Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Seraphina

October 28, 2013

seraphinaSeraphina by Rachel Hartman is possibly my new all-time favorite dragon book.  It’s such a unique take on the mythical creatures; in this story, dragons can take human form.  Coexisting in the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans have had a truce for decades.  But everything changes when the Prince is found dead, apparently murdered by a dragon.  Seraphina is a young girl who is new to life as a musician at court.  She hopes to stay out of the limelight in order to hide her dark and dangerous secret: she is a half-dragon, her existence forbidden.   Despite her efforts to stay away from the investigation into the Prince’s murder, Seraphina can’t resist being pulled in by the captain of the guard, Lucian Kiggs.

If you’re tired of reading the same old fantasy novels over and over again, Seraphina is definitely for you.  It’s new and unique, and the world Rachel Hartman built is complex and filled with three-dimensional characters.  It has a little bit of something for everyone: mystery, court politics, action, and of course even a little romance.  If you’re a fan of Anne McCaffrey and Robin McKinley, or are just looking for something different than the fantasy you usually read, I highly recommend this book.

Cover Face-Off: Throne of Glass

August 8, 2013

Welcome to Cover Face-Off, a new feature where we pit two covers of the same book against one another to determine which one is the best!  Feel free to use whatever criteria you want: which one represents the book best, which one is more likely to attract readers, or even which one you think is prettiest.

Our first competitors are the two covers of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.  For some background, here’s the blurb: “After she has served a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, Crown Prince Dorian offers eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien her freedom on the condition that she act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.”

And here are the covers:

us-throne-of-glass

In my humble opinion, the one on the right is EASILY the winner!  It definitely says “I’m a hardened assassin” way more than the one on the left, where all I can focus on is how pretty her hair is.

BRR: Grave Mercy

April 10, 2013

gravemercy1

TitleGrave Mercy

Author: Robin LaFevers

Other books in series or Standalone: First in a series.  The second book, Dark Triumph, was just released last week!

First Impressions:  ”Escaping a brutal arranged marriage into the sanctuary of a convent of assassin nuns who serve ancient gods, 17-year-old Ismae learns that the god of Death has blessed her with dangerous gifts and a violent destiny that requires her to destroy the lives of others at the high court of Brittany.”  Did you stop reading at assassin nuns and run out to pick up a copy?  Because I sure did.

Last Impressions:  LOVED IT!  This was one of those books that was so compelling that I had to abandon the audio version I was listening to in my car and pick up a print copy that I could tear through faster.  It’s fun and exciting but also smart and complex; Ismae is sent to protect Brittany’s duchess and find out what sort of treachery is going on in the high court, so there’s lots of court politics and intrigue.  But the best thing about the book is Ismae.  She starts off stuck in a bad situation and has to be rescued, but by the end she’s a strong, capable woman who you can really root for.

Thoughts on the cover:  Have there been way too many book covers with girls in pretty dresses lately?  Yes.  BUT not only is Ismae set apart by the  crossbow in her hands, she also has a determined and capable look on her face instead of seeming forlorn or overly lovesick.

People who should read this:  Anyone who is longing for another kick-butt heroine a la Katniss Everdeen.  Plus, there’s also lots of great action and drama, and a bit of romance, so just about anyone could find something they like in it!

People who should not read this:  If political intrigue bores you, this might be one to skip (but if you like political intrigue in your novels, definitely pick this one up).

If you like this book, you may also like:  Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas,Changeling by Philippa Gregory, The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Manga: Fairy Tail by Hiro Mashima

August 10, 2011

Fairy Tail Guild

Title: Fairy Tail
Author: Hiro Mashima (of Rave Master fame)
Publisher: Del Ray
Volumes: 17 in English so far (27 in Japanese–ongoing)
Publication: 2006-current
Genre: Fantasy, Action, Comedy
Anime: 2 seasons, 91 episodes in Japanese so far (FUNimation presently dubbing the English release)

Fairy Tail (no, that’s not a typo!) is one of the many magic guilds in the Kingdom of Fiore. They’re a bit of the Bad News Bears of the guilds, in that they’re often a laughing stock among the magic community—usually because of the mass destruction caused by its inhabitants—but are actually at the top of the league when given the chance.

Meet the main focus of the guild for this series:

Lucy Heartfilia – Celestial Spirit Magic (basically a summoner) – Lucy is a newcomer to the scene who saunters into Magnolia Town hoping to gain entrance into the Fairy Tale Guild. Lucy is caring, and very confident in her looks.

Natsu Dragneel – Fire Dragon Slayer Magic – Natsu is a typical male action hero: courageous, kind, hot-tempered and a bit of an idiot. He is one of the strongest mages at Fairy Tail power-wise, but due to his temperament and wild magic, his lack of control keeps him from being in the top tier (and often causes the aforementioned mass destruction!).

Happy – I’m not quite sure what exactly his magic is; I do know he can grow wings! – Happy appears to be a flying and talking blue cat, and happens to be Natsu’s best friend. He is knowledgeable, but can often be a bit cheeky.

Gray Fullbuster – Ice-Make Magic – Gray is Natsu’s main rival, but a part of “Team Natsu.” As opposed to Natsu’s hyper personality, Gray is very laid back—except when it comes to arguing with Natsu, it seems. Loyal and cautious, Gray also has the habit of unwittingly disrobing (yeah, I did just type that).

Erza Scarlet – Requip Magic (armor/weapons that can take different forms) – Erza is one of (if not the) most powerful mages in Fairy Tail. If I were to go full-dork, Erza’s alignment is definitely lawful good; she is honorable, smart and strict.

Fairy Tail does not have a main plot, and instead goes through story arcs. The art is detailed and perfect for this series’ format. But for me, the characters are absolutely what make the series so much fun. There is a fair amount of fan service, but honestly it’s so goofy that it’s hard to be offended even if it’s not your thing.

Extremely high entertainment value. Recommended for fans of series such as One Piece, Rave Master and Sands of Destruction.

Manga: Tsubasa –Reservoir Chronicle– by CLAMP

March 21, 2011

Tsubasa, Volume 1

Title: Tsubasa –Reservoir Chronicle–
Author: CLAMP
Publisher: Del Ray
Volumes: 28 (completed)
Publication: 2003-2009
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Crossover
Anime: 2 seasons, 52 episodes (completed)

[Forgive the long review, dear blogee—the following paragraphs encompass several works, and take some time to explain!]

I’ll tell you something about myself: I hate starting a series with no end in sight. So when the last volume of Tsubasa came out recently, there was finally an end to the six-month+ long cliffhangers (imagine the happy dance, if you will). Of course, I didn’t learn about my extreme aversion to cliffhangers until after I had already started in on the series many a year ago. Frankly, even if I had, I probably would have started reading it anyway; after all, it’s CLAMP!

CLAMP self-portrait, manga-styleI trust you’re familiar with the Japanese power-quad mangaka (comic artist) group? No? Run, don’t walk, to the library and grab any of their previous series: Chobits, X/1999, Tokyo Babylon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Clover, Magic Knight Rayearth, RG Veda—just to name a few. Each series offers gorgeous art, compelling storylines and characters you’ll never forget.

In fact, the characters are so memorable, almost all of them show up in Tsubasa! The two main characters, Sakura and Syaoran, star in—as you may have guessed—Cardcaptor Sakura; one of CLAMP’s most popular series, and a steadfast member of the magical girl genre. Although this Sakura and Syaoran look exactly the same as in CLAMP’s previous series, it soon becomes apparent they do not occupy the world we’re used to seeing them in.

Tsubasa Main Cast: (back) Fai, Sakura, Kurogane, (front) SyaoranHowever, their attachment to each other has reached across universes; something you’ll find is a common theme with characters from other series. When Sakura loses her memories and is put into a catatonic state, Syaoran visits the Dimensional Witch, Yūko (from CLAMP’s parallel series, xXxHolic), and pleads with her to save Sakura. Two other original characters, under varying circumstances, show up at the same time and place to make a request of their own. However, no wish can be granted without giving up what they cherish most. In order to fulfill the trio’s wishes, they must journey to various dimensions, in order to regain Sakura’s memories and restore her to her former self.

Confused? Don’t worry, CLAMP tells the story much better than I do. If you’re apprehensive about reading Tsubasa without first going through all their previous material—don’t be. It’s definitely not essential to be a guru in all things CLAMP in order to enjoy the series. Although you’ll miss out on all your fangirl/boy squeals when your would-be favorite characters show up in the group’s travels (X/1999’s Sorata and Arashi? I don’t normally partake of the fangirl colloquialisms, but *squee*!!—read the series; you’ll understand why it’s a big deal). My only complaint with the series was that it was a bit hard to follow at times. Likely reading it all at once would remedy this—yet another reason to love finished series!

xXxHolic characters: Watanuki, Dōmeki, Mokona, Yūko

As you’re reading through Tsubasa, don’t forget to keep up with its sister series, xXxHolic. It follows Watanuki Kimihiro, who, despite his somber appearance, is typically quite energetic, though not in a happy-go-lucky way. Possessing the unwanted ability to see spirits, Watanuki stumbles upon Yūko’s wish-granting shop, where he promptly finds himself employed in order to work off his wish of one day being normal. The art has a very dark and smoky vibe, which I absolutely adored. The spastic Watanuki and the life-loving, sagely Yūko make a great team for a great read. So far 16 volumes are out in English. It’s unknown when the series will be completed, but I’ll keep gobbling it up anyway!

tl;dr (too long; didn’t read): Everything CLAMP makes is awesome, so by Transitive Property, Tsubasa is awesome!