Witch, Please! Fanmail Box

First let me tell you that I had been eyeing Fanmail for a while but managed to miss all the awesome book editions that they made. And choosing this one was a spur of the moment decision (as I am not that into Halloween so it could’ve gone wrong). However it left me with my mouth wide open, I kept pulling things out of the box and it was awesome.

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Let’s go back to the usual and go clockwise starting from the Witch Please card:

  • Witch Please! card, it includes the items, and recommendations about the theme and what to do and see and watch.
  • Pancake Madness (Sabrina the Teenage Witch) apron.
  • Jiji (Kiki’s Delivery Service) keychain, it is the most adorable thing ever.
  • Print
  • An extra “treat” and no tricks, which was a Marvel pin.
  • “Anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve” T-shirt.
  • Broomstick pen (this made me laugh and is now sitting on my HP cauldron mug)
  • Two promotional bookmarks.
  • Two mini comics.

 

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Warcross Review

Before I go into this review, I want to give some background which will help you understand my opinions. I have been gaming since Where is Carmen San Diego (insert 8-bit music) and programming/coding for around 15-20 years. And as part of my job I look at code and logs and software and find the problems so they can be fixed (and also apply fixes, depending on how it will take to fix it and how familiar I am with the system). So you can see where this is going and how the review will pan out. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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I love the hardcover with it’s colours (the Funko’s are lead ladies of two game franchises, Emily from Bioshock Infinite and Emily from Dishonored).

Warcross by Marie Lu

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

I really found very interesting the concept of Warcross (the game). I am not sure how popular it’d be and how it’d pan out (as I know that VR is considered to be just a niche market and not to go as much as expected), but I’d totally give it a go and play and enjoy it. This appealed to my gamer side very very much.

Another thing I found interesting was the way poverty and being on the brink was described, it felt real (as I have been in struggles like that) and it was well done. And if we’re on well done bits, the team work and the diversity of the characters was good. I love the fact that the cast is diverse but it is subtle, they don’t stick out (for me, diversity has always been around and no one has ever stuck out so this is the best portrayal, were it is normal to be from wherever and look however you do).

And now the side I wasn’t too keen on. When Emika finds the first error with Hideo, I totally get it, the whole search for something out of the pattern. I do that, see things from afar and then zoom in. However, my problem is that unless Hideo coded every single bit of code for Warcross (which I doubt, as he has a company and he mentions having programmers or something of the kind), the code would not be smooth. Software is made by several programmers each with a different style of programming and as such, the code becomes a mash of different patterns and sometimes a pattern is broken by a fix added by a different person to someone else’s code. [Please excuse the teacher mode here]. So impressing Hideo with finding the errors so easily felt like a snowflake moment (and this was made even more snowflake after you realise there are other bounty hunters doing the same thing, why isn’t Hideo impressed as much by them, from Emika’s point of view the other bounty hunters totally hide from her and she doesn’t realise they are in the same boat until later).

The romance was also probably not my favourite part. It felt forced and I wasn’t really buying it. Which probably led me to figure out a lot of the plot twists and to have the Chekhov gun feeling for the “biggest twist”. I did guess easily who Zero was.

In the end, I did like the book but not enough to be super crazy about it. I read it expecting it to fail a little on the coding/hacking side, but that is normal after you’ve been involved in things too long.

I’d still read the next books as I am intrigued by “Zero” and the choices made and I’d recommend it for a relatively easy read. The writing was easy to read and it flowed so I didn’t feel like it was chopped or struggled with it.

Moon Recommends

As expected, I’d recommend Ready Player One because it is good. I’d also recommend watching Summer Wars, somehow it reminds me of this and probably reading Paprika (and watching the film) as they all have this interesting flavour on technology. Each one has a unique point of view of it, though probably Summer Wars is the closest to Warcross in a way.

If you’d like to read the book, you can find it here.

Disclaimer: There is an Amazon Associates link, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs. Book synopsis is from Good Reads.

YA + Fantasy PageHabit

Last month PageHabit offered to send an extra book on the same box, which was a good idea for me since I didn’t want two boxes.

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Let’s do a counterclockwise round this time (because I keep saying I will and never do, so here you go!), starting from the top right corner:

  • A Plague Of Giants by Kevin Hearne. This is the book for Fantasy and looks impressive and I really love the annotated part of it.
  • Light up pumpkin key chain. It is cute fun even if it is small and silly.
  • Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster. This one is the YA book and also annotated.
  • Bookmark with Einstein quote.
  • Library Card pillow case, which is really fun!
  • Author letter for YA book, I wish I had had both author letters since I had both books.
  • Short story included.
  • A Nessie tea strainer, which I am happy to get because they have been so expensive I had desisted from buying one but love the look of it (not that I will actually use it for tea. If you read my blog frequently, it is common knowledge that I have one tea strainer I sought high and low to find that was perfect and it is the only one I use, as fun shape ones are a pain to clean).

I liked the box it was simple but had some fun items, so it was good. I get PageHabit because the books are annotated which is nice and interesting. However, some people have been having issues with them, I have not and as such can only say they have been good and I am just unhappy because shipping costs a lot but there’s not much that can be done about it.

 

All The Crooked Saints

I came upon Maggie Stiefvater with the books Lament and Ballad, they were interesting and I decided to try Scorpio Races when it first came out, it didn’t have the same effect that the first two had had, so I didn’t go crazy about her books.

However, All The Crooked Saints popped up on my radar as it touches on Mexico and the culture of saints and miracles and a few other things, and as a Mexican I was curious to see how it would be portrayed.

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All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20px

Let me start with saying that this does not bother me about how Mexican culture is displayed. I did object to a “grammatical error” Daniel makes that was artistic license so that it could sound to what the author wanted. And in all honesty at times it was tiring to read the description of food and everything that made them very Mexican rather than American. It felt like it was necessary to make it stand out and I think the story didn’t need extra information to make it work.

On the other hand I was absolutely pleased with the central message of the book, even if it took some digging to get to it. It was interesting to see the Sorias and the pilgrims figure out how to get to their second miracle and get out of that stuck phase. And the family dynamics were also interesting to read, it felt very familiar to me, with all the hidden drama and just the way they were.

However, the pace was a little slow for me and I struggled for the first few chapters, until I finally got to where things start happening. So that’s why it has a 3 fox rating, it lacked the something to make it amazing but I liked it despite some issues.

Moon recommends

I don’t have any books in English I can recommend that are similar to this, but reading any good hispanic author works. Carlos Luis Zafón, Isabel Allende, Gabriel García Márquez, etc. Also, if you’re a fan of Maggie’s writing, do read this, it will be interesting. And if you are curious about this aspect of life and her writing, you can also read this, just don’t expect a fast paced story. This is a slow book with a lot of internal struggles rather than external action (there is some of that too).

If you’d like to read the book, you can find it here.

Disclaimer: There is an Amazon Associates link, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs. Book synopsis is from Good Reads.

 

 

 

Dragon Slayer LitJoy Crate

This is my first LitJoy Crate, I had heard that sometimes they get an author to curate them or something like that so decided to give it a go before they even announced the theme for October. (Yeah, by now you should know I just go and buy book boxes because book boxes, in all fairness, I do check past boxes before buying but the theme rarely ever bothers me and I only worry about theme so I can figure out what kind of items/books are there).

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Let’s do around the clock, (one day it will be counterclockwise I promise) starting with the book:

  • The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli. I AM so happy this was the book because for Gollancz Festival there was an event with Kristen and I got my book signed (plus she curated this box and recognised my scarf at the event!).
  • Underneath everything is an infinity dragon scale scarf which took me ages to figure out how to wear because I have never had an infinity scarf despite having a nice collection of scarfs at home.
  • A Khaleesi Kisses lipbalm which smells delicious, warm and firey and just perfect.
  • A dagger/knife shaped bookmark.
  • Candle
  • Shakespeare quote print which also has on the toher side the author letter (this broke my heart because I usually stick author letters to the books but I can’t do this for it because it is such a gorgeous print… decisions, decisions, decisions!).
  • The Complete Book of Dragons by Cressida Crowell which is all about dragons and I think is such a wonderful companion to The Last Namsara.
  • Jon Snow bookmark, which is stunning too.
  • Content leaflet which explains why each item was chosen and has pictures identifying each one.

I was very pleased with the box, and I am very happy this was my first one. Of course I am getting more of them so hopefully this will go beautifully well and I will keep raving about it (also no customs which was an amazing bonus).

The Last Namsara Review

This will be funny once you see the next post.

I went to one of Gollancz events about Fantasy in YA and managed to get my book signed which was really great and the talk was fun and it was awesome so I left wanting to read the book and I did.

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The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

I enjoyed this more than I expected, I guess partly because I wasn’t sure what to expect. Usually I love books with dragons, except for Paolini’s books for reasons I won’t go into in this review, so I knew I would probably like this one.

I am also really into heroines that seem to have a life purpose that distances from others but they also long for a life, and with Asha, it broke my heart that she had to marry someone she didn’t want to marry (and it just was she didn’t want to marry, not that she had a secret love somewhere). It felt powerful.

The tiwsts of the story and how Asha clings to her previous beliefs then slowly the blinds are taken from her eyes and she starts seeing things in a different light, correcting the wrongs becomes so much more important. This was beautifully achieved and the character growth in this particular aspect was a delight to read.

I wasn’t too much into the romance mostly because it feels like it still has to grow but I assume it’ll be taken on on the book since it is only somewhat starting at the end of this book.

The way the slaves aren’t meant to even look at the draksor and can’t touch them was chilling and I just hope it is delved deepr into why it was chosen this way and what had driven the dragon queen to do such atrocities.

And I really liked the secondary/side characters, Asha’s brother, her cousin, the rest of the cast were very well developed (and also the villains, I love well developed villains with layers and motives and wow).

All in all a good fantasy book with dragons, stories and interesting characters. Definitely looking forward to the second one.

Moon recommends

If you like dragons and heroines, read The Last Namsara. As I read it, I couldn’t help but find a lot of similarities with The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, which actually at first put me off since it is such a beloved book for me, but the similarities are good and they are different enough that they are each a strong book on their own so my love for them doesn’t conflict.


PS. The book beneath The Last Namsara is Dragonology,  I am also taking advantage of Krakow props like the dragon and the coaster because they have their own fire breathing dragon outside the castle.

Disclaimer: There is an Amazon Associates link, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs. Book synopsis is from Good Reads.

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Oh look, look, the lovely Helen (my ‘how to win giveaways for books you already own’ understudy, a.k.a. Moon’s understudy) from Watching Sparks Reviews has surprised me and tagged for a blogger award! She’s such a dear, thank you so much!
PS. I think she got confused, I am Moon not Sunny, but don’t tell her, I like awards and being nominated and she’s so sweet… (so go check out her blog, it’s full of books). Plus I am very surprised my little blog got this award but thanks lovely, seriously…

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The Rules:

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to bloggers who are creative, positive, and inspiring. Once nominated, the blogger is required to write a post in which they:

  1. Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post.

 

Helen’s Questions:

  1. Favourite book when you growing up?
    As a child I really loved “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie”, mine came with the mouse in overalls and it was so cute. But I also loved having mum read books to us and I read a lot so there were several books in my life. As a teenager I got hooked into Madeleine L’Engle’s books and also Anne McCaffrey’s so both have amazing books I loved. And one of my most favourite is The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.
  2. Which 3 fictional characters are you most like?
    Hermione (Harry Potter Series), Meg Murray (The Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle) and probably Aerin (The Hero and The Crown). All of them are curious, brainy and stubborn, but I also have some of their weaknesses and ideas.
  3. Who would you fancast as your favourite characters?
    I don’t usually fancast characters, so this is hard to answer, I don’t know…
  4. Which book is underhyped, and that you want everyone to read?
    Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer, any book already mentioned above, and After The Fire by Will Hill.
  5. Which book is overhyped, and is really not as good as everyone says?
    SJM books, I tried, I really really tried, but I kept shouting at the books because of the plot and how it was happening, just no. The writing is light easy read but I was too annoyed at everything else I didn’t enjoy them.
  6. What/who inspired you to start blogging?
    I have been writing on and off since I was like 10 years old (I tried to make a murder mystery but didn’t go too well, very predictable, I still have it though). And during my teenage years I had a potter fiction account, a splinder (they were kinda like blogs) with short stories, tried livejournal (didn’t stick to it very well), and finally decided to jump again into blogging this year. I had been musing about the idea for a while, so it’s not something I haven’t done before. Oh and all of those sites and things mentioned before I found on my own.
  7. How long have you been blogging?
    Here, just a few months. Before this I did a private 750words.com and before that I had my splinder for a few years, livejournal for a few months… It’s hard to pick up the trail of all that blogging time…
  8. How many books are on your tbr?
    No idea, I bought two new bookcases a few months back because I had piles of books on the floor, and I made those bookcases my TBR, so, two bookcases worth of books (to be fair, the lowest shelf has cooking books on one of them… doesn’t count for TBR but still).
  9. Do you like to listen to music whilst reading? And if so, do you pick certain artists/songs to match the book?
    Not really, or rather not on purpose. I can read with music in the background it doesn’t bother me, but I don’t decide to have music while I read, I don’t need it.
  10. Which book(s) do you wish you had written?
    Probably all the ones mentioned above. And I am writing a couple, my head is full of ideas and plans and plots. Full of stories. So those too, just wish they were already written by me.
  11. What book did you most recently finish, what are you reading now, and what do you think you’ll pick to read next?
    Warcross was the most recent one I finished, I am reading All The Crooked Saints and I am still unsure what I will pick next, I am undecided between Shadowblack, Dear Martin, A Shiver of Snow and Sky… but then any book could suddenly spark interest for me out of the blue.

I’m Nominating:

Off the top of my head most of the ones I wanted to nominate have already been nominated so to avoid repeats, I nominate you all, but also specifically I nominate:

  1. Nikki (Books and Lemon Squash)
  2. Maja (Bookish Addict)
  3. The girls (Book Box Club)
  4. Marcelina (Lollipop Books)
  5. Briony (Miss Briony)

The next few are twitter people I think deserve a Sunshine award:

  1. Zara (The Story Of Zara)
  2. Sarah (SK Vetter Writes)

My 11 Questions:

  1. Which character would you want to be your best friend? Why?
  2. Who/what inspires you to create/write?
  3. Do you read one book at a time or multitasking?
  4. What book do you think I should read and why?
  5. Which character do you love to hate? Or if you don’t hate one, who is your favourite villain?
  6. Do you cover buy? Why?
  7. If you could move to a bookish world/place, which one would you choose? Why?
  8. Trope/cliche you love?
  9. Trope/cliche you hate?
  10. What is your favourite part about blogging?
  11. Who inspires you the most in your life?

Thanks for the tag Helen, and hopefully you all want to answer the questions, I’d love to read the answers to them.