Hounded by Kevin Hearne

hounded-kevin-hearneHounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne, published in 2011 by Del Rey.

Author. Goodreads. Amazon. Book Depository. Barnes & Noble.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: urban fantasy.

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer. 

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil. (Goodreads)

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My rating: 3/5.

Oh, what a manly book this is. I know, I know, books aren’t supposed to be geared at a specific gender but this is the second book I’ve read recently where I felt I wasn’t the intended audience (Storm Front being the other one). This is basically Die Hard with magic – and while I sometimes like a story with lots of brawn and shiny weapons, I’m not sure about this one.

Atticus is a druid who looks like a hot Irish guy in his early twenties. He has the ability to draw power from the earth, he’s actually 2000 years old, and has managed to piss off a really old god by stealing from him. He is now in possession of *start breathy, sultry female voice* a really big, powerful sword *end breathy, sultry female voice* and has to protect both it and himself from said god (and a coven of vindictive witches).

Before he actually meets the god, he sleeps with one goddes, kisses two other goddesses (all of whom are drop-dead gorgeous), and manages to get a really attractive female apprentice. His powers are nearly inexhaustible and he has a (debatable) sense of humor (WAY too many dated pop-culture references). Do you se where I’m going with this? Atticus can do everythingHe can also be something of an asshole sometimes. 

Well, I like my heroes more nuanced. I like them flawed and sometimes weak. But hey, if cocky guys float your boat, you’ve hit gold (mixing my metaphors here, I know).

I also have a complaint to make about female roles here - the witches are supremely bithcy, the goddesses manipulative and heartless (and terribly vain at the same time), and they all exist to worship the ground Atticus walks upon. Meh.

The story is not without its redeeming qualities, however. I really, really liked the supporting cast: Oberon the dog with whom Atticus can speak through a mind link; the old Irish widow, Mrs. MacDonagh, who doesn’t even bat an eye when she sees Atticus kill a man in her yard because he assures her he was British; the weird Indian witch inhabiting the body of a buxom barmaid.

And as much as I rolled my eyes at Atticus’s attempts at making jokes (mostly he just thinks them and amuses himself), I quite liked some of them“Isn’t the Christian god prominent here?” – “The Christians have such muddled ideas of him that he usually can’t take shape beyond the crucifix form, so he rarely bothers. Mary will appear more often, though, and she can do some pretty awesome stuff if she feels like it. Mostly she sits around looking beatific and full of grace. Keeps calling me ‘child’, even though I’m older than she is.”

All in all, the story is fast-paced, I liked the setting, and most of the characters are decent. I’m still not sure whether I’ll be giving the second book a chance, given that I disliked Atticus most of the time. But maybe I just need to get to know him better and he gets more layers as the story goes on. We’ll see.

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Have you read this book? How about the sequels?

Should I give Atticus another chance to win my heart?

Do you like manly books (or films)?

Author Addiction: Sarah J. Maas

author addictionWelcome, welcome! It’s the first Monday of the month, which means it’s time for another issue of Author Addiction! You can read the intro post here and check out my thoughts on Jennifer L. Armentrout here. Make sure to go read Becky‘s post as well and if you decide to participate, leave your link in the comments and I’ll add it to the post.

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The author we chose for March is SARAH J. MAAS.

Find her on: her webpage / Twitter / her blog / Pinterest.

Why, you might ask, have I decided on an author who only has three published books which I’ve only read this year? Because she’s awesome. Let me explain.

heir-of-fire-maasShe writes a high fantasy young adult series about a seventeen-year-old assassin who survives a year of slavery, only to kick some serious butt in a tournament of mercenaries and murderers. Celaena Sardothien might be prickly as a cactus, but she grows on you, and by the time the third book comes around, you love her enough that you get a serious punch in the gut (several times). While the first two books (my review) took some time to get into, Heir of Fire (my review) is absolutely wonderful and completely dispels any doubts I had about the series before. Celaena’s on a mission to reclaim her birthright and I can’t wait for her to try.

But while Celaena is cool in her own right, it’s the secondary characters who really changed my opinion about this story. Manon Blackbeak, the cruel ironteeth witch who finds she has some humanity left in her after all. Rowan, the ancient Fae warrior whose oaths bind him and who’d do anything to free himself. Chaol, who let Celaena go and must now face the consequences of his decisions. SO MANY great people.

court-of-thorns-and-roses-sarah-maasI’m really looking forward to the first part of her new series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, which comes out in May. It’s apparently geared at a slightly older public, so I expect it’ll be more serious, but hotter as well, which can only be good. :) I’ve placed my pre-order and now all I have to do is wait for May *sigh*.

I like following the work of young authors so it’s clear how much their writing progresses from their debut onwards (Victoria (V. E.) Schwab blew my mind in this regard). I’m fully convinced that Queen of Shadows, the sequel to Heir of Fire, will be even better than the previous books.

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And now do yourself a favour and go read the Throne of Glass series if you haven’t started it yet. Follow Sarah on Pinterest for gorgeous pics that inspire her writing and on Twitter for goofy jokes and pics of her very pretty hair. Totally worth it.

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Don’t forget to go see Becky’s post. And if you’d like, join us next month for A FREEBIE – so you can choose any author you think is worthy of being addicted to! I would love to read all about your favourite authors!

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Have you read Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series? Or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who also got to read ACOTAR (no spoilers, please!)?

What did you think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! :)

My February

februaryHuh. Is it really the end of February? Where the hell have two months of this year gone? This is a recap post (for January, go here) in which I’ll try to make sense of the happenings on the blog and in my life in general.

Tomorrow, our baby will be six months old. It seems impossible that we’ve only known him for such a short time and yet he’s grown so much. He now eats some veggies, has two tiny teeth, often chews on his toes, and manages to slide himself along the floor – backwards. He’s adorable. He is, however, not a very good sleeper lately, so we’re running on empty most days. But this too shall pass.

I’ve been reading a lot because it seems like the only intellectual activity I can manage at the moment. The weather has also been miserable (wet and cold, but no snow, thankfully) and I am ready for spring! I can’t wait for sunny days when I’ll be able to pack the kiddo up and spend the day in the park or take longer trips.

The best read of the month goes to The Handmaid’s Tale (review here), with Scarlet coming in a close second (I’ll be reviewing that one soon!). Other than that, I read a huge amount of NA and adult romance, because I’m still in need of easy, fluffy stuff. I have a couple of good fantasy titles lined up for the next couple of weeks, though, so I’ll be slowing down a bit.

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Books I got:

Let’s just say I didn’t follow my the rule about reading already acquired books first…

  • half-the-world-abercrombieHalf the World by Joe Abercrombie (purchased, hardback) – I’m really excited about this one but my husband’s reading it first.
  • The Master by Kresley Cole (purchased for Kindle) – this is erotica; I’ll probably be reviewing it soon-ish.
  • The Return by Jennifer L. Amentrout (purchased for Kindle) – the beginning of a new series. I’m still on the fence with this one.
  • Instant AttractionInstant Gratification, and Instant Temptation by Jill Shalvis (purchased for Kindle) – a perfect binge series. Shalvis does great contemporary romance.
  • Talk of the Town by Karen Hawkins (purchased for Kindle) – I prefer her historical romances.
  • gates-thread-stone-lori-leeThe Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane by Elizabeth Boyle (purchased for Kindle) – a nice historical.
  • The Secrects of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn (purchased for Kindle) – well, it was ok but not my favourite Quinn book.
  • Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee (Netgalley) – my review here.
  • The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (library) – not too impressed.
  • Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen (purchased, paperback) – I just got it and it’s SO PRETTY! Starting now. (Update: EEeeeEEe! <3)

 

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What I wrote about:

Discussions & Stuff:

Reviews (huh, a good selection for this month!):

Tough Travels:

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Link love:

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How was your February? Did you do/see/read anything exciting?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

handmaids-taleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, first published in 1985.

Author. Goodreads. Amazon. Book Depository. Barnes & Noble.

Genre: dystopian (sci-fi).

Source: the library.

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now… (Goodreads)

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My rating: 5/5

I’ve been wanting to read The Handmaid’s Tale for a while now but I’ve somehow fallen out of the habit of reading classics. It took me some time to really get into it, even more so because of the topic. Any stories where something bad happens to children are a huge no-no right now, but I’m so glad I worked my way through the difficult beginning of this particular tale and read it despite my fears. I’m sorry if the review isn’t the most eloquent you’ve ever read – this is an important book for me so I might ramble a bit.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood (hello, obviously, I’m a new mom) and the role of women in our society. This book addresses all my concerns and has a certain punch-in-the gut effect that left me with a profound sense of worry about where this current situation is leading. Mind you, this book was first published in 1985, when I wasn’t even born yet, and women are STILL fighting the same old fights – and in fact, the situation is even worse today. This is something I find particularly terrible. Read this article if you’re interested in seeing just how bad things are becoming for feminists.

If we take this book out of its context (which is nearly impossible, but let’s try anyway), it’s one of the best-written novels I’ve read in years. There are SO MANY quotable quotes I noted them in my phone, in my journal, and on random bits of paper. I have read Atwood’s The Penelopiad and Surfacing before (during my studies), but neither stuck with me as much as The Handmaid’s Tale did.

I just have to list my favourite quotes here, much as I dislike just quoting stuff without context (there’s that word again, so important…):

  • We lived, as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.
  • I hunger to commit the act of touch.
  • Humanity is so adaptable, my mother used to say. Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.
  • How easy it is to invent a humanity, for anyone at all.”

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The most important thing about reading this book, however, is that it made me think. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks (it took me more than three weeks to sit down and write this review) and these are the questions that have been rolling around in my mind, scaring me to death:

  •  Would women really descend to this point? Would we become our own jailers? – Yes. The situation now may not be as extreme as in Gilead, but look at all the slut shaming going on, at the petty comments we make about each other’s daily appearance. I’m ashamed of myself sometimes.
  • Do we all have Stockholm syndrome, living peacefully in a patriarchical society? — Maybe. I have never felt particularly oppressed, but that doesn’t mean that millions of women aren’t in a horrible position every day without even realizing it.
  • When have we gotten so adept at turning the other way? — This is the most horrible of truths, perhaps, that we have been raised to be blind to social injustice.
  • Is Gilead really the logical conclusion of the events taking place in the last couple of decades? — Again, maybe. Don’t tell me you don’t feel like the world is taking a turn for the worse.

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And with this optimistic thought, I leave the stage to you (if you haven’t given up on me yet):

Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale?

Did you find it as scary as I did? What freaked you out the most?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and discuss this with you!

Tough Travels: Chessmasters

tough travelsSo I’m participating in this week’s Tough Travels meme again – hosted by Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn, this is one great way to explore Fantasyland and create lists, YAY! Don’t forget to go and check out what other participating bloggers have put on their lists – my tbr expands every week because of them! :)

This week’s topic is CHESSMASTERS: A true master knows where all the pieces are at all times. Others may think they have taken control but alas, the master knew their last move before they played itOk this week was interesting. When I first saw the topic I thought I was going to skip it because I couldn’t remember a good example. But then they started trickling in, and I enlisted my husband’s help again (His response was “We shall discuss this,” and then he proceeded to name half this list for me, so there.).

Here are the brilliant minds who thrive on intrigue, deception, and manipulation:

  1. Bayaz, the first of the Magi, from The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. He was the first one I thought of. As much as I disliked him (and the whole damn series – I nearly didn’t read Half a King because of it), he’s brilliant at manipulating his minions.
  2. Patience, one of the Bondsmagi of Karthain (and Falconer’s mother) from The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch. The Bondsmagi play out the election of an entire city state just so they amuse themselves. Patience is one of their leaders and leads Locke and Jean (and Sabetha) around by their… ahem, noses.
  3. Siuan Sanche, the Amyrlin Seat, from The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I always liked her as a character. She’s really rough around the edges but she handles intrigue like a pro (only until she doesn’t, but her story’s perhaps even more interesting then).
  4. half-a-kingLord Varys and Littlefinger from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. These two are a killer duo. They don’t necessarily work together and it’s never quite clear whose side they’re on, but you’d better be on their side if you want to live.
  5. Mother Gundring from Half a King by Joe Abercrombie. Apparently he writes great chessmasters, because she’s… Well, I want to say evil, but that’s not it. She’d do anything to help the kingdom and her actions have serious repercussions for our beloved Yarvi.
  6. Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. What? OF COURSE he’s a chessmaster. Look what he did to Snape. He’s the real deal. Honorable mention goes to another wizard, Gandalf, but I think that Dumbledore’s deception/plan ran deeper than Gandalf’s ever did.

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Which chessmaster have I missed? Who else likes to meddle in other people’s lives? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts! :)