Tuesday, October 31, 2017

🎃 Happy Halloween! -- Let's Talk About Our Favorite Fictional Monsters

Happy Halloween!  🎃

To commemorate today's fun holiday, I have chosen to feature some of my personal favorite monsters from fiction. To be honest, I had to cull a lot from this list to make it somewhat manageable, so just know that there are many more awesome monsters out there. Some of these monsters I personally like because of how badass or crazy they are, while others are on here simply because I think they're extremely terrifying and I respect them, but I would never go near them (actually, who would go near any monsters anyway if you're not a book's protagonist!?)

Note: There will be no monsters of the spider variety here. Spiders are bad enough when they are the size of my thumbnail, I do not need to see them any larger than that. Ever.

emoji request Frankenstein's Monster

Frankenstein's monster isn't really scary--in fact, I think he could have been quite a lovely man if he had been given the chance. What's scary about this monster, though, is moreso the idea that Victor Frankenstein was able to construct a living, breathing human from dead parts. That's too far. Regardless of his scare factor, Frankenstein's monster is a fascinating creature.

Image:  Illustration from the frontispiece of edition published by Colburn and Bentley, London 1831. 


I'm only including a few mythology-based monsters in here because I plan to do a full-scale mythology-monsters post in the future, but how could I not include Scylla? Just take a look at this excerpt from The Odyssey:
  "Verily she has twelve feet, all misshapen, and six necks, exceeding long, and on each one an awful head, and therein three rows of teeth, thick and close, and full of black death. Up to her middle she is hidden in the hollow cave, but she holds her head out beyond the dread chasm, and fishes there, eagerly searching around the rock for dolphins and sea-dogs and whatever greater beast she may haply catch" (The Oddysey 12.86-90).
Yep, I'm out!

Images:  (Left) Detail from a red-figure bell-crater in the Louvre, 450–425 BCE; (Right) Image from PinkParasol



Don't you even try to tell me that Fenrir is not completely badass. Fenrir is a huge, monstrous wolf from Norse mythology who is foretold to eventually devour Odin. You can find out more about that whole story in tales from Norse Mythology, but I wanted to briefly include him here. I'm also a fan of the fact that J.K. Rowling created Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter books, because I thought he was interesting in a horrible way and I can only assume tat he is named after Fenrir from Norse mythology. 

Images: (Left) Guerber, H.A. (Hélène Adeline, 1909); (Right) http://mythology.wikia.com/wiki/Fenrir



The Jabberwock is a seriously ugly beast found in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It has one of those faces that just instills fear and terror the second you look at it and I would never want to come face-to-face with it. I honestly think the Tim Burton movie did a great job depicting the Jabberwock in all of its terrifying glory. 

Image: (Left) illustration by John Tiennel; (right) Image still from Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton, 20)

The Other Mother

The Other Mother from Neil Gaiman's Coraline isn't strictly your typical monster, but... she's a pretty terrifying and monstrous woman. The Other Mother is one of those figures that doesn't immediately appear threatening, but it is only through a vague feeling and certain tells that you can see that they are pure evil... until the true appearance comes out.

Image: (Left) Image still from the 2009 movie from director Henry Selick; (Middle) Illustration from the 2002 edition of Coraline by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by David McKean; (Right) Image still from the movie.


Okay, last one from mythology, I promise. Medusa is the epitome of a badass Gorgon woman. Besides the fact that she has snakes for hair, let's talk about the fact that if you look into her eyes for even a moment you will be turned to stone. All that sappy 'gazing lovingly into your lover's eyes'? Yeah, imagine if you just froze when that happened, and not out of pure adoration. I love Medusa-inspired characters and retellings, so if you ever come across any of those, feel free to send them my way!

Image: (Left) Medusa depiction on the west pediment at the Temple of Artemis, Corfu; (Right) Portrayal by Caravaggio (1597)


These bad boys are from Tolkien's insanely brilliant mind and they're, you know, sort of terrifying. Balrog appear in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. They're constantly burning, they have a flaming sword and weapons made of lava, and they're just altogether menacing creatures that I'd rather not meet, thank you very much. It doesn't help that they are huge-- one of them even destroyed the underground mine of Moria, where some dwarves initially lived.

Image: Still from The Fellowship of the Ring movie.

The Retchwyrm from Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff- I couldn't find any fanart images of the Retchwyrm (how about an illustrated of the book, eh? Get your red ink!), but it sounds horrible. Besides the fact that this is basically a giant, ugly, horrendous worm, the worst is that it literally spits its stomach out to capture prey, then sucks it back in with its victims caught inside. Yeah, no. Thanks for the nightmare, Jay.

Most monsters from The Witcher by Andrezej Sapkowski - The man is basically a monster slayer, so it's safe to say that most of those monsters sound horrifying. Some aren't so bad, but let's be honest--I don't want to meat any of them!

Sranc from R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing - I almost didn't include these guys because of just how deplorable they are, but they are probably one of the ones on this list I'd be most afraid of. They're basically driven by a desire for sex and violence, and it's not great.


The Loch Ness Monster! Nessie is by far my favorite legendary monster. Look, I don't care how silly it is or whether you believe she's real or not, I am a huge Nessie fan and I always will be. 

What are some of your most feared or most loved monsters from fiction?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire

*Hiddensee is available Tuesday, October 31st!*

If you're not already aware, Gregory Maguire is also the author of Wicked, which, you know, is a little popular. I've never read Wicked (but I've seen the play!) and I have heard so many mixed opinions about Maguire's writing. Some people love it, but a lot seem to hate it. I don't know how similar in styles Hiddensee is to Wicked, but from reading through Hiddensee I can understand why some people dislike his writing style, as it is certainly distinct... but I really like it.

Hiddensee is a very unique tale that aims to tell a story about the Nutcracker and his toy maker, Dirk Drosselmeier. This story ended being more about Drosselmeier than the nutcracker, which was honestly slightly disappointing to me. I was expecting something more magical in its telling and focused on the nutcracker's story. Despite this, I was still very engaged in Drosselmeier's story and still found an abundance of elegance in his writing.

The most engaging aspect of this book is simply Maguire's prose. It is truly gorgeous and it is apparent that he has a natural gift for crafting lovely sentences and phrases. Something that I particularly liked about Maguire's writing was how he manages to combine fairy-tale based atmospheres and imagery with regular human life in a way that meshes together really well. In addition to this, all of Maguire's characters are delightfully crafted, with some that I loved, some I hated, and some I that I could never really decide upon my feelings towards. Drosselmeier himself is an peculiar character that I enjoyed following and discovering his backstory and the many odd events of his life.

Hiddensee can be slightly hard to follow at times, but for me that was  made up for by the intriguing manner in which this book is written. It's a dark story, which I expected and was happy with how Maguire seemed to handle keeping this darkness present. There are also small moments of humour interspersed, nothing overbearing, but just enough to allow the reader to connect with the story.

 The only downside is that I felt that things were left a little too uncertain at times. I generally enjoy books with uncertainty and incomplete endings, but sometimes I just felt too lost or unsure and it did take away some of my enjoyment. This is also due to the book being a bit slow at parts, and if you're looking for the Nutcracker-focused moments you'll have to wait til the last part of the book. Things get a bit confusing at various moments, but I was always able to re-orient myself and enjoy the book again. However, even when I was confused I still found myself immersed in Maguire's writing.

After reading Hiddensee, I definitely think that I'll be giving Wicked a shot sometimes. Overall, I've given Hiddensee four stars!

Buy the book: AmazonBook Depository

*I received an ARC of Hiddensee in excange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*

You might also like:
The Woodcutter King by Ærick Graham
Helen of Troy by Margaret George
The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Friday, October 27, 2017

Anticipated November 2017 Releases! (+news!)

November is coming so quickly and with it are so many great releases! I am so excited for many of these books--let me know what books you're looking forward to!

And in additional news: I am now officially a Book Depository Affiliate! This is something that I've been meaning to do for ages and I'm so excited to have finally been able to do so. I shop on the Book Depository quite a bit because I think the prices are usually great and it is also a great way to get the UK editions of books that I sometimes want. I also always recommend the Book Depository to people because of the worldwide free shipping, which I personally think is amazing, especially for those who don't have as much easy access to affordable books as we do here in the states.
This doesn't change anything on the blog except that now most of my book links will straight to Book Depository instead of another retailer. I have a new Book Depository banner on the right hand side of my blog that you can simply click on to be taken to the site through my affiliate link, and I'll also include links on my posts. You can also click through my general affiliate link here. 

And finally, what does being an affiliate do for me, you ask? Basically, whenever you make a purchase on Book Depository through my affiliate link, I get a small 5% commission from your purchase (at no extra cost for you!). These commissions will help keep me fed and provide great content for all of you! I'd love to start expanding what I do here on this blog, and that usually requires extra costs, so I'm hoping that this can help make that happen. I'm so happy to share this news with you all! If you have any questions, do feel free to let me know. :)

I hope everyone has a great month!

Jade CityOathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, #3)Goldeline
The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1)WhichwoodA Tangled Mercy
War of the Cards (Queen of Hearts #3)Future Home of the Living GodThe Emerald Circus
The November GirlRosemarkedThe Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State
Queen Victoria's Matchmaking: The Royal Marriages that Shaped EuropeThe Lost Frost GirlSeventh Decimate

Jade City by Fonda Lee || November 7th (Review coming soon!)
Goldeline by Jimmy Cajolas || November 14th

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty || November 14th (Review coming soon!)

What are your anticipated November releases?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Song by Jesse Teller

Song by Jesse Teller. 2017. Ebook. 321 pages.

Dark, gritty fantasy has grown vastly in popularity these past few years, and Jesse Teller's Song is a great example of just why it has become so popular. 

Song is the first book I've ever read by Jesse Teller, but it certainly won't be the last! This book begins when the prison of Mending Keep in Perilisc has been breached and all of its prisoners have been released. Our protagonist Rayph Ivoryfist then joins forces with an old partner to protect the king--and of course many other subplots appear.

I want to first mention the worldbuilding of Song, which Teller obviously put great attention and detail into. It's a very convincing world which is helped by how thorough his descriptions are of various places and events in Perilisc. Nothing was overdone or drawn out, however, creating a nice balance of action, dialogue, and description or worldbuilding. 

The overarching plot itself isn't the most unique thing I've heard of, but Teller's execution is what makes this book stand out. It is Teller's writing that pulls you into the story and makes you want to keep coming back for more. I also appreciated the realistic portrayal of life that Teller has created; it is brutal and raw, with plenty of death and gore. 

Rayph himself was a great character to follow. He is a born leader and I enjoyed watching his handling of the many obstacles thrown his way on his quest to fulfill his duty. I also loved reading his relationship with Smear, as the two have a natural relationship that, although sometimes a bit tension-filled, is written in a authentic manner.

In addition to Rayph is another point of view from Konnon, a man who wants nothing more than to find a cure for his daughter's Paralysis. He is another interesting man that I found myself immersed in learning more about. Much in the same way as Rayph's partnership with Smear, Konnon must eventually partner up with Glyss, another pairing that is wonderfully well-written. Based on the many characters and their interactions with others, I can tell that Teller truly understands how human relationships work, and I was impressed with how well-written these many relationships were developed.

Despite the many positive aspects, I did find myself struggle to initially get into this book and the connect with the characters. The positive parts easily outweigh the negative, but it did somewhat hinder my enjoyment and I wasn't as immersed in this book as I hoped I would be. That said, I am still very interested in Teller's writing and world and will certainly pick up another book sometime. 

Overall, I've given Song three-and-three-quarter stars!

*I received a copy of Song in exchange for an honest review. This has no bearing on my enjoyment or rating of the book.*

You might also like:

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:
Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
Publication Date: November 14th, 2017

From Goodreads:

"The eagerly awaited sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling Words of Radiance, from an epic fantasy author Brandon Sanderson at the top of his game.

In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Timesbestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.

Dalinar Kholin's Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.

Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar's blood-soaked past and stand together--and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past--even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization."

I can't believe it's finally time for the third book in The Stormlight Archive to be out! I fell in love with this series as soon as I began the first book and blew through them both back in 2014. The wait is absolutely worth it for this series, though. Also, the first 250 pages are being released in increments on Tor up to the date of Oathbringer's release if you want to go get a head start! Who else is excited for this one?

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Unique Book Titles!

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly book blog meme hosted by the lovely girls over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is: unique book titles!
I wasn't sure exactly what direction I wanted to go with this, so I just decided to stick to the basics and pick some titles that particularly stand out to me and don't fit the mold of most titles that you see out in the book world. 

by J.J. Abrams & Doug Dorst
A single letter for a title doesn't seem overly common.

by Haruki Murkami
The mix of letters and numbers makes this one a bit tricky at first glance and always proves for an interesting title.

by Salman Rushdie
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

by William S. Burroughs & Jack Kerouac
And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks
I feel as though this one is self-explanatory... (poor hippos) 

by Catherynne Valente
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland, #2)The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Fairyland, #3)
I personally just love these titles. I love the length, the whimsical sound of them, and how they just promise a story full of adventure and fantasy.

by Charles Benoit
It just feels much more personal than most titles...

by Vikas Swarup

by Dave Eggers
What Is the What
But really, what is the what? 
Seriously though, this is the type of title where you say, "I'm reading a book called What is the What." 
"What is the What."
"No, you're not funny. What are you reading?"
"What is the what."
"Ugh, nevermind."

by Melanie Benjamin
Alice I Have Been
And Jordan I have been. I actually really like this title.

by James Davidson
Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens
Okay, so the format of this title isn't all that unique, but how often to do you hear courtesans and fishcakes being used int he same phrase?

by Haruki Murakami
Dance Dance Dance (The Rat, #4)
I also don't see many titles with the same word repeated not just once, but an additional two times.

What are some of the most unique titles you've heard?