Toss a Coin to Your Witcher: Reviewing The Last Wish (An Introduction to The Witcher) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hello everybody! I am doing better and I hope you all are doing better as well. I just got done re-watching Avatar: The Last Airbender and felt a little inspired by Uncle Iroh. I made a cup of tea and hunkered down with a good book. In this case, I was inspired by my newest Netflix obsession, The Witcher. Now, I am really not much of a gamer so I can’t speak to the video game but (obviously) I am a reader who has been lacking in the fantasy series department for a while. I may have finally filled the hole in my heart left behind by Game of Thrones.

Geralt of Rivia is a witcher, a fighter who is skilled in magic and murder. Before hearing a call to destiny, Geralt must traverse across the country and battle dangerous monsters in this series of short stories.

I apologize now for the vague summary but it took me a minute to realize that this novel is not the first book in the series, but an introduction to the actual series. I found this to be the most interesting aspect of the novel and one of the most enjoyable. I like the way Sapkowski eases you as the reader into the world as, sometimes, adult fantasy can be rather jarring with its levels of violence and sex. While there is violence and sex in the novel, it didn’t feel gratuitous. It also didn’t feel like the story had to stop for violence or sex. There was still plenty of room for Geralt’s character development as well as interesting world building. I also thoroughly enjoyed the dry and understated humor that was sprinkled throughout the writing. Overall, I enjoyed this first step into The Witcher series and I absolutely bought the first novel before I even finished this one. (Also the Netflix series is fairly faithful, if you are interested.)

Power Has Its Price: Reviewing The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Hi everybody! I hope a lot of you are at least seeing some improvement in every day life. I’m from the US so I don’t have many positive things to say at this exact moment. It felt very serendipitous that the prequel to The Hunger Games be released now. I had almost forgotten it was coming out this year until I saw the display at the store where I work. Of course, I bought a copy immediately. In my opinion, The Hunger Games trilogy still holds up as I read it through adult eyes. Now, let’s relive our pre-teen/teen glory days as we talk about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

As the tenth annual Hunger Games approaches, a young Coriolanus Snow is desperate to restore his once great family name to glory. When he’s given the opportunity to be a mentor for the Hunger Games, he realizes the odds are stacked against him as he must face his better prepared classmates. His initial anger with being tasked to mentor the tribute from District 12 turns into an opportunity when he meets the enigmatic, charming, and spontaneous Lucy Gray Baird. With a new sense of hope, Coriolanus must make sure that Lucy Gray survives the dangers of the arena, while he tries to survive the dangers outside of the arena.

Like many fans of the original trilogy, I was nervous at the idea of a prequel coming out so many years later. I, however, quickly became swept up in the world of Panem once again. Coriolanus Snow is an interesting character study, given the impression we have of him from the original trilogy. The novel presents an interesting dilemma as it shows someone who is so close to the edge of compassion for the reader, but still manages to be unlikeable. He has an almost similar origin story to Katniss, but with a different approach to the systems that have been used to oppress a population. Some work against it from the outside, while others work for it from the inside. The world of Panem was still just as familiar, but Collins adds a level of uncertainty as the Hunger Games are still in its infancy in this novel. I found this to be a very compelling read with the same no-holds barred level of violence and brutal honesty from the trilogy. I would say that fans of The Hunger Games will find this an interesting addition that offers an even more complex look at the dystopia of Panem.

One Embraces One’s Enemy: Reviewing Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Hello everybody! Again, I hope you are all doing well and still holding together as we all start to realize that quarantine isn’t nearly as fun as it sounds. (Not that anything about this situation is fun. I’m just hoping my sarcasm is clear in text). I am officially done with my semester and my brain is fried. Thankfully, I have time to get to my TBR list. I’m also planning on posting a “boredom” list of random things I have found to keep myself occupied. Before I get that, let’s talk about Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James.

Tracker was well-known for his ability to hunt down anyone or anything with his remarkable sense of smell. When he’s hired to track down a nameless boy, he must team up with a shape shifting man only known as Leopard and other misfits. The more Tracker searches for the boy, the more creatures and enemies he runs into who are also after the boy. Now, Tracker is in over his head and he must find the boy and the truth behind his search.

It took me longer than I would like to admit to get through this novel but I was thoroughly immersed the whole time. The narrative voice is so authentic and layered with different characters overlapping each other. The world of the book is so rich and detailed. Some of you might enjoy that this novel has several maps in it. This book is also so infused with mythology that it gives the novel an almost hallucinatory quality (in the best way). It is a truly unique experience reading Black Leopard, Red Wolf. It is definitely a novel you might need to re-read in order to fully absorb the world. I would recommend this if you are a fan of either The Children of Blood and Bone or Game of Thrones. It delivers that epic element that all fantasy novels should.

Warning: The book does contain graphic violence and sexual violence. Please be aware if you are uncomfortable with either of those subjects.

Fierce, and Powerful, and Terrifying: Reviewing A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Hello everyone! I am back at it with another book review. I am back in school next week and I am hoping to post some reviews of the novels I’ll be reading in the near future, among my personal TBR stack. Before I begin talking about this novel, I encourage you to go read my previous reviews of this series. It’s time to talk about A Conjuring of Light.

The connections of the four Londons are beginning to fray as the shadow king Osaron seeks to take over all of the worlds. Kell must protect his brother Rhy and his kingdom against this ancient evil. Lila Bard must learn to control her powers before they control her. With the help of disgraced pirate captain Alucard Emery and other unlikely allies, they must race to find a way to save the four Londons and be ready to make any sacrifices necessary.

I am going to be a little honest: this novel was a bit of a letdown. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed 90% of it but there was a lot that left me wanting at the end. There was still a lot to these worlds that Schwab doesn’t dig into and parts that I honestly didn’t care to know about. I still loved how fully fleshed out the characters were. Their interactions felt natural and honest within this magical world. Everything was believable in its own way. Schwab does an excellent job creating perilous situations with very high stakes. I was certainly upset in some parts. While there were still parts of this novel that I didn’t particularly like, I still enjoyed this series overall and thought that the ending was thoughtful and sweet without being cloying. I would definitely recommend this for fans of fantasy that have officially moved out of the YA genre. I really did enjoy this trilogy and wish I could have more.

Whatever I am, Let it be enough: Reviewing A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

Hello everyone! I’m coming at you with (probably) my last book review of the year. I’m planning on doing my annual favorites list after Christmas. I have a stack of books that has grown considerably over the past couple of months. At the university I go to, we have a table where people can put books they want to give away. Obviously, I checked it every day and will continue to do so. All the while, I am hooked on V.E. Schwab’s series, Shades of Magic. Now, let’s talk about the second book, A Gathering of Shadows.

It’s been four months since Kell, Delilah Bard, and Rhy faced off against the Danes in White London. Since then, Delilah had run off with the handsome sea captain, Alucard Emery. Now, Kell and Rhy prepare for the Essen Tasch, a magical tournament created to unite the kingdoms. All the while, something dark stirs in White London and can only return to life by destroying another London.

I absolutely adored the first book in this series and this second one was still enjoyable. The pacing was a little slow in the beginning, as it went back and forth between Delilah and Kell. There was some great world building, along with plenty of action when it was needed. Schwab does an excellent job fleshing out the other cultures without just making them “others.” The plot is still very grounded in Kell’s story, which is endlessly enjoyable. Like I said, the novel was slow for a bit but once it got going, I couldn’t put it down. I am incredibly excited to keep reading this series. I still recommend Shades of Magic if you want a “new adult” series that keeps the balance between entertaining magic and an intriguing storyline.

To Travel, To Dispel, To Heal: Reviewing A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Hello everyone! I’m coming back at you with another book review sooner than I anticipated. In truth, it is because I had a really hard time putting this book down. I have reviewed two other novels by Schwab, so feel free to check out those. Now, we are starting a new series and I’m going to tell you all about A Darker Shade of Magic.

Four Londons exist along side each other and only few can travel between them. Kell is an Antari, one of the few who possess the magic needed to travel between these Londons. Officially, he works as a royal ambassador between the kingdoms. On the side, he smuggles magical artifacts across the worlds. When an item from Black London, the fallen London, comes into his possession, he finds himself in much more trouble than he anticipated. While trying to hide this item, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a professional thief and pirate, who forces him to take her to his London. The two must return the artifact to Black London and keep it out of the hands of those who mean to use it to destroy the boundaries between the Londons.

It has been a minute since I have gotten so invested in a novel from the very first chapter. Schwab excels at world building and this novel is no exception. The action and pacing are steady and suspenseful. The characters are charmingly imperfect. The magic rules in the world are well thought out. This book certainly is violent but not in a gratuitous way. It has the kind of exciting magical duels I’ve only really seen in the likes of Harry Potter. This novel is for the more mature fantasy seeker who is ready to move beyond the magic of YA novels. I highly (highly!) recommend this novel if you are looking for an awesome fantasy and adventure novel with a nice dose of magic. A Darker Shade of Magic delivered on all fronts for me.

Big Gods Don’t Cry: Reviewing The Tyrant’s Tomb (Book Four of the Trials of Apollo) by Rick Riordan

Hey everybody! I haven’t completely fallen off the face of the Earth yet. Granted, I’m still super busy but I have my weekends back for some relaxation, which includes catching up on my books. In case you have forgotten, I am still a fan of Rick Riordan and all of his series. I actually saw The Lightning Thief: The Musical earlier this year and loved the hell out of it. Now, it’s time to talk about the latest book in The Trials of Apollo series, The Tyrant’s Tomb.

Yes, Apollo is still teenaged boy with unfortunate name of Lester. Yes, he is still miserable. Thanks for asking. To make things worst, it turns out his mortal birthday also happens to be the day that Caligula and Commodus are planning to attack Camp Jupiter, home of the Roman demigods. On top of all of that, an evil undead king is planning on attacking once the blood moon rises. And if you think it couldn’t get worse, Apollo also must figure out how to cure the poison inflicted on him by ghoul. With all of that being said, he must team up with Meg, Frank, Hazel, and Reyna (and a few other unlikely friends) to save Camp Jupiter or (hopefully not) die trying.

I’m still surprised by how much I am enjoying this series. I really didn’t think that I would be delving back into the world of YA novels. Riordan has proven to have staying power, though. I guess the connection I make with this novel is the fact the main character (Apollo/Lester) is technically an adult who then has to deal with the struggles of teen angst as well as deal with adult issues. He still makes for an enjoyable main character to follow. This novel had a slightly more emotional angle to it as we have Apollo facing his past actions and coping with that guilt, which is kind of a heavy topic for a YA novel. I did enjoy that aspect of it, though. Riordan still keeps a nice sarcastic tone throughout the novel that never feels like it is too much or inappropriate. There was plenty of action and adventure to be had that every Riordan novel gives you. Go ahead and read The Trials of Apollo. I’m looking forward to the next novel. Also, I might go see The Lightning Thief on Broadway in the near future.

Bring Back God, Then We’ll Talk: Reviewing Only Human (Book Three of the Themis Files) by Sylvain Neuvel

Hey everyone! I’m back at it again with another book review. I hope you all missed me. In exciting life news, my grad school orientation is happening this upcoming week as I’m writing this. I’ll definitely try to give some more life updates about grad school, if anyone is interested. For now, let’s talk about the final book of The Themis Files trilogy.

It’s been almost ten years since Dr. Rose Franklin, Vincent Couture, Eva Reyes, and General Govender were transported to the alien world of Esat Ekt. They successfully returned to Earth, only to find a war between Russian and America raging on. With the use of alien technology, the human population is doomed to destroy itself unless Rose and the rest can find a way to stop it.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this sci-fi trilogy as I haven’t read one that had such a strong human element that balanced out the fantastical sci-fi elements. I will admit that this novel did feel slow in the beginning as it goes back and forth between them discovering their new alien home and them being interrogated in Russia. I did enjoy the parts of Esat Ekt, though, and how it felt so similar to the world as we know it. It almost gave the feeling of walking into your living room, but everything was moved two inches to the left. Another element I enjoyed about this book is how it was able to include the very timely topic of racial profiling and interning people just because of their ethnicity. Some people might see it as preachy. I, however, appreciated how Neuvel was able to integrate it into the story without it feeling like it was coming out of nowhere. I was also able to appreciate Neuvel’s take on familial relationships and what it means to be a family. Only Human was nice, solid ending for Neuvel’s trilogy. Overall, I found the trilogy immensely enjoyable and would recommend it to all sci-fi fans, especially fans of giant robots.

I too have an opinion on the final season of Game of Thrones

Hi everybody! Sorry but not sorry that it has been so long since I have last posted anything. I now have two jobs so, I hope you understand I have make that paper. I’m sure many of you on this website are fans of Game of Thrones. I read the books in high school around the time that the show started. It’s safe to say that I have been invested in the series as a whole for a while. This final season, which should have been incredibly epic and satisfying, has been anything but that. Before I go any farther, I do want to say that this is no shade towards the actors or the actual filming, as both are still great. I want to talk about the writing and some weird decisions that the writers seem to have made. BIG SPOILER WARNING! If you are not caught up, you may exit now. If you don’t care about spoilers and/or the show, then you may proceed.

The Character Development: Who needs consistency in their characters’ development, right? Honestly, this is my biggest gripe with the show currently, even though there is only one episode left. It’s really disheartening to see some of my favorite characters grow so much, only to be stopped for the plot. For an example, I shall direct you to Tyrion and Jaime Lannister. In my humble opinion, they have had some of the best personal development in this show. The Lannister brothers have fought so hard against their sister and we were all so proud when they finally broke away from Cersei. What happens next? Tyrion somehow becomes very convinced that she’s going to willingly surrender, even after we watched her blow up the Sept just to keep her crown. Jaime, even after he finally gets together with Brienne, decides to run back to Cersei for no reason other than he feels guilty. I’m sorry but what? You keep expecting for some sort of turn around but, then it doesn’t happen. They aren’t the only victims of this, though. Jon Snow and Daenerys aren’t much better off. Cersei even ended up being a bit of a letdown.

The Pacing: With a short run, the episodes can’t be too jam packed in order to draw out the suspense. I do normally love that but, in this case, the pacing of the show has just been off. From the battle with the Night King to the battle in Kings Landing everything feel like it should be in a different order. I don’t know how to explain it any better. Maybe some you know what I am trying to get at. I just feel like everything could be rearranged in a better order to make the story feel more cohesive. Honestly, I think that the battle for Kings Landing should have happened in the middle and the battle with the Night King should have happened at the end. I also think that the character deaths have been put in weird places as well.

The Treatment of Women: Let’s put on our feminist lens for just a moment. For starters, none of the episodes have been directed by or written by women. I’m going to call that a red flag. The female characters have not always been treated well in the show but, we have seen them bounce back and become triumphant. Unfortunately, these strong female characters have been devolved to pure emotion. Now, I’m not saying that female characters have to be perfect and strong all the time, but they do have to have development that sticks. In this season, it seems like all of that amazing characterization has been thrown out the window. (See character development above). The only female character whose development has stuck is Arya. (Honestly, she is my favorite this season). It seems like they’re going back to favoring the male characters.

The Forgotten Lore: As you all know, the show contains forms of magic that have been explored throughout the various seasons. They have helped to compose various plot points as well. Some of the biggest forms of magic have been in prophecies. Azor Ahai (aka The Prince who was Promised) and the Valonqar (Cersei’s prophecy) were huge points in the books and they were brought up in the show. It seems, however, that they have been tossed aside as well. I really liked the magical aspect of the show and I wish we could have explored it further. (By the way, I’m going to leave it to you to look up those prophecies. It leads into a lot of fan theories.)

Those were my gripes. Let me know in the comments if you have any other grievances that I may have forgotten.

Whatever It Takes: Reviewing Avengers: Endgame, directed by the Russo Brothers

Hi everyone! In case you weren’t aware, I am a diehard superhero nerd and an especially bigger Marvel nerd. This weekend, the final installment in the Avengers series was released. I actually got out of the movie about an hour ago as I am typing this. This weekend is particularly eventful as a very important episode of Game of Thrones is coming up on Sunday, Gotham has officially ended after five seasons, and Supernatural is coming up on its final season. Since I am emotionally overwhelmed, I decided to do my first movie review on this blog. Maybe I’ll even go back and review the past Marvel movies. SPOILER WARNING RIGHT NOW!! TURN BACK IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE AND DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED. However, if you either don’t care about spoilers, have seen the movie, or are not planning on seeing the movie, then feel free to continue onwards in this review.

It’s been four years since Thanos wiped out half the universe. The remaining Avengers have all gone their separate ways and are finding ways to cope with their losses. When Scott Lang (aka Ant Man) returns from a quantum realm, he brings with him the possibility of being able to save everyone they lost. It’s up to the Avengers to continue the fight to bring back what they lost or lose everything in the process.

I have been following the MCU for the last decade now. I knew that this would be the last movie featuring the original six Avengers and, I have to say, I was pretty pleased with how certain storylines were wrapped up. I will say that not all of the Avengers survived this movie, but that doesn’t mean that their ends weren’t satisfying. It was definitely a lot of my worst fears come true. The movie, however, doesn’t forget to have heart and humor. Chris Hemsworth probably had the most fun as, in the movie, Thor lets himself go in order to cope with his losses. Seeing the famously ripped Hemsworth with a beer gut is pretty hilarious. Another aspect of the movie I liked was all of the callbacks to the previous movies and some carrying over of aspects from past movies. The humorous aspects of the Ant Man movies, Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and the Thor movies were easy to be seen. They also kept the serious aspects that came from the Captain America and Iron Man movies. It also made the movie feel a little meta. The end battle is absolutely fantastic. Many a fan theory was confirmed during this portion of the movie and it made my little fangirl heart flutter. Soon after, my heart was absolutely crushed. I am so glad that I have gotten to enjoy these movies and can’t wait for future movies. It hardly felt like three hours. My fellow Avengers fans: absolutely go see this movie. You will regret it if you see it but you will also regret it if you don’t see it. Bring tissues and don’t drink any water.