Friday, November 29, 2013

Books of Note: November Reads

Well, I was going to get another post up this week with a snippet or something, but this month turned out to be way busier than I thought and this week I had little to no time to actually sit down. The awesome news is that I did end up finishing my first draft of Wolfsblood like I had hoped! Now I'm going to set it aside and start working on a weekly serial story which is an Arthurian retelling. I mentioned in a previous post that I was starting a new blog just for stories and writing by myself and hopefully guest writers as well. My goal is to post something each week. But you can read more about that here at the blog: Tales From a Modern Bard. I will be posting an introduction of sorts for my Arthurian story next week before I start posting it so if you want to know more about it, start following the blog, so you won't miss anything!

Anyway, on to by favorite reads for the month. I actually did get to read more this month than I thought and I read quite a few good books. Here are my favorites.

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings — merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing — kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery — one that will change Rithmatics — and their world — forever.

Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson brings his unique brand of epic storytelling to the teen audience with an engrossing tale of danger and suspense—the first of a series. With his trademark skills in world-building, Sanderson has created a magic system that is so inventive and detailed that that readers who appreciate games of strategy and tactics just may want to bring Rithmatics to life in our world.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: This is one of those books that sounds so very strange at first that you really have to read it to know whether you will enjoy it or not, and in this case, I really enjoyed it a lot! And I also found it to be one of the most unique books I read this year.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Yes! It's awesomely steampunk and I love the mechanical horse on the front, even though the mechanical horses didn't have all that much to do with the story.

Characters: I actually wasn't quite sure what to make of Joel at first. I liked him, but he just seemed a little bland and like he complained a lot and didn't try to do anything to fix his problems, but once I got to know him better I really came to like him. He's a sensible boy, and honest (sometimes that might be considered a fault) but he's not afraid to take chances and do what needs to be done, and take charge, even ahead of superiors. While not my favorite young male character ever, I really enjoyed reading about him. Melody I loved first off. Maybe because she loves sketching unicorns and that's delightfully quirky? She's the kind of female character I love to read about. She's got spunk, and she's sarcastically dramatic, and most of all, she's not perfect and admits it and that always goes a long way to endearing me to a female character. Unlike Joel, I didn't find her annoying at all.

As for the supporting characters, I really licked Fitch. He was kind of your typical absentminded professor and was kind and a good guardian for the both of them. Nalizar was both annoying and yet you are never really sure what to think about him, which I really liked. I'm not going to say much more about anyone because I'm afraid I'd give away spoilers. You'll just have to read the book =)

The Romance: There wasn't any! Amazingly, Joel and Melody's relationship stayed kind of brother-sister. It may turn into something more in later books, but I don't think it will be for a while. Truthfully there's all too much going on in this book for romance anyway.

Writing Style: The writing style itself isn't really anything amazing, but I'm giving most of the writing points to Brandon Sanderson for world building. That was what I loved most about this book. It's a story set during the turn of the century in a steampunk/gearpunk universe that is like the United States, but...not. Instead all the states are seperate islands, and kind of more like they were before the American Revolution, all being a bit like their own country. For some reason, the island of Nebrask has a whole ton of rampant chalklings that need to be held back from invading the other islands. No one knows how they got there, but all Rithmatists are required to serve there to fight against them. The whole idea of Rithmatics is terribly clever, and I could tell that the author put so much work and consideration into it. I am not mathematically minded, but I loved the idea and the theories of Rithmatics. It's just such a cool idea! The whole thing about how some people are Rithmatists and others aren't was a little bit confusing, but even the characters in the book seemed to think so, so I guess that's just the way it is. In any case, this book is just totally awesome, and I have never come across something like it before.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not applicable, but the Rithmatics are actually very understandable which I was really glad for.

Problems/What bothered me: I didn't really have all that many problems. I have to say that the first third of the book was a little slow, but it helps to build up the story for later on, and it will definitely help the reader understand Rithmatics and everything else.

Conclusion: 5 stars. The ending surprised me several times before the book was over, and I love that. I just really liked the combination of alternate history, fantasy, and mystery that this book held and I can't wait to see what the author has in store next.

Recommended Audience: Girl or guy read 13 and up. It's kind of hard to recommend this book, but any fantasy lovers would enjoy it. I'd say Kenneth Oppel fans and Maggie Stiefvater fans would probably enjoy it. 

(Read my friend Mara's review here)

17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery. Nobody in town will explain why, but Verity hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out . . . or to keep the women in. Determined to understand, Verity finds herself in a life-and-death struggle with people she trusted.

Inspired by a pair of real caged graves in present-day Catawissa, this historical YA novel weaves mystery, romance, and action into a suspenseful drama with human greed and passion at its core.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: This book was a surprisingly nice romance, an intriguing mystery and a cast of likable characters with a well researched historical background. It's a quick, easy read, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I'm divided. I don't like the character impersonator on the front. She doesn't look like how I imagined Verity. I do like the picture of the caged grave and the gold embossing and the colors are nice too.

Characters: Verity Boone is a very likable girl character. I never got annoyed with her once through the whole book and I felt indignant on her behalf for the things she had to go through coming back to the village, and I understood her misgivings when she meets Nick for the first time and finds him not so much like he was in the letters. Nick I wasn't sure how I felt about at first, but as the story progresses, I like Verity became increasingly fond of him. I also liked Hadley Jones, though I felt sometimes that his flirting with Verity got a little how of hand. The supporting cast was also really enjoyable, I especially liked Nate's sisters, and wished we got to see more of them. Verity's father is a very likable character as well, and I also really loved Beulah.

The Romance: Yes, there is a bit of a love triangle in this story, but what makes it bearable is the fact that Verity at least feels guilt for her feelings for Hadley and doesn't really know why she is attracted to him. I was very pleased with how the romance aspect of this story ended, and I think that, in the end, Verity ended up with the right guy.

Writing Style: The style isn't the best I have ever read, but the author did her best making it fit the time period, with the dialogue and everything. I almost wished it was in first person, but I didn't mind it in third either. I really liked the prologue because it pulled me right into the story, making me very interested to find out what happened, and I'll admit, even the prologue really surprised me.

Accuracy/ Believability: The author obviously spent a lot of time researching for this novel and it shows. I didn't see anything to complain about on a historical note, and I really love how she used the names from real caged graves to create her characters. I really love it when authors do that. I only wish the author's note had gone into a little bit more detail as there were several other things in the book that I wanted to know whether they were based off of anything or not.

Problems/What bothered me: Nothing really bothered me in this book.

Conclusion: 4 stars. An enjoyable read, and a rather fast-paced mystery. The end was totally surprising; I had some ideas about who I thought the culprit might be, but I didn't really expect the actual outcome so that's always nice.

Recommended Audience: Girl read, 15 and up. Readers who enjoy historical mysteries and don't mind a little romance would like it. Those who enjoyed "The Dark Unwinding" by Sharon Cameron would probably enjoy this one too.


  1. I can't believe we have to wait until possibly 2015 for the sequel to THE RITHMATIST. Grrrrrrrr.

  2. I know! I hate it when authors take two years to write the next book in the series!!

  3. Both of these sound good, especially The Rithmatist. What an intriguing concept!

    1. It's very different. I would suggest it on that reasoning alone, but it was also a really good story.