Series Crackdown 10.0 – Sign-Up and TBR

As I am not participating in the NEWTs readathon this August, I thought I’d use the time for a different one. The Series Crackdown has been around for a long time, but this is my first time participating. Keeping up with, let alone finishing series is something many of us are really bad at, so this is the perfect readathon to meet some reading goals, finally pick up that next volume, and feel the satisfaction of having read an entire trilogy/series/duology.

The Basics

Normally, this is a 10-day-readathon but because this year is its tenth anniversary, it will run from 1st – 31st August. The point is to tackle all those series that are gathering dust on the shelves. Whether you start a completely new series, continue one you’ve already started or finally read the very last book – let’s give those series some love!

There is also something called MOO points which you can get for participation in Twitter chats, posting updates or Instagram photos, and so on. I keep cracking up about this because whenever I read MOO point, I have Joey from Friend’s voice in my head, explaining why a moo point is invalid. “It’s like a cow’s opinion. It’s moo.” 🙂

Pick a Team

There are four teams – Duologies, Trilogies, Quartets, and Beasts. This was my first hurdle and it’s the reason this sign-up post is going up at the very last moment. I appreciate something about all of these, after all. A duology is lovely because if you liked the first book, there is more, but you don’t have to commit to thousands of pages to get the full story. Trilogies are classics, especially in the fantasy genre, quartets have the added bonus of being just a bit longer. And beasts… well, if I love a series, it’s always good to know there’s a lot more to look forward to. On the other hand, some series do go a little too far or it can take ages for the next book to come out.

In the end, I went not with my favorite type of series (because I couldn’t decide) but instead chose by team leader. After looking at their Twitter accounts, Mel from The Book Moo spoke to me the most, so Quartets is the team I’m reading for. Simple as that.

The prompts

Now for the nitty gritty. My favorite part of any readathon is the prompts. They push me to pick up books that I otherwise wouldn’t have – not because I don’t want to read them someday, but because there’s always something shiny grabbing my attention instead. Which is how I got into this whole 100-unfinished-series mess in the first place…
You can double up in this readathon, but one book counts for a maximum of two prompts.

whatsapp image 2020 07 23 at 19.26.41 - Series Crackdown 10.0 – Sign-Up and TBR

My tentative TBR

Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender

FIRST IN A SERIES: Kacen Callender – Queen of the Conquered

This book was just nominated for a World Fantasy Award, a prize that usually goes to books I end up loving. It also works nicely for my personal challenge of discovering 10 new-to-me Black authors. And the premise sounds fantastic. Caribbean-inspired fantasy for fans of V.E. Schwab and Marlon James? That sounds both impossible and awesome. I’m here for it!

SEQUEL: Laini Taylor – Days of Blood and StarlightAnnouncing Laini Taylor's 10th Anniversary Editions | Hodderscape

It took me two reads to fully appreciate the first book in this trilogy, but now I’m all in. I want to learn more about this world of Seraphim and Chimaera, I want to see how this ages old war could possibly be resolved, and of course whether protagonist Karou can find some happiness for herself in this brutal world.

GATHERING DUST ON YOUR SHELF: Mishell Baker – Impostor Syndromeimpostor syndrome - Series Crackdown 10.0 – Sign-Up and TBR

I don’t know why I’ve waiting so long to read this book. I read the first two volumes pretty soon after they came out and was absolutely blown away. Borderline doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should, especially for an SFF book with mental health representation. I can’t wait to find out how double-amputee Millie’s story ends and finally finish the trilogy.

Wundersmith (novel) | Nevermoor Wiki | FandomGLOSSY COVER: Jessica Townsend – Wundersmith

I adored the first book in the Nevermoor series which I read during my holiday in February. The quirky world of Nevermoor is exactly the kind of book I need right now. It’s full of fun and joy and lovely friendships. Plus Hollowpox, the third book, comes out in August, so this is the perfect time to catch up.

Blood of Elves (The Witcher, Band 1): Amazon.de: Sapkowski ...RECOMMENDED BY A FRIEND: Andrzej Sapkowski – Blood of Elves

I read the first two Witcher books in preparation for the Netflix show and they were so much better than I had expected. It helped that I had Henry Cavill in my head as Geralt of Rivia, but both the writing and stories surprised me.  I am excited and a bit daunted to read this book. But I also need more Geralt in my life, so here we go. A friend from work recommended this series and without that recommendation, I might have just watched the show and never picked up the books.

stone sky - Series Crackdown 10.0 – Sign-Up and TBRFANTASY: N. K. Jemisin – The Stone Sky

I lovede first two books in this Hugo Award-winning trilogy to piecesand I saved the last book on purpose. First of all, this apocalyptic world is something you need to savor, so the timing has to be right. Secondly, I know it’s going to blow my mind, so I’ve been saving it for a bad day. My days aren’t all that bad at the moment, but I’ve been itching to finally finish the series and get answers to all my burning questions.

READ WITH A SNACK: Ursula K. LeGuin – Tehanutehanu - Series Crackdown 10.0 – Sign-Up and TBR

This is the freebie prompt because you can eat a snack with any book (and I am determined to snack while reading more than just this one). I’ve been doing quite well this year in finally catching up on the Earthsea books and this is the one I’ve been most looking forward to, simply because it is so divisive. It’s won lots of awards and many people love it. But some seem to absolutely loathe it – I am interested to find out what that is all about.

ANIMAL ON THE COVER: Susan Cooper – The Dark is Risingdark is rising - Series Crackdown 10.0 – Sign-Up and TBR

I just started this series this year because it’s one of those classics that a part of me feels like I should have read. I liked the first book well enough but it felt very much like only the beginning of something much bigger. This second volume is the most acclaimed, so I am excited to dive in and find out for myself how this reimagining of Arthurian legend goes.

divider1 - Series Crackdown 10.0 – Sign-Up and TBR

So this is my tentative TBR for the month of August. Knowing myself, I will probably replace at least one of these books with something else – Muse of Nightmares is staring at me with sad puppy eyes right now and Network Effect is calling my name! We’ll see how well I do in the beginning of August. Some of these books are quite big but if I get through them fast enough, I may even add a second book for some of the prompts. I do have two weeks off work in August, so there should be plenty of time for reading. I can’t wait for the Twitter reading sprints, the Instagram photo challenges (I won’t participate because I’m rubbish at taking pretty pictures but I love looking at other people’s photos), and all the other ways to connect to this community.

If you’re participating as well, leave a link to your post. I love seeing what other people are choosing for the reading prompts.

find the cost of your paper

Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.

27