Compare This! The Gold Seer Series vs. Fire and Thorns Series

Hey guys!  So last week’s Compare This! about Sarah J. Maas books was really popular and I had fun with it, so I thought I’d pick another to do!  This time I picked two very awesome series by Rae Carson, The Gold Seer series and the Fire and Thorns series.  So let’s see how they match up!

The Gold Seer Series

VS.

Fire and Thorns Series

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The Gold Seer series

Pros:

  • It’s historical fiction with a fantasy twist, which is awesome.  For those who get bored reading simple historical fictions, Lee’s power to “feel” where gold is gives an added excitement to the story.  And if you are into historical stories, this has many truths to the Gold Rush.
  • The danger/suspense feels super real.  Lee is running from a murderer intent on using her powers for his own gain.  You feel this danger throughout the entire series, even as the villain changes.
  • The characters are awesome.  Lee starts off the series as a runaway but she soon finds a quirky bunch to hang out with and, while she can’t trust everyone, she starts to find herself a new family.
  • The love story is subtle.  It’s a slow build and, in a world of YA books that have couples falling madly in love in 3 days, this was different.
  • The stories are clever.  Even when you can kind of predict what’s going to happen by the end, you can’t always figure out how it happens.

Cons:

  • I thought Lee’s magic could have been used more in the series.  At times, it felt more like it was there in name but not actually present in the story.  It was almost just a side note.
  • Lee was sometimes forgettable.  Her personality can be a bit bland at times and it’s sometimes hard to find something to dig your teeth into about her.  (Um…that went from zero to vampire real quick…my apologies.)
  • The large cast of characters sometimes makes it difficult to remember who is who, where they’re supposed to be, and what they’re supposed to be doing.  The cast is so big there’s actually a list of who everyone is in each book to help keep everyone straight.

 

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Fire and Thorns series

Pros:

  • It’s completely a fantasy story, so there are new kingdoms, magical powers, strange enemies, etc.  And the world building for it is excellent.
  • Elisa is an unlikely heroine.  When we first meet her, she’s getting secretly wed to a king she doesn’t know.  She’s mousy, terrified, and legitimately fat (which she admits because eating is a coping mechanism for her).  But she undergoes a massive amount of character development throughout the series and it’s amazing.
  • The books grip you quickly and you’ll soon find that you’ve been reading for eight hours and maybe didn’t even stop to eat.  Or you continued reading while you ate.  It’s that good.
  • This also had a slow-build romance, one that will actually take you by surprise but also not.  If that makes sense.
  • I don’t have a better way to explain it than this, but this series is ballsy.  There are many twists you never see coming because it goes places books don’t normally go.  And I loved that.
  • It’s actually an uplifting story for some of the strangest reasons, but all of us have been Elisa at some point (she’s scared, self-deprecating, and doesn’t usually know what to do).  So watching her transform really makes you feel like you transformed too.

Cons:

  • I felt the series started to lose power by the last book.  The first two were just so powerful as Elisa learned to navigate her new world and powers, and when she finally has it figured out, it then lacked some of the excitement I was drawn to.
  • I thought the last book also became predictable and didn’t take as many chances as the first two books.  Not that I didn’t still enjoy it, but you want the series to end on a high note, right?  And for me, this wasn’t quite what I was hoping for.

 

My Winner: Fire and Thorns series

Why?  Look, I’ve come to love high fantasy series and this was the series that did it for me.  I was completely blown away by Elisa and her friends.  Every book played out like a movie in my head and I just wanted more and more and more.  All the time.  I’ve read the books maybe twice and I can almost paint the scenes that I can see in my head because they are that vivid, even after all this time.  It’s inventive, creative, and so much fun to read.  Seriously, you will not see some of the twists coming.

And while historical fiction is probably my real wheelhouse, I just couldn’t pick it over the story that showed me how amazing fantasy can be.  The Gold Seer series is still really good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just not as good as Carson’s first series.

Did I make the right choice?  What do you think of these series?  Any recommendations on what I should compare next?  Leave a comment below!

Weekly Obsessions #4

And we’re back for another installment of Crap I Can’t Get Out of My Head.  Are you ready for this one?  It shouldn’t actually be that bad, to be honest.

Movies My Netflix DOESN’T Recommend To Me

I’m actually pretty tired of my Netflix account telling me what it thinks I want to watch, especially when half of it is Netflix original crap that I honestly have no interest in watching.  I mean, yes, I tend to watch historical TV dramas and romantic comedies, but even then, they don’t always show me the stuff I’d actually want to watch.

Image result for atlantis movieSo here’s what I do: I go to the “search” button and type in a random letter or two and see what comes up.  You know what I found that way?  Alice Through the Looking Glass and Disney’s Atlantis.  Like, WTF, Netflix?  Those are both completely up my alley but you won’t recommend them to me?  Losers.

I’m very emotionally charged when it comes to what I want to watch each night.  I could’ve had a million things on my to-watch list but if none of them hits the right chord with me, I won’t do it.  I’ll spend twenty minutes looking for something else.  So this search feature thing shows me movies I didn’t even know were on Netflix and that is definitely worth knowing.

Knitting

I don’t know if I’ve really said much about this before, but I knit.  When people first hear me say this, they usually start making jokes about how I’m grandmotherly and all that, but I’m fidgety and it gives me something to do with my hands.  I’ve worked my way up from scarves and cowls to my newest challenge: sweaters.

HalloweenNow, I’ve made sweaters before, including this Halloween costume of mine from last year as Hermione Granger.  (I made the scarf too.)  But that sweater was a learning experience and like 1000 degrees too hot for anything but sleeping in the woods on a winter’s night without a blanket.  And I’ve learned.  So now I’m making prettier, more wearable sweaters.

Right now I’m making this sweater from DROPS designs.  Mine’s a dark purple, though, which I like a lot.  But I really love that it’s almost done and then I can start working on something new!  (Most of the time I knit while I’m watching TV so I feel like I’m being productive when I’m actually not.  Two birds, one stone.)

But yeah.  If you’re interested in knitting, do it.  Learn it.  It’s not just something old ladies do and there are so many gorgeous patterns for things you will never find sold in stores.

Being Outside

This is kind of a double-edged sword because, let’s be honest, my skin tone is Edward Cullen.  I am the peach crayon and that will never ever change.  Because if I am not Peach, my skin on sun becomes Scarlet.

So by “outside” I really mean in the shade.  With a book.  Enjoying the fresh air that I need to take allergy medicine to be in.

But hey, summer only comes around once a year.

Still, it’s a different world being outside.  I was reading outside recently and discovered that a whole family of birds had moved into a hanging basket.  I watched them constantly bring food back to their baby.  I watched the mama come out of the next with a bit of paper towel in her beak and drop it as she flew off.  It was just kind of awesome.

And I was in the shade the whole time, but I did stick my feet in the sun for approximately 20-30 minutes.  They felt like I’d stuck them in the oven.

But what’s summer without a little outdoor reading, right?  Maybe next time I’ll take a towel and a bucket of sunscreen and go read in the sun.  That’ll be a novelty.

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Weekly Obsessions #3

Welcome to another week of Things I Found Interesting!  This one’s probably going to take a little explaining because my quirks are becoming more evident…

French

Ok, so when I was in high school, I took Spanish because that was practical and I was more familiar with it than French.  (Also, our French teacher was terrible.  I had her for Econ and literally all we did the week before Christmas was write letters to Santa, watch It’s a Wonderful Life, and eat crepes.  It was a waste of time.)  But a few years ago when I started doing family research (genealogy), I discovered a huge chunk of my family was actually French.  I always liked the way French sounded, so I wanted to learn it.

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Well, when I started last year, it was miserable.  Every time I thought I was finally figuring it out, I’d start getting mixed up.  The grammar didn’t make sense.  I couldn’t figure out which words were feminine and which were masculine.  (If you’ve never studied foreign languages, most languages that I’ve seen have masculine/feminine designations for nouns.  English obviously doesn’t.)  So for a while, I kind of quit.

A few months back, I downloaded an app called Duolingo onto my phone and tried again.  Since I knew some of the basics (Bonsoir.  Comment ca va?  Etc.), it went a lot better.  My Duolingo streak is currently somewhere around 46 days.  On top of that, I checked out a book from the library about learning French, which is also helping.  (The Duolingo app, for all of its great qualities, tells you absolutely nothing about the grammar or why you sometimes need to have t in front of phrases like Óu est t-il?)

As a way to practice hearing French, I like to watch my favorite movies in French.  It helps because I generally know what the dialogue should be at certain points, so I can figure out what the words should mean.  (I read French better than I hear it, so subtitles are a must.)

Anyway, so Monday night, I watched the new Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson in French (La Belle et La Bête).  Oh my God, that was great.  They changed some of the character’s names to be easier to pronounce in French.  Let me give you some examples.  Chip becomes Zip and Mrs. Potts becomes Madame Samovar (which is some kind of thing that assists in making/serving tea, but I think it’s Russian).  But by far, the best one was Cogsworth.  This dude becomes Big Ben.  I’m not making this up!  The first time I heard it, I wasn’t sure I’d heard it right.  But even during sentimental moments, Lumiere was still calling him Big Ben.  I kind of love it.

Genealogy

It’s kind of hard to explain what’s so fascinating about genealogy to me.  I mean, it’s history, which I love anyway.  I’m the person who would absolutely do someone else’s genealogy just because.  But it’s real.  Not that history isn’t real, but this feels more tangible in some way.

I had no idea where my family came from beyond some family members shrugging and going, “Well, our last name’s kind of German, so we’re probably that.  And maybe French.”  So about 3 years ago, I started doing my own research over summer break.

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Now I have extensive records with over 21,000 names.  My current project is turning that into something manageable for my family to digest, since they aren’t history people.  So I’ve been creating a book-type thing with only their direct ancestors, who they were, where they came from, when they came to America, etc.  I did this for one of my grandmothers and it was 70 pages long.  But to be fair, there are some good stories deep in that one.  Salem Witch Trials, wealthy land owners who owned basically half of the state of Maine, in-breeding (like…more than I want to admit to.  Apparently first cousins were all the rage in the early 1800s).

*Shakes it off* You never know what you’ll find, after all.  Anyway, on Monday I spent hours working on the book for my maternal grandfather, only to discover a new lead I’d never seen before.  Apparently one of his ancestors, who I had never been able to trace out of Delaware, was descended from people who came from Switzerland.  Since my grandfather’s side is heavily German, this was exciting because it was different.

Yes, I legitimately spend hours upon hours sitting in front of my computer compiling this information and something as small as discovering I’m part Swiss is incredibly exciting.  If only I could get my masters degree in my family’s history.  I’d have it three times over already, based on the hours I’ve worked on this.

Oh, and the other big research surprise I learned?  My paternal grandmother had a sister than none of us had ever heard of before.  She was listed in her father’s obituary and like, my grandma has never ever mentioned her.  I haven’t talked to my grandma yet to even know if she’s aware of this sister.  I would think she would have to be, right?

We’ll have to see what other surprises I find!

Weekly Obsessions #2

Hey everybody!  We’re back for a 2nd installment of “What did I find interesting this week?”  And as usual, even I rarely know where this is going to go.  I just like to find weird stuff and share it with you guys.

The Tony Awards

As a total Broadway buff, the Tonys are the pinnacle of excitement.  I’ve been excited for months to see Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles tackle this.  Because I love them both separately and I wanted to see what they would be able to do together.

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And truly, I thought it was pretty funny.  Their opening song (which is usually incredibly theatrical because this is, after all, theatre) was a bit mellow but really funny.  I liked their humor and the couple of times they used improv, you could tell that it worked (that was almost always Groban, who is so quick on his feet).

Like always, the rest of the show was entertaining as well.  I always like seeing who’s been doing Broadway shows lately because I’m usually like, “Oh yeah, I haven’t heard about them in a hot minute.  So that’s where they’ve been.”  And we’re talking big names.  Denzel Washington, Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, Tina Fey, etc.

But my favorite part is always watching the musicals perform a song.  It gives me a taste of their show to see if I want to listen to the soundtracks or not.  (Mean Girls, yes, Spongebob, no.)  It’s just fun.

Tequila by Dan + Shay

I’m a country girl at heart, even though I’m not “southern”.  (I get a lot of flack for this because growing up, no one around me liked country.  I was the one idiot at dances who didn’t know any of the songs played because I wasn’t listening to that stuff.  And they never played country.)

Anyway, Dan + Shay is one of my favorite duos and I just love the video for this song.  It’s brilliant storytelling and acting, it’s heartfelt and touching.  And if you’re thinking, “Oh great, another twangy country song,” then you’ve clearly never listened to Dan + Shay.  Modern country isn’t twangy.  Just give this a listen.

Beautiful, right?  I love the ASL!  Now I desperately want to learn it.  This is the curse of being me–see something you don’t know how to do and instantly want to conquer it.

Dead Like Me

If you’ve been with me on this blog for a long time, you may remember me watching and reviewing this show.  I watched it in college and just fell in love with it.

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So anyway, I started watching this in 2012 and every now and then, I feel nostalgic to rewatch it.  On a recent trip to Half-Priced Books (a dangerous mission I undertook to get rid of some of my old books), I found this complete series on DVD and bought it.

Now here’s what’s funny.  My mother is very anti-supernatural stuff (which is pretty much my wheelhouse, right?) and she kept making weird faces at this.  So I pushed her to watch the first episode.  I could tell she got into it by the end, but whether or not that was enough to make her want to watch more, I wasn’t sure.  So I let it drop.  The next day, she was like, “When do you want to watch more?”

I GOT MY MOM HOOKED ON A SHOW ABOUT REAPERS, Y’ALL.

So now we watch it basically every night (#SummerBreak).  I think the real reason she’s ok with this show is that she can knit while she watches it and she’s not missing much.  But that’s ok because I’m usually knitting too.

Spotlight Friday (159)

Hey guys!  So I know I haven’t done one of these in a while and I thought it was definitely time to talk about what’s coming out this month.  You ready for this?  We’re going to get dark and creepy in preparation for Halloween next month.

a-shadow-bright-and-burning-by-jessica-cluessA Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, #1) by Jessica Cluess

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Summary (from Goodreads)Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one.
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

What’s To Like: I always love a good twist on history.  Some books do it really well, which leads me to be hopeful that this one can as well.  And it’s also pretty rare to read about characters who can spontaneously combust.  So I’m really interested to see how that turns out.

28962906Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #1) by Kerri Maniscalco

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Summary (from Goodreads)Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

What’s To Like: I’ve always been weirdly drawn to the mystery of Jack the Ripper, perhaps the most sensationalized serial killer in history.  I think this book could be really interesting because A) famous serial killer, B) we’re talking about the early history of forensic sciences, which could be super interesting, and C) we’re stepping back into the Victorian era with is full of oddities.  No matter what, I really can’t see this being bad.

the-female-of-the-species-mindy-mcginnisThe Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Summary (from Goodreads): Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

What’s To Like: If you remember, I’ve already read this book.  You can find my review here, but I can assure you it’s a dark read with characters that you’ll come to enjoy even if their circumstances are horrible and tragic.

Spotlight Friday (158)

Hey!  It’s Friday once again (and my last free Friday before school starts once more), so we’re going to just sit back and enjoy this.  Oh, and the Olympics start tonight!  That’s something else to look forward to.  KEEP THE GOODNESS COMING!

26514517The Flame Never Dies (The Stars Never Rise, #2) by Rachel Vincent

Release Date: August 16, 2016

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

Summary (from Goodreads): ONE SPARK WILL RISE. Nina Kane was born to be an exorcist. And since uncovering the horrifying truth—that the war against demons is far from over—seventeen-year-old Nina and her pregnant younger sister, Mellie, have been on the run, incinerating the remains of the demon horde as they go.

In the badlands, Nina, Mellie, and Finn, the fugitive and rogue exorcist who saved her life, find allies in a group of freedom fighters. They also face a new threat: Pandemonia, a city full of demons. But this fresh new hell is the least of Nina’s worries. The well of souls ran dry more than a century ago, drained by the demons secretly living among humans, and without a donor soul, Mellie’s child will die within hours of its birth.

Nina isn’t about to let that happen . . . even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.

What’s To Like: Admittedly, at the moment I’m having a hard time remembering the first book.  But Rachel Vincent is really awesome, so I’m sure that this will also be awesome.  I remember parts of it, the weird religious regime that took over the country and all that.  Should be fun.

Screenshot 2016-08-05 08.48.54Unscripted Joss Byrd by Lygia Day Penaflor

Release Date: August 23, 2016

Summary (from Goodreads): Hollywood critics agree. Joss Byrd is “fiercely emotional,” a young actress with “complete conviction,” and a “powerhouse.”

Joss Byrd is America’s most celebrated young actress, but on the set of her latest project, a gritty indie film called The Locals, Joss’s life is far from glamorous. While struggling with her mother’s expectations, a crush on her movie brother, and a secret that could end her career, Joss must pull off a performance worthy of a star. When her renowned, charismatic director demands more than she is ready to deliver, Joss must go off-script to stay true to herself.

What’s To Like: When it comes to movies and acting, I’m always just as interested in what goes on behind the scenes as what happens on screen.  (I was in drama club; there’s a ton of stuff that happens backstage that no one tells you.  Things get weird when late nights are involved.)  So I love that this looks into that and I really want to see what Joss does to stay true to herself.

empire-of-thrones-usEmpire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5) by Sarah J. Maas

Release Date: September 6, 2016

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead.  For real.*

Summary (from Goodreads): The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

What’s To Like: Given how book 4 ended, I’m really curious to see what happens in this book.  Because while things seem to sort of be falling back into place, Aelin’s mission is far from being over.  And if the rest of this series is any indication, there’s a lot of trouble coming.  And boy, is it going to be delightful for us readers.