Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book Review: The Tomb of the Sea-Witch (Kyle Robert Shultz)

After the madness of The Beast of Talesend, Nick Beasley still has some work to do. I mean, he's still a hulking mass of fur and claws and canine teeth.

But now on the run, Cordelia takes them to an island where magic is practiced and honed, Nick will need to blend in... when he has no magic. But his problems don't stop there (because that would be no fun), and troubles arise as they realize the legend of the little mermaid went quite a bit differently than you or I remember...

Another adorable Beaumont and Beasley installment. Nick's sarcastic, 75%-done-with-everything attitude makes me smile nearly every time. And Crispin finds love! It felt a little cheesy, but I love Crispin so XD Also, Crispin's increase of pets was awesome, and had me (and probably Nick) going "how is he getting all of these?" XD The kid has skills, guys. I envy them.

I liked the twist on the Little Mermaid story. It really did get twisted (pun intended), and kept the characters on their toes to keep up with the antagonist. The climax was probably my favorite, like the first book. It was intense and I feared for everyone o.o

The school was interesting, and the Mythfits were hilarious and I loved them. I also really loved his teaching style and I need more of it. XD He snarks and acts gruff and to the point and the Mythfits are just alarmed and so not cool with this new teacher. That class was beautiful to watch.

The antagonist, while we don't actually see them in particular, but them through another character (spoilers ;) ), was intriguing, though it would have been neat to see them physically (maybe another time???).

Malcolm, the school headmaster, was brilliant. He too has an attitude of "done-ness" like Nick, but he's also a dragon, so people tend to avoid pushing his buttons. We also learn a bit more about Cordelia (and we get a little more of their potential looove P) ), and her backstory, which left me with questions.

I still have a lot of questions. O_O

But book three is out, so I'll probably have to snag that one. :3 Gotta make sure the favorites live, right?

Violence/gore: Not much. Skeletons attack. There are fighting scenes and injuries inflicted, but nothing is deeply detailed that I remember.

Profanity: None

Sexual content: Two of the cast share a few light kisses.

Other:Nothing that comes to mind

Sunday, December 31, 2017

What Happened: 2017

The year ends tomorrow (for me, anyhow). Usually this doesn't mean much for me. New year, whee. I watch the ball drop, I go to bed, and wake up to the first day of the new year.

Is 2018 gonna be like that?

Haha of course not

This girl's goin' to Peru.

For two months. My first time traveling by plane (the time when I was a baby doesn't really count?) and internationally.

Basically there are no baby steps here. This is really new to me and right now I'm trying to figure out what the cookie tin I was thinking. XD But also I'm kind of excited. I'll be volunteering at an orphanage, so I'll be hanging out with kids of all ages. No idea what all I'll encounter, but it'll be an adventure nevertheless.

Similarly, 2017 has been a bit of an adventure? Outside my own circles of life, a lot of political and other stuff happened that I'd rather not go into. BUT, I want to summarize things that happened to me personally. :3 Might be boring for some, but it's a thing people do, yeah?

Things happened, guys. I FINALLY finished the draft of my fantasy novel, Empire of Blood and Shadow. I got it revised/edited enough to send it to alpha readers for real. That was really fun, actually. I sent it to a handful of fellow writers, including two guys who write, since I have a guy POV and needed to make sure he was, well, being a guy. XD

I've gotten really great feedback. Besides myself, nobody else has read EOBAS, and it was exciting to see what others thought. They've loved it, and they've offered awesome critiques too. I found the majority of my alphas in the Twitter community*, and they've all been so awesome and I'm so appreciative of them for reading, especially when I gave them a 5-million-word** mammoth to read during the school months. XD I'm so grateful they agreed to read and didn't run in terror. Cookies for them all!

*And also the writing community on Twitter is just really great, guys. There're so many friendly people, and I'm grateful for the ones I've met. Even though I may not know them well and may seem like I'm lurking to them XD

**Okay I exaggerate, but it's a TON of words, guys. I have a problem

I also finished another story on Wattpad. :D The sequel to The Empire Thief was finished this year. Both stories were super fun to write. Sometimes they were a mess because I failed to make sure I addressed major things, BUT I made it and it's lovely and I like it. :3

But then after that I've been in a funky writing slump, and I swear it's driving me insane. I hit walls in brainstorming, or I lose the drive to write a story. I did my third NaNo this year too, and even that story was flopping like a beached fish. It was pretty bad.

I'm still kind of in that fog, but I'm organized the feedback from EOBAS that I have thus far, and I'm hoping editing will bring back that spark. Here's hoping.

I've also been exploring the reasons behind why I write. I wrote another post about that. I want to glorify God with my stories, and bring His truths to readers. Even if my stories don't have directly religious elements (themes, characters, etc.). God-willing, the truths they do communicate will spark curiosity and lead them to God. It's been really good to further develop this mindset, and I hope to understand it better in the year to come.

I read a total of 47 books this year, according to Goodreads. I'm quite proud of myself, even though I didn't hit the 50 goal XD But that doesn't matter. I read a lot of really awesome stories. I listened to a bunch of audiobooks (binged The Lunar Chronicles), read a couple mangas and a graphic novel, and a really cool book that was made to look like an old library book, in which fictional character have written in its margins that tell another story. So it's like two stories in one book. It's a thick read, but it's really fun. :D

I started the reading year by basically binging the Throne of Glass series. Which, in hindsight, may have been a poor choice, but I really enjoyed them regardless of how exhausted my brain was. XD I'm fairly pleased with the majority of the books I read. I tried a few contemporary novels, which left me with mixed feelings, but meh. I have plenty of other fun stories to continue reading.

I've also been reading a few fun Wattpad stories from Twitter friends. :D Here's a few I would HIGHLY recommend:
The Pursuit of Merriment (technically written before 2017, but you'll need this for the following short stories)
Where the Ghosts Lie
The Broken City of Crows (ongoing)

All of those are really fun. So if you don't yet know what to start reading in the coming year, I would recommend these. :3

And a random mishmash of things :3

I got my first job of ever.
I worked about ten months at a Walmart, in the Lawn & Garden section. Overall, I'm incredibly grateful for the experience. There were days when I never wanted to come back. Other days were actually a little fun. But it was a good experience. I survived the heat of summer, even! XD I quit just before the holiday madness in November, partly because trying to juggle holidays, work, and Peru prep was something this introvert didn't want to deal with, no sir.

I have a nephew!
And he is the cutest little man of ever and I love him. And also my niece, who had her first birthday this year and that was precious.

Volunteered to work at an orphanage in Peru.
I'm beginning to feel a little nervous, a few days before I leave. XD But it'll be a good experience. I've been learning Spanish, and I have the important words down. It's been kind of fun. The translations get a little weird and amusing. Luis wants a pink spider, and he eats soap. I am concerned for Luis.

Started learning a new language!
Just don't ask me to identify whether I'm talking about myself or you or Bob. Because I still don't know.

What were you all up to this year? :D

Friday, December 29, 2017

Book Review: Dreamlander (K.M. Weiland)

This is my second KM Weiland fiction book, and I really loved this one too. It's a long book, but so packed with activity it doesn't really feel long. Things get more and more complicated, and Chris and Allara have to make a lot of hard choices. Concerning the plot, and concerning each other.

I really liked how they both had a lot of inner demons they needed to deal with, and that those demons affected the plot, too. Chris is dealing with his guilt, and with his relationships back on Earth. Allara's dealing with learning to trust, to have a bit of faith. They spark change in each other. Love isn't a major plotline, I don't think, and I really like that simply as companions in the craziness, they change each other.

Chris is a precious bean who gets into way more than trouble than he probably ought, but I really liked how he has to face the consequences of his actions throughout the book, and not simply deal with the guilt early on and continue on as normal. Consequences don't always show up right away, and I appreciated how Chris had to deal with his actions throughout his story, both in Lael and on Earth.

Mactalde was an interesting villain. His goals weren't complex, really, but rather simple. They were ones I could totally understand (even though he's still a murdering scumbag). But the simplicity of his wants and goals was interesting. He just wants one thing, something that, at the base of it, is something that wouldn't really be a villainous desire. But he tacks on revenge, and that's when he becomes evil.

The worldbuilding made Lael feel both new yet familiar at once. There were new names for different kinds of plants, animals, and foods, but at the same time something about the world was familiar? Or it didn't feel too strange in some ways, which I liked. I wasn't drowning in so much newness that I didn't know my right from my left. Lael firearms were a really cool concept too, using moisture to power them. It and the sky cars kind of gave the fantasy world a little bit of a steampunk/modern feel? Maybe that's where the familiarity stems from.

I was a little confused by how the dreaming/the Orimere worked. At first I thought Chris was holding the Orimere all the time to go between worlds, but then apparently he doesn't, unless he wants to bring something to/from the worlds. So that aspect was a little confusing sometimes, but usually I didn't need to fully understand it most of the time.

I liked the themes and messages in this, too. They're skillfully woven in, but still visible as the characters have their arcs to face and overcome. It their center, it has a very Christian feel, but never states it as such. But that actually makes me like the themes even more, really. God is at the center, but it's not obvious. And I really appreciated K.M. Weiland's skill in this. As a Christian, it was fun to see the themes, but also realize that God is at the center. Redemption is a major theme, I think, and I love how it was explored, even if sometimes it wasn't how I expected.

And, lastly, my favorite character: Orias. I loved this man. I really liked the worldbuilding that surrounded his race, but him in particular I loved. He, like Chris and Allara, is forced to make choices. Sometimes they aren't good choices. But he resigns himself to it. He just needs a lot of hugs and love. I was always looking forward to Orias POVs. XD

Violence/gore: There is a lot of violence (seeing as how Chris lands himself in a war), and it gets bloody, but it's not described in excessive detail.

Profanity: If there was any, it was only referenced.

Sexual content: Two characters share a few light kisses.

Other: Chris' father is a drunk. Wine is consumed by some characters.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

For Even the Smallest

Did you know one of Jesus' ancestors sold his little brother into slavery?

Did you know that one of His ancestors had been a prostitute?

Both are true. Rahab was a prostitute. She lived in Jericho just as Joshua and the Israelites arrived to take possession of the lands God had promised. Joshua sent spies to Jericho, and there Rahab protected them from harm. In return, they spared the lives of her and her family. And, ultimately, God put her in the line of Jesus.

Judah, the son of Israel, sold his brother Joseph into slavery, because he and his brothers were jealous of Joseph being their father's favorite. But in the end, God used Judah and his brothers' mistake to save their people, and the people of Egypt, from famine. And, ultimately, God used Judah as the line of Jesus.

See what I'm getting at? God can take people who seem to be at ground zero, who don't seem to have much going for them. He used them in His master plan: Sending His Son Jesus as a Savior to His chosen people. God used people like Judah and Rahab to, eventually, bring about the birth of Jesus. God, the One who commands the stars and knows them all by name, who orders the wind to turn where it will, orders your and my lungs to push air in and back out, used people like these two in the line of Jesus Christ.

So you can bet your left sock that He's got a plan for you.

God can take the most insignificant, smallest person and use them for His ultimate plan. He can take people who fight Him at every corner, like Paul once had, and change them so drastically to be used for His purposes, to make them someone who spreads God's Word, instead of fights it.

So God can use you, too, for His plan. He's got one for you just as much as He did for Judah, Rahab, and Paul. Life might suck. Things might not be going well. School might be poor, or life at home a miserable situation. Whatever the case, know God has a plan for you. In this world of people, animals, events and activity, He's not forgotten you. You're His creation, and He knows His creation by name, be they stars, sparrows, or you or me.

We just need to be brave enough to take a plunge into faith. Rahab took that plunge. She rescued two spies out of the hands of her city because she saw a chance to save her family. She had faith, and God rewarded that faith.

God's plan for you might not be as grand as it is for others, but He's still got one for you. He sent His Son on Earth for you. Jesus was born in a cave, with a little trough that would hold water for the flocks. The Prince of Peace was cradled in a sheep's water trough. His first visitors were shepherds. And He came to die for sinners like you and me. He left His Heavenly Father's side for God's children. For people that might be in similar situations to Rahab's, or Paul's, if only they will turn to Him in repentance.

Don't you think that God's got a plan for you, too? He orchestrated Judah and Rahab into Jesus' line. He's got plans for you too. The big step is to let Him lead the way, and trust He's got this. The God who controls every snowflake, the God who created Neptune, Pluto, and Mars... He created you. You're a part of His plan. He's writing your story.

I hope you have a super awesome Christmas. As you celebrate, remember that God sent Jesus for you. And have faith to let Him take the lead, and show you His plan. He's got everything under control, and everything that happens is part of His plan. And so are you. He's not forgotten you. All it takes is a repentant heart, and a willingness to let God show you the way.

Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Book Review: Beast of Talesend (Kyle Robert Shultz)

A new, quirky and charming spin on a tale as old as time. Nick Beasley's a man who debunks magic: people come to him with magical problems, he proves it to be simply normal, everyday explanations. Magic isn't real.

That is, until Lady Cordelia Beaumont arrives. Then everything gets crazy, Nick becomes big and furry (not the furry thing in the photo, though), and magic becomes very, very real.

This was a fun read. I liked the fairytale aspect behind the world. It has a familiar atmosphere at first, but we realize soon that the fairytales we know actually happened, they were real. And sometimes, they're not as bright as we've been told. I do wish I'd gotten a more fleshed-out view of the setting and the worldbuilding, though, to add to the charm of the fairytales.

Nick Beasley was hilarious in a good way. His attitude, while matter-of-fact, also gave me the impression that he's just 75% done with everything. XD He gets thrown into situations he didn't think possible, and it was fun watching him try to understand it all.

Cordelia was a whirlwind of a girl on our first meeting. I honestly didn't expect that kind of behavior from her at first, but I liked her personality. She's spunky and seems a little wobbly with her magic sometimes, but she knows when to be serious. She and Nick made quite a pair. It's a miracle they didn't kill each other. XD

There were occasions where the dialogue felt a little bit bumpy, but often it amused me. Nick and Cripsin were awesome in their banter. XD I really liked their brotherly relationship. And the backstory hit me in the feels, man.

SPEAKING OF. Crispin is a precious puppy who needs protecting and so help me if he ends up DYING or SOMETHING, there will be riots.* He's young and mildly naive and his role expanded more than I expected, and I just really need to see him safe okay? Pretty sure Nick agrees.

*(Also that prophecy has me way too many levels of worried. I don't think it's as straightforward as it seems, which worries me. A lot.)

The climax seemed a little quiet, but I think that was because this book is kind of a setup for the next books? I'm eager to see where this story goes, and how they all fair. :3 I needed answers (like the end of the mirror scene????? Whaaaaaat???), and I need them nowwwww.

I also want to know how Kyle works in other fairytales, and how it works with the world and with magic. It intrigues me, and I liked how some of the stories tended to take a darker twist. Though maybe that should worry me...?


Violence/gore: Fairly mild. Nothing is detailed, really. Though a character's human body bursts apart.

Sexual content: Nick and Mirrordelia kiss.

Profanity: Only referenced.

Other: We're told very briefly that some minor characters are naked (after a broken spell).

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Writing: A (Hopefully) Useful Starter Kit

This blog has reached 200 posts! :3 Probably not terribly exciting, but it's kinda cool. The Story Weaver started, like, three years ago with a young, not very well-outlined story. XD I've not been consistent in posting, or I flood the place with a backup of reviews (which happened recently, my bad!), but I'm learning. Learning what I want to post, when to post, and all that. I hope to learn more, and make this place a little more... not quite professional, but also something that's not just a place in the internet, if that makes sense.

I don't have a big celebratory post or event. Honestly I didn't realize I had 200 posts until I opened up the doc to write this post. So maybe this is kind of in celebration of 200 posts? Ish?

I don't really have anything deep to say, or anything super clever about writing. But I'm beginning to learn that it's okay to not have clever things to say about writing. I admire the people who can find things like that to say, and I love gleaning advice from it.

I wanted to be like that. To offer something to writers that was helpful and interesting. But everything seemed to have been already said, either in tweets or blog posts or plotting structures the writer came up with. I didn't feel I had anything to share on that level.

But I'm realizing that's okay. I'm (slowly) beginning to realize that I don't need to match their wit. I probably can't.

However, what I can do is offer advice that's been told before, but in my words. There are writers out there who're just starting out, looking for a launching pad. Maybe I can help. Maybe I can offer them a launch pad. With my own experiences, with things I'm still learning even today.

So I might try it out (and I'm totally open to advice on how to offer advice). Instead of wishing I was clever enough to offer advice to people already well on their way in their writing career, I want to try to offer advice to the ones just starting out. Help them pick their first Pokemon, if you will. ;)

So today, I'd like to give you a small "starter kit," if you will, of a few of the basic writing elements. Disclaimer: It will be far from perfect, as I'm still learning them myself, but hopefully if you're feeling a bit lost in this forest of words, this post will help give you a foothold.*

*Please, do remember to take anything I say with a grain of salt. I just want to share what I've learned with you. ;)

We'll start with the basics.

  • Plot
This is at it's simplest the story. The timeline, if you will, that your cast of characters will follow. Your main character (or MC) wants something. Maybe he wants to save his little sister, or he just wants to get out of the ranks of a rebellion (or win the rebellion). But the bottom line is, there's something he wants.

But its your job to make him go through ALL the hoops to get it. Maybe even then he doesn't get it, and finds instead something he needed rather than what he wanted. But the plot follows your MC's journey, his search for the thing he wants (or thinks he wants). That includes all of the obstacles he faces, people or otherwise. Usually there'll be an antagonist (the villain) who stands in his or her way (think Captain Hook from Peter Pan or the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia). The villain wants something too, and the plot will help you (and readers) follow what happens when these two forces collide.

Spoiler: A (hopefully) exciting story happens. ;)

Usually, stories follow a character-driven plot, or it's simply plot-driven. Character-driven stories, while they should have an external plot, tend to focus in the inner workings of the MC and follow her development, the way she changes over the course of a story (this is called a character arc).

Plot-driven stories are usually when the plot keeps the character moving. Trouble will find the MC, and the MC follows along while struggling to stay on top of things. In this type, there's sometimes not much of a character arc. The world around the MC changes, while the MC may not change much.

Sometimes stories have a bit of both types, which would make for even more complex stories, which I find could be rather interesting. ;) In either case, the plot is the track for your story, complete with all sorts of obstacles that need hurdled.

  • Character
Characters are the people who populate your novel. Without them, we would probably have just scenic nature footage. Exciting for some, but it doesn't really work for a book, especially when you have lots of intense ideas to explore.

So you need people. I'll break it down to three general "groups." It gets a little deeper than what I'm going to describe, and I'm happy to try delving deeper into them if you all want. But for now, we'll divide your cast into three fairly easy groups for you to organize: main characters, antagonists, and supporters.

You probably recognize those first two. The main character is who readers will usually follow in the course of the story. They're the ones your readers will root for. They have a desire, and they're going after it. Remember to make them active in their desire. They need to be the primary force driving the plot. Sometimes the plot drives the character, and that's okay, but remember to keep your MC on track. Maybe she reacts to events up until a certain point before she realizes she needs to start taking responsibility and acting, but give her some active-ness, even when she's just reacting for a portion of the time.

Don't be afraid to give your MC flaws. Your story's hero doesn't, and probably shouldn't, be totally perfect. Maybe he or she has weaknesses that affect their journey. Give your MC layers: interests, dreams, fears, flaws, strengths, complicated relationships, etc. Stuff that make humans human (even if your character might be a dragon ;) ). Your hero can be strongly righteous, and that's good too. But giving him or her a flaw or two can't hurt. ;) Your hero should get knocked back from reaching his goal (whether by external forces, or his own shortcomings), but he needs to keep getting back up, learn (eventually), and try again.

We're going to say the antagonist is also human (or dragon) for now, because usually antagonists are. Sometimes they're simply other, non-sentient forces (weather, sickness, etc). Those can be excellent antagonists for character-driven plots. Human villains can supply the antag-position in both character- and plot-driven stories. For villains, they too have a want, a certain desire. But, often, it tends to rub against the MC's desire the wrong way. They get in the way of each other. The MC might be working to stop the villain, or vice versa. Or they're both trying to stop each other at once.

The villain's desires are, usually, bad. Maybe it's their goal that's bad, or their methods. Or maybe it's both. That's basically how stories go. But just saying that they're evil isn't quite enough. Maybe they really do just want to halt the MC in his tracks. But ask yourself why. Why this hatred for the MC? Explore their character. Villains are human too. Maybe their motives aren't entirely bad (though their methods might be). Maybe they have a few traits that make them seem a little less 100% evil and more human. Do they love playing a certain game? Do they love and dote on their newborn daughter? Give your villains depth like you would your heroes. Make them and their desires complex. It's interesting, sometimes, when we get a villain who we despise and who does awful things, but on the other side of the coin we kind of understand where they're coming from.

Just make sure it doesn't turn them into a good guy, unless that's your intent (redemption arcs, whoo!). Villains shouldn't necessarily be portrayed as good. They might be motives we get, but the way they go about them can be where we draw the line and say "ahh, no, that's bad." Evil shouldn't really get away with being evil. At least, sooner or later the consequences should maybe catch up to them.

The last grouping is the supporting cast. These are the people who team up with the hero. Or perhaps the villain (or maybe both). These people can come in as a wide variety of personalities and backgrounds as your MC and villain can. And they have their own desires and dreams, fears and flaws. Supporting characters can make great companions to the hero. Maybe he needs a mentor to guide him through using magic. Or perhaps your heroine needs a hero to help her through her arc. Or perhaps they simply need a best friend, or parents/siblings. Supporting characters can be very nearly anyone. They flesh out the world. Sometimes they show up only once, or they're a close partner to your hero.

Remember to give your supporting characters layers too. Give them their own desires to pursue. They tend to think the story's about them. ;) What do they want? Does it interfere with the MC? How well does the MC get along with them? This complexity will make them feel as real as the antag and MC. They're people too. Let them act like it, and not just be part of the backdrop. Just remember that these characters need a role that is relevant to the plot or your MC's arc. If they're just there for the show, they may need to go.

  • Setting
Setting is where you're story takes place. This is could literally be anywhere. In space? 1776 in America? In a world populated by dragons and selkies? In an apartment complex in Chicago?

You get the idea.

Setting, in a way, can be its own character. Your story world will likely have its own culture. How does this affect the MC's beliefs? How does this affect the way the villain acts? You might need to do some research depending on where or when you want your story to take place (especially if it's set in America in 1776, for example).

Worldbuilding is a tool you can use in your setting. I tend to see it as a tool most often used in fantasy or science-fiction. Worldbuilding is, basically, building a world. You create the world, instead of using the one around you. However, you draw from the world around you too, so it can't hurt to research for fantasy or sci-fi cultures anyway. You use it to develop magic systems, or technology, or lots of things that might need an additional creative spark. ;)

If you like, I have a Pinterest board of worldbuilding stuff that might be helpful to you. ^_^

  • Themes
Themes can be what you want to say in your story. Usually, stories have a point, something the writer wants to communicate. However, you need a delicate balance between story and theme. Too much theme, and it bogs down the story and feels preachy. Too little, and readers might miss the point, or misidentify it.

Sometimes your story might call for theme to be a little more noticeable, other times maybe not. Play around with it. Theme can be a fussy thing. It needs a good balance to weave seamlessly into the narrative without making bumps in the road that go "here I am!", but also strong enough that it doesn't fade out of sight and sound.

Experiment. Play around with words, or make a list of possible themes. As writers, we need to communicate truths. Those truths come from God and His Word. We need to make sure our stories don't give the impression that we support things God has said are not good. And theme is an excellent place to start: it will help set the tone for your novel's smaller messages or sub-themes that might be woven into it too.

So what do you want to say? What has God put in your heart that he wants you to say?

There's tons more elements to writing, I'm sure. There are sub-topics for each of the ones we've discussed, and sub-topics for the sub-topics. But hopefully this gets you started. :D It sounds complicated, maybe, but be patient with yourself and with your writing. You will get there. It's gonna be hard, there might be tears or doubts (even I still have those!). In between the satisfaction of smooth sentences and deep characters, there's going to be frustrations. It's part of the learning process.

But you know what?

You've been given a gift. The Master Storyteller's given you a skill to use for His glory. He's given you a mind for stories and telling them. Pray about it, too. Ask Him to show you how He wants you to use the written word. Be willing to learn and change and grow. You are God's story, living in a world He built. Learn from it. :) Explore the stories He's telling, the world He made, and borrow from it. Maybe it's His will that you become a storyteller, that it's where He's calling you. If it is, that's awesome. Follow His lead.

You've got this. Play with the words. Mix and match. Break grammar rules or follow them, or both. Read books on writing, or blogs, or podcasts or YouTube videos. Study the story-lines of movies, TV shows, or video games. Play with the words again. Play and experiment and explore.

And don't give up.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Book Review: The Star-Touched Queen (Roshani Chokshi)

Maya's life has essentially been shadowed by her horoscope. A sign from the stars that tells of her union with death and destruction. Naturally, eligible bachelors aren't keen on courting this doomed princess. And Maya's alright with that. She'd much prefer to watch and learn from the political proceedings of her father, and collect old folktales and legends for her little sister.

But that changes when her father forces Maya into a corner she finds no escape from.

Until she meets a strange man with an even stranger kingdom, whose answers she can't have until the new moon.

The plot of The Star-Touched Queen is a little slow, and not quite as punchy as other novels might be, but that helped make it feel like its own legend or myth. But this one, we "zoom in," in a way, on the heroine, and see her thoughts and struggles. The plot gets a slow start, but halfway is when Maya's life starts to go even more nuts than it has been. ;) That's when things unravel and left me like "HOLD UP WHAT."

But my favorite part of the book was the writing. Oh my gosh, I was in love with the gorgeous descriptions, and the worldbuilding. The settings were so magical and rich and gorgeous, and I loved the imagery. It all came together in my mind easily, and it was just beautiful. :3 The worldbuilding was fascinating, too, with the Night Bazaar and Amar's peculiar castle. Honestly, I could've read a whole book just exploring the bazaar and castle alone.The culture (both the human world and the more "magical," other world) was beautiful, and fun to explore.

The setting was its own character, in a way, and it helped convey the mood. There were two moments in the Night Bazaar that really pointed this out to me. One was when the bazaar was bright, magical, wonder-filled, a little dark and weird. The other was when things were dull, lifeless, dead. It was a striking contrast, and it helped instill the proper mood of the story. Yet another reason I fell in love with the writing.

Maya's character was interesting to me, in that she seemed like a much quieter heroine. She wasn't very bold (though she does have her moments), and often isn't sure of herself, though she does know what she wants. Her arc, while I liked it and made her feel more whole, seemed a little unclear sometimes. I wasn't sure where these flaws were coming from, though eventually I could kind of see?

Amar was interesting, but his character was simple, though shrouded in a lot of mystery (and that twist though just had me kind of reeling XD). It's similar to Maya, maybe, but that also lends itself to its legend-feel. It's not necessarily supposed to have a big, complex plot or development.

I liked the banter between Maya and Amar. It wasn't like Maya's and Kamala's (a sassy talking horse), where it made me laugh. Maya and Amar were clever with their words, kind of playing with them. I liked it (but I'm also glad Kamala added the funny banter XD). Their relationship was a little odd at first (we're as much in the dark as Maya is), but I really liked it when they connected. It was sweet.

And dang, Amar knows how to say beautiful things. I was taken by him. XD

The plot developments were good, too. I really liked Nritti's involvement, and how that played out, and how things got deeper the more I understood past events (again, it's more of a legend in feel, so it works somehow). It was a good development. B) In some ways, the story reminded me a little of Beauty and the Beast (though vaguely) and Howl's Moving Castle, which made me enjoy it even more.

Violence/gore: Fighting breaks out when Maya is to pick a husband. There's a lot of fighting, and blood, it usually any gore isn't described in detail. Maya tells a story that gets gory at the end (but again, it's not detailed). She witnesses the dead walking, and she sees their death wounds. Their are monsters who fight amongst themselves, and it can get a little bloody in places.

Profanity: Nothing I can recall.

Sexual content: Maya says it's better to spread ideas than legs. The harem wives imply painful intercourse on a girl's wedding night. Maya and Amar share several kisses.

Other: Kamala (a demon horse) pees on Maya's half-brother. The religion/philosophy in may not agree with all readers (I think of Christian readers, in particular).