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!

Food and Fiction 2017: A Reading Challenge

I’m trying to tell myself not to be silly-nervous about starting up and hosting a reading challenge this year, but I can’t help it, considering I’ve seen so many stellar reading challenges floating around already and I mean…another one? Cue groaning, am I right? (RIGHT?)

But all the same, I have been playing with the idea for a while now, and thought, well, why not? It seemed like something fun to do, and if all else fails, it’ll motivate me to at least continue to update my Food and Fandom section–which I hadn’t updated in a while…

(In hindsight, sorry about starting this a bit late, I should have started this earlier in the month, but what’s done is done…it’s not like I’m going to be closing off the signing up list or anything, though!)

foodandfiction-2017-1

Food and Fiction Reading Challenge 2017

Intro

Plenty of fiction books talk about food. As a spec-fic reader, I am always in awe of the worldbuilding that goes about in the story, and one particular detail I pay attention to is how authors describe scenes where characters interact over a meal. These scenes are not groundbreaking or anything, and most of the time they don’t really move the plot along (unless you’re drinking wine at the Purple Wedding, hem hem…). But come on. It’s FOOD. What’s not to be inspired about it?

Challenge Guidelines

  • The challenge will run from January 1st, 2017 to December 31st, 2017.
  • Read a book of fiction with some mention of food. It could be as simple as a mention of a rare cup of aromatic Colombian coffee or a grand Mediterranean feast in some faraway kingdom.
  • Share your review of the book (short, long, a teeny status update) on your blog, Goodreads account or, heck, YouTube channel and other similar bloggy places.
  • Include a blurb about what food craving you ended up having after finishing the book! Blurbs can be: pictures of what you think the food looked like through the author’s description, accounts of you attempting to make the food or an interpretation of it, a recipe blog post of the food from the fictional book, or even pictures of where you went afterwards to satisfy a particular craving.
    • Examples (and reading challenge inspiration, really) can be found at my Food and Fandom page.
  •  You can set your own number of books you’d like to use for this challenge!

To Participate

  • Challenge yourself to read, review, and foodify a certain number of books. Again, it can be as little or as much as you want. Comment below to let me know you plan to participate and how many book-food-thingies you may be doing for the year. Also, you could tell me what food cravings you’ve had so far when you’ve read books.
  • Make sure to link me! I will be setting up a linky each month for you to show me what you guys have read and done. I love looking at pictures of food, obviously.
  • Spread the word! I will be using #foodandfiction for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, so feel free to use it so I can see what you guys have up. And share the love, because the more the merrier!

For 2017, I plan to do at least 12 food and fiction-related posts (once a month). This means I need to step it up! So with that all said, good luck and have fun with it!

And of course, feel free to comment below with questions, etc. Again, this being my first attempt at a challenge, I could be missing a few things and it won’t hurt to point me to the right direction. 😀

Review: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

I seem to like starting my years with assassin books. Actually, you know what, I usually can’t pass up assassin books. ‘Cause there’s nothing like bringing in the new year with a bit of death and destruction.

Yeah.

But seriously, it’s only taken me forever to get to this series, and I’m not even sure why.


ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE

by Robin Hobb
Bantam Books, 1995
High fantasy
Rated: cookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookiehalfrating / 5 cookies

assassinapprenticeIn a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals–the old art known as the Wit–gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

Gifly Thoughts

I’m not sure the summary does the book much justice, to be honest. A lot goes on in this first book, and while it does come off as the coming-of-age, introductory phase of what will certainly be the most badass assassin in the Six Duchies, we do get much more of the overall big picture, one which completely gets no mention in the summary. That said, Assassin’s Apprentice is essentially the beginning of something big.

The way the storytelling went–a first person narrative of an older man looking back through his life–reminded me of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, which also goes through a similar narrative style, only his character is the eidetic Kvothe. That said, Fitz and Kvothe have different paths, different backgrounds, and their stories shouldn’t be compared with each other, considering not much is the same past their catalystic natures.

I wasn’t super in love with this book at the start, to be honest. I don’t think I warmed up to most of the people that were in the pages, Fitz included. It wasn’t really until past halfway that I was even worried for Burrich, or fond of Chade. I did love Verity from the beginning, though my initial bias was probably because I loved how nicely his name rolled off the tongue. I did take immediately to the Fool, Rurisk and Kettricken, so imagine my indignation when bodies started to fall at the end of the book. Ugh, rude.

But as with most high fantasy I read, I think I came to terms with the slow character development, and Burrich, Fitz, and Chade were definitely some of my favorite characters by the end of it. It helped that the dogs in the story were adorable. It also helped that there was an epic showdown of the Skill, and a lovely–though depressing–use of the Wit at the end. I would have so been disappointed if nothing of the sort happened.

That all said, I adored the world. I’m curious over how Forging works, I want to know how Kettricken will fare in the future. I also truly want to see FitzChivalry Farseer kick ass, not just because he’s a trained assassin, but one with both Skill and Wit. That, to me, spells badassery to the max.

Say what you will, but Rain makes a pretty sexy assassin…um. What was my point again? Oh right. Assassins are badass. Yeah.

On a different note: I totally thought my Apple Strudel post tied well into Assassin’s Apprentice. There’s a scene near the end of the book where Fitz is suspicious over a plate of pastries, and his hosts eat them to ease his worries. The pastry, after being described, sounded oddly like an apple danish, or a strudel. Food and fandom, I say! (Even though I did think about apple strudels before I’d read the book. It was seriously just a mad coincidence, haha).

4.5 out of 5 cookies! Definitely a trilogy to finish reading about.


assassinapprentice-patience

Bookish Resolutions: Reading Challenges

So I miserably failed both the reading challenges I set up for myself in 2015. I swear there were years where I made resolutions (to write more, get published, get a job, read more, continue blogging, etc.), and actually managed to get through them. For some reason, it’s always the reading that’s been hardest.

Silver lining, though! I managed to smash my Goodreads reading goal once again last year, which I suppose should have meant there was no excuse to NOT have finished a reading challenge. That said, I probably need to work on not getting distracted by other shiny books as opposed to the ones I’ve put on the list.

2015bookstats

But let’s get serious here. I WILL probably keep getting distracted. And I WILL probably change my mind about which books I’ve prioritized and thensome. I’m still going to go for it, though.

So the 25 Reads challenge is one I’ve set up for myself. Who knows whether or not I’ll sign up for more (and then curl up in a corner and sob overwhelmingly).

(Also, this isn’t to say I won’t read other books. I totally ignored the fact that I might read the rest of the series for a number of the books I’ve listed below. The Lunar Chronicles and the Grisha trilogy, for example. And don’t even mention the ARCs I’ve yet to touch and am totally late in reviewing…)

25 Reads Challenge for 2016

1. Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley
2. Snow White, Blood Red, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
3. Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
4. Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder
5. The Diviners by Libba Bray
6. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
7. The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities edited by Ann VanderMeer
8. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
9. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
10. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
11. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time by Yasutaka Tsutsui
12. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafon Ruiz
13. Nobody’s Princess by Esther M. Friesner
14. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
15. Kings and Assassins by Lane Robins
16. Siege and Storm trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
17. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
18. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
19. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
20. Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara
21. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard, Henry Popkin
22. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
23. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
24. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
25. City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster

Reading Challenges

I have also decided to sign up for two challenges (goodness knows why, considering I utterly FAILED the TBR Pile Challenge…). All the same, this might actually be a bit more doable, considering I’ve basically streamlined my TBR list to mostly fantasy.

flightsoffantasy-2016

The Flights of Fantasy reading challenge is hosted by Alexa Loves Books and Hello, Chelly. Considering the majority of what I read IS fantasy, I figure I can polish this year off with at least 30 fantasy books under my belt. Heck, I might even join the FoF book club, ’cause they’re reading a majority of the books I absolutely love and/or would love to read!

Edit 1/9/16: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Edit 1/29/16: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
Edit 3/6/16: Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder
Edit 3/12/16: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Edit 3/16/16: Abomination by Gary Whitta
Edit 3/31/16: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
Edit 4/30/16: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Edit 5/15/16: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Edit 5/21/16: The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Edit 5/26/16: Fair Game by Patricia Briggs
Edit 6/5/16: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
Edit 6/9/16: Nobody’s Princess by Esther Friesner
Edit 6/9/16: The Perfect Shadow by Brent Weeks
Edit 6/12/16: The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
Edit 6/16/16: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs
Edit 6/16/16: Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
Edit 6/23/16: The Dragon Round by Stephen S. Power
Edit 6/30/16: Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley
Edit 7/12/16: Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu
Edit 7/21/16: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
Edit 7/28/16: Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Edit 8/4/16: Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter
Edit 8/7/16: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
Edit 8/14/16: A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Edit 9/2/16: Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
Edit 9/25/16: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Edit 9/28/16: Rebel Genius by Michael Dante DiMartino
Edit 10/23/16: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Edit 11/10/16: The Diviners by Libba Bray
Edit 11/14/16: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Edit 11/24/16: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

fairytaleretelling

I’m also stoked for this Fairy Tale Retelling Challenge hosted by The Daily Prophecy. Because, again, like Flights of Fantasy, this is something I regularly read anyway. I know, hardly out of my comfort zone, but it is what it is. I’m hoping to hit at least Evil Queen Status (10-15 books), though there’s every possibility that I can get through more, depending on what I pick up.

Edit 1/14/16: Far Out Fairy Tales
Edit 3/24/16: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Edit 4/10/16: Cress by Marissa Meyer
Edit 4/14/16: I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 1 by Skottie Young
Edit 4/24/16: Winter by Marissa Meyer
Edit 4/28/16: The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
Edit 5/19/16: Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Edit 5/21/16: The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Edit 6/9/16: Nobody’s Princess by Esther Friesner
Edit 6/12/16: The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
Edit 6/30/16: Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley