Fun Friday: Magnus Chase Book 1: The Sword of Summer by Rick Jordan (And Announcements And Shenanigans)

*rubs hands together* Oh ho ho! It’s Friday people and I’ve been looking forward to this post.

Why?

You see dear reader, if it hasn’t been apparent already, I love shenanigans, fun, and nonsense and I love good books.

But more importantly, I love good books that are full of fun, shenanigans, and nonsense! 😀

I picked this book up on a whim because I saw the gaaawjiss cover at my university book store. It sat for a long time since I was too lazy to read it, and holy god bananas, the Sword of Summer is a book that delivered much more than I thought it would.

The Basics

Magus Chase is pretty much a homeless kid who finds out that he’s the son of the Norse God Frey and he is trying to prevent the fabled Ragnarok (Doomsday) from happening by making sure that Fenris doesn’t escape from his chains.

The Bells And Whistles

  • Norse Mythology entertained with the modern world. There’s no shortage of Norse-based movies, games, and books, but this one in particular combines the modern world and Norse myths in unique ways that make the book memorable. Thor binge watches TV shows, Odin is a motivational speaker (or rather trying to be), Jack is the name of Frey’s sword and it speaks, Valhalla is a hotel, eagle giants steal food, the list goes on.
  • It’s educational without being a boring-ass textbook. It could just be my Art Historian showing, but I found myself intrigued by the explanations and wanting to know more about all of the myth figures involved.
  • The chapter titles. “The Man with the Metal Bra”. “Good Morning! You’re Going to Die”. “Seriously, the Dude Cannot Drive”. “My Sword Almost Ends Up on eBay”. Don’t tell me that you wouldn’t be the least bit tempted to read if you saw that!
  • The shenanigans. I don’t think I’ll ever forget someone barging in with a Make Way For Ducklings sign. Or Odin offering CDs and god swag from his powerpoint presentation.

The “Eh…”

Most stuff is hard to rip apart because it’s only the first book, and also the book already sort of establishes itself as being nonsensical, but I’ve got one major one.

  • Some characters just completely fall off. Like Magnus’s Uncle Rudolph. And Annabeth. The story is written from Magnus’s point of view and he spends quite a bit of time in the godlier world, so its hard to say “should’ve had more on-screen time”. But the time that they did have didn’t feel like enough, and I almost felt like the story could’ve been written without them. With any luck, the rest of the series will incorporate them more.

The Conclusion

This is definitely one of the books you won’t forget. And overall, I think that it deserves a 5/5.

Shenanigans and Announcements

You’ve probably noticed this, but there is now a link to my book here on the website. But more importantly, there is a link to the soundtrack that goes with it. So you can chill with your tunes while you read. Every book will come with its own soundtrack so be on the look out for them here!

There’s also a book excerpt here on the site that you can check out in the drop down menu or here.

 

Fun Friday: The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross

Take a deep long whiff everybody. You know what that smell is?

Oh yes. It’s the delectable smell of Friday.

This Friday I want to talk about another book that might be worth a read. And today that book is The Midnight Sea.

The Basics

This book centers around Nazafareen, girl from a nomadic tribe who pretty much feels like shit because her sister died and therefore she decides to take it upon herself to join the Water Dogs, who are pretty much soldiers that are bonded to demons, so that she get some good ol’ revenge.

The Bells And Whistles

  • Greek, Persian references and settings. A lot of fantasy that I tend to pick up is usually heavily oriented toward more generalized European Middle Ages tropes and settings. So when I see something slightly more focused, my inner art historian starts having a field day. I liked the world building done here and the name drops.
  • Magic and bonding. I liked that magic was not just poof you’re dead now. It has some rhyme and reason to it, and is dependent on your daeva partner. I also found it fascinating that daevas had to be maimed in some way for bonding.
  •  It raised questions. I love it when characters are forced to question the beliefs that they’ve had or have to reexamine their actions. Sure there’s nothing wrong with good characters believing the right thing, but I’m not fond of characters who waltz around farting their justice sparkles everywhere and have an uncanny inability to be wrong.

The “Eh…”

  • Themes, Hype, and Symbolism. I picked this book up because it was praised endlessly for its “moral weight” and “meaty narrative”. When I read the damn thing,  I went in expecting a story that would be as fat as a leg of lamb roast, but the actual result felt like a skinny shoulder chop with a lot of fat on it and barely any meat.

This is because when people start using buzz words like that, I start thinking “whoa, someone wrote a commercial/literary fantasy hybrid” (something that I’ve been dying to read and find more of). Now don’t get me wrong. Kat Ross tried, I felt like she sincerely tried to make some points about humanity and morality via the daevas and through the fable of the The Midnight Sea, but unfortunately it fell short to me. If there were symbols laying around, they were either a) not used enough or b) not used in a unified way that threaded the story together. It felt more like lots of shots were fired in the air at random and I had no idea where to focus.

  • Nazafareen’s sister guilt. Remember the post from the other day about “Soft Overcoming Hard” and not shoving things down a reader’s throat? This is a perfect example of that being violated. I understand that when a person loses someone, they’ll grieve, be upset, think about it, and want to do something about it. But the thing is… in the story, it often felt like that Nazafareen’s guilt was used as designated cues to feel bad. And by this I mean Nazafareen sometimes thought about her sister at times when I wasn’t sure why she was doing so and I couldn’t identify what was motivated her to do it. But also it happened a little too often for comfort. I don’t like the idea of wanting a character to “just get over it”, but this was a case where I stopped feeling sorry for her and wanted her to pull up her protagonist pants instead of mope.
  • Romance. I could buy that Nazafareen had feelings for her daeva because the story is in her POV, but it was hard to tell if her feelings were actually being returned.
  • Gaps. I’m not usually an advocate of long flashbacks and backstory, but especially concerning some characters like Ilyas, I felt like I needed a little more to understand what was going on sometimes. I understand that the book is the first of its series, so I won’t bash too much, but still there needs to be enough information for the book to stand on its own.

Conclusion

Kat Ross can certainly tell a basic story. Characters were entertaining enough for me. She had good descriptions that I could learn from. A fascinating world I didn’t mind being in. I do agree that there is a little more to chew on than your standard junk food fantasy book, but I do not think that this “little more” lives up to its hype.

So for that reason, I have to give The Midnight Sea a 4 out of 5. I’d recommend reading it. And if I’m not mistaken, it is still currently free to read. So if you’ve been on the fence about it, or maybe you’ve seen it but didn’t feel like shelling out the cash, then by all means read it.

Review Time: All The Light We Cannot See

Good books are rare folks.

There were times this year when it felt finding a new book was like trying to find the remnants of a lost ancient city. But when I came to All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, all hope in humanity was restored.

I never cared much about WWII books before this, didn’t care much about WWII after. But holy banana-bombers on a flugu stick, for the time I read this book, Anthony Doerr made me care.

The Basics

It’s nothing flashy on the surface level, it follows the story of Werner a German boy with a gift for fixing radios that lands him in the Nazi military and a blind French girl named Marie-Laure trying to survive in the war.

The Bells And Whistles

Now, I usually read with two hats: my laid-back reader hat that just wants to be told a good story and then my writer hat, the rabid shark-toothed monster that demands for the story to teach me something about the craft of writing or it will flip all the tables in the house.

For the first time in a long time, they were both satisfied. Anthony Doerr has a way of writing his descriptions that feel so real and poetic, that you feel utter disappointed when you close the book and realize that real life doesn’t jump, glitter, and sparkle that way.

Even though it’s not a craft book, to me, it felt like it was and it showed me the level that amazeballs writing can really achieve. It inspired me to work that much harder on my own writing. And if you’re looking into trying to write better description, but don’t know where to start, this book is definitely one to check out.

The “Eh…”

Must we really talk about this? 😦 Ok fine.

  • Jump arounds. The book jumps around in time which can get confusing. I’m one of those people that generally just mow through a book and I sometimes miss the fact that a book jumps. But I’m still listing this because I know some people out there just hate when a book jumps around.
  • Main Character Development/Flaws. I felt like there the two main characters didn’t have much in the way of flaws or changed much throughout the story. Feel free to agree or disagree with me on this one, but I didn’t feel like Marie-Laure had much going for her aside from the fact that she’s blind. I understand that blindness is crippling, but it felt like the blindness was a substitute for actual personality flaws. I’m still not even sure if Werner had one. The lesser characters didn’t have this issue to me, just Marie-Laure and Werner.
  • Going too far with metaphors. This is probably a matter of personal taste, but I’m one of those readers who wants a passage to say what it has to say, say it clearly, and say something that makes sense. I remember there was a line about a can of peaches being liquid sunshine and I felt like it was reaching too far to connect things that didn’t seem that connected, or give them more meaning than they actually had. It felt forced.
  • The Ending. I’m not saying what it is, but I am saying that it felt a bit…eh. With how much build up the story had with both characters, it just seemed like more should’ve been done with them.

Honorable Mentions

  • Really short chapters. I’m talking a few pages. Some chapters are just one page. The book is quite thick, mind you. So you will find yourself flipping through quite easily, and it’s kind of hard to put the book down because you’ll always think ‘well I could read another chapter since it looks short’.

Conclusion

I know that there seems to be more bad than good things listed, but don’t let that fool you! I would still give the book 5/5 because this book changed my perspective as both a reader and a writer. It’s still fun on multiple reads, and there’s so much to learn from it style-wise.

And if it’s of any interest, I have both the Kindle version and a print copy. Both marked up and highlighted.

Any who, I’ve gotta run, but I hope everyone had a great Christmas and I hope that you’re all have a good New Years too. Maybe if you’re still looking for late presents to buy, you might consider this book for a book lover. 😉

 

Write Or Die 2

Hey, hey, everyone Gumiho here. I know this post is going to be coming up later in the day than usual, but I wasn’t feeling particularly well earlier and I wanted to wait until I could tolerate a writing session, so please bear with it. But if the picture is any indication of fun levels for tonight, you’re in for a treat.

Some of you may have heard of something called Write or Die before. If you haven’t, then good! 😀 (Just kidding!) I picked up its baby Write Or Die 2 on a whim one day. Not because I need the extra program, but because sometimes as a crazy writer, I want to live life on the edge like this guy here…0e0a8d5c29ccc0ab8634258870d40895ceb8246e48c06f1da56ef50370ab7c62.jpg

And I have to admit, my feels on the matter are mixed. I can only describe it as being frightened, fascinated, in-love, and paranoid all at once.

The good thing about it is that it’s got a lot of nice settings and cool features that your average program might not offer, like playing sounds for you as you write, adding scenery in the background, letting you set your word count goals, (which is great for you NaNoWriMo people)! Additions like this are what I enjoy the most in a writing program because we all know that every single one of them is going to let do the necessities.

But of course if you’ve used Write or Die before, then you probably know what’s coming next.

And that’s the “Die” aspect.

*takes a deep breath* Oh boy.

Where do I even begin? If you’re the type of person who can only work via loud noises, flashing colors, and other types of paranoia-inducing madness, then keep reading. For me, I love this because it’s crazy, chaotic, and super effective (no pokemon joke intended). If you’re lagging on your NaNoWriMo word count or you’re the type to keep getting distracted, you can set noises and unpleasant images to scare you back into focus. Another feature that it’s most famous for is the fact there is a mode where you can set it to erase your words if you get distracted for too long. I haven’t used that one myself, but I’m definitely looking forward to trying. As for the flashing colors and loud noises, all I can say is that they do their dastardly jobs.

Overall, despite the scary parts, I’d recommend  Write or Die 2 to anyone who’s struggling to keep their bums in the chair.

*Update*: I actually did get around to trying the word-erasing Kamikaze mode and it’s interesting. At first I wasn’t sure what was going on when it started erasing my words, but when I looked at it, it looked like it was just erasing the vowels in the words I typed and not the whole words. It didn’t seem like I could customize the Kamikaze mode in anyway, so I’m assuming there isn’t a variation that erases your whole word. I like that because my biggest initial worry, and maybe you have this too, was that it would erase everything you wrote, but I guess they didn’t want to make it so that you have to rewrite everything.

Most importantly, you aren’t forced use anything other than the basic type functions and the word count goal gauge, so if you don’t want to be bothered with the pressure of noises and your words going ka-blooey, don’t worry. You can just do vanilla things if you want. But if you’re up to the challenge, give some of the other ones a go!

If you dare.