Tag Archives: author addiction

Challenges and Resolutions 2.0

As the end of 2015 draws close, I thought I should look at how I did with my challenges and resolutions – the verdict is: very well with some, terrible with others. I suspected this would be the case when I made them, but perhaps I’ll do better next year, who knows. I did a similar post back in August and I like the progress I’ve made since then, even if I haven’t been blogging a lot. I’ll be writing another post on challenges and resolutions for 2016 – this one is simply intended as a general overview of what I’ve done this year. I really think it was a good one!

nimona-noelle-stevensonFlights of Fantasy (info): I reviewed (favourites are starred) Hounded, Shadow Scale, World After, The Thief, *A Darker Shade of Magic, *Half the World, Angelfall, *Stardust, *Heir of Fire, Gates of Thread and Stone, *Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, *Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, *Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, *The Accident Season, Perfect Ruin, *White CatEnd of Days, *Uprooted, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Hidden Huntress, Soulless, Kiss of Deception, Half a War, *Nice Dragons Finish Last, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Night Circus, *Daughter of the Forestand I also read *Carry On, The BFG, Shadows, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Ruby Circle, and *Nimona, most of which I intend to review soon(ish). This means I COMPLETED THIS CHALLENGE (I set myself a 24 book goal and read 34, I think)!

Dusting Off the Shelves (info): I read AllegiantEleanor & Park, Eleven on Top, Twelve Sharp, My Sister Lives on the MantelpieceThe Mad Ship, Looking for Alaska, Lady Thief, To Kill a Mockingbird and Daughter of the Forest. I set myself a 12 book goal, so I’m one book behind – I might make it, though, we’ll see. I like to think I am insanely competitive – and I mostly try to beat myself at things, so yeah. Here’s my physical tbr list, incomplete, of course, but still hefty. I update it as I go…

lady-thief-gaughenFairytale Retelling (info): I reviewed ScarletUprooted, A Court of Thorns and Roses and Lady Thief and I also read Thorn and Daughter of the Forest, so I made it! (I set myself a 5-9 book challenge). I also wrote about why I love fairy tales and about the same old story.

Re-reading (info): I re-read half of the Sweep series but I haven’t written any reviews yet. I’m counting Sweep as one book, they’re so short. I wrote a mini review for How to Entice and Enchantress. Here are the others: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and I also re-read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as well as Silver Shadows and The Ruby Circle (for translation purposes). I’m currently re-reading both Uprooted and The Lies of Locke Lamora, both of which I should be done with by the end of the year. If I manage that, I’ll be at 13 books, which means I completed this challenge (I set myself a 12 book goal).

In terms of Classics – which was my self-imposed challenge – I read The Handmaid’s Tale and To Kill a Mockingbird, which is pretty damn miserable as far as challenges go. I didn’t set a number on this one, but I’m pretty sure I failed anyway. Ugh.

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Resolutions

  1. I want to succeed at my reading challenges. I’m going to cross this one off because I think I did good, overall.
  2. classics-spin-2I want to read more classics. Oops. I’m keeping this resolution for next year for sure.
  3. I want to finish more series. Again, oops – and I wrote a post about it. I was actually doing okay with this in the summer but now I started so many new series I don’t know how I’ll finish them all. *sigh*
  4. I want to update my blog design. YES! I did that! And I still love how it turned out.
  5. I want to comment more on other blogs, interact more and use social media to their full potential. I don’t know about the social media part and the full potential part but I have been commenting more on blogs and I love interacting with other bloggers!
  6. I want to read more non-English books. Ahh nope. I read 35 Kilos d’espoir which was short but sweet. I’ll definitely be keeping this resolution for 2016.
  7. I want to be better at managing my ARCs. I crossed this one out in August, but I’ve fallen behind again. My ratio should be higher, I think, and I’ll keep working towards it.
  8. I want to read less fluff. Weeeelll… I have been reading more YA fantasy, but I really should try to read less romance. This really depends on my mood. I didn’t read a single romance for a month and then I had a week-long binge when I read 5, I think. Oh, well.
  9. discussionI want to continue posting three times a week. Mostly done, some weeks I do 2 posts, but I think I’m pretty consistent! – This was my update in August before my life got even crazier than before. I had two or three very slow months, but I think I can keep up a 2-posts-per-week schedule for now. That gives me enough time to answer comments as well.
  10. I want to write more discussion postsAaah, this is the one I’m really proud of! I’ve written several discussion posts that drew really nice reactions from my readers! <3 I also enjoy writing these the most. Here they are: Why I Love Fairytales, Reading Fantasy in a Tiny Country, The Same Old Story, Are You Into Safe Sex?, Finishing Series, Sh*t Just Got Real: My Physical TBR Pile, On Jazz (And Maybe Modern Art), Fan Fic (+ A Ramble On Harry Potter and Sex), Just Another Love Triangle, In Defence of Good Guys, Reading Translations, Let’s Talk Spoilers, Comfort Reads, and Second Chances. YAY!

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Author Addiction

Becky and I did a whole year of Author Addiction posts together, I enjoyed these a lot. We had some freebie months where we picked our own authors, but I really liked the months when we had a common person to write about – it’s so cool to read the different perspectives. We’re putting this feature on the back burner for now and we’re discussing a new one for 2016 but I don’t have any particulars yet, so stay tuned! :)

The Bastard Read-along

DJ and I are hosting a read-along of the Gentleman Bastards sequence by Scott Lynch in 2016. The reviews for The Lies of Locke Lamora will go up on January 5, so join us if you wish! All the details are in the link. I’ve already read the books and am re-reading them – I’ve already started on The Lies and it’s just as good as I remember. If you need me to convince you some more: this is one of my all-time favourite series and Locke Lamora is probably my favourite character ever.

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Whew! This post was a pain to write (all the links!) but I like looking back.

How did you do with your challenges? Are you picking any new ones for 2016?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Author Addiction: Roald Dahl

author addiction

It’s the first Monday of the month and we’re back with Author Addiction! This is a monthly feature here on Of Dragons and Hearts and on A Fool’s Ingenuity, Becky’s wonderful blog. You can also check out my previous editions with Rainbow RowellJill ShalvisJane Austen, Robin Hobb, Tessa DareSarah MacLeanLaini TaylorVictoria (V. E.) Schwab, Sarah J. Maas, and Jennifer L. Armentrout.

This will be the last Author Addiction post for a while. No, don’t cry, Becky and I are just out of common authors to write about so we each picked a freebie for this month. But we decided to collaborate on another monthly feature in 2016 – we’re currently discussing details (it’s all very hush-hush … by which I mean that we haven’t thought of a name yet). Anyway, stay tuned for something new and fresh in January and enjoy our last fangirly moments.

It’s ROALD DAHL’s turn for me – my favourite author of children’s books. I know Becky is writing about Neil Gaiman, so go check out her post (I liked Stardust and The Graveyard Book but haven’t read any of his adult stuff so I can’t do an AA post about him, sadly).

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matilda-roald-dahlI usually start these Author Addictions by saying how I encountered the chosen author. With Roald Dahl (1916-1990), I simply have no idea. I think it must have been my mom picking up Matilda or James and the Giant Peach at the library. And then she read them aloud to my brother and me, it was our nighttime ritual for years. Anyway, these were all translations, of course, and we slowly worked our way through The WitchesThe BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was a bit older when we read Revolting Rhymes, which is a collection of fairy tale retellings (poems, really) and it’s great.

My all-time favourite is still The Witches. It’s absolutely horrifying and if you have a young kid at home you might wait until s/he’s about 10 to read this. I don’t know. But I did love it as a kid and I loved it later when I re-read it. And it features a great relationship between a boy and his grandmother, who’s an amazing old lady. In fact, Dahl’s books have no shortage of great female characters – both young and old. Matilda and Sophie (from The BFG) are great girl characters with actual agency!

skin-roald-dahlI am currently slowly working my way through the originals of Dahl’s works – being a translator means I’m always curious about how the translations compare to the originals. I finished The BFG a couple of days ago and I have to say I don’t envy the translator who did this one. I’ll have to check out a copy of the translation and look at it now, but I remember enjoying it very much as a kid. It’s full of made-up words, wrong uses of set expressions and horrible puns – it must be a total pain in the ass to translate even though it’s really quite a short text.

Later on, when I was at the university, I also picked up Dahl’s short stories for adults. Now if you know how trippy, revolting, and fantastic his children’s books get, you multiply that by a hundred and add some murder and dark humor, you get these wonderful tales. I read Skin first, but Kiss, KIss is also great. I think I managed to read most of his short stories, in fact, I was quite obsessed with them for a while. I wish I could write like that.

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Ahh, so what makes Roald Dahl’s writing so wonderful? I think it’s a combination of a wicked sense of humor, total disregard for authority figures, and a good dose of craziness. I think you have to be sort of nuts to write stuff like that – but in a good way, you know? :) I know I’ll be reading his books to my kids – when they’re old enough.

I don’t usually talk about the writers’ lives outside of their writing but here’s a fun fact about Dahl: he was a pilot in the British Royal Air Force in World War II.

If you’re not into reading children’s books (though his really aren’t your usual kind-hearted fairy stories), I highly recommend you pick up his short stories for adults because they are amazing.

Don’t forget to check out Becky’s post! :)

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Have you read any of Roald Dahl’s books? Or watched the movies, perhaps?

Who’s your favourite childhood author? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Author Addiction: Rainbow Rowell

author addiction

It’s the first Monday of the month and we’re back with Author Addiction! This is a monthly feature here on Of Dragons and Hearts and on A Fool’s Ingenuity, Becky’s wonderful blog. You can also check out my previous editions with Jill ShalvisJane AustenRobin HobbTessa DareSarah MacLeanLaini TaylorVictoria (V. E.) Schwab, Sarah J. Maas, and Jennifer L. Armentrout.

I know posts have been a bit thin on the ground lately (life is rearing its ugly crazy-cool head and we’ve been travelling and also we’re moving next week so it’s pretty hectic right now) but Author Addiction is the one regular post I haven’t missed this year yet so I’m not about to start now. I’ll soon be back with reviews for the wonderful books I’ll be mentioning in this post (and others, too), but let’s focus on the awesomeness that is RAINBOW ROWELL, please.

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eleanor-and-parkMy first encounter with Rainbow Rowell was when a friend of mine (a real-life friend, even, not a blogging buddy!) told me about Eleanor & Park and that it was being translated into Slovenian. I really liked that book. I gave it a glowing review and it stayed with me as one of the best books I’ve read in 2014. I loved the 80s setting, the feeling that the characters were real and the fact that it put my insides through the grinder. I love how Rowell wrote a romance that is so much deeper than your usual teenage story. It’s not a comedy, it’s not even a very happy story, and yet it conveys this hope about life and love and growing up. It made me think about mix CDs I made (and received) in high school and the feeling when you like a boy and you’re afraid to touch his hand for the first time. <3

fangirl-rainbow-rowellThis beautiful characteristic of Rowell’s work, this mashup of really adorable romance and real-life problems that don’t overwhelm the general feeling of giddy, bubbly excitement is probably my favourite characteristic of her novels. Her books make me feel good. And not just in the fluffy romance-reading way, I always feel like I’ve done something really great when I read her books. It’s hard to explain.

I read Fangirl next and fell in love. Hard. Check out my review for more articulate feelings (or not) but let me just say that this book has made it into the top 5 books I’ve read in 2015 and I think also my top 20 all-time favourites, because it’s so good. Cath is a great character and I loved following her story, and Levi is such a cool guy but he’s also flawed and I just … I just … ahhh go read this already. Seriously. If you know me at all you’ll know that I’m not usually inarticulate or overly gushy but I’m in full gush-mode when it comes to Fangirl. I think this might be the perfect novel to start your Rowell adventure if you’re new to her work.

attachments-rainbow-rowellQuickly following the amazingness of Fangirl, I read Attachments, which is an adult novel (both E & P and Fangirl are YA stories, though Fangirl is actually more of a NA), and became convinced of two glaringly obvious facts: a) Rainbow Rowell is a genius and b) her books and I were meant to be. I haven’t reviewed this one yet but I will soon and it’ll be another one of those sparkly reviews, that’s for sure. I know Lincoln is actually slightly creepy if you think about it but he’s such a clueless individual it’s really hard to hold it against him. Eh, what can I say, I like weirdoes.

Rowell has another adult novel, Landline, which is the only full-length novel of hers that I haven’t read yet. I’m slightly wary of starting it because it didn’t get really great reviews (I remember reading a couple of them last year) but I’ll definitely be reading it sometime soon, as soon as I come down from the high that was Carry On.

carry-on-rainbow-rowellNow, if you’ve read Fangirl you’ll know all about Simon and Baz and the story of Carry On (and if not, you should probably read Fangirl before you tackle this one). Here, too, I was pretty worried about the story not meeting my expectations, which were pretty high, I admit. But it did. Oh, it did. I loved reading about these two wizards and though I’ve read mixed opinions about it, I fell through it in two days, unwilling to put it down. I’ll be reviewing this one soon, too.

So yes. Rainbow Rowell is absolutely amazing and I’ll be eagerly awaiting her next brain-child, consoling myself with Landline in the meantime, and hoping against hope for another Simon & Baz or Cath & Levi or Eleanor & Park story (not really, I loved the conclusions, I’d just enjoy hearing about them from time to time, like you cherish news of old friends). Treat yourself and go read something of hers and then we’ll chat, yeah?

You can find Rainbow on: twitterinstagramher webpagegoodreads.

And don’t forget to check out Becky’s post!

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Have you read any of Rainbow Rowell’s books? What did you think?

Do you ever feel like a book was MEANT for you? (Or is this too selfish an emotion for you?)

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Author Addiction: Jill Shalvis

author addiction

It’s the first Monday of the month and we’re back with Author Addiction! This is a monthly feature here on Of Dragons and Hearts and on A Fool’s Ingenuity, Becky’s wonderful blog. You can also check out my previous editions with Jane AustenRobin HobbTessa DareSarah MacLeanLaini TaylorVictoria (V. E.) Schwab, Sarah J. Maas, and Jennifer L. Armentrout.

all-i-want-shalvisBecky and I decided on another romance writer for October, it’s JILL SHALVIS – the author of many amazing contemporary romances.

Dear readers, I nearly forgot about this month’s feature. I admit, work has been crazy lately, but I CAN’T pass up the opportunity to fangirl about Jill Shalvis, because she is, hands down, my favourite contemporary romance author. Choosing her for October seems lucky, too, because she has a new book coming out tomorrow – I preordered All I Want already and am fully expecting to spend my Tuesday curled up with it.

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simply-irresistibleSo one thing Becky and I always discuss in these posts is how we first got to hear about the chosen author. And all I know is that I picked up Simply Irresistible as a Kindle deal and liked it enough to read the second book in her Lucky Harbor series. And though I only gave Simply Irresistible a 3.5 rating (Why, though? I really liked it…), the series did prove to be irresistible, for lack of a better word, as did the rest of Shalvis’s work.

I love the small-town romances she writes. I love the characters that pop up in every book – the quirky neighbors, the town busybodies – and that we always get a glimpse of “old” couples in sequels, like we’re checking in on their lives. I always wonder what happens after the wedding, after the exchange of the professions of love, and Shalvis does this admirably.

Her novels are exactly the right kind to unwind and feel good after a long day because I never find myself rolling my eyes at the story, the characters or the overall message, which is something that’s been happening a lot lately. I dislike silly heroines, I dislike asshole heroes, and Shalvis has never committed this faux-pas, making her one of the rare romance novelists who deserve this claim. Her characters (both male and female) are strong, independent individuals who work hard at deserving the happily ever after they eventually get. And I love that! Because life is seldom bump-less and it’s good to read about relationships where the drama isn’t of the fake kind. srcek

I haven’t reviewed all her novels (I blew through them way too fast for that, oops!) but I did write about the Wilder series and Second Chance Summer, the first in a new series she’s writing. If you’re interested in reading her novels, you really can’t go wrong with the Lucky Harbor series but if you’re intimidated by its length (I think there are 12 novels so far?), have a go at her Animal Magnetism series, which is also very cool.

I feel like the first book in each series was actually my least favorite, which circles back to the fact that I like knowing the characters. Shalvis sets up the new town in the first installment, giving us a glimpse of the family/work environment where the rest of the series will take place, so it makes sense that with each book, we get more attached to the setting and characters. I’m saying this so you’ll give book 2 in a series a try even if the first one doesn’t necessarily floor you. :)

Find Jill Shalvis on: her web pagetwitterinstagramgoodreads – pinterest.

And don’t forget to check out Becky’s post!

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Have you read anything by Jill Shalvis? Which series/book is your favourite?

Do you like small town romances at all? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Author Addiction: Jane Austen

author addiction

It’s the first Monday of the month and we’re back with Author Addiction! This is a monthly feature here on Of Dragons and Hearts and on A Fool’s Ingenuity, Becky’s wonderful blog. You can also check out my previous editions with Robin HobbTessa DareSarah MacLeanLaini TaylorVictoria (V. E.) Schwab, Sarah J. Maas, and Jennifer L. Armentrout. I think Danya of Fine Print will be joining us this time so make sure you check out both blogs!

This month, we decided to pick a common favourite, JANE AUSTEN! I can’t believe we didn’t think of her before but here we are now.

FIY, this post is *spoiler-free* in case you haven’t read her books yet (you really should, though!)

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Jane and I go a way back. The first time I read Pride and Prejudice – or rather Prevzetnost in Pristranost – was in high school, when I picked up a really ugly old copy (from 1969, I think) that we had at home as a part of a collection of great translated classics. I don’t even know why I decided to read it, maybe I’d already watched the BBC adaptation with my mom? In any case, this was the beginning of my long and faithful relationship with Jane Austen’s wonderful work.

author-addiction-austen5When asked those horrible, horrible questions, “What is your favourite book?”, or “If you could pick just one book to take with you to a desert island, which would you choose?” my answer is invariably Pride and Prejudice. I know, so cliché! But what can I do, I fell in love – not just with Mr. Darcy but with the entire cast and plot and writing.

In any case, I soon bought myself a lovely copy of the original text and proceded to re-read it about 7 times, whereupon I switched to listening to the audiobook whenever I feel like visiting Lizzy and crew because I can no longer justify reading the actual text when I practically know it by heart. Something about this story just speaks to me. I think P & P is a also wonderful starting point for anyone unfamilliar with her work.

author-addiction-austenI went on to acquire and read Jane’s entire work (I think?) in English, though I bought the books at different times, which resulted in my sadly mismatched collection. I sometimes send covetous glances towards those gorgeous Penguin hardbacks and even think about acquiring one of those enormous “collected novels” books that I couldn’t even carry around with me/hold up with one hand but I always decide to buy different books instead. *sigh*

My second-favourite of Jane’s books is Persuasionwhich is slower and more… meditative than the lively P & P but I liked Anne despite her indecision and propensity for being pushed around by her family. The fact that Rupert Penry-Jones played Captain Wentworth had nothing to do with it, naturally.

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Jane Austen is also the only author (so far) that has inspired me to enter a very heated debate argument with a colleague at the University. He said all romances, including Jane’s were sappy and bad and without literary value – without having read her novels. My response was, I think, appropriately explosive and we finally agreed to disagree on the subject. I still get a bit riled up when I think about it.

I did manage to convice my husband to read P & P  – my selling point was “I’ll never nag you about reading her novels again if you read this one and then tell me you hate it.” He really liked it, in fact, and went on to read Sense and Sensibility, too. :)

As for the movie versions of her novels – I will never forget Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy but the 2005 version with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden owns my heart. That final scene with Darcy’s confession is pure gold, as is the wet one of his first heated speech. <3

I haven’t watched the other movies for ages which is something I intend to rectify immediately after my crazy schedule clears up a bit. I might even re-read some of the novels first, I just gave myself a major re-read lust by writing this post (funny how the mind works…).

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Don’t forget to check out Becky’s and Danya’s posts! 

Have you read any of Jane’s novels? Which one is your favourite? 

Do you buy multiple copies of your favourite books? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Author Addiction: Robin Hobb

author addiction

It’s the first Monday of the month and we’re back with Author Addiction! This is a monthly feature here on Of Dragons and Hearts and on A Fool’s Ingenuity, Becky’s wonderful blog. You can also check out my previous editions with Tessa DareSarah MacLeanLaini TaylorVictoria (V. E.) Schwab, Sarah J. Maas, and Jennifer L. Armentrout.

This month was a freebie so we get to choose our own authors. I’m stepping away from romances for a bit (worry not, though, we’re back with Jane Austen for September!), as I picked a fantasy author, ROBIN HOBB.

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The first thing you probably need to know if we’re going to talk about my love for Robin Hobb is that my husband, A., is a huge fan. I think she might be one of his all-time favourite authors. The number of her books we own is something of a give-away (and there’s a whole trilogy missing from this stack because it’s currently being read by people we’ve forced her books on converted to our cause suggested her books to):

hobb-stack

Look at them, all shiny and matching (well, almost all of them are). I love these covers!

assassins-apprentice-robin-hobbSo A. bought The Assassin’s Apprentice several years ago (I think it was when we started dating? Yep, he confirms that he didn’t read a lot before we met, aww.) and we both read it and fell in love. The story is just so unbelievably well-written and the characters’ personalities so colourful and real and compelling.

I think Hobb writes the best characters in fantasy. There, I said it! Her novels are sometimes really hefty and it takes some effort to get through them but I immediately connected with Fitz, the young royal orphan/bastard who is sucked into the powerful world of courtly intrigue and passed to the royal assassin to be trained as his apprentice.

I’m currently reading her Liveship Traders trilogy – you can check back for my review of The Mad Ship later this week! – but I’m looking forward to reading the Tawny Man trilogy, which is set in the same corner of the world as The Farseer Trilogy, so I’ll meet the old cast of characters again.

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Hobb writes epic/high fantasy, if you’re wondering about that, meaning that her novels are set in a completely fictional world. I’ve said before that I prefer my fantasies to be more subtle, not flashy (let’s say Brandon Sanderson and George R. R. Martin are definitely not on the top of my favourites list in this regard!) and that’s exactly where Hobb excells.

Her world is complex without being bombastic, her character and place names are unique without being unpronouncable, and her magic is awe-inspiring but has a price, a system to it that makes it all the better. This doesn’t mean that her stories lack action – they most definitely don’t but I like that she’s more concerned with her characters than with epic bangs or battles or manly showing off. Have I mentioned that there are also dragons? :)

If I’ve convinced you that you should definitely give Robin Hobb’s novels a try, you can find her here: her websiteGoodreadsTwitter. She also writes as Megan Lindholm, but I haven’t tried those books yet.

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Don’t forget to check out Becky’s post

Have you read any novels by Robin Hobb? If yes, which one was your favourite? If not, did you add them to your TBR yet? :)

Do you prefer character- or action-based fantasy? 

I’d love to hear from you!