Words and Wordsmiths || The List Review

Initial Thoughts:

This seems to be leading up to an overall big picture story, which means sequels. Yay. (Make note I also groaned.) It was a simple, middle grade read about a dystopia pulling from Biblical and Bradburyan (that’s totally a word now…) inspiration, and I did love the concept of a wordsmith collecting and protecting words.


THE LIST

by Patricia Forde
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, August 2017
Children’s science fiction, dystopian
Rated: 3.5 / 5 cookies
provided by NetGalley

In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.

On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.

The Word According to Noa

I think at some point people compared this book to a children’s version of 1984 and The Giver. Okay, it sort of is, and I sort of see it. I thought the better analogy might have been Fahrenheit 451 meets The Bible and they both walk into a bar called 1984. Though for children.

Erm.

In the end, the comparisons are all really just trying to say that the world is screwed up, and instead of making it better, some jerk at the top makes things much worse, and the poor people at the bottom have to make do or rise up.

Which is really how the book starts. As readers, we are introduced to Letta, an apprentice wordsmith in Ark. As wordsmiths, Benjamin and Letta are tasked locating and storing words from the outside world. Their main directive, however, is to provide words to the people of Ark, though provision is allowed to only a sanction of 500 words. List-speak is the appropriate form of conversation between people, and with 500 meager words, you can only imagine how that is going to turn out. I mean, abstract ideas don’t even come into play here. I don’t think could survive this world…

Freedom. Music. Feelings. Were they things they could live without?

So yeah, how does Letta, a wordsmith–or better yet, anyone–survive without words, with only just a List?

The book itself is a quick read and follows a story after the events of an ecological disaster. There’s a lot of worldbuilding involved, with inspiration being pulled from the Bible of all places. The Melting–which sounds like the worst-case scenario of global warming–has caused the world to overflood, destroying buildings and cities like nobody’s business. Amidst this disaster comes John Noa, who builds a city called Ark (like the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark, if you didn’t pick up on it already), and saves many inhabitants from the apocalyptic disaster. He does, however, impose unreasonable rules for living in the area. And, throughout the story, it is clear how much he hates words (even though he likes speaking them, the hypocrite).

It’s easy to see where this is going, and as a children’s book, you expect it to go in the direction it does. Letta is a girl who grows up in the shadow of Ark, and does not question John Noa’s rules until her mentor goes missing. From there, she meet cutes a rebel artist/musician/Desecrator boy (which is kind of adorable, heh) and nurses him to a point where he owes a great debt to her. Then she meets a couple other hippie Desecrators and suddenly she is finding that the world is so much more than the safety and wordlessness of Ark.

She had been in awe of John Noa before, looked up to him as the man who had saved the planet. She had grown up on stories of his great valor, his clever thinking, his vision. Now she knew that none of that was real. John Noa was a bully. That thought made her brave. He might be a very clever bully, but he was still a bully.

So she rebels, too.

From what I read, the book seems to gear itself to a sequel, though one can read this as a standalone if you’re okay with how things are resolved (which, come to think of it, I’m not. Not really). There’s still the matter of Letta’s parentage as well as the question of what happens to Ark. There’s still a lot of words to be found and collected and shared. There’s still a lot of obnoxious gavvers that need boots up their rear ends–hem hem. And then of course there’s also the matter of Marlo. But I suppose that’s another story for another day.

3.5 out of 5 cookies! It was a good, fun read, and definitely a welcome one amidst my pile of YA literature, haha.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: Injustice Year One, Skinwalker

Just a couple of minis for now! I’m in the middle of reading two heftier books at the moment, one a NetGalley ARC (or it was…um…), and the other the massive conclusion to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I’ll definitely review both soon.

I realize that I had actually written a review for a portion of Year Two of Injustice but never actually read the first year volume up until now. So, here’s me remedying that! I’ll have to finish the second year as well.

I also realized that it’s been ages since I actually read the first Jane Yellowrock book, Skinwalker, and I never actually reviewed it! So here it is to add to my mini-reviews collection.

Have you read either of these? What did you think?

Pirates, Mermaids, Monsters, Oh My! || Monstress, Vol. 2 Review

Initial Thoughts: 

Can this get any more EPIC? The answer is YES. There are pirates and animalistic Arcanics (THERE’S A SHARK GIRL WHAT) and old gods that eerily remind me of Alucard’s crazy demon form in Hellsing. And lawd, when’s the next set coming out because MORE PLS.


MONSTRESS, VOL. 2: THE BLOOD

by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda (illustrator)
Image Comics, July 2017
Graphic novel, science fiction, fantasy, steampunk
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

The Eisner-nominated MONSTRESS is back! Maika, Kippa, and Ren journey to Thyria in search of answers to her past… and discover a new, terrible, threat. Collects MONSTRESS #7-12.

I don’t think I’ve fallen so hard and so fast over a comics series than I had with Monstress, and honestly, it’s largely to do with the two amazing women who’ve brought this story to life on the illustrated medium. Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda are mistresses of their craft, and together they managed to convey a wonderful story of a powerful girl in a world still reeling from the previous war and yet gearing for a new one.

The story follows after Volume 1 (Issues 1-6) and picks up the pace, sending Maika, Kippa, and Ren south to Thyria, Maika’s hometown. There, Maika regroups and enlists the help of pirates to ferry her further south, to the Cape of Bones, a place where Moriko Halfwolf had once traveled. To gain more information of the monster inside her, Maika follows her mother’s footsteps–and obsession with the legendary Shaman Princess–south, encountering dangers along the way, as well as a deeper understanding of how to control the Monstrum within.

As can normally be found in most first volumes, the first six issues of Monstress dealt with throwing as much information our way as possible. While Liu and Takeda managed to convey the information in creative ways (including a little professor-student talking panel every issue for the heavier worldbuilding aspects), most of the first volume was truly introductory. Yes, the second volume also deals with the addition of new characters, but by this point, we are familiar with a bit of the world and there’s less explaining to do. So for the most part, we can sit back and enjoy the story.

Well, sort of.

Then Liu comes around and throws us for a loop and we start to devour the next bits of fantastical element thrown our way. In this case, the sea Arcanics.

Yes, we saw the awesomeness of the Fox Queen and the Monkey King and by that point we are unsurprised by the group of “nekomancers” littering the pages (I mean, Ren is one of them…). But a motherfrelling Arcanic shark? Mermaids and sirens and bone-chilling sea creatures of doom? Hell yes!

Not to mention dapper ex-pirate lions and tigers, who, by the way, are friggin’ AWESOME.

I don’t know how they’re not super-hot in those outfits, I would be if I was sporting that much fur in my body. That said, CAN I GET THEIR CLOTHES? I’d so wear the shmat out of them.

And, because we needed more badass females, throw in a female captain in the mix.

Of course, the issues don’t just deal with Maika’s story, though hers takes center stage for the most part. Characters introduced in the previous issues–such as the Cumaea and the Dawn and Dusk Courts–recur in the next several issues, and while Maika’s journey is largely one of self-discovery, we have several other characters mobilized to find her. Chief among them is the Sword of the East, who is revealed to be Maika’s sole living relative, an aunt who had been unaware of her presence. The Cumaea is still after Maika’s Monstrum, while others seek to destroy her.

It’s no wonder Maika broods all the time. Shes’ got a shitton of people coming after her, and to add cherry to her fantastic life, the ravenous monster inside her is getting stronger and stronger, almost to the brink of being out of control.

And yet, she still has that sass that made me love her in the beginning issues.

The second volume is chock-full of action, and more of the story is revealed to the reader, including a back story of the old gods that used to live in the known world. If you thought the first volume was epic, the second one blows it out of the water. Hem hem.

And honestly, those issue cover illustrations.

I cannot gush enough about this volume of Monstress. I highly recommend it, for story, for female badassery, for a world that’s a mix of everything I love about fantasy/scifi worldbuilding. Now I feel like the Monstrum, because this series is making me insatiable. I want more please!

5 out of 5 cookies!

This counts as #11 of the Graphic Novels/Manga Reading Challenge and #4 of the Steampunk Reading Challenge.


Have you read this series? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: Wrath & Dawn short stories, King George

Do short stories garner reviews? Even mini ones? Why yes, yes of course! Because why the heck not. Also, I went back into a The Wrath & the Dawn kick after re-reading the first book and falling in love with the characters all over again. So why not continue that love by reading the prologue-y chapters?

The first one, The Moth & the Flame, is pretty much the larger of the two pieces, owing to the fact that Ahdieh has written Despina and Jalal’s first encounters with each other. The two had ample chemistry in the books, but in these first few meetings, they’re short and sweet and altogether worth reading.

The second, The Crown & the Arrow, is a reflection piece in Khalid’s POV. It takes place exactly around the same time the novel begins, with Shazi on the verge of walking up to her husband and caliph for the very first time. Khalid’s always a fun POV, because he’s a very poetic and romantic one.

And…because the first two ARE short stories, I’ve thrown in a non-fiction I’d read because it was one of those books I had assigned to my literature voldies.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

We Have a Quest!

To find the grail!

The quail!

No, the grail.

For some reason every time the use of the word “quest” makes me start singing to Spamalot. There’s too much Monty Pythoning around here…

But that’s me digressing.

Kudos to CW at Read, Think, Ponder for the awesome graphics!

Aentee at Read at Midnight put forth an amazing reading challenge called The Reading Quest and just so I can force myself to read and catch up to my TBR, I decided I’d join in on the quest. That said, I doubt I’m going to get through all of the ones I’ve put on this list, but I’ll try to at least get my lovely Mage through her hero’s journey!

Now, normally I go straight for either the Rogue or Mage during my fantasy playthroughs (almost always a Rogue during my first playthroughs in Elder Scrolls and Dragon Age franchises), but occasionally being a mage has its perks. Like being able to heal yourself without waiting for your slow-ass party members. Or setting people on fire at whim. Erm. Not morbid at all or anything…

I do plan to do either Bard or Mage next, depending on whether or not I get out of the realm of side quests on top of the Mage quests… (and goodness knows I love my side quests!).

Just so I don’t lose track of which books I plan to read for each quest, I’m putting my master list down here:

The Quest Board Book List

Mage:

The First Book of a SeriesSnow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
A Book Set in a Different WorldOur Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
A Book Based on MythologyThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
A Book that Contains MagicGoldenhand by Garth Nix
A Book With a One Word TitleCaraval by Stephanie Garber

Bard:

A Book that has a TV/Movie Adaptation – Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
A Fairy Tale RetellingHeartless by Marissa Meyer
A Book Cover with Striking TypographyVassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
A Book Translated from Another LanguageW.I.T.C.H. vol. 1 by Elisabetta Gnone (translated by Parke Godwin)
A Banned BookDrama by Raina Telgemeier

Knight:

A Book with a Verb in its TitleGod Save the Queen by Kate Locke
A Book with a Weapon on its CoverEon by Alison Goodman
A Book with a Red CoverThe Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Rogue:

A Book Published by a Small PressHollow City by Ransom Riggs
A Book with <500 Ratings On GoodReadsThe Magic Mirror by Susan Hill Long
A Book Cover with a Partially Obscured FaceAmerican Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Side Quests:

Potions – A Book Concocted by 2 Authors – The Janus Affair by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Time Warp – A Book Set in Either the Past or the Future – Dreadnought by Cherie Priest
Expansion – Read a Companion Novel or Short Story – Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
Multiplayer – Buddy Read a Book – Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie
Mini-Game – Read a Graphic Novel, Novella, or Poem Collection – Monstress, Vol. 2 by Marjorie Liu
Grind – A Book with 500 Pages – Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
Respawn – Read a Book You Previously DNF – Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley
Animal Companion – Book Referencing an Animal in the Title – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I will be updating this list with links to reviews at some point!

Are you taking part in The Reading Quest? Let me know!