“Come ride with me through the veins of history”

the invasion of the tearling


Spoilers for Queen of the Tearling ahead!

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I dove right into this book since I enjoyed the first one so much and I already owned it. (Yep, still kicking myself for not picking up the third!) Invasion of the Tearling deals with the consequences of Kelsea’s breaking of the treaty with the country of Mortmesne and the Red Queen. As the vastly superior Mort troops begin to invade the Tear Kelsea struggles with how to save her people, with her own growing anger in frustration that is manifesting itself in some truly horrifying ways, and with her visions of a woman named Lily who lived 300 years in Kelsea’s past.

I definitely enjoyed this book as much as the first one. Watching Kelsea’s past (which is our future) was very informative. I did find that the middle part of the book dragged a little but I often have this issue with books where an inevitable fate is approaching through most of the plot. Kelsea’s ultimate confrontation with the Red Queen in the end was extremely satisfying as well when she finally got her groove back at the book’s conclusion. While I still can’t wait to read the resolution in the third installment, I was okay with taking a break from the Tearling for a bit to read something else.


“I’m just like my country. I’m young and scrappy and hungry.”


I don’t usually finish a book and then immediately pick up the sequel. Now usually that’s because I don’t yet own the sequel but also I tend to want a change of pace genre-wise. But in the case of The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, I had to know what happened next. Fortunately, I had the first two books in the series already on my kindle (and I’m currently kicking myself for not picking up the third when I had the chance). The Tearling series is a fast paced, genre bending work of fiction that I can’t wait to finish.

Princess Kelsea Raleigh has been raised in exile by her foster parents. On her nineteenth birthday, her personal guard arrives to bring her to the royal Keep so that she can ascend to the throne. Unfortunately the kingdom Kelsea is inheriting is in shambles, beholden to the seemingly immortal Red Queen in the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne. Kelsea has been told little of the state of her kingdom or her mother who sent her away as a baby before she arrives in the capital and she immediately upsets the order of things. In addition, most of the people in power would like to see her dead before she is even crowned.

Kelsea is no Mary Sue character. She is plain and a little frumpy. She is smart, but no genius. She is however well read and highly moral thanks to her upbringing. It is this above all that drives Kelsea through this first book in the series. Her actions make her some powerful enemies and could spell disaster for everyone in her kingdom but she must act against the evil that has a grip on her land. Ultimately, Kelsea must use her education and her moral code to prove to those around her that she is a better ruler than those that have been in power.

This book is a mashup of both fantasy and, as you discover when you read dystopian future fiction. Although not everything is explained in the first book, The Tearling is located on Earth, but not anywhere we have seen before. Part of the reason to keep reading is not just to find out what will happen but what *has* happened. I can’t recommend this book enough.

“Color our world blackened”



My honest rating would be more like 3.5 but since I liked the book enough to read the next one in the series, I bumped it up to 4. Brandon Sanderson does a lot of things really well. He spins a hell of an epic yarn and he writes great fight and battle scenes. However I often find his characters fall a little flat for me, which I’ll address later in the review. Overall, the first book in the Mistborn series was engaging and fun and left some interesting plot points that hopefully get addressed in the next book.

The Lord Ruler has presided over The Final Empire for centuries. Beneath him are varying degrees of nobles and beneath them, the ska who are a permanent underclass said to be physically and mentally deficient though it becomes clear very early on that this is not the case. There’s a pretty obvious parallel to American slavery here. Kelsier, a former thief has become a legend by being the only ska sentenced to work in the Pits of Hasthin and escape with his life. He returns to the capital city with newly acquired powers of Allomancy, the power to use magic by burning ingested metals. He reunites with his former thieving crew and Vin a young vagrant with remarkable Allomantic powers with a plan to overthrow The Final Empire and The Lord Ruler. The plan is outrageous and unthinkable but his crew follows him along resulting in an engaging story.

My one quibble with this book, and Sanderson in general is that he can beat you over the head with his characters’ defining traits. Vin is MISTRUSTFUL. Kelsier is IRREVERENT. They are by no means one note but his books might be a hundred or so pages shorter if people didn’t spend so much time dwelling over their natures. Overall though, this and his Stormlight Archive are worthwhile reads. He creates amazing worlds and stories.

Mentally casting the film version as I read


There’s something deeply satisfying about finishing the first in a book series and loving it. A lot of smart people whose opinions I respect love the Gentleman Bastards series. Still, I am a persnickety reader and started it with some trepidation after a much needed bread from all the horror and true crime I’d been reading for the month of October. Lies of Locke Lamora does not disappoint. It’s good enough to be a stand alone novel but still leaves potential for more stories (of which there are) without any infuriating cliffhangers.

Locke Lamora and his small but loyal gang call themselves the Gentleman Bastards. The rest of the thieving community, which is huge in the city of Camorr, believes them to be low level second story men. In fact, they are talented con men who pull of complicated scams on the cities rich and powerful nobles. Life is good for Locke and the Gentleman Bastards until they find themselves unwitting pawns in an underworld power struggle. Things go from bad to worse in short order and Locke is forced to use all of his wit and bravado to make things right.

Aside from a plot that sucks you in from the beginning, I liked ALL the characters. All of them were well written. Unlike some fantasy series, I was never forced to start skimming when certain characters appeared. They were all great. Eventually I will get my hands on the second book in the series but I am currently on a self-imposed book buying hiatus until after the holidays.

History, Political Intrigue and a Little Bit of Magic

the stockholm octavo


This book contains lots of things I love (history, political intrigue and magic) along with some great character development throughout the course of the story. If I found out HBO or AMC decided to make this book into a miniseries I’d squeal and clap my hands like a little girl. The result, if done well, would be an exciting and colorful ride through late 18th Century Sweden.

The story centers around Emil Larsson, a bureaucrat living in Stockholm during the reign of King Gustav III. Emil is living a happy bachelor’s life until a tarot card reading promises him a golden path toward love and connection. In his attempt to follow the path set forth by the spread (called an octavo by its inventor), Emil finds himself a player in a conspiracy involving a potential revolt against the king by the nobles who resent him taking much of their power and giving it to the citizenry.

There’s so much to enjoy about this book. If all the history, political intrigue and magic don’t appeal to you, there’s also so much beauty in the clothing and accessories of the major players and the town of Stockholm itself all of which is described in sumptuous detail by the author. The winter scenery makes me want to reread it during the dead of winter while curled up in front of a fireplace with some hot cider.