Thursday, March 23, 2017

FOF Book Club: Written in Red

It's officially time to talk about our first read for this year's Flights of Fantasy Book Club! I was really excited when we came up with this year's reading list, but I can tell you now that I was most looking forward to reading this month's pick - Written in Red by Anne Bishop, the first book in The Others series. Check out what I thought of this series starter (and don't forget to go and visit Rachel's blog to find out what she thought too)! And if you're interested in signing up for the Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2017, you can still do so.

Written in Red book cover
As a cassandra sangue, Meg Corbyn can see glimpses of the future whenever her skin is cut. She's escaped from the Controller who kept her imprisoned and providing prophecies for profit, and found a new refuge in Lakeside Courtyard - a business district operated by the Others, The Others are shapeshifters, beings that are a source of fear and fascination for normal humans, and their ways are not necessarily those of a regular old human. But when Meg changes their community simply by being herself, and there's a threat against the women who has become one of their own, the leader of the community - Simon Wolfgard - is forced to decide if Meg is worth the fight to come.

Plot? While I can't quite put my finger on what specific stories mirror the plot of Written in Red, I do think it is fair to mention that I felt like it was similar to something I had read (or read about) before. Even considering the very familiar elements - a woman running from her past, a man desperate to protect his own, a community that is slowly eased into caring for an outsider - I still found the story quite compelling. I was eager to find out what would befall Meg and the Others, and any book that has me eagerly turning pages is always a winner.

Characters? Honestly, the best thing about Written in Red is the rather large cast of characters that Bishop brings to life. While I will admit to a certain fondness for some of the humans mentioned (particularly the cop Monty and Meg's friend Merri Lee), I really loved Meg and the Others most of all. Meg is a mess of contradictions - smart and kind, innocent and brave - and it made her such an interesting person to read about, and also made it incredibly easy to root for her. And the Others - the Sanguinati, the Wolfgard, the Beargard, the Crowgard, the Hawkgard, the Elementals, the Ponies and more - were just wonderful. I love that Bishop made them mostly animal (or natural) with just passing hints of being anything like a human. Like Meg, the Others were a mess of contradictions, and it really made for some fun complex characters to get to know.

I definitely think that Anne Bishop has a knack for storytelling. Her writing is compulsively readable, and I found myself flying through the pages faster than I'd expected to. I also felt like she did a genuinely good job of revealing more details about the characters, the setting and the world without any information overload. That's definitely the mark of good writing, or at least one of them in my own personal criteria.

Overall? I'm glad I finally got the opportunity to read Written in Red, especially after years of being told by other readers that this was a great series. While I certainly enjoyed the story and the lore, what I really loved about it was the incredible cast of characters. They're the reason that I'm most looking forward to checking out the rest of the books in the series! I would definitely recommend reading this novel, especially if you're into urban fantasy reads.

As always, Rachel & I will both be answering the same set of questions with every book club pick that we read and review for Flights of Fantasy Book Club. Don't forget to share your answers with us as well, whether you link up to your post in our monthly link-ups or simply comment below!

1. Who is your favorite character? I'm hard-pressed to choose between the characters for an actual answer to this question, since I have such a soft spot for majority of the colorful cast of this tale. I think I'm most partial to three people in particular - Simon Wolfgard, Sam Wolfgard and main character Meg Corbyn. I'm drawn to Simon's alpha wolf tendencies tempered by his need to do the right thing, to Sam's playful nature as a Wolf pup and to Meg's genuine naivete and strength in the face of a world that can be ever changing, unfriendly and unfamiliar.

2. Would you read more books by this author? I would absolutely read more books from Anne Bishop, particularly the rest of the novels in The Others series. I really love the characters, particularly all the different types of Others, and it would be a delight to experience more of their stories with every single book. Plus, her writing style is incredibly readable and I can't say I don't find the plot itself fairly compelling.

Written in Red by Anne Bishop | Series: The Others #1
Publisher: Roc | Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Source: Paperback gifted by Racquel (Thanks!)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

{Bookish} Style Files: Strange the Dreamer

It's time for another edition of {Bookish} Style Files, friends! Once again, I'm pairing beautiful book covers with delightful dresses, and I'm really excited that this time around, I'll be featuring Strange the Dreamer. I've been looking forward to Strange the Dreamer since it was first announced, and I can't wait to dive into another magical novel from Laini Taylor. Before we get to the dresses, here's a little bit about the book and the author!

Strange the Dreamer book cover
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Series: Strange the Dreamer #1
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 28, 2017

A new epic fantasy by National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around— and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

Laini Taylor is the New York Times bestselling author of the global sensation the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight, and Dreams of Gods & Monsters, and the companion e-novella, Night of Cake & Puppets. She is also the author of the Dreamdark books Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the highly acclaimed Lips Touch: Three Times, a National Book Award finalist. Her newest book, Strange the Dreamer, is the first in a stunning new epic duology. Laini lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter Clementine. • LINKS: Website | Twitter

And now, on to the main event - the pretty dresses that I've picked out to match the cover of Strange the Dreamer. I really love that the cover combines blue and gold, two colors that I've always been personally drawn to. Searching for these dresses below was a whole lot of fun, and I hope you love them too! Let me know in the comments section which one is your favorite. (I'm personally a fan of the Fluttering Romance dress!)

Find the dresses:

Don't forget to check out the rest of the tour!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Table for Two #3

I'm really excited that Rachel of Hello, Chelly and I have teamed up once more to bring you a brand spanking new collaboration that involves two of my favorite things - New York City and food. We're proud to introduce Table for Two, where the two of us will be highlighting restaurants and dessert spots in New York City. You'll be hearing our personal opinions on the place and the food, as well as where you can go to try it out for yourself!

Welcome to month three of Table for Two! It's been really fun to hit up all these food places in the city, and we look forward to sharing more of them with you in the months to come. We had dinner at Sticky Rice (and you can read about our experience over on Rachel's blog), followed by dessert at Soft Swerve, an ice cream spot we were both really excited to try out.

There were two different ways that I first heard of Soft Swerve. First, my youngest sister (who still lives in the Philippines, mind you) (who also has a blog) sent me a photo and told me I needed to go and try their stuff on her behalf. Second, I believe I stumbled across someone else's photo on Instagram and Rachel also mentioned it and told me we should go. That is how we ended up deciding we needed to drop by sooner rather than later (even if it was technically still winter and butt cold).

The awning above Soft Swerve is a bright blue with a simple logo, a surprise amidst the chaos of signage on a normal New York street. But it is the brightly lit interior, with the combination of blues and whites that create the inviting atmosphere that draws potential customers into this shop. I know for sure that even if we hadn't deliberately been looking for it, I would have certainly stopped to see what was on offer and gone inside anyway. 

Customers will find it easy to glance at the blackboard style menu with colorful items on offer, particularly since the shop really indicates what sort of toppings, flavors and specials the have on offer. Rachel & I spent a couple of minutes deliberating on which flavors we wanted. In the end, she settled for Broadway (ube ice cream, Fruity Pebbles and marshmallows) and I went for Mott & Mulberry (matcha ice cream, crushed Oreos, chocolate drizzle) - both on cones, of course. 

Verdict on the ice cream? I would definitely go back for more! The ice cream itself was not so overwhelmingly sweet, which made it the perfect match for the toppings we had. Plus, the chocolate cone (the one I had) was particularly tasty, and I enjoyed every last bite - even when everything melted all over my hands by the end of it. (It was not my best moment, to say the least). 

If you're interested in checking out Soft Swerve for yourself, you can find their shop on 85B Allen Street, New York, NY 10002. They're open from 12PM-11PM on Sunday through Thursday, and 12PM-12AM on Friday and Saturday.


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