Real Marriage

Real Marriage
By Mark and Grace Driscoll

realmarriage<Longer Review Pending>

 

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(x) definitely won’t read again
( ) might read again
( ) definitely would read again

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(x) wouldn’t recommend
( ) might recommend
( ) definitely would recommend

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Uprooted

Uprooted
by Naomi Novik

uprooted<Longer Review Pending>

 

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( ) definitely won’t read again
(x) might read again
( ) definitely would read again

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( ) might recommend
(x) definitely would recommend

The Last Mortal Bond

The Last Mortal Bond
Book 3 of the Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne
by Brian Staveley

TheLastMortalBondPart of me is at a loss for words as I struggle to describe how fantastic this book (and series) is yet the other part wants to gibber madly in a futile attempt at it. To put it succinctly, this book was excellent!

The story picks up almost a year after The Providence of Fire. So as a reader, there’s a bit of disorientation as we try to understand what all has transpired between books. At first I found it frustrating that so much had been skipped, but I later realized that had Brian tried to fill in that gap with actual story-telling, the final book would have probably been split in two. And honestly, most things that transpired in that period probably would have slowed the overall pace down.

Instead, in just a few short chapters, Brian masterfully tells us what all has transpired in the lives of each character and in the world around them. Some of the backstory was a bit of a shock, others teased at additional, future plot twists, and others took glimmers of hope I had and doused them with cold water. He then spends the rest of the 800+ pages taking us on a rollercoaster of events. Things you had believed to be true become suspect by a single question being asked. Good, heroic characters are morphed into broken, twisted people by a series of inevitable choices, and villians become victims before becoming self-sacrificing heroes.

When their father called them his Blades in his battle against the Csestriim, Valyn, Adare, and Kaden were untempered steel. And in book 1, they were obviously young adults, making young adult decisions. But by the time of book 3, the steel has been tempered. The Blades have been put to use. They’ve been bloodied, broken, mended, sharpened, and used. In the past books, they’ve been wielded by others, but in this book, they each come to a point where they make a decision to wield themselves. I have to say that the character development in this book is absolutely phenomenal. As I look at the arc of each character and see how they have matured and changed, I am simply amazed. These are truly three-dimensional characters. The characters at the end of The Last Mortal Bond are not the same characters from the beginning of The Emperor’s Blades. They’ve grown and adapted, and the voice Brian gives to each of them reflects that!

I will definitely be reading this series again….and probably again after that. It is giving fierce competition for my favorite fantasy series, and for good reason!

Re-read Rating
( ) definitely won’t read again
( ) might read again
(x) definitely would read again

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“Pantser” or “Outliner”

Over the years I’ve struggled getting started with writing anything longer than a short story or a couple of scenes. In one of the podcasts I listen to (Writing Excuses), they talk about two types of writers: Pantsers and Outliners

Pantsers are discovery writers. They have a vague idea of where they want the story to go and figure it out as they go along. Outliners are the opposite. They create a very-detailed outline of everything that’s going to happen from start to finish then fill in the little gaps with more words, causing the story to appear.

I’ve had a very hard time finding where I fit into that. I like being able to discover what happens as I write, but I like the idea of having the plot laid out for me. I’ve tried relying on either method and both have left me frustrated and discouraged.

Then one of the hosts (Dan Wells) mentioned in an episode that he falls somewhere in the middle. He creates a rough outline with the major points of what he wants the story to look like then discovery writes as he fills in the gaps of his outline. When he said that, it suddenly clicked for me that this ‘new writing style’ is what would work for me! It explains why I’ve been so frustrated with trying to write exclusively as either a Pantser or an Outliner. I’m a little bit of both!

I like to discover the story as I write, but I having a frame could provide the much-needed structure to my stories. This is probably why whenever I struggle writing an email I find myself plopping down the main points then elaborating on those points until I have a well-formed message.

So, with this new self-awareness, it’s time for me to go back to all those stories I started writing and build up a rough outline for them to give me some direction to discover what’s going to happen.

 

Perfect State

Perfect State
by Brandon Sanderson

PerfectStateI picked up this book for $.99 during a sale as I’m a big fan of Brandon’s and was interested in this Hugo-nominated novella. At just under 50 pages, I anticipated it being a quick read, and sure enough, it only took me about 45 minutes to tear through it.

Remember Neo from The Matrix? He was ‘The One’ in the simulated reality and had god-like abilities in the matrix. Take that image then expand it to where every real person was ‘The One’ in their own, tailored version of the matrix. That’s the setting for Perfect State. Each real person is (knowingly) in an artificial world where they can conquer, rule, and control it however they see fit. The creators of these worlds, the Wode, inform the people of the illusion, and introduce a number of things which break the ‘fourth wall.’

The Wode need the real people to procreate with each other in an artificial meeting place between their artificial worlds to continue humanity’s real existence (this had a hand-wavy answer as to ‘why,’ which I didn’t find all that satisfying of an answer, but hey, it’s a novella, right?). The parties must all be willing participants, and the resulting meeting between the all-powerful, egotistical ‘gods’ of each world is quite humorous. Throw in a little bit of danger with each person’s unique ‘powers’ not working in this meeting place, and you get a surprising amount of action and intensity. There’s also a highly satisfying plot twist at the end that I didn’t see coming.

All in all, I’m impressed that Brandon Sanderson was able to pack so much into so little. But then again, he’s one of my favorite authors for a reason!

Re-read Rating
( ) definitely won’t read again
( ) might read again
(x) definitely would read again

Recommendation Rating
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(x) definitely would recommend

(The sale is still going on! You can pick it up from your favorite ebook vendor here!)

The Providence of Fire

The Providence of Fire
Book 2 of The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne
by Brian Stavely

TheProvidenceOfFireWow! I thought The Emperor’s Blades was great, but The Providence of Fire upped the ante on the series and was even better! Not only was it longer (679 pages compared to 545), but the intensity of action and scope of plot increased as well!

The Providence of Fire returns us to the empire of Annur and the roles Kaden, Adare, and Valyn are playing in saving it. We (as the reader) are able to track the situations and thoughts of each of the characters, and it’s a wild ride as each are forced to make decisions that seem right in the moment….but if only they knew what the others knew, they might choose differently! There was one particular (major) plot point where I wasn’t sure which way it was going to go as the characters were being fed conflicting pieces of information. As chapter after chapter passed by, I wasn’t about to discern which was correct until the actual reveal! And even then I doubted the veracity of it.

The difference in the characters’ placement in the story from the beginning to the end is night and day. No longer are the three children trying to work together…instead, it appears that they’re setting themselves against each other! And yet, if they could all just be in the same room and talk to each other, you wonder if they’d resolve everything and present a unified front to the forces that are opposing them.

And those threats have increased as well. In The Emperor’s Blades, the big, bad threat was revealed to be the immortal Csestriim, but that understanding is challenged, and it now appears that the threat is even greater than them. But is it? Or is this just another ploy being made by the Csestriim to wipe out humanity? On one hand, the gods have been described as humanity’s saviors in the war against the Csestriim, but now it looks like the gods are the enemy….or are they? Who should be trusted!??!?

I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but I saw a thread of confronting bigotry woven throughout the story. Most of the characters had to individually decide what to do with their belief that a different race or people group (eg the Csestriim, Urghals, leaches, etc) was inherently evil. When forced to decide between accepting their help or out-of-hand dismissing (or killing) them, they each struggled…..and I as the reader struggled too! Even looking back on the story, I’m still conflicted about how they handled those decisions.

Each of the characters have been swept up in the current of history; they’re forced into situations where there are no good, easy decisions, and they keep taking the most obvious path. But by the end of the book, they have each come to a point where they put their foot down and started making waves. Whether those decisions will ultimately be for harm or for good remains to be seen.

I am eagerly anticipating finding out what happens in the next book. This series has definitely found a place among my favorite fantasy books, and it’s very possible they’ll take the top spot. Part of that is the intricate plot and how it’s told, and part of it is that Brian Staveley is an author who really knows his stuff. I have time and again stepped back and looked at the fourth wall and been highly impressed and how he’s telling this story.

Re-read Rating
( ) definitely won’t read again
( ) might read again
(x) definitely would read again

Recommendation Rating
( ) wouldn’t recommend
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2016 Reading List

~~Currently Reading~~

~~Read~~

  1. Forge of Darkness
  2. The Lightning Thief
  3. The Sea of Monsters
  4. The Titan’s Curse
  5. The Battle of the Labrynth
  6. The Last Olympian
  7. The First Confessor
  8. The Omen Machine
  9. The Bands of Mourning
  10. Mistborn: Secret History
  11. The Third Kingdom
  12. Severed Souls
  13. Warheart
  14. Staying is the new Going
  15. The Princess and the Goblin
  16. The Only Pirate at the Party
  17. Calamity
  18. The Red Pyramid
  19. The Princess and Curdie
  20. Dune
  21. The Queen’s Poisoner
  22. The Throne of Fire
  23. The Serpent’s Shadow
  24. Gemini Cell
  25. The Emperor’s Blades
  26. The Providence of Fire
  27. Perfect State
  28. The Last Mortal Bond
  29. Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell
  30. Bluescreen
  31. Leviathan Wakes
  32. Javelin Rain
  33. Gunner’s Apprentice
  34. The Martian
  35. Hollow City
  36. I, Night Angel
  37. Throne Of Glass
  38. The Rithmatist
  39. The Lies of Locke Lamora
  40. Uprooted
  41. Real Marriage
  42. Red Seas under Red Skies
  43. The Republic of Thieves
  44. Freedom from Performing
  45. Tales Beyond the Ninth World
  46. The Sparrow
  47. The Blood Mirror
  48. Emotional Intelligence 2.0
  49. Oh Crap! Potty Training
  50. 30 Day Praise Challenge
  51. Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes
  52. Ren of Atikala
  53. Ready Player One