Thematic Recs: Interesting Magic Systems

In most fantasy novels that I’ve read (and I’ve read quite a lot of them), performing magic is a matter of waving a wand and saying some words, or concentrating very hard on your desired outcome; consistent actions, and (mostly) consistent results. Which is great – all magic is awesome magic! 😀 Every now and then, though, I come across a book with a really interesting, inventive magic system, unlike anything I’ve seen before. And exploring these kinds of magic – learning their uses and limitations, and seeing how the characters put them into practice – is one of my favourite things to do. 🙂 The magic systems in these books/series are some of my recent favourites, so I hope you like them, too!

Rainbow Rowell//Carry On1) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. Though heavily influenced by Harry Potter and its fandom, the magic is one thing in Carry On that’s entirely unique, and was one of the best things about this (already fantastic) novel. Spells in this world are popular phrases, and are given power by how well-known they are. So, for example, “some like it hot” can be used as a warming spell, but if people stopped using the phrase, then the spell would become less and less effective. It’s mentioned a few times that song lyrics don’t make very good spells (with a few exceptions) for this very reason; they enter and leave popular culture too quickly. Nursery rhymes, on the other hand, apparently make great ones, as people are never really able to forget them… There’s a really epic scene near the middle of the book, where Baz uses “Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home” on a dragon. 😛

Brandon Sanderson//The Final Empire2) The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. The magic in this book is called Allomancy, and those who use it are Allomancers, their powers drawn from different kinds of metals, and their alloys (hence the name). Iron and steel push and pull (respectively) on nearby metal objects; tin and pewter enhance the users’ senses or physical abilities; brass can be used to calm emotions, while zinc enflames them; and bronze is used to locate nearby Allomancy, while copper hides it. Allomancers can generally only use one type of metal, but there are a few select people, called the Mistborn, who are able to use them all. Each power seems quite limited in potential, but the way that Sanderson incorporates them into the story is pure genius, and he writes some of the best magical action scenes I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

Peter V. Brett//The Painted Man3) The Demon Cycle series by Peter V. Brett. I have a love-hate relationship with this series, because it’s really great, but horrible things keep happening to all my favourite characters… 😥 The magic system, though, is based on wards – runic images painted onto any surface available, which do things like create barriers, or turn a demon’s fire into wind – and only have an effect on demons (which is convenient, since the Thesa is beset by them). Runic magic in itself isn’t all that unusual in fantasy, but what sets The Demon Cycle apart is this interesting detail: The wards are all powered by the demons themselves; the more the demons fight against them, the more power the wards will be able to draw on, and the stronger their magic will become.

Garth Nix//Sabriel4) The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix. This series uses another runic system called Charter magic, but there are actually several different schools of magic in The Old Kingdom series. When I first read it, I was particularly enamoured of the Clayr, a group of sorceresses who can see into the future, but the kind of magic that’s most important to the series is that of the Abhorsen – a hereditary title belonging to Sabriel’s family, which marks them as necromancers. Main characters who are necromancers are incredibly hard to come by, in my experience, but the way that Sabriel uses her powers is a little different from most portrayals of necromancy – she uses a selection of bells, each with a different purpose (one to call the dead, one to banish them, one to bind them, etc.). In the second book, another character is introduced who’s also able to channel her power through a mirror, which is just as unusual as the bells.

Genevieve Cogman//The Invisible Library5) The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. This last series is one of my most recent discoveries: I’ve only read the first book so far, but I think I’ve just about got a handle on the magic that Irene uses (which, again, is not the only form of magic in the book, just the most interesting). It’s called the Language, and can only be used by Librarians of the mysterious Invisible Library, of which Irene – our heroine – is one. Instead of casting standardised spells, Irene is able to use the Language to instruct the world around her to alter itself (for instance by telling a lock to open), and – so long as she’s worded her order correctly – the world will obey her. It’s incredibly open to interpretation (she has to choose her words very carefully), and constantly evolving, and she receives new updates on the Language whenever she returns to the Library from a mission. Interestingly, she also tells us a few times that the Language doesn’t work so well when ordering objects to do things that are against their nature. For example, she very easily manages to tell a collection of enchanted gargoyles to stop moving, since stone is naturally still; it would have been much harder for her to make them move in the first place (had they not been enchanted), and the spell would have worn off much more quickly.

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♥ The Book Love Tag! ♥

So, I’ve seen this tag in a few places recently, and I wasn’t tagged for it, but I decided to do it anyway, since it’s Valentine’s Day, and it looked like fun (mostly the “fun” part, though). This tag was created by Anette from Anette Reads, and I first stumbled across it on Cátia’s blog, The Girl Who Read Too Much.

1) Your favourite book couple:

There are a lot of pairings that I really like, but I don’t really have any absolute favourites… My favourite pairing at any given time tends to be the one I liked most in whatever book I’m currently reading, or have just read and am obsessing over. ^^’

A few that have stuck with me, however: Vin & Elend from the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon SandersonCelaena & Chaol from Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series; and, of course, Ron & Hermione from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, which I’m sure many people count among their OTPs. 😉

2) Your top 3 book boyfriends/girlfriends:

I… don’t really have any. ❓ There are a lot of characters in the books I read that I really love as love interests, but I’d rather ship them with other characters than with myself… I did at one point have the hugest crush on Briar from Tamora Pierce’s Emelan books, though. (Okay, maybe I still do. 😳 )

3) Imagine your favorite book couple. Who would propose, and how? (If there’s already been a proposal: who would be more into organising the wedding?)

Sticking with the couples I mentioned in question 1:

  • Vin & Elend – Elend, and Elend. Or at least, if they’d had a wedding in the conventional sense. 😉
  • Celaena & Chaol – Hmm… Chaol would propose, and I think they’d organise it together. Celaena would take charge of most of the aesthetic things – like where the wedding would be, how to decorate, and what the bridesmaids would wear, etc – while Chaol did the boring things like actually arranging these things. And vetoing Celaena’s more outrageous suggestions (or trying to, at least).
  • Ron & Hermione – I feel like Ron was probably the one who proposed, though not without significant prodding. And I expect that Hermione (and Molly!) did most of the work of actually planning the wedding.

4) Unpopular opinions time! Name a popular pairing you can’t stand.

I sense that this opinion will be very unpopular, but: Percy & Annabeth in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. 😳 I actually dislike most of the pairings in Rick Riordan’s books (with the surprising exception of Leo & Calypso in The Blood of Olympus); I just don’t think he writes romance very well…

I also really disliked the romance between Celaena & Rowan in Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (and not just because I’m a Chaolaena girl!). The dynamic between them (which was a big part of why I loved Heir of Fire so much), was just completely altered, and not for the better.

5) What’s your favorite and least favorite romance trope?

There are so many romantic tropes that it’s difficult to pick favourites, and I can like most tropes, if I feel they’re done well… But, in the interest of actually having an answer to this question… I’m quite fond of arranged marriages, and forbidden love, and I usually dislike insta-love and love triangles. I just come across them way too often. :/

6) Do you ship non-canon couples often? Name some if you do.

I actually sometimes get more invested in non-canon couples than in canon ones, because I put so much energy into rooting for them. Some of the ones I feel most strongly about (and have for a while) are: Sansa & Sandor (from A Song of Ice & Fire by George R.R. Martin); Arya & Gendry (also from ASoIaF); Will & Brân (from Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence); Kuroko & Aomine (from the Kuroko no Basuke manga by Tadatoshi Fujimaki); and Gabriel & Nathan (from Sally Green’s Half Life trilogy).

7) Your opinion on love triangles. Go!

They’re over-done, and rarely done well (it’s usually really obvious who the main character is going to pick the whole way through).

8) Favourite and least favorite love triangle?

Favourite: Will, Tessa & Jem in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy (the only really excellent love triangle that I can think of). Least favourite: Hmm…? Maybe Edward, Bella & Jacob from the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, though I don’t really consider that to be a proper love triangle, since Jacob obviously never had a chance with Bella. She even told him so. Repeatedly. ^^’

9) Sometimes romance just isn’t the way to go. Favorite friendship?

I really, really loved the friendship between Rowan & Celaena in Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas… The direction it took in Queen of Shadows was such a shame. 😦

10) What’s your favorite scene with your bookish OTP?

  • Vin & Elend – their first meeting at the ball in The Final Empire. So cute! XD
  • Celaena & Chaol – pretty much the whole of Crown of Midnight. Just… guh (*turns to goo inside*). There was also a really hilarious scene in The Assassin & the Underworld (one of the prequel novellas) where they met at a party, Celaena drunkenly hit on Dorian, and Chaol just stood there Not Approving – but none of them knew each other at that point, and even if they had, they were all in disguise…
  • Ron & Hermione – so many moments… I can’t decide! (Life is hard.)

11) Imagine your favorite book couple again. Who’s most excited about Valentine’s Day (either ironically or genuinely)?

  • Vin & Elend – Elend (genuinely).
  • Celaena & Chaol – Celaena (half genuinely, half ironically. She’d be excited for the possibility of chocolate, if not the actual holiday).
  • Ron & Hermione – Hermione (genuinely, but secretly).

R.I.P. It or Ship It!

This game was originally created by emmmabooks, and it’s done the rounds both on booktube and on a lot of the book blogs I follow… I haven’t been tagged by anyone, but I was finally pushed to do this (I’ve been meaning to for quite a while, since it looks so fun~) when I read Josie’s post over at Josie’s Book Corner, which you should all definitely check out – she managed to pick out some really hilarious pairings. 😀

The basic rules are: Write down the names of lots of different book characters, and put them all in a pot together. Then mix them up, and pick them out two at a time. The two characters you pick will be paired together, and you have to decide whether you like it (Ship it) or hate it (RIP it). I’ve also come up with a couple of my own rules, as well – I wanted to limit myself to two characters per book/series, and I’ve got a total of twenty characters in my pot (which is the lid to my Cards Against Humanity cards~ 😛 ), so I’ll be making ten pairings overall.

So, without further ado:

Kenji (Shatter Me) & Arya (A Song of Ice & Fire)

My initial thought was a resounding no, but I think that this could actually work! Arya is so bent on revenge, and Kenji could definitely mellow her out a little, while still supporting her… I SHIP IT!ship it

Celaena (Throne of Glass) & Four (Divergent)

Celaena and Four-as-in-Divergent would probably work pretty well, but she’d probably lose her temper quite quickly with Four-as-in-Insurgent/Allegiant… Patience isn’t exactly Celaena’s strong suit… I RIP IT.rip it

Chaol (Throne of Glass) & Briar (Circle of Magic)

Briar is such a womaniser, and Chaol would probably be able to put up with that if there was any real chemistry between them (because, thinking of it, Briar is actually quite a lot like Celaena…), but I really feel like there wouldn’t be, so… I RIP IT.rip it

Elend (Mistborn& Tessa (The Infernal Devices)

These two would definitely make good friends – they both love reading, at least. Maybe? For now, at least, I SHIP IT.ship it

Bella (Twilight& Evvy (Circle of Magic)

Haha. XD Not a chance. Evvy is such a strong character, and Bella is just… not. These two would seriously hate each other.rip it

Juliette (Shatter Me& Nico (Percy Jackson)

No. Just, no. There’s no way that Nico would have the patience to put up with all Juliette’s issues. I RIP IT.rip it

Jem (The Infernal Devices& Vin (Mistborn)

This would definitely work! I SHIP IT! Jem is kind and charming – and frail enough that Vin would want to protect him (just like Elend!). I totally ship it!ship it

Luna (Harry Potter& Edward (Twilight)

Seeing inside Luna’s head would probably terrify Edward. And I really can’t subject Luna to being paired with such a creep… I RIP IT.rip it

Harry (Harry Potter& Percy (Percy Jackson)

This could definitely work (& I’m sure I’ve read fanfic of this pairing at some point~ 😛 ). The two heroes fighting together! And probably also complaining a lot about annoying villains who just won’t stay dead. If not romance, then they’d have an epic bromance, at least. I SHIP IT!ship it

Tris (Divergent& Gendry (A Song of Ice & Fire)

It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around Gendry with anyone other than Arya, so I’m not sure if this is just bias, but… I RIP IT.rip it

The Nintendo Tag!

This tag was created by Novels and Nonsense, and as usual, nobody tagged me for it, but I knew I had to give it a try as soon as I saw that it was a thing that existed! 😛 The first post of this tag that I saw was on Kacie’s Bookshelf, which you should definitely check out. 🙂

Charlotte Brontë//Jane Eyre1) NES: A classic that you want to read

I say this every time classics come up, but I really want to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I’ve been meaning to read it for years already, but it keeps getting pushed aside in favour of something shinier… One of these days, I will definitely get to it, though.

Garth Nix//Lirael2) SNES: A sequel you liked better than the first book

There are a lot of them, really, but the one that first comes to mind is Lirael by Garth Nix. I really loved Sabriel, the first book in the Old Kingdom series, but Lirael just blew me away, & is one of my all-time favourites.

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone3) N64: A book that revolutionized the way you look at the world

This is probably an obvious answer, but I’ll have to go with the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, which is the series that made me love reading – and since reading has become such a huge part of my life, I think this counts as revolutionary…

Tahereh Mafi//Shatter Me4) GameCube: A popular book that did not go over so well with you

The Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi. I’ve written a review of this whole series, explaining why I wasn’t as thrilled with it as most of the other people I’ve come across seemed to be. I didn’t hate it by any means, but it really didn’t click with me… :/

E. Lockhart//The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks5) Wii: A new favorite book

I haven’t actually added any new books to my favourites list in quite a while, but I recently read and loved The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart – a boarding school story full of pranks and a surprising amount of social commentary.

Bryan Q. Miller//Batgirl vol. 16) Nintendo Power: Favorite graphic novel/A graphic novel series you want to start

I’ve read quite a lot of really great comics (particularly in the last year or so), but the one I’ve probably talked the least about is the Batgirl series by Bryan Q. Miller. The series didn’t run for all that long, so there are only three volumes, but they’re all fantastic, and Stephanie Brown makes a really fun lead character. 😀

Bill Willingham//Fairest vol. 1As for a series I’d like to start, I’m pretty interested in Fairest by Bill Willingham, though I probably shouldn’t pick it up ’til I’ve read a bit more of Fables

Amy Tan//The Kitchen God's Wife7) Super Mario: A character you want to squish like a Goomba

I’m currently reading The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan, and Wen Fu – the main character’s first husband – is simply vile. 😡

Brandon Sanderson//The Final Empire8) Zelda: A newer fantasy that you consider to be a modern classic

The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. These books were just so well put together, with amazing characters, really wonderful world-building, and an unforgettable storyline! 😀

Patrick Ness//The Knife of Never Letting Go9) Samus Aran: Favorite Sci-Fi novel or one you want to read

I don’t read all that much sci-fi, but I really loved The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness… though I still haven’t read the sequels. 😳

Terry Pratchett//The Colour of Magic10) Pokémon: Book editions you want to collect

The old small-size editions of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, with Josh Kirby’s illustrations on the covers. There are so many of these books that I don’t know if I’ll ever get through them all, but I at least want to read all the Rincewind and City Watch books.

Den Patrick//The Boy with the Porcelain Blade11) Donkey Kong: A book with original characters

The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick, which I only just started reading. I’m still not entirely sure where this story’s going, but the characters are really interesting, and not at all like any I’ve come across before.

Fire Emblem Awakening12) Nintendo Fandom: Favorite Nintendo games

There are so many that it’s difficult to say, but a few of my favourites are: The Legend of Zelda series (especially The Ocarina of Time); the Pokémon series (particularly Pokémon Soul Silver and Pokémon Platinum); and more recently, I’ve been really obsessed with Fire Emblem: Awakening, though I haven’t played anything of the other Fire Emblem games (I’m super-excited for Fates, though 😀 ).

♡ BOOKS: Some bookish quotes for Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, for those of you who celebrate it! I thought it was a bit soon to do another Thematic Recs post, but I still wanted to do something to mark the occasion, so I’ve decided to put together some of my favourite romantic book quotes~ (& for those of you who aren’t celebrating, don’t worry – there are a few heartbreak quotes, too!)

historyoflove

“Love is stupid. It has nothing to do with reason. You love whomever you love.”
~Fire by Kristin Cashore

“I think sometimes when we find love we pretend it away, or ignore it, or tell ourselves we’re imagining it. Because it is the most painful kind of hope there is.”
~The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

“Do you stop loving someone just because they betray you? I don’t think so. That’s what makes the betrayal hurt so much – pain, frustration, anger… and I still loved her. I still do.”
~The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

clockworkangel

“Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That’s what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.”
~Delirium by Lauren Oliver

“He loved her, and would love her; and defy her, and this miserable bodily pain.”
~North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell

“I love you breathlessly, my amazing man.”
~The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

crownofembers

2014 in Review: Some Favourites

2014 was a pretty good year for me: I managed to read a lot more than I think I ever have before (158 books in total), and there’ve only been a couple of those books that I didn’t enjoy; I also managed to get back into one of my favourite genres – high fantasy – and I spent about two months reading it almost exclusively. There are a few things that I’ve disappointed myself on, too, like that I still haven’t finished reading Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy… Most importantly, though (in my opinion), is that I’ve discovered several new favourites this year, so I thought I’d share some of the year’s highlights with you all today!

Rick Riordan//The House of HadesThe very first book I read this year was The House of Hades by Rick Riordan, the fourth book in the Heroes of Olympus series, which I already loved – but this one was my absolute favourite, and it definitely started off the year on a high point.

Rainbow Rowell//Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell was the other great book that I discovered before I went off to China, and I’m really glad that I did, since it was a very accidental discovery: I only actually bought this book because I couldn’t find a copy of Fangirl!

Brandon Sanderson//The Final EmpirePAtrick Rothfuss//The Name of the WindAnd since I mentioned my obsessive high fantasy phase already, I should mention that during it I managed to discover (and marathon) two of my new favourite fantasy series: The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, and The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss. Both series have incredibly engrossing plotlines, and (as I’m sure I’ve said before) some of the best world-building I’ve ever seen.

Markus Zusak//The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak is (as far as I can recall) the only book that has ever made me cry. I only read it by chance, since one of my friends happened to have a copy that they were willing to lend me, but I vividly remember reading the last fifty pages or so of the book and being in floods of tears the whole time, just praying that another of my friends wouldn’t turn around and see me, and then decide she didn’t want to read the book after all… 😥

Marissa Meyer//CressMy most recent amazing discovery was The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I went through a bit of a fairytale phase a little while ago (and I’m actually not entirely sure that I’ve got through it yet…), and picked up this series because they’d been generating a lot of buzz on Booktube, but (not being much of a sci-fi fan) I had no clue that I’d like them as much as I did! The third book, Cress, is my favourite in the series so far, and I can’t wait for the conclusion!

T5W: Books you can really get your teeth into!

(… I’m sure it’s still Wednesday somewhere in the world. But not here. :/ Sorry I’m late.)

This week’s theme is books that are over 500 pages long, so I’m going to share with you some of my favourite really, really long books. I’ve given myself some restrictions to work with, since I actually read quite a lot of books which are around 500 pages, so, just for the record, I’m not going to be including books that are part of series’, unless most of the books in the series are 500+ pages. For instance, Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas is almost 600 pages long, but none of the other books in the Throne of Glass series quite hit 500 (not that I’ve actually read any of them yet… :/ ). I’m also not going to include more than one book from a series, and, for my final rule, I am going to do my best to make sure that this list is not entirely made up of high fantasy novels. Variety keeps things interesting. 🙂

5) The Beka Cooper series by Tamora Pierce (552, 580 & 584 pages, respectively)Tamora Pierce//Terrier

A high fantasy series set in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall universe, and focusing on Beka Cooper, a new recruit in the Provost’s Guard. All three books have really engaging plots, and since the Provost’s Guard is basically the police of Tortall, they’re very crime-centric. The three books, in order, are TerrierBloodhound and Mastiff.

4) The House of Hades by Rick Riordan (597 pages)Rick Riordan//The House of Hades

This is the fourth book in the Heroes of Olympus series, which is a sequel-series to the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books. The whole series is amazing, but I’m mentioning this one specifically because it’s both the longest book in the series, and it’s also my favourite. There are two main storylines in this: one follows Percy and Annabeth as they travel through Tartarus; the second focuses on Jason, Leo, Piper, Frank and Hazel as they make their way to the Doors of Death. It’s very fast-paced and exciting, but with quite a bit of emotional content to balance out the action.

3) The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons (810 pages)Paullina Simons//The Bronze Horseman

The Bronze Horseman is the first book in a World War II-era romance trilogy, and is set in Russia just before and during the siege of Leningrad. The two romantic leads are a young Russian girl called Tatiana, and Alexander, an officer in the Red Army with an intriguing (and dangerous) history. I haven’t read the two sequels (Tatiana and Alexander and The Summer Garden, respectively) yet, but it’s easy to recommend this book even so. The characters and relationships are compelling, and the writing is beautiful. I should warn you, though, that this book is incredibly emotionally draining.

2) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (560 pages)Markus Zusak//The Book Thief

And what would this list even be if I didn’t mention The Book Thief? I actually almost left it off this list, because I feel like I’ve talked about it a lot recently… But apparently I haven’t talked about it as much as I thought I had. Anyway, The Book Thief is another World War II-era novel, but is set in Germany, and centres around the story of an orphaned German girl, Liesel, her adoptive parents, and the families that live in their community. It’s a beautifully-written, but heartbreaking story, and is one of my all-time favourite books.
Brandon Sanderson//The Final Empire
1) The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (647 pages)

The first book in a wonderfully-written high fantasy series, featuring political intrigue, class struggle, an interesting new magic system, great characters, one of my favourite book couples of all time, and some of the best world-building I’ve ever encountered. The first book is my favourite in the series, but the way the plot progresses and wraps up in The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages is phenomenal.