First Line Friday #8

Still on a roll with participating in this post! Today has been kinda rough, for various reasons, but it was bearable, and posting has honestly made me feel a little better. On with 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 island of Gont, A single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards.

Any guesses? Here’s some books to admire while you consider…

Annnd the book is 🥁🥁… A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin!

(Did you guess it??)

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Series: The Earthsea Cycle (Book #1)

Length: 264 pages

Genres: Fantasy, YA, Fiction

Publisher: Clarion Books; Reissue edition

Release Date: 11 September 2012

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Ged was the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, but in his youth he was the reckless Sparrowhawk. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world.

This is the tumultuous tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death’s threshold to restore the balance.

With stories as perennial and universally beloved as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of The Rings—but also unlike anything but themselves—Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea novels are some of the most acclaimed and awarded works in literature. They have received accolades such as the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, the Nebula Award, and many more honors, commemorating their enduring place in the hearts and minds of readers and the literary world alike.

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

See ya ~Mar

Proof That I Still Read and Adore Books | “Unraveller” by Frances Hardinge [Book Review]

There are reasons for caution where the land meets the sea.

About This Book

Title & Author: Unraveller by Frances Hardinge

Length: 432 pages

Genres: Dark Fantasy, YA, Fiction

Release Date: January 10, 2023

Book Description

In a world where anyone can create a life-destroying curse, only one person has the power to unravel them.

Kellen does not fully understand his talent, but helps those transformed maliciously – including Nettle. Recovered from entrapment in bird form, she is now his constant companion, and closest ally.

But Kellen has also been cursed, and unless he and Nettle can remove his curse, Kellen is in danger of unravelling everything – and everyone – around him…

My Review

Star Rating: 🦢🦢🦢🦢🦢 • 5 / 5 swans!

The Unraveller, the buzz meant. Spider-gifted, spider-cursed. Destroyer of curses, dismantler of mysteries, unpicker of souls.

This book. This. Book.

I adore it. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read recently.

The characters. The interesting, yet gruesome world. Everything was just so compelling for me in Unraveller. Frances Hardinge really knows how to write. I gotta check out more of her books.

The Characters

I loved the characters here. They were fun and complex. Kellen and Nettle had an absolutely perfect dynamic – him the hotheaded magical sort, and her being the quiet sort that listens to the world and tries to keep the former out of the trouble his temper often lands him in. And the different anxieties and personal problems each of them dealt with… so much hurt, so much angst.

Nettle’s excruciatingly tragic backstory was utterly heartbreaking. She did absolutely nothing wrong, and yet… well, you’ll have to read it to find out. (It hurts far more that way.) And Kellen’s background, though not nearly as terrible, is still incredibly heart wrenching. Being essentially abandoned by his loved ones for suddenly not quite meshing with their livelihoods. Horrible.

I really liked the other characters too. Gall was interesting, and I loved how strong the grayness was in his character. You didn’t really know what he would do next. Also, loved how feral his connection with his murder horse (sorry, “marsh horse”) sometimes made him, especially near the Wilds. I really liked his horse too, despite her murderousness. It was also nice to have an actual adult in a YA group for once (Gall is implied to be about thirty, while both Kellen and Nettle are both stated to be fifteen.)

Gall’s dialogue with our main duo was also gold.

“Did you see that!” Kellen was ecstatic. “That was another place! Those arches – they’re in two places at once! Just then, we were in two places at once!”

“If you ever do that again,” growled the marsh horseman, “little pieces of you will be in a lot of different places.”

I also really liked the part where Gall said that if he died, his murder horse would mourn him for decades. But she would still eat him.

(Yes, I do like my gruesome humor with my horror fantasy, thank you.)

The Setting (and Writing)

The setting was also amazing. Not just the Wilds – the overgrown, untamable forest-marsh where all the weird, magical stuff originates from – but the country of Raddith that borders it, too. I always find it more interesting when books explore how the surrounding settlements deal with the nearby weirdness than the weirdness itself. It’s fascinating to me. Definitely one of the highlights of the book for me!

I also adored Hardinge’s prose. It was wonderful. I absolutely loved the way that she described things from the Wilds, as well as the Wilds themselves. Here’s a few quotes to give you a taste:

It is much more likely that you will lose interest in visiting the Wilds, now that you have seen them. (You only think that you have seen them.) You will believe the evidence of your eyes and mind, which tell you there is nothing worth seeing there. (They are lying.)

and

The animal was a little too large, a little too beautiful, and glossy as polished leather. It didn’t fidget the way other horses did, and its ears didn’t flick nervously as Nettle and Kellen approached. The huffs of its breath stirred little clouds of steam before its muzzle, despite the warmth of the day.

It didn’t smell like a horse either. It smelled of rain.

The Plot

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll keep this section brief. I really, really loved the plot. I loved where the characters went on their journey, and reading about the surreal places that Hardinge created.

The only “con” I can really think of for the book, for me, was that the climax and denouement moved too fast. It kinda seemed like the author was just trying to wrap things up as quick as possible. I really think there could have been a decent sized sequel instead of a very rushed last few chapters and epilogue. I would have liked to see more of the antagonist (who isn’t revealed until a good way through the story, and even then doesn’t make an appearance until maybe in the last quarter of the novel).

But none of that took away any of my enjoyment out of the book as a whole, and I loved everything else about it so much, that I’m still keeping my rating at 5 stars. (Sorry, swans.)

Final Thoughts

I really and truly adored this novel, and I highly recommend to anyone who likes dark fantasy and/or horror (because horror is definitely an honorable mention for the genres).

There is something that I should definitely mention about the TWs. I know I don’t usually bring up anything about TWs, but I really do feel like it is imperative that I say this. Because of the nature of some of the curses, there is definitely some level of body horror in here, as well as some mention of death. None of it is ever overly described or talked about too gruesomely, but I felt the need to mention it nonetheless.

Anyway, if none of that stuff bothers you, definitely check Unraveller by Frances Hardinge out. You (probably) won’t regret it.

Shelf Control #6: The Lies of Locke Lamora

It’s that time of the week again, so it’s time for some more Shelf Control. Shelf Control is an original feature created and hosted by Lisa @ BookshelfFantasies.com.

It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out this post at BookshelfFantasies.com.

This week I’m talking about – you guessed it! – yet another fantasy novel. This one’s The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.

About The Lies of Locke Lamora

Series: Gentleman Bastards [Book #1]

Length: 752 pages

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: June 27, 2006

Book Description

An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly. Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game—or die trying.

Why It Languishes on My Bookshelf

When I Got It: January 2021

Why I Decided to Read It: I’d heard some glowing reviews about it, and I’ve heard that it’s considered to be one of the so-called GOATs of fantasy.

Why I Haven’t Read It Yet: I just got distracted by other life stuff, coupled with being busy. Then I kind of forgot about it for a while and I started reading other things.

Will I Ever Read It?: Yes! I absolutely still really want to read this! I’m hoping to sooner rather than later, as well (like in the next few weeks type of soon, actually, haha).

Shelf Control Week #2: The Last Unicorn

Shelf Control logo from BookshelfFantasies.com

It’s that time of week again. So it’s time for more Shelf Control.

Shelf Control is an original feature created and hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out BookshelfFantasies.com.

For this week I chose The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.

The Last Unicorn • Peter S. Beagle

Length: 320 pages

Genre: Fantasy

Publication: Ace; Reissue Edition [January 1, 1991]

Book Description

The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone...

...so she ventured out from the safety of the enchanted forest on a quest for others of her kind. Joined along the way by the bumbling magician Schmendrick and the indomitable Molly Grue, the unicorn learns all about the joys and sorrows of life and love before meeting her destiny in the castle of a despondent monarch—and confronting the creature that would drive her kind to extinction....

In The Last Unicorn, renowned and beloved novelist Peter S. Beagle spins a poignant tale of love, loss, and wonder that has resonated with millions of readers around the world.

When I Got It

July 2016

Why I Wanted to Read It

I wanted to read The Last Unicorn because it’s a piece of classic fantasy literature, and I’ve heard such wonderful things about it. I’ve never seen the movie either, though I’ve also heard great things about that, too. It just seems like such a beautiful story, and I wanted to experience it for myself.

Why I Haven’t Read It Yet

I acquired it at the same time as several other books, and it just got lost in the shuffle. And I just kind of forgot that I had it on the back burner and never got around to reading it. I’d still like to though; hopefully soon rather than later.


Have you read The Last Unicorn? Did you find it to be as wonderful as everyone says it is?

As always, thank you to everyone for tuning in, and have a fantastic day/night!