Goodreads Reading Goal

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This year I set myself a goal to read 75 books. It was the first time I have ever tracked the number of books I read per year, the first year I’ve been on Goodreads, and I’m pretty impressed with myself. I over shot it!

I made it all the way to 80 (by the end of today, when I get home from work)! Now, two of those were short stories, a few re-reads happened, and a couple I skimmed because I wasn’t a huge fan of them; but still, that’s 80 literary adventures! I’m going to set a goal for 85 for next year and see how I do.

How did you all do this year?

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2014 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,100 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

It was a great year,especially for my first year of blogging,thanks so much to all of you who helped make it what it was!

Cruel Beauty

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15839984Goodreads Summary:

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

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This is the second retell of Beauty and the Beast I have read this year, the first by Stacie Jay, I really enjoyed. This one I totally loved as well for completely different reasons. It’s so interesting to see how many different ways this story can be told!

It took me a little while to get into the authors writing style, but once I did, I loved this story. The mix of the classic fairy tale and mythology was really interesting, and I loved that the heroine was exactly that, not a trace of damsel. Nyx reminds me a bit of Adelina from The Young Elites – she’s got a dark side and she’s not afraid to show it.

I had basically figured out the twist between the Gentle Lord and his shadow – but that’s because it’s based on a story I already know. I still thought it was done really well. The idea of the rose under the cloche was the most interesting twist in this (besides the mythology), the way she translated that was so interesting!

Based on the reviews I have read for this book, you either love it or you hate it. Obviously I loved it, but I think part of the reason some people aren’t enjoying it as much is because without a basic knowledge of the myths Hodge references I can see it being confusing. Especially since the myths she uses act as major players in the overall arch of the story.

Basically though, it was a great read and I am looking forward to her take on Little Red Riding Hood.

Coming This Week: Dec. 29

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It’s almost 2015!

Well, I hope everyone had a great Christmas/Holiday week. My husband got me a fancy leather journal and a nice fountain pen, so maybe that will encourage my writing! Anyway, as I will mention later this week, I am going to take a break from my creative writing for a while and focus on some other things. I keep hitting walls and I think I need to step back and reset a bit.

As for book discussions, I have one for Cruel Beauty, which I really enjoyed; and one for The Only thing to Fear, which I really didn’t enjoy.

Hope everyone enjoys their last short work week for a while!

Heir of Fire

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Goodreads Summary:

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love? 

There is so much that happens in this book! It’s slower than the others, and a good bit longer, but we’ve got three new big characters, a lot of individual growth from Celeana, Chaol, and Dorian, and answers for all the questions the first two books gave us (finally!).

Celaena is having a hard time, but it all makes sense and is deserved, and I really like that we are getting her backstory. She is also forging new strong friendships, and learning to accept her past and the potential of her future. I love the maturity she leaves us with and can’t wait to see how that translates in the next book as she has to put her new attitude to action, among those who stripped her of her identity to begin with.

Chaol is facing a big debacle, he has to decide how blind his loyalty to the crown is, and if he can accept Celeana now that he knows her secrets. I understand why it’s hard for him to make this choice, and I appreciate that Maas presents this challenge at all – I think a lot of time characters react solely out of love for one another, which is certainly a legitimate element, but it’s not the only one. He definitely believes the king, and the evil he represents, needs to be destroyed; but he wants to see Dorian rule Adarlan, and he’s worried Celaena will seek vengace on Adarlan’s people and ruin the whole country. We’ve all seen the darkness that threatens to overwhelm Celeana, so I understand his fears. So while some people are hating on him on this book, I get his struggles; and doesn’t he come through in the end as always?

Dorian, I’m still just kinda “meh” about. I definitely like how much he’s grown into his potential as a king, and that he’s let Celeana go. His magic is interesting, and I’m upset about the King’s reaction to it all. But I still just haven’t felt that connection to him the way I have with the other characters.

New characters! I like Aedion, it’ll be interesting to see how he and Aelin are when they are reunited, and I would like to see more of a friendship grown between he and Chaol. Manon, it took me a while to care about her. Her relationship with her Wyvern makes her likable, and I’m interested to see how that grows in the next book. Rowan is really interesting, I like he and Celeana’s friendship and their devotion to each other (in a solely platonic way), he’s going to make a great addition to her court.

Chaol and Celeana . . . Both think their relationship is over, for different reasons. But I’m really hoping that all the growth they went through in this book will bring them back together. I definitely think they will have to start by learning to trust one another again, but I still think they can be a great couple. And I think the two of them together could be a great model for how the kingdoms could interact after the king is taken out.

Basically, I can’t freakin wait for the next book!

From the Archives

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I got to blog for work! I used a prompt from the Society of American Archivists to promote Pearl Harbor day and now it’s on my museum’s website – I’m famous!

Anyway, it’s the story a naval aviator, that I pieced together using the photographs and documents donated to the museum, and then doing some independent research. You can read the original here with some of the photos from the collection.

 

Crown of Midnight

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Goodreads Summary:

“A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie…and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Let me just start with: Chaol and Celeana are adorable. I can tell this is going to be an epic romance that sticks with me. It reminds me of an Alina/Mal, Karou/Akiva type relationship, and those are my favorite, because they are real! They both accept each other for who they are, they’re always there to support one another, and they don’t hold each other back from their personal journeys. It’s going to have to take a lot of healing on Celeana’s part, and a lot of growth/discovery on Chaol’s part; but I hope they make it.

I really appreciated the growth of all the characters in this book. Celaena is slowly revealing peices of herself, opening up to Chaol and Dorian, and starting to own up to her capabilities beyond being an assassin. She is also creating a new image of herself, working to have stronger morals and base things off her emotional responses; as opposed to just killing everyone, which was a threat she threw around a lot in the first book.

Chaol identifies himself through his loyalty to his country, but I think he has such potential as a leader outside of the castle. He’s so devoted to Celeana, even when he doesn’t know the whole story, and he constantly pushes himself to understand Celaena and her motives, which shows so much willingness to open himself up to other opinions and I think that’s great. Watching him navigate his fierce loyalty to his country, his unconditional love of Celeana, and his strong morals will be really interesting in the next book.

Dorian is magic! And this is just crazy, I have no idea what that is going to mean for him come this next book, but it’s going to be serious. And I liked how he accepted that he and Celeana weren’t meant to be – though he still has deep feelings for her, and how he starts to stand up to his father. He’s trying to become a man, and he’s beginning to succeed.

All this magic stuff. There is still so much we don’t know! But more and more is being revealed, and this book answered so many questions I had from the first one. We figure out where the King is getting his power, how it is accessed, the different types of magic; all sorts of stuff! Now we just have to figure out how Celeana, Chaol, and Dorian are going to use the info they have to save the world, especially as they will be seperated, and they are all still keeping secrets from each other.