awesome looking book cover and talk about what I like about it.

Tasteful Tuesday #2

Wednesday 11/15: Shelf Control

On Wednesday, after many, many weeks, I actually participated in another Shelf Control. Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books that are just sitting on our bookshelves, created and hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control #15

Thursday 11/16: White Trash Warlock Review

Last Thursday, I got around to posting my book review for White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton, a queer, urban fantasy. I gave it ★★★★☆.

My review of White Trash Warlock

Friday 11/17: November 2023 Birthstone Books

On Friday, I participated in one of my favorite monthly posts, Birthstone Book Covers. Birthstone Book Covers is a fun post created and hosted by Leslie @ Books are the New Black. It’s November, which has two birthstones – topaz and citrine, so the covers were all gold-ish.

Birthstone Book Covers: November 2023

Books I Read Last Week

Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett
One Piece Volumes 13 - 14 - 15 by Eiichiro Oda
One Piece Volumes 16 - 17 - 18 by Eiichiro Oda

🎁💖 Wrapping It All Up 🎁💖

So yeah, I got quite a few posts published this past week. I had planned for one more, but sometimes life just doesn’t let you have nice things. Next week I might have less posts as usual, because of the holiday, but who knows. Maybe I’ll still somehow manage to get four posts in?

As for reading, I’m hoping to read the entirety of The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to start it this weekend, and I want to correct that ASAP. I’m also gonna continue with One Piece, of course, and I’m hoping to finish up the arc that I’m reading this week as well.

This week, I’m also going be doing a doing a bunch of stuff to get ready for Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite holidays, cuz to me it’s always been a celebration of food and family (which are two things that I adore). So even though I’ll be a little busier than usual, I don’t mind too much.

I think I mentioned that I had a book haul a week or two ago, but I don’t think I ever posted a picture of said haul. Well, here it is! From top to bottom: Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, Complete Poems: 1914 – 1962 by E.E. Cummings, and The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

But yeah, that’s all for the wrap-up. Thank you so much for reading, and have an excellent day/night!

See ya ~Mar

Birthstone Book Covers: November 2023

It’s another month, so it’s time for some more Birthstone Book Covers. Since it’s November, that means beautiful golden ones!

Leslie @ Books Are the New Black created a fun monthly post called Birthstone Book Covers. Each month, she features book covers that are either the same color of that month’s birthstone or include the color in the title.

November has two birthstones – Topaz and Citrine.

Rules:

📚 Mention the creator (Leslie @ Books Are The New Black) and link back to her so she can check out your post.
📚 Pick 5+ book covers that match the current month’s Birthstone.
📚 HAVE FUN!
📚 Nominate people if you want!

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
The Sun and the Star by Rick Riordon & Mark Oshiro
The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen

What are your favorite books with golden book covers? If you participated in Birthstone Books, which books did you choose this November?

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have the most amazing day/night!

See ya ~Mar

White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton | Book Review

Warlock was an old word. Normal people cast it around without understanding the ancient slur, thinking it meant male witch, when it meant traitor. It was reserved for practitioners gone bad, those who betrayed magic’s first tenet: “do no harm.”

White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton

White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton

SERIES: Adam Binder (Book #1)

LENGTH: 307 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Blackstone Publishing

RELEASE DATE: 13 October 2020

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Not all magicians go to schools of magic.

Adam Binder has the Sight. It’s a power that runs in his bloodline: the ability to see beyond this world and into another, a realm of magic populated by elves, gnomes, and spirits of every kind. But for much of Adam’s life, that power has been a curse, hindering friendships, worrying his backwoods family, and fueling his abusive father’s rage.

Years after his brother, Bobby, had him committed to a psych ward, Adam is ready to come to grips with who he is, to live his life on his terms, to find love, and maybe even use his magic to do some good. Hoping to track down his missing father, Adam follows a trail of cursed artifacts to Denver, only to discover that an ancient and horrifying spirit has taken possession of Bobby’s wife.

It isn’t long before Adam becomes the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, save his sister-in-law, and learn the truth about his father, Adam will have to risk bargaining with very dangerous beings… including his first love

My Review

The Three of Swords.

The Lovers.

Death.

Adam blinked.

“It’s always swords with you, Adam Lee,” Sue said.

This book had me hooked from Chapter 2 or 3. I had the sample of my Kindle (along with Dark Moon, Shallow Sea – same author, new book), and I couldn’t resist reading it.

Then I went and read the rest of it. In like, two hours.

White Trash Warlock has an incredibly addictive narrative, and an easy to follow writing style. The novel is also quite fast-paced. Plus, it’s fantasy. All of this is a recipe for a book I can’t put down, so it’s understandable why I read and absorbed it so quickly.

Pros

As I mentioned above, the prose and general writing style is great and easy to follow. Don’t get me wrong, I have no trouble reading and absorbing information from a super in-depth high fantasy novel, but I do prefer simpler writing styles. Cuz they allow for me to read more/faster.

The nature of the prose also allows for a rather fast-paced adventure, and the plot usually gets to the point within a reasonable amount of time. Slayton doesn’t waste paper on meaningless filler.

Adam felt the color drain from his face.

“I’m kidding,” Argent said. “Of course I’m kidding.”

Adam glared at her. “You’re teasing me.”

“Yes,” she said.

“You’re a sword-wielding being of immense power, an immortal. And you’re teasing me.”

“Yes, I am,” she said. “What use would I have for a mortal soul?”

The characters in White Trash Warlock weren’t my favorite ones ever, but they were still pretty good. Adam Binder was our protagonist, and I liked him well enough. He went through a lot growing up, but he doesn’t let it define him, and he retains a kind heart and is willing to help out his brother’s fiance, despite a history of familial issues.

I actually found said brother, Bobby/Robert, to be a more interesting character. There’s quite an age gap between the brothers (around 10 years), so there’re a lot of communication issues and misunderstandings abound. Bobby also went through a lot growing up – dealing with the brunt of abuse from their father, and having to carry a lot of responsibility after the man disappeared. I’m looking forward to seeing where his character goes in the future.

Everyone else was pretty much a supporting character. They were all pretty interesting with their own quirks and secrets, but they didn’t feel nearly as important as the brothers. Well, except for Argent. She appeared quite often and was the book’s resident badass. I’d like to see more of her character in the future. I really liked her friendly banter with Adam – they seem like they might be solid bros in the future.

I’ve always been intrigued by tarot cards and what they symbolize. I love seeing them used in fiction, and especially when they have bearing on the plot. I think that they can work as an excellent foreshadowing device if utilized properly (like they are here).

Cons

I felt that this was by far the weakest aspect of the novel. The love triangle (or technically, love “v”) was annoying just as it always is, and none of the love interests got much development. Annie and Vic were definitely done dirty here.

I also never felt particularly interested in any of the couples. Annie’s presence is basically non-existent, and Adam did all of his protagonist activities without Vic and then explained the plot to him after events (thank god it was off-page). Plus, Vic and Adam were far to insta-lovey for my liking, so it was hard for me to root for them.

The only relationship to really get any interesting pagetime of note was Adam and his ex-boyfriend. They were also the only relationship that I felt had any sort of chemistry, not to mention they spend the most time together out of all the couples. But I still found them to be formulaic and predictable, and it was kind of irritating.

Final Thoughts

Adam thought that maybe, just maybe, they would be all right. In time. When the grief lessened.

White Trash Warlock is a pretty good urban fantasy series, with a fast-paced narrative. The characters are also pretty multifaceted and development, and are compelling enough to follow.

I think that those who enjoy some of the magic and world building of the Dresden Files or Supernatural (or Supernatural fanfiction) might like it. People who like fantasy with LGBTQIA+ will probably enjoy it as well.

Thank you so much for reading and have a great day/night!

See ya ~Mar


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