October 2018 Books

Whoa, I was on a roll again last month! Let’s get to it

6609744Kat Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis

This book has been on my TBR list for a few years now, and it’s satisfying to finally get around to it.

Kat comes from a family with magic, which is lucky for her because her oldest sister is about to get married to a man rumoured to have murdered his previous wife.

I really love how packed this book is with action. It’s short, but so many things happen. I love Kat’s relationship with her sisters, how they don’t always get along, but deep down they have each others’ best interest at heart. I really enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

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Self-Editing for Fiction Writersby Renni Browne and Dave King

This is a gem of a book! Remember when I was worrying about telling vs showing in another blog post? Well, this book answers that question and so much more! I’m glad I finished it before I started editing my story. I highly recommend this book!

 

 

13149420Quicksilver by R.J Anderson

I read the prequel to this book last year at around the same time, and I enjoyed it a lot.

In this book, we follow Tori, the “perfect” girl from the prequel, as she tries to start anew in a different city. But she quickly finds out that her past is catching up to her, and to escape it, she must be willing to do some pretty drastic things.

I actually liked this book more than I liked Ultraviolet, only because the scope was bigger. Ultraviolet was constrained to the hospital that Alison stayed in for most of the book. Anyway, I loved Tori’s character, especially how she studied really hard to be perfect. The way Alison described her before, she seemed too good to be true. I enjoyed seeing some of the events of Ultraviolet in her perspective as well. Oh, and I really enjoyed the way her friendship with Milo unfolded. And I loved that bittersweet ending. Basically I loved the book, lol.

14059024The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

Another series that I’m so glad I got into! In this book, Lucy, Lockwood and George try to solve a case that might related to the ghost of the skull that George experiments on. Meanwhile, the trio try to preserve the company’s reputation, and more importantly, the trust between each of them.

I am really, really loving this series! I love Lucy, her personality, the way she narrates the story. I love her friendship with both Lockwood and George. The only flaw I see right now is that she has the whole “not-like-other-girls” attitude going on, so I’m hoping to see some character arc to address that eventually.

The Lockwood books are fast-paced and well-written, with the tension kept up at all times. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. And yeah, I hope nobody dies, haha.

11545776 Write the Fight Right by Alan Baxter

There’s quite a bit of fighting in my book, so I figured I might as well learn how to write those parts well. The advice given in this book is to focus on the character’s perspective and their feelings, because that’s more important than giving the details or names of all the specific techniques the character uses. Things like those just bog down the story. It’s a short book with lots of helpful suggestions, so if you have a couple of hours, I think you won’t lose anything by picking it up and giving it a go.

 

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September 2018 Reads

I didn’t do very well this month! I thought I was going to be on a roll, considering the momentum I built up in August, but events from real life interfered quite a bit.

I only finished one book this month.

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It’s no secret that Megan Whalen Turner is one of my favourite authors, so it’s actually surprising that it took me so long to read this book. Instead of Three Wishes is an anthology of short stories. Other than the Queen’s Thief series, this is the only other publication that MWT has. I’m not used to reading something from her that isn’t about Queen’s Thief, so I wondered how well I would get into it.

I shouldn’t have worried at all! Megan Whalen Turner is such an impressive writer that she can write about anything and still grab my attention! The thing about her writing is that it has such a compelling voice; it really pulls you in. She never gets in the way of her own story.

Each story in this anthology has a different flavour, a different atmosphere. The Baker King is probably the most similar to her Queen’s Thief series. I found the story about the selkie really haunting for some reason, as well as the one about the ghosts who were reading (didn’t expect that certain ending from MWT). Oh, and I really like The Nightmare as well. It’s about a bully named Kevin who becomes cursed with nightmares where he sees the events of his day from the perspective of people he interacted with, and he feels their emotions towards him. It’s a really different kind of story from the ones that are popular today, where most of the time protagonists achieve their character arcs by finally deciding they don’t care about what people think (alternatively, stories like Nosedive from Black Mirror show negative character arcs by demonstrating what happens when you continue to care about what people think). I think it’s refreshing to find a story that sends a message that sometimes taking into account other people’s opinions of you can make you a better person.

Anyway, if there’s anything I learned from reading this book, it’s that I will read whatever Megan Whalen Turner writes.

August 2018 Books

And it’s time for my monthly reading recap! I’m proud to say I actually did well this August. At the beginning of the month, I was 4 books behind my Goodreads Reading challenge, and now I’m one book ahead. To be fair, two of these “books” were comic volumes, but hey, I needed the boost.

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To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

Aaand, starting us off, we have a sci-fi classic! To Say Nothing of the Dog is about a bunch of historians who time-travel, and find themselves pulling forward into the future an member of an extinct species: a cat! And before this destroys the time-space continuum, Ned Henry and Verity Kindle must return the  cat and fix the incongruities they’ve introduced.

This was a lot of fun! Although I found the beginning quite tedious and a little difficult to get into, once you pass the quarter mark, it gets very entertaining. And the end offers a really pleasant twist that you might not have seen coming. (Not the butler though; I saw the butler thing coming, hehe.)

13190596The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

A year ago, I read the first book in Courtney Milan’s “Brothers Sinister” series, “The Duchess War,” and ended up thoroughly enjoying it even though it was one of the rare times I ventured out of my SFF comfort zone. Earlier this year, I read the follow-up novella, and this time, I was up for a short, fun fluffy romance after the roller-coaster ride I got with To Say Nothing of the Dog. And I was already confident that Courtney Milan’s style and characterization would give me what I was looking for, so I went ahead and read the prequel novella. It did not disappoint! I think I will do something really unusual and read this entire romance series.

Mythspace Vol. 1 and 2 by Paolo Chikiamco

Mythspace is a 3-volume graphic novel about a young man who discovers that the folklore his grandmother used to tell him are actually true! But not in the way he thought it would be. This graphic novel reimagines Filipino folklore in an SFF setting, showcasing mythological creatures from the manananggal, to the capre, and laho. I really enjoyed reading these two volumes, and I was a little sad to find that the volumes aren’t being sold anymore at Kobo.

8511599Eskrima: Filipino Martial Art by Krishna Godhania

I started reading this a few months back, because I needed an introduction to Filipino combat system as part of the research for my story. At first, I was a little skeptical of this book, and it seemed like it made assumptions about its audience (specifically, that you’ll be male, as there was a scene the author asks you to envision, where you might need to use self-defence when you’re out at night with a member of the opposite gender and you guys somehow come across sketchy people who have bad intentions towards your date — needless to say the image that popped in my head was probably not the one the author intended).

But apart from the introduction, I found his explanation of Filipino martial-arts system incredibly detailed and helpful. I don’t think it would substitute the knowledge you gain by actually signing up for classes (which I’m hoping I get to do soon), but there is enough, I believe, to get a writer on a pretty good path to describing how FMA works in fighting scenes. There are also dozens of helpful images and diagrams as well.

33230889The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

So, so, so. I was working on finishing off my 3rd draft this month, but I found myself lacking the creativity to keep up the tension in my scenes. So I decided I should probably read some thrillers or mysteries to figure out how to keep good tension.

The Good Daughter is the first mystery/thriller book I’ve ever read, and it really gives you what you’re looking for. As soon as I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. I read it in a day. I even stayed up until 2 in the morning reading it (that hasn’t happened since I was reading Six of Crows / Crooked Kingdom).

July 2018 Books

The Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh Johnson

The Secrets of Solace is the 2nd book in the World of Solace Series. I read the first, Mark of the Dragonfly several years ago and I remember liking it very much. This book is a standalone like the first, dealing with an entirely different cast set in a different part of the world. In this book, we follow Lina, a young archivist, who finds a mysterious airship stuck in the tunnels of her home. She befriends a boy named Ozben who happens to be on the run from assassins.

I thought that this book had the same imaginative story and characters that the first book did, but it didn’t have the same sense of adventure. Perhaps because Lina and Ozben spend most of their time in the strongholds of the mountain where the archivists live. The plot enfolds only in that place until the climax. What I really liked about this book though is how Lina and Ozben’s character arcs intertwined.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

I feel like you would enjoy this book more if you’re prepared for what it really is. The summary provided tells of Isobel, a talented painter, who gets whisked away by the Autumn Fae Prince, Rook, after she accidentally paints sorrow in his eyes. He loses face at court and intends to have her punished to bring him back to his people’s good graces.

I read Goodreads reviews of this book before diving into it, so I know that it’s not in fact a book about court intrigue, but a book spent on travelling together through the woods. And that was what it really was. It’s just a pretty straightforward story of two people who journey through the forest rife with danger and end up falling in love (though they fall in love pretty quickly, and the 2nd half is all about how they survive the dangers). I think people who like simple, journey-based stories like this would enjoy this book. I personally enjoyed the self-indulgent feel it had. Sometimes you just need a book about two people in the woods falling in love, you know what I mean?

My only frustration really was that the inciting event of Isobel painting sorrow in Rook’s eyes and the consequence of that was never really explored. It just felt like the inciting event was not integrated into the actual story, except to get the hero and heroine to travel together.

PSF11 Launch, 07/18 Camp NaNoWriMo Overview and Other Updates

This post is a month overdue, but I was too busy crunching in my word counts for Camp NaNoWriMo to write this.

Without further ado, Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 11 is out now!

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It’s been a long time coming. This volume has been in the works for almost 2 years, and I am so, so honoured that the piece I submitted was accepted. My short story is called The Goddess of Debt and it’s about a young woman who is unexpectedly chosen to be a human sacrifice. Yikes, I know that sounds a little morbid, but the story isn’t really about the sacrifice, as it is about the Goddess who offers her a way out, and about whether she will take it or not.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the PSF series, it is an annual anthology that celebrates speculative fiction written by Filipinos about Filipinos for anyone at all who is interested in the genre. It’s one of the few avenues out there that brings Filipino stories out to the world. The good news for you is that all the stories in the anthologies are written in English. So please support it if you can! It would mean a lot to me, whose piece is the first original fiction I’ve written that has ever been published, and to the producers of the anthology who work tirelessly year after year to serve an underserved area of fiction.


And on to Camp NaNoWriMo…

For those of you who have followed my blog for at least a year now, you probably noticed that I try to participate in as many as NaNoWriMos as I can. It’s because it really motivates me to just write down my story. Another reason why I join is because I get an excuse to write about my writing! Writing is such a solitary process, but when you’re part of a program that you know hundreds of thousands of other people are also doing, it makes the experience a little more social.

This month, as I tried to churn out those 50K words while real life was trying its hardest to prevent me from doing so (I swear, it really seemed like it was), I’ve come to realize how much I appreciated the messages written by the camp counsellors. These are real writers who take the time out of their lives to give us newbies (or seasoned — depending on where you are in your career during NaNo) some tips and tricks, as well as kind words to keep us going. Sometimes, I would come home and feel like I don’t even want to open up my word document, or I’d start to lose heart in my story (again), but I would see one of these messages in my inbox, and I’d have the strength to just put down maybe a few hundred words.

So I would like to share with you some of the messages that really helped me this month.

From author Claire Kann:

One of the hardest parts of drafting is getting to The End! While drafting do you prefer to revise as you go, rereading and polishing your previous day’s work before moving on? Or do you prefer to write out of order as the scenes come to you and connect the dots later? Personally, I am a zero drafter. I word-vomit the entire story in chronological order, not stopping to fix anything. There are multiple ways to draft, and no one way is going to work for everyone. It’s important to find a method that works best for you.

And what do you know, I’m a “word-vomiter” too!

From author Kristin Chen:

Just as important as writing every day (or as close to it as you can manage) is reading every day. I read as much as I can, and broadly, too, not just research for my work-in-progress. In my experience, it’s often the books that resemble yours the least that end up unlocking something in your writing. And when this happens, it’s a wonderful reminder of how mysterious and magical this whole process is—and how lucky we are to be writers.

I don’t read every day, nor do I write every day when it’s not NaNoWriMo. (Can you imagine? I have a full-time programming job, and my hobbies include reading, writing and drawing. Practitioners of all 4 of these get told to do these things everyday! I’d be dead if I were to try that!) But I do appreciate Kristin Chen’s advice that we shouldn’t avoid reading when we’re writing, because it’s food for your creativity!

Here’s a bit from Gloria Chao:

Everyone’s process is different so listen to your gut: if you’re not feeling it today, it’s okay if you don’t hit your word count. Take a break, read, relax, and come back when you’re refreshed. You can make up for these days later when you’re more on a roll. And remember: it’s not about the number but the work you’ve put in, which sometimes can’t be easily quantified.

I always have an equivalent metric for the word count, like number of chapters or the part of the story that I should reach by a certain date. It helps me contextualize that this isn’t about the word count, but about helping you reach the milestones in your story.

And finally, from Jessica Strawser:

I once had the privilege of interviewing Patricia Cornwell—who was adamant that insecurity can be good for a writer. “I’ll be honest,” she said. “When somebody has written their first novel and they tell me how fantastic it is, I know it’s probably not very good. It’s usually the person who says, ‘I’m not sure what I think…’ and then you look at the thing and go, ‘Now that is really special.’ So it’s not bad to be a little insecure. It makes you work harder and pay attention.” When I’m pushing through a draft and that hopeless feeling creeps in, I remember this. Feeling uncertain could be a sign of real magic! You’ll never know if you don’t see it through.

You guys know me. Y’all have seen all my Writing Woes posts. I have major angst about my novel. Knowing that it’s okay to feel uncertain about your story makes me more hopeful that it’s probably not as bad as it might seem.


So where does this get me?

This camp helped me get to the midpoint of my 3rd draft. I really want to finished the 3rd draft before fall, so I will take a few days break, write the outline for the rest of the story, and use August to finish it off. I am hoping that after a little bit of tidying up and editing, I can start letting other people read my story to get some feedback.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on my online presence. I usually drop off the face of the earth when I’m doing NaNoWriMo, but I know I need to improve my reach if I want to get some feedback for my story. I’ll be reworking my website, probably spend a bit more time blogging, and of course, there’s always my Schoolism assignments to help me generate original artwork to post.

Here’s a question for you guys. What are you more interested in seeing? Do you want to see more posts about my story? About the writing process? What I’m reading? The research? How about posts that are more collaborative, you know, something that doesn’t scream ‘Me, Me, Me’ like all my posts do? Lol. Let me know, because I have a hard time gauging the interests of people. If it were left up to me, I’d just talk about my story. But I know that there are people who don’t like that, because the story should speak for itself, and once the story is out there, nothing the author says about it that isn’t written as canon ever really matters.

So, yup, let me know!

June 2018 Books

Since I managed to finish The Way of Kings, I was able to move on ahead and read several more books last month! So let’s get to it.

 

The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove

I bought this book last year on a day off mostly because it looked like the type of adventurous MG books that I really like, plus it had a blurb by my favourite author, Megan Whalen Turner. I didn’t get to it until just recently. In this book, the world has been fractured by something called the Great Disruption, where different areas of the world are in different eras. Sophia lives with her uncle, Shadrock, one of the best cartologists among all eras. But one day, Shadrock is kidnapped, and Sophis teams up with a boy named Theo to get him back.

Read More »

Blanking Out on Titles

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Hey guys! I know I haven’t updated very often lately, but it doesn’t mean I’ve been slacking off! On the contrary, I’ve signed up for the next round of Camp NaNoWriMo next month, and during the last couple of weeks I’ve been preparing extensively for it.

First of all, do you guys like the new artwork? =P As I mentioned in my last blog post, I decided not to do my Schoolism assignments one by one, but rather, take note of each lesson and apply it to whatever I’m working on. I haven’t drawn Anina and Sano in so long, and I was in need of some new official art. I really tried to apply the things I learned about pictorial composition here. (On that note, does anyone know how to properly assign resolution to web images? I heard 1200px is the best, but my images still turn out oddly low-res.)

Anyway, I’ve spent the last few weeks restructuring my story. When I finished draft 2, I was convinced that it needed further leaning down and I was prepared to take it apart and put it back together in an entirely new way. As things turned out, the outline I have now is actually not that far from the previous version, which is great because it means I get to use some of the material from draft 2. Even though I tried to approach the story in an entirely different way, I still ended up coming with the same general flow — I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing though. It could mean that I’ve already nailed down the things that make the most sense for my characters, or it could mean I’ve gotten stuck into a single frame of mind. =/

One big change though is the names. I was never truly satisfied with the names of the places I’ve been using, so before I begin this new draft, I chose better-fitting names. One downside (or possibly upside) to this is that while I was browsing my Tagalog-English dictionary, I discovered that the word “aplaya” was actually derived from Spanish. I had intended to name the setting of the story “Alaya” from “aplaya,” fashioning it after the pattern of naming Filipino provinces after places near water. “Aplaya,” or the Spanish original, “playa” means beach. See, this is what I get for using Google Translate! Good thing I bought the dictionary. Needless to say, as this story is inspired by precolonial Tagalog culture, I can no longer use “Alaya.”

And because I’ve been using “Tales of Alaya” as the title for my work, I can no longer use that title either. I’m wary now of including names in my title just in case I make another goof-up, and end up changing names later. So now, I’m in desperate need for a title. Any suggestions? If you’re a writer, how do you usually come up with names for your works?

Leng’s 2017 Book Awards

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Aaaand it’s that time of the year again! This is the point in the year where I look at the fiction I’ve read the previous year and give out some fake awards (according to my humble opinion of course). I’ve been doing this for several years in a row now. If you want to see previous years’ awards, I have a link here in my post last year.

This year’s candidates are shown in the neat little image above I captured from Goodreads. I faded out the nonfiction books I read, because these awards are geared towards fiction only. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

Warning: Spoilers abound!!

Best Male Protagonist

  1. Eugenides (Queen’s Thief) — it’s almost not fair when I do my QT rereads, because every character there is just so badass.
  2. Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom) — okay, I gotta admit that Kaz is a very, very close second to Eugenides in most aspects. But it’s Eugenides’s capacity to be merciful despite tragedy that makes him a more compelling character than Kaz IMO.
  3. Lazlo Strange (Strange the Dreamer) — ugghhhh, I want to lift my 3-spot restriction, because I had to choose between Lazlo and Locke Lamora and Kell Maresh and Sophos! Why do I hate myself? Why did I read so many good books? Why is Harry Potter not on this list? I feel bad that Harry Potter did not make it in this list!

Best Female Protagonist

  1. Inej (Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom) — oh man, I love Inej, but TBH the only reason Attolia is not a top contender for this section is because she’s an antagonist in QoA and a secondary character in KoA and a minor character in both CoK and TaT. So Inej takes top spot for breaking my heart, and putting it back together.
  2. Isaveth (A Little Taste of Poison) — A lot of the female protagonists in the list are compelling characters but I would actually consider Isaveth to be the smartest out of all of them. At thirteen years old, no less.
  3. Balsa (Guardian of the Darkness) — again, the final spot is a toss between so many characters: we have crafty Shai, freaking chess genius Minerva Lane, pirate-wannabe Delilah Bard… so many great female characters. But among them, I think Balsa really captured my heart in this instalment of Moribito.

Best Male Secondary Character

  1. Wylan Van Eck (Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom) — I never said there would be no favouritism in this award show =P
  2. Quiz (A Little Taste of Poison) — ohh man, the Chat Noir vibes are real and dangerous
  3. Jean (Lies of Locke Lamora) — Ron Weasly, Erstwhile from A Face Like Glass and Archer from The Reader are close ties with Jean, but I had to choose.

Best Female Secondary Character

  1. Eddis (Queen of Attolia) — do I even need to explain this? It’s Eddis!
  2. Sophie (Castle in the Air) — I loved seeing Sophie in action again! Even as a secondary character, her personality still shines
  3. Hermione (Harry Potter) — I really liked how Hermione’s “nerdy” archetype is portrayed in the books. It’s both comedic but endearing, and while the others might be annoyed with her, I never was.

Best Sobstory

(I think I made this category back when I wasn’t reading such tragic books)

  1. Inej (Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom) — all crow members have a tragic backstory but I think Inej was the one who really pulled the heartstrings
  2. The god killer (Strange the Dreamer) — I forgot his name and I’ve returned the book to the library! Forgive me! He and his wife need a nice, long vacation
  3. Balsa (Guardian of the Darkness) — her fellow competitor for the last spot are Kamet and Attolia (QT), Archer (The Reader), and Minerva Lane (Duchess War). I chose Balsa because I think she had a worse past than either Kamet or Attolia or Minnie; and the narrative surrounding it feels more raw than Archer’s.

Best Backstory

  1. Minerva Lane (Duchess War) — seriously, she had one of the most creative premises I’ve ever read about.
  2. Holland (Darker Shade of Magic) — this is a little bit of shade, but I think either Kell Maresh or Lila Bard would have been in Holland’s place if their backstories were actually present in the trilogy. There was enough enigma surrounding both of them for their backstories to be nothing less than cool
  3. Locke Lamora (Lies of Locke Lamora) — his thieving schemes when he was younger were amusing to read about

No Super Power But Still Kicked Butt

  1. Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom) — I think everyone in their group except for Nina qualifies for this award
  2. Sohpos (A Conspiracy of Kings) — Again, I would consider many QT characters to qualify for this award, excepting perhaps Eugenides, who’s a bit god-touched
  3. The Kleptomancer (A Face Like Glass) — Oh my, the strategy gymnastics he performed for decades is honestly impressive

Best Villain You Love To Hate

  1. Van Eck (Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom) — you can tell a book is good when both its  good and bad characters keep getting the top awards
  2. The Grey King (Lies of Locke Lamora) — I would consider him to be of the same vein as Minya from Strange the Dreamer, in that their tragic backstories explain their cruelty, and yet I still hate them both
  3. Miss Appeline (A Face Like Glass) — I think once a character loses their ability to empathize, they cross over from villain to psychopath

Best Not-So-Evil Villain

  1. Attolia (The Queen of Attolia) — not sure if she’s a “villain,” but I think she fulfils the role of antagonist quite well in this book
  2. Holland (Shades of Magic) — in the end, I think he became a much more interesting Antari than either Kell or Lila
  3. The Golden Prince (Strange the Dreamer) — gah, I forgot his name too!! I read SD really fast because it was just so good, but I ended up forgetting a lot of the names

Most Romantic Couple

  1. Eugenides and Attolia (Queen’s Thief) — After rereading QoA, their status as my ultimate OTP has been reinforced like ten fold. And then… then there was that tragedy in TaT
  2. Kaz and Inej (Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom) — Despite showing little physical affection, their love story is still one of the most genuine romance I’ve read in YA
  3. Robert and Minnie (Duchess War) — it’ll be a little weird to not give this award to the only couple that actually belongs in the romance genre

Best Dynamic Duo

  1. Quiz and Isaveth (A Little Taste of Poison) — I feel like they’re the only fitting pair for this award since they’re the only ones that really worked as a pair, unlike many of the characters in the other books
  2. Sefia and Archer (The Reader) — not sure if I’d label them as “dynamic,” but the duo part is definitely there, and I think they work well enough together
  3. Kamet and Costis (Thick as Thieves) — same as above

Best Superhero Team

  1. The Crows (Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom) — honestly I feel this category was meant for them
  2. Neverfell, Kleptomancer and co. (A Face Like Glass) — I really loved the ending and how everyone managed to escape Caverna
  3. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville (HP  & Philosopher’s Stone) — I was going to grant this last spot to the Antari of Shades of Magic, but I think these four had better teamwork at the end of the first book

Most Imaginative Fictional Place

  1. Weep (Strange the Dreamer) — I really loved the worldbuilding of this book. From ghosts to deities to lost cities… nothing short of impressive
  2. Kelanna (The Reader) — the world in this book is massive. I keep getting confused over the names of the countries and kingdoms (but I take full responsibility for not studying the map), but needless to say there was a lot of worldbuilding that went into this story
  3. Caverna (A Face Like Glass) — both the magic and the people are unusual and the setting is itself a character

Best Magic System

  1. Soul Stamps (The Emperor’s Soul) — I don’t think I could have a Sanderson book not win this award, tbh
  2. Elemental magic (Troubled Waters) — elemental magic is one of the most common magic systems in fantasy, but I think TW put such a fresh spin into it. It’s like elemental magic horoscope and it’s quite cool
  3. Baked magic (A Little Taste of Poison) — another cool twist on magic… one that you bake!

Best Premise

  1. A Face Like Glass — Caverna is a place populated by people who don’t have natural facial expressions… except for 12-year-old Neverfell
  2. The Emperor’s Soul — A woman must carve soul stamps for an injured king, potentially pulling off the biggest deception in her land
  3. Shades of Magic — there are four alternate Londons, and Kell Maresh is one of the few people who can travel to the alternate worlds

Best Twist

  1. Queen of Attolia — when Attolia turned out to have allied with Eddis to defeat the Mede army
  2. Six of Crows — when Kuwei turned out to be Wylan Van Eck (still screaming about this)
  3. Lies of Locke Lamora — when the Grey King used and abandoned Locke against the Capa to fake his own death

Best Plans

  1. Crooked Kingdom — Kaz’s plan to take back the Dregs and fight against Van Eck and everyone else out for their hides
  2. A Conspiracy of Kings — Sophos’s deception of that baron (forgot his name, sorry!) in the end so that the Attolian army can get into position against the Mede army. And then his shooting of the ambassador.
  3. A Little Taste of Poison — Isaveth and Quiz’s plan to reveal his brother’s involvement in Orien’s murder

Worst Plans that Still Worked

  1. Lies of Locke Lamora — that hilarious bit in the end when Locke was trying to get some money but all these bankers didn’t believe his ruse, but then he used their own suspicions against them
  2. A Gathering of Shadows — Lila stealing another contestant’s identity so she can play in the games; as far as plans go, this is one of the worst I’ve come across, but I think it was intentional so we can get a clearer picture of Lila’s character
  3. The Reader — Archer fighting all the other boys in the end, even though it ruined him, just so he and Sefia can meet with the Arbiter; this was actually quite sad

Most Climatic Resolution

  1. Crooked Kingdom — Kaz’s convoluted plan, from the spread of the plague to the fake tide mages, was so on point. Except for the part where Matthias died.
  2. A Face Like Glass — Neverfell and her friends’ escape from Caverna
  3. The King of Attolia — Costis setting Eugenides up to fight the Guard so he could save his honor

Mos Anti-Climatic Resolution

  1. Troubled Waters — I found the lack of character arc to be the most anti-climatic, and I think this was clearly demonstrated by Zoe’s flooding of the river regardless of the risks
  2. A Gathering of Shadows — it was a clear setup for the next book and nothing was really resolved
  3. Strange the Dreamer — Sarai’s death and the revelation of Lazlo’s origins created more questions than answers for an ending

Best Comic Relief Scenes

  1. A Conjuring of Light — Kell and Lila almost tipping the ship and Alucard falling into the sea
  2. Crooked Kingdom — Kuwei pretending to be Wylan and kissing Jesper… this is one of those moments that you’re so embarrassed on someone else’es behalf (forgot the word for it)
  3. Thick As Thieves — when Kamet finally meets the Thief of Eddis and he has to go up so close because he’s got blurry eyes, only to find Attolia’s boot boy

Most Emotional Scene

  1. Thick As Thieves — the river knows its time… y’all know what I’m talking about
  2. Crooked Kingdom — Kaz changing Inej’s bandages and they’re both thinking about their past traumas and trying to get past them
  3. A Face Like Glass — Neverfell discovering the truth about Madame Appeline and how she tortured her mother for her facial expressions

Best Action Scene

  1. Crooked Kingdom — Kaz fighting the entire Dregs alone as he goes down three flights of stairs
  2. The King of Attolia — Eugenides fighting the entire Guard to show that he’s not a weakling that can be killed by a toddler with a fork
  3. The Guardian of the Darkness — Balsa fighting Jiguro’s ghost

And that’s all folks! I decided not to include some of the previous awards because boy, this is getting long. But I’m interested in knowing what you guys think if you’ve read some of these books.

What are your favourite books from 2017? Which ones would you award in each category? Any books you’re looking forward to this year?

October 2017 Reads

 

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

This is the sequel to Six of Crows. After the botched heist, Kaz Brekker and his crew of crows try to get back the money that Van Eck cheated from them. With risks higher than ever, and as old allies turn against them, Kaz launches his biggest plan yet.

Needless to say, I loved this. Loved SoC and this was an impeccable sequel. There was only one thing I didn’t like near the end, and I’m pretending it didn’t happen. Other than that, whoa, what a great ride. I’m adding this duology to my list of books with exemplar writing.

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

Neverfell doesn’t remember her life before she turned five. She grows up helping a cheesemaker make magical cheese, confined to her master’s tunnels. When she manages to break out, she gets caught up in the politics of Caverna. Here’s my thoughts from Goodreads:

Ahh, this was an interesting read. I was surprised because a lot of people seem to like this better than Gullstruck Island, but I found the first half to be incredibly slow. Things were happening, but because of Neverfell’s happy-go-lucky temperament, I just never felt there was any real stake. No matter what happened to her, she was okay. It was so unlike Gullstruck Island, where off the bat, you knew that there was so much on the line for Hathin. In any case, the second half of this book was really good. There was intrigue and mystery, some really heartless villains, and twisty plans.

A Gathering of Shadows and A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

I quite enjoyed A Darker Shade of Magic, the first book in the series. I love the two main protagonists in that book, and I looked forward to joining them in new adventures. I would say that overall I really liked the reading experience I had with this trilogy. I do admit that as the series progressed, I became a little disappointed, perhaps because I had expected something different from the premise and where the first book left off. I guess I just got used to characters who have wildly intelligent and twisty plans, and this series didn’t really have that. Which is fine, not all stories need it, and like I said, I still liked this a lot.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

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I know it might come as a surprise to many people when I confess that this is the first time I’m reading Harry Potter. HP is such a staple in children’s fantasy, which is one of my favourite genres (probably the most). But the way circumstances would have it, I only picked up the series a couple of weeks ago.

I’ll keep this review brief, because I think everyone by now is familiar with the series.

Needless to say, I enjoyed it. It was a lot more whimsical that I thought it would be. I did see 6 out of 8 movies, and I had the impression the books would be as dark and mysterious as the movies made the story seem to be. But I think it’s a lot more like Diana Wynne Jones’s books than anything. It’s got a very endearing quality to it, and I’m not surprised at all why so many people fell in love with the book.

I found the characters to be slightly different in the book than they were in the movies. I felt as if the movie got one dimension of their characterization right, but the book gave such great nuances that the movies didn’t have time to show off. Harry, for example, was a lot sassier than he was in the movies. Ron was a lot funnier, although I do remember Rupert Grint making me laugh hysterically when I watched the films as a kid. Hermione was so intense; she was really milking the smarty-pants stereotype so hard, I couldn’t even find her annoying for it. And Neville! Whoa, I was surprised how much screen time Neville got. He was always that outlying character in the movies, but here, the gang really seemed more like a quad than a trio. I have a feeling I’m going to really love Neville even more in the following books.

Overall, I feel like I understood the story better now. As a kid, I never quite knew what was going on — only that there were things going on with Harry and he needed to fix them, hehe.