Tag: dragons

Top 10 Tuesday: Standalone Books That Need A Sequel

Posted March 12, 2019 by A Conjuring of Lit in Top 10 Tuesday / 2 Comments

As it turns out, we both have a pretty firm belief that books written as standalones should stay that way. Neither one of us was able to come up with even five books to fit this prompt, so we decided to tweak it a bit.

There are SO MANY great standalone books out there, and many of them live in our TBR piles. So, without further ado…

Top Ten Standalone Books We’d Love To Read Next

Paige

Tomorrow by Damian Dibben

“A wise old dog travels through the courts and battlefields of Europe and through the centuries in search of the master who granted him immortality.”

IMMORTAL. DOG. There is nothing more on this planet that I would want than to be able to give my dog, Max, eternal youth.

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

This is quite fitting, as today is the day that Queen V’s debut novel is being rereleased! It’s one of the last books of hers that I haven’t read, and I’m truly excited to dive in and read her first novel and marvel over how far she’s come.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Do I even really need to elaborate much here? I LOVE HER SO MUCH.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

This is CURRENTLY a standalone, although I’ve heard whispers that it might be getting expanded. Who knows? I’ve only read one Sanderson book, but I’m constantly itching for more.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

I’ve technically already started this, but I haven’t gotten very far, and I put it on hold to participate in Beauty and the Beast-Athon this week, so I’m going to count it anyway! Dragons. Queens. Dragons. Female/female romance. Dragons. What else do you want?

A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth

This is by the author of The Light Between Worlds, which I did a review for last year, and I am so excited for it! All I know is that there is going to be some sort of creepy manor house, and that’s all I’m allowing myself to learn. I am so ready.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Speaking of books with “thorn” in the title that are coming from authors for whom I did a review of their debut novel…yeah ok that’s really specific. This is another one where I don’t know a ton, but like…there’s a magical library guys. GIMME.

Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton

“Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all?”

I’ve seen so many people rave about this book, and I am chomping at the bit to get a copy and read it myself.

The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck

This is supposed to be a paranormal fantasy with some romance, and the main character is a guardian of a portal to the mysterious and dangerous Otherworld. Another main character would very, very much like to go to this Otherworld. Chaos ensues. I love some chaos.

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

This is another one that isn’t out yet, but the synopsis is just so intriguing. Elite boys-only school infiltrated by two girls. A mysterious disease. Female friendship. A SCARY MAZE. I’m excited for it to come out.

Kate

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexander Christo

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while. I think I got it in a box last spring? Maybe? Anyway, I keep putting it off in the names of shiny new series, so it’s about time I pull it down off the shelf.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

I tried to read Winterspell, and I just couldn’t get into it. From what I’ve read of Sawkill Girls, though, it seems like it’s much more my thing. Horror, thriller, etc. aren’t usually my genres of choice, but whenever Sam likes something, I figure I should probably give it a shot.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

This book was brought to my attention when I started looking up Beauty and the Beast retellings for #BATBathon. It sounds great. Plus, there’s a companion novella, which I have decided doesn’t make it any less a standalone.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Everyone and their mother seems to be in love with this graphic novel. I scored and found it at Half Price Books last fall. I love the art. I love the synopsis. It’s probably time I figure out if I love the content, not that I’m concerned.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

I haven’t read anything by Holly Black other than The Cruel Prince, and I love it. Logic would dictate I read some of her other fae creations. I’m holding out for the gorgeous bind up of Modern Faerie Tales this summer, so The Darkest Part of the Forest it is!

Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

I grabbed this last fall, and I intended to read it right away. Paige did, and she has been speaking about its value ever since. I don’t know why I seem to be a bit afraid to pick it up, but here I am. It’s on my must read list for the year, and I hope I hold myself to that.

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

I knew nothing of this book until Paige showed up at my house with a copy. From the synopsis (and Paige’s review), it seems to have some Secret History vibes, and I’m all about that.

The Binding by Bridget Collins

I’m a sucker for a book about books. Plus, it’s GORGEOUS. I was in the UK when it was released, and I didn’t get a copy in the name of frugality and saving luggage space, forgetting that it doesn’t come out in the US to April. Mistakes were made, and I regret it deeply. I’m foaming at the mouth to get my hands on this one.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

SHE’S FINALLY RELEASING ANOTHER BOOK HOORAY

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

I think this might be the only orange thing I’ve ever loved. I’m afraid to start it, because of its length in comparison to the rest of my TBR pile, but it’s taunting me from my Kindle screen. Its time is coming.

We hope you enjoyed the alternate topic this week! Let us know what some of your choices are – for either version!

See you next week, lovely humans 💜💛

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Top 5 Wednesday – Favorite SFF Creatures

Posted March 6, 2019 by A Conjuring of Lit in Top 5 Wednesday / 0 Comments

–Discuss your favorite characters from Science Fiction and Fantasy books! This is a crossover topic with the Booktube SFF Awards Book Babble discussion for this week.

We struggled a bit with how to tackle this week’s topic, because there have been a couple similar ones in the last couple months. But we also never want to miss and opportunity to stan some of our favorite booktubers, so clearly, we weren’t going to skip it.

To see those older posts that have a little more detail to them, check out our Favorite Paranormal Creatures and Favorite Monsters posts from last October.

Also, we’ll have some info about the Booktube SFF Awards, hosts, and shortlist down at the bottom for anyone who might be interested!

Paige

  • I lurve dragons. Smaug did nothing wrong.
  • I lurve witches. Manon Blackbeak is my queen.
  • I lurve the fae. Any and all iterations, I am on board.
  • I lurve rogue AI. Ok so they aren’t really creatures, but go read Illuminae and Skyward, and you’ll see what I mean. Um, they totally count as creatures in sci-fi world.
  • I love air bison. Appa, YIP YIP.
Red, black, and white art piece of Manon Blackbeak and Abraxos from Throne of Glass. Artwork by monolime.
GORGEOUS Monolime print of Manon and Abraxos 🖤
Check out Instagram for more great artwork.

Kate

I’m barely functional, so I’m not going to be as fun as Paige. Just know that I aspire to be.

  • My number one, all day every day, is dragons. Obviously. Saphira, in particular, is my hero. And Abraxos. And Glaedr. Okay, you get my point.
  • Unicorns. Clearly. They have magical powers, they’re freaking adorable, and I have a llamacorn popsocket on my phone right at this very moment.
  • Mermaids. I don’t care what iteration, be it Disney or Harry Potter or somewhere in between. They’re all great and powerful and mysterious.
  • Witches. And this one I’m just going to copy Paige. Manon Blackbeak is queen of all.
  • Phoenix. The concept is cool, and I find their whole existence to be very inspirational.
Transparent purple phone case with a llamacorn pop socket sitting on a dark wood table.
Lest you think I was kidding.

What are some of your favorite SFF creatures? Kate’s original list had about nine, and narrowing it down almost killed her, so don’t leave her hanging!

Now for some important Booktube SFF Awards deets!

We’re both jazzed about all the great books that made the shortlist this year. For those of you who might not know, the Booktube SFF Awards are hosted by a group of booktubers to honor various categories of Science Fiction/Fantasy books from the past year. The whole process takes about six months, and there are nominations, rounds of voting, and read alongs that bring together a good chunk of the bookish community.

For more details, visit their website. You’ll find info about the awards and the hosts, so check it out and watch some of the videos that go into more detail. There’s also a Goodreads group you can join if you’d like to follow along there.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Characters I’d Like To Switch Places With

Posted March 5, 2019 by A Conjuring of Lit in Top 10 Tuesday / 1 Comment

As you’ve probably noticed over the last year, we really love doing tags and surveys. It’s a great way for you to get to know us, and they’re fun to do! When we learned about Top 10 Tuesday, it seemed like a perfect way to expand our content and interact with all you lovely humans.

TTT is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, and she does a great job curating the prompts and nurturing the community. She has master posts for each week, takes suggestions for the prompts, as well as participating herself. This week’s prompt is from Sara at A Gingerly Review. Be sure to check both of them out!

For this week’s prompt, we both went about it from the characters you’d like to be angle, as opposed to the characters whose situations we’d like to inherit angle. These ladies are dealing with some SHIT, and while neither of us claims to be able to fill their shoes, it would still be pretty damn cool to be able to be them for a little while and inhabit their worlds.

All right, enough blabbering. Here we go!

Paige

Feyre – ACOFAS and Chapter 55 Feyre. I couldn’t survive Under The Mountain, but I would absolutely like to be romanced by Rhys. Not even sorry.

Gorgeous Feyre illustration by Alexandra Curte! Check out her Instagram and Redbubble 🌙

Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – I would absolutely like to go to my own wonderland. But definitely a traditional wonderland, not a Seanan McGuire wonderland. Those end so heartbreakingly.

One of Sir John Tenniel’s original illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Ildiko from Radiance – Again…the swoons. Go check out my February wrap-up for more thoughts on this fantasy romance book!

Look how beautiful that cover is!

Jasnah from The Stormlight Archive – Now granted, I’ve only read the first book, so maybe something horrifying happens to her somewhere along the line, but at this point…I would ABSOLUTELY love to be a badass heretical scholar. Sign me up right now. Thanks.

Found this beauty on the Official Brandon Sanderson Fansite, 17th Shard. Check out LittleGreyOwl’sbeautiful pieces.

Zuzana from Daughter of Smoke and Bone – If you haven’t read Night of Cake and Puppets, you’re missing out on maybe the most adorable romance ever. Also yeah, I’m referencing a lot of romances, but as a fantasy reader…yeah, most of my favorite characters don’t have a great life. I wouldn’t make it!

Zuzana in marionette form by Black Bird Ink. Scroll through her Twitter and Redbubble for more creations!

Isobel from An Enchantment of Ravens – Guess what, another swoony romance! I would also love Isobel’s artistic abilities.

Illustrations of Isobel and Rook by Iryna Khymych. She has a Twitter and Society6 page for you to peruse, at your leisure.

Rielle from Furyborn – Okay, so I know I wouldn’t be able to be as badass as her, but I would absolutely love to be the Avatar of this universe. I want to control all seven elements. I want the swoony romance. I could do without her inevitable future but like…I can’t NOT want to be her.

It’s been out almost a year, and this cover still takes my breath away!

Mia Corvere from Nevernight – Again, I couldn’t actually be her, but I would like my own shadow cat and assassin abilities, thank you.

This was a print in a FaeCrate box last year, and we both fell in love with it. Hard. Check out Gabriella Bujdoso’s other work on her website, Insta, and Society6 pages!

Cath from Fangirl – I would love to be a successful writer! I would love to be friends with her friends! I would love to have emergency dance parties!

Love this piece of Cath! We weren’t able to find the original source, so if you know, please let us know!

Sabriel from Abhorsen – Necromancy powers and a demonic cat, please and thank you!

Cover art from the Australian edition of Sabriel. By Sebastian Ciaffaglione.

Kate

Inej Ghafa from Six of Crows – She’s basically a rogue, and I love it. If I could merge her and Queen of Shadows Aelin Galathynius, I think I’d have my perfect woman crush. Speaking of…..

Inej illustration by Kate Wheeler of Rat Girl Studios. She has a website, DeviantArt, Redbubble, and Instagram for you to follow.

Aelin Galathynius from Throne of Glass – A queen and an assassin. A woman who must learn to humility and strength all at once. I just love her and all of crazy plotting and bravado.

Forever my favorite Throne of Glass cover! Fun fact: I modeled my favorite DnD character after this cover. She, like Aelin, is quite stabby, and doesn’t have a lot of patience for your shit.

Mia Corvere from Nevernight – It’s possible I have an assassin problem, but whatever. They’re fictional, so what does it matter? She’s such a badass, and I love her loyalty to a cause, even when it’s her downfall.

Mia on this PERFECT Darkdawn cover. Out September 3, 2019 – don’t miss it! Art is by Jason Chan.

Feyre Archeron from A Court of Thorns and Roses – I love everything about her, from her artistic talent to her warrior instincts to being mated to Rhysand. Plus, I’d be living with my best friends, which is basically peak success in my world.

I couldn’t pick my favorite, so you get them all. You’re welcome.

Belle from Beauty and the Beast – It’s the library. That’s the whole reason.

I’m a cliche, and I don’t care.

Arya from The Inheritance Cycle – Hello, she’s a dragon rider and an elf a fallen princess risen again. And all of that says nothing of her will of steel. She’s a true queen. In this case, literally.

Arya on a field of green to match Firnen. Check out Ustyzhanina Dasha’s tumblr for more beautiful art!

Lila Bard from Shades of Magic – My original sentence was rife with spoilers, so we’ll go with this: She’s a badass, and she helps save the world. Admittedly something a lot of these ladies have in common, but unlike most of them, she is no queen, she is not some great anointed one, she’s just a girl running from her life in search of something better, and she is INCREDIBLE.

Absolutely flawless Lila art by
Mélanie Bourgeois. You can find her on Twitter, Inprnt, Tumblr, and Instagram.

Cress from The Lunar Chronicles – I think I want to be Cress, because she reminds me of me. I love how she finds herself and leans into her skills even when she feels completely off kilter.

The Russian cover of Cress.

Laia from The Ember Quartet – I spent a long time debating between Laia and Helene or just throwing in the towel and choosing both of them. Ultimately, though, Laia won out. I don’t know why, exactly, it was just a gut feeling. Which I’m sure bodes very badly for me once I read what fresh hell Sabaa has concocted for book four.

Love, love, LOVE this illustration of Laia of Serra. Check out the rest of the artist catalog on DeviantArt!

Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings – It’s Galadriel, people. She is, in my humble opinion, the one true SFF queen. She is beauty, might, and majesty incarnate.

Galadriel is dreamy perfection in this digital art piece. See all of Celtica Harmony’s artwork on DeviantArt.

Well, there ya have it! Who would you want to switch places with? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll be back with another great prompt next week!

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Review – The Last Namsara

Posted January 17, 2019 by Kate in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Review – The Last NamsaraThe Last Namsara (Iskari, #1) by Kristen Ciccarelli
Published by HarperTeen on October 3, 2017
Pages: 432
Goodreads
four-half-stars

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

Wow, it’s been too long since I’ve done this! I promise not to go seven months (yikes) without a review ever again.

Now that THAT’S out of the way, let’s get down to business! This is sort of part one of two. I devoured both The Last Namsara and The Caged Queen, and I considered writing about them together, but they are so distinct, that it only seemed to fair to address them separately.

The Last Namsara was a slow burn for me. Despite the dragon hunting and obvious social barriers in Firgaardian culture, I just didn’t see a reason to be invested. It became obvious fairly quickly – I think about 60 pages – that I was wrong. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. I was just WRONG. All of a sudden, the little pieces of information that were dropped in the first couple of chapters started to become important. I don’t know if you know this about me, but the whole breadcrumbs into building blocks thing is a highly effective storytelling style where I am concerned. I am taken by surprise every time, and every time I LOVE IT.

Now let’s talk social institutions for a minute. I want there to be a Language of Thorns-esque book for this series, because the mythology of this world is incredible. Throughout the book, there are flashbacks and vignettes that expose the reader to crucial information, but I want the in-depth info on these beliefs and people. I want to know the Iskari and Namsara. I want to know all about the dragons and their power. I want to know what drove the last dragon queen more than a little crazy. And I’m not talking the surface level details we got to move this particular book along – I want it ALL. I feel like we’re only getting a taste of the stories Cicarrelli cooked up as the foundation of this series, and I hope she shares the whole landscape with us someday. I will eat it up.

Aside from the mythos, there’s the very real and incredibly pervasive ethnic hierarchy in Firgard. It is, quite frankly, disgusting, but I think she handles it well. There are three main groups we face in this story – the Scrublanders, Skral, and Draksors. The Draksors are the ruling class – an almost entirely secular society that demeans anyone or anything that does not adhere to their rule. The Scrublanders are another faction that rules their own lands, but they are under economic rule of the draksors. They are portrayed as the barbarian others, though in reality, they are much the same. They still hold to the Old Ways and religious beliefs. The Skral are the slave race, born of people who came to conquer the continent and ultimately failed due to some highly questionable dragon related shenanigans. There are things that are easy to spoil if you go to deep into how these groups do and don’t interact with each other, so I don’t want to say too much.

There are two things I want to mention, though. First, the fact that Ciccarelli is able to make these social restrictions – and the way people both uphold them and fight to tear them down – so central to the plot, is artistry I really admire. I think it drives the story, and it’s almost an additional character that has to be dealt with. It is not just there for flavor – it is ingrained in these people, from every group, to their very core. Second, the interactions of the individual characters with these rules is fundamental to how their personalities and development are portrayed. This is a simple assessment, but I just think it’s really cool. So often cultural things like that are there as flavor and don’t have any real consequences. Not so in this world.

I dumped so much into the culture and mythology, because frankly, talking about the character too much ruins the plot. The good guys are great, the bad guys are awful, and if I tell you who ends up on which side, it ruins the entire thing. This wouldn’t be a good review if I didn’t at least talk about Asha, our wonderful, strong, and fiercely strong-willed main character. The way she has been raised and the truth she is being exposed to throughout this book are so completely at odds with each other, but as she learns to reconcile them, she grows into an unstoppable, though still completely human, protagonist.

As for the others, the Dragon King, Jarek, Dax, Roa, Saffire, and Torwin are the group to look out for reading this book, but don’t trust what you know about them until you turn the last page. You’ll sell them and the story short if you do.

I know I’m incredibly late to the hype train on this one, but please give it a shot if you haven’t already. It’s unbelievable to me that this was a debut novel, and the series only gets better with The Caged Queen.

four-half-stars

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Top 5 Wednesday – Favorite Book Paranormal Creatures!

Posted October 25, 2018 by A Conjuring of Lit in Tags, Top 5 Wednesday / 0 Comments

October 24th: Favorite Books Featuring [Paranormal Creature of Your Choice]

— This is a repeat topic from last year, but as it’s a good one AND interchangeable so it can be different each year, it’s back again.

 

Paige

I picked witches! Witches come in all shapes and sizes, and some of my favorite characters of all time are witchy women.

  • From Harry Potter, Luna Lovegood – We’ll just get the obvious out of the way. Luna is my favorite HP character of ALL TIME. She’s quirky and optimistic and just a little bit off, just as I aspire to be.
  • From the Throne of Glass series, Manon Blackbeak – I’m sure you guys are tired of hearing about ToG characters, but Kingdom of Ash JUST came out, and we’re going to a SJM event tomorrow. Cut us some collective slack.
  • From Tamora Pierce’s Tortall universe, Veralidaine Sarrasri – TECHNICALLY she is a mage, but for my purposes, she’s totally a witch. Daine is basically a druid, as she has close ties to animals, can speak with them, and even shapeshift into almost any animal. Goals?
  • From Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones, Gwendolen Chant – Gwendolen is THE WORST, which makes her the best. She is a control freak and is insanely powerful (or is she?) and I had the best time reading her and her brother Christopher’s story over and over again as a child.
  • From Wicked, Elphaba – So like, real talk. I haven’t read the book, and I honestly don’t care to. I got to see Wicked for the first time in 2017 because my super-rad husband (with Kate’s help!) got me tickets to see it for our 2nd wedding anniversary. I AM OBSESSED. Also, in case you were wondering, Elphaba and Gaaaaalinda? Totally ship ‘em. Brb, defying gravity.

 

Kate

I guess I’ll go with dragons. I never really realized just how much I love dragons until recently, which is strange given the number of books I’ve inhaled that feature dragons for most of my life. I feel like there’s a lot of overlap between this prompt and some of the others we’ve done this month, but that’s okay, because mythical creatures are great. Here we go!

 

  • Smaug – the OG. I know Smaug isn’t ACTUALLY the original literature dragon, but he was the first depiction that I experienced. I first read The Hobbit when I was….ten? I think? Too young, but I loved the illustrations in the copy I was reading. Then, and honestly still, I thought it was funny that the depiction of Smaug was so tiny, when in the story he was so very large. Plus, the he’s just a badass. (Fire, death, etc.)

    I kill where I wish and none dare resist. I laid low the warriors of old and their like is not in the world today. Then I was but young and tender. Now I am old and strong, strong strong.”

  • Toothless – mostly from the movies, but also from the books. Just a little. I only listened to them, so I don’t have a very thorough understanding of the Toothless from Cressida Cowell’s perspective, but I can tell you that the movie version melts my heart every time. Plus, I have black cats that look like him when they’re feeling angsty, neglected, or otherwise mistreated, which, of course, they aren’t, but cats will be cats.

The skulk king himself, Brom!

  • Abraxos – because he’s basically Toothless. Technically, I know, he’s a wyvern, and while I know they’re different, I can’t really help with include Abraxos in this list. I’m reading Kingdom of Ash right now (obviously), and he’s just so perfect. That perfect mix of vicious, fierce, cuddly, and protective you just can’t help but love in your noble witch steeds, ya know? Anyway, he’s among the very best.
  • Glaedr – because I’ve already talked about Saphira this month. Not exactly a high bar given that my first three are repeats, but it is what it is. After finishing my Inheritance Cycle reread a couple months ago, and then hearing about the short story collection coming out (link), this series has been on my mind a lot. And with that, comes thinking about all the amazing ways dragons are portrayed in this world. The list is endless and incredible. Glaedr and Saphira are my favorites, not only because they’re the ones we get the most facetime with, but because they’re just so damn snarky. I live and breathe dry humor, and consequently, Glaedr’s teaching methods and sense of humor really speak to me.
  • Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion – because Dany deserves it. I’m going books here, not TV show, though I love those versions just as much. And though I know Drogon is Dany’s mount, I can’t just choose one. When the eggs hatched, Dany was able to really start to come into her own. The virtual enslavement by her brother, the death of Khal Drogo, the loss of her child – she was vulnerable and she needed to find her way. They helped her do that. Their birth transformed that world by transforming Dany as much as it did by their mere existence.

 

Honestly, the prompts this month have been absolutely perfect for us. Let us know what your favorite witches and dragons are (especially if we missed someone very important!) and leave a comment down below with YOUR top 5 Wednesday post if you have one. Thanks for stopping by!

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