Book Review: Graceling (or, Not Your Run-of-the-Mill “Strong Female Character”)


“Usually when you see females in movies, they feel like they have these metallic structures around them, they are caged by male energy.” -Bjork

The quote above applies to books, too. I just listened to author Kameron Hurley (in this interview) discuss that, unfortunately, “strong female character” has become a trope of its own; it’s so over-used and bloated that it’s morphed into giving a woman a gun/sword/super powers, having her perpetrate some traditionally masculine violence, and generally just take ye-olde-fantasy-male-hero character and give him lady parts. I’d add to this that those lady parts usually come with extraordinary beauty (she can be strong but she has to also be sexy) and vulnerability to soften her just enough. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of books that do this. But I really, really, really appreciate that Graceling does not.

Graceling has been out for a while, and it’s not necessarily obscure, so I’ll say briefly that I thought the writing was excellent, the story fascinating, the world immersive, and the characters compelling. But below I’m going to outline what made this book one of my favorites of all time, and the things it does that make it truly unique to so much of what I read. Minor spoilers proceeding.

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Book Review: Angelfall


Title_ Into the Dark LandsAuthor_ -2

“I wonder which will get you killed faster–your loyalty or your stubbornness?”


Penryn is 17, her mother is schizophrenic, her father is gone, and her 7 year old sister, Paige, is paralyzed from the waist down. If her responsibilities weren’t great enough, the world has ended and angels have decided it’s capital-A apocalypse time.

The book begins with Penryn moving her family to a safer part of town; her mother has been off her meds for days, and her sweet-hearted sister is slow-going in her manual wheelchair. Feeding her family and dodging angels and human gangs is all she has time for, so she surprises even herself when she comes to the aid of an angel who’s being attacked by his own kind, his wings severed.

That angel is Raffe, and with Penryn’s help he survives. But one of the attacking angels steals Paige, and Penryn realizes that Raffe is very probably her only chance of ever seeing her sister again. The two of them strike up an uneasy alliance; he needs his wings restored, she wants her family reunited. They set out together, and the rest is not history, but a really fun, original urban fantasy.

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Book Review: Cruel Beauty

Title_ Cruel BeautyAuthor_ Rosamund HodgeSeries_ Cruel Beauty Universe, #1US Publisher_ Blazer + BrayRelease_ 2014357 pagesMy Rating_ 4_5 stars-3


Title_ Cruel BeautyAuthor_ Rosamund HodgeSeries_ Cruel Beauty Universe, #1US Publisher_ Blazer + BrayRelease_ 2014357 pagesMy Rating_ 4_5 stars

“I love you more than any other creature, because you are cruel, and kind, and alive.”

God, I love hateful, willful, unruly women. Is it because I am one? Ha, I don’t know. My husband could probably shed some light on this, but I’m afraid to know just how often those words might come to mind. If it turns out it’s fairly frequent, hopefully he’ll follow that revelation like Ignifex and say that’s part of my appeal. Or maybe it’ll be one of those times I’ll be proud to be called willful and unruly, and like Nyx, I won’t care. I’ll know it’s true and glory in it.

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Book Review: The Kiss of Deception (or, Why I Should Always Review a Book Before I Read its Sequel)

the kiss of deception

“My dress streamed behind me, now wedding me to a life of uncertainty, but that frightened me far less than the certain life I had faced. This life was a dream of my own making, one where my imagination was my only boundary. It was a life I alone commanded.”

Details & Synopsis

Title: The Kiss of Deception

Author: Mary E Pearson

Series: The Remnant Chronicles, Book One

Publisher: Square Fish

Release Date: June 2, 2015

My Rating: 4/5 stars

We meet Princess Lia as she is enduring the application of her wedding kavah, a ceremonial henna-like temporary tattoo representing the joining of her kingdom, Morrighan, with that of her intended, Dalbreck. All the while she is planning her escape with her friend and maid, Pauline. They plan to travel to Pauline’s hometown of Terravin to start a new, simple life in the inn of Pauline’s auntie, Berdi. Lia is excited to live the life of a free, hard-working woman, and for a while that’s what she has.

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Book Review: Archangel


“There is something about you,” she admitted, “that makes me want to behave badly.”


In the land of Samaria, humans and angels intermarry and seem to work alongside one another in relative peace. Except that Jovah, a god as jealous and capricious as the Abrahamic deities he’s based upon, demands annual tribute and intercession by the angels to keep him from destroying the world. These choirs are led by the Archangel, who is appointed every twenty years, and his consort, the Angelica. Though Jovah has given dominion of Samaria to the angels, in theory humans benefit from their protection and can take their grievances to the Archangel. It is his duty to mediate between Jovah and humanity through angelic music.

Power corrupts, however, and angels are much more powerful than humans. They’re taller, stronger, and of course, they can fly. As this insidious corruption spreads throughout Samaria, the Oracle appoints the angel Gabriel as the next Archangel, and tasks him with finding the human woman Jovah has chosen to be his Angelica. That woman is Rachel, whose family was murdered by angels, and who went on to grow up in a loving nomadic tribe before being sold into slavery five years prior. As you’d suspect, their relationship is off to a rocky start, made the more complicated by the impending Gloria in which Rachel will have to sing and upon which the fate of the world hangs. Taken from bondage to live with Gabriel, Rachel must navigate her freedom, her newfound responsibilities as Angelica, and her relationship with Gabriel, all the while trying to figure out who is behind the evil spreading across Samaria.

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