Books

The Spoken Mage by Melanie Cellier Full Series Review [Spoiler Free]

Sometimes you just find a book series you really enjoy.  It may be the characters, may be the world building, may be a bit of both.  It isn’t necessarily the best series, but you don’t care:  it just ticks all of your boxes, and you enjoy it for what it is.  I’m not one of those people who thinks everything should be a literary masterpiece, because that would be no fun.  What I like is an engaging story, that has a satisfying ending, and a great ride to get to said ending and for me, The Spoken Mage series is that.  Does it have story telling flaws?  I think so, especially with some of it’s pacing in the 2nd, and 4th books.  Is it a bit cliché?  Yeah, totally.  But do they do a good job building up the overarching plot, romance, and ending the story well?  Absolutely.  So for that, I honestly loved reading this series and recommend it to fantasy romance fans.

 

The premise of the series is what got me to pick this up in the first place.  In this world, the magic system revolves around writing.  Only nobles can  channel magic in a way that won’t kill them, so the common born are banned from reading and writing, so they don’t channel magic poorly and harm others.  Elena is a common born, who finds out she can use magic through speaking, not writing, and she’s sent to a magic school for noble born children to channel her gifts, and learn how to use them.  Crazy adventures, politics, and romance ensue  as the four book series is Elena’s time at the school.  Basic premise, right?  Other than the magic, I wasn’t super keen on a magic school setting.  I don’t dislike it per see, but there are a lot of tropes built into this sort of a setting and I hadn’t read a school setting since Harry Potter.  But, I had nothing to worry about, as there’s so much more to this world then just going to school.  I really enjoyed the themes set forth in this book, that Elena had to navigate the political landscape she was thrust into, and figure out how to fight for common born rights among a world of nobles.  She realizes however, being common born has its own set of issues, as does being mage born.  She and her classmates learn from each other, as they both had stereo types about each class group in their heads and it was nice seeing the characters grow from one another’s experiences.  Elena herself grows a lot throughout and it was just really enjoyable to read.
The romance is great too.  I love Prince Lucas so much, he was hands down my fav character and him and Elena growing and learning from each other was so fun.  I will say there were some parts in the series as far as their romance that were pretty groan worthy, but overall it was fun to read and I hope we get more stories with them in the future.

 

Now, the nitpicks I have mainly pertain to the 2nd and 4th books.  In book 4, everything was tied up a little too neatly, and there was a stretch in the middle of the book that just felt unnecessary, and only seemed to be an engine for the author to make sure all the plot points she wanted to happen for sure happened.  The book was the longest one, so I had hoped we’d get a bit more fleshing out for some characters, and that we’d get an extra chapter or 2 of wrap up.  I liked how it ended, but just an extra chapter or 2 would have pushed it over the top for me.

 

Book 2, I have so many issues with.  Like it was my least favorite in the series, it moved the plot forward the least.  I can’t super remember what happened in it?  I remember important things pertaining to Elena’s powers took place, and her and Lucas’ relationship happened as well, but other than key characters popping up and Elena’s powers developing, book 2 feels like a lot of missed potential.  There were moments like that throughout the entire series I feel, but they got glossed over by how much this series did right so it didn’t bother me too much.

 

The Spoken Mage series is a lot of fun.  Like I said, it ticked a lot of boxes in fantasy I like:  A lot of action, great romance, interesting magic and world, great characters and character development.  If you like a fairy tale style page turner of a series, you can read the entire series in this compellation here

 

I hope I was able to share my love of this series sufficiently!  I really enjoyed reading it, it was so much fun start to finish.  I think it’s important to highlight indi authors, and I plan to do so more later on this blog.  I’ve pretty much been reading self-published stuff exclusively for the past few months, I really enjoy the different things an indi author can do in their books as opposed to guidelines traditionally published authors have to follow.

 

Have you read any good self-published authors you like?  Let’s talk about it in the comments!

Cartoons

Steven Universe Future Review [Spoiler Free]

I was waiting for the entire show to finish, and the last few episodes dropped this week.  Steven Universe Future was…an interesting ride, but did it accomplish what it set out to do?  It was meant to be an epilogue series that took place after Steven Universe:  The Movie, so we could see what happened to all of the characters in the show.  While the end of season 5 wasn’t bad by any means, it left a lot of questions unanswered and overall was an unsatisfying conclusion to a show so heavily built on its character’s, world building, and lore.  So, the real question is, did it?

 

I’m going to leave this review spoiler free for the most part.  If you’re not well versed in the show, I’ll be mentioning character names and the like.  If you haven’t watched all of the main series of Steven Universe however, there may be minor things in this you won’t want to hear (it is an epilogue series, after all, that’s rather unavoidable).
So, as I said earlier, did Steven Universe Future accomplish its goal of filling in the gaps the series end left?  And for me, it half did.  There were some characters handled very well in this series, Jasper especially.  But the first half of this series felt pretty episodic, and not in a good way:  To me, a lot of the after effects we saw of the series, didn’t super matter.  Or rather, it wasn’t the questions that had majorly left us guessing.  They were fun, they were cute, and a lot of them were hard hitting, and filled story arcs that we wanted to see.  And, some were just light hearted fun that were like ok, I expected pretty much that end for the character.  But overall, the first half of the series for me left me going, “That’s it?  Really?”.  It was a pretty big letdown not having a decent amount of major plot points answered.

 

I will say, Steven’s arc was really well handled in this.  What he went through made tons of sense, and while in the series itself you’re like no way this isn’t hurting him, we see the culmination of the entire series, and its effects on him emotionally and you don’t realize we’ve been heading to that conclusion with subtle hints from beginning to end with this arc.  From his first interaction with Jasper, to how he handles Connie, you just see everything going down in his head slowly, but surely and it’s a great build.

 

In enters the second half of the series, which is a huge step up from the first half.  We get way more plot points that matter, and there’s a clear through line of events happening to further the plot.  It feels like the second half is leading towards the future, that the characters all have to use their life experiences to help one another out, and Steven’s arc is beautifully realized.  The ending was a bit rushed, but still well realized and the second half of the show made this epilogue series for me.  Just really well done, it felt like the first half and second half were different shows based on how they were paced.
one thing that bothered me the most was the lack of seeing the Diamonds.  When this show was announced, I was super excited that we would get an episode showing us what the Diamonds journey was, and how they reformed.  I really expected to see a flashback episode along those lines, like the ones we got with Rose Quartz in the series.  The Diamonds I think are the biggest point of contention for the fandom, which is something I’d like to talk about in another post, but I think showing us 1 or 2 episodes with them trying to figure out how to be good people and leaders, with Steven as their guide would have been fun, and it was sad not to see that happen.  I’m glad they showed up at all in the series, just wish them as characters were used a bit more after their change of heart.

 

If you’re a fan of Steven Universe, you’ll want to watch this show.  For me, it has a lot of the same problems that Steven Universe the show had:  a lot of filler that is fun and cute enough, but we could have used a lot of the run time to better flesh out the plot.  In this limited run series, I would have liked to see them go all in with character and plot development, no matter how subtle in some episodes, and I feel like we only got that in the second half of the show, aside from seeing Jasper and her growth.  But it’s fun to revisit the characters, and see what they’ve been up to, and Steven’s story arc in this makes him a far more likeable character then I found him to be in the series as a whole.

 

Have you seen the finale, and the show?  Tell me how you liked it in the comments!

Uncategorized

Miraculous Lady Bug and Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, and the Modern Redemption Arc

I watch a lot of cartoons.  I’m sure anyone who has read this blog can attest to that.  I notice there are a lot of trends happening in recent cartoons, and find it quite interesting to wanted to talk about it.  Modern cartoons have a lot of nuance to them, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  I’m not saying this particular theme I’m talking about in this post doesn’t work, but it’s just fascinating to me how certain cartoons execute it, so I wanted to talk about it.
What I’m talking about, is the redemption arc.  In modern cartoons, we see a lot of characters that seem beyond redemption, or characters that it’s obvious will get a redemption arc.  In both instances, it can work, and the two examples of this I want to talk about are from Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, and Miraculous Ladybug.  Needless to say, after this point in the post, major major MAJOR spoilers for both shows.

 

The first one I want to talk about is in Miraculous Ladybug.  Specifically, for the character Chloe.  I thought her story arc was super interesting, because it isn’t quite done yet.  We see in season 2, that Ladybug gives her a chance by giving her the Bee Miraculous.  When Master Fu asks Ladybug if that’s the right choice, she replies “Being Ladybug made me a better person, so maybe being Queen Bee will help Chloe”.  I thought this was a really mature way to go about starting a redemption arc, because so many times a bad character just is instantly reformed.  With this, you see that Chloe isn’t even close to a redemption, but it takes someone wanting to give her a chance to reform for her to try.  That being said, in season 3 she completely goes back to her old ways, possibly getting worse, but I’m curious to see what is going to happen in season 4.  Chloe was totally reforming for all of the wrong reasons before:  She was doing so to get her Miraculous, to show Ladybug that she was worth her idol’s time.  After realizing things weren’t going to work the way Chloe wanted to, she just went back to old habits.  She needs to truly want to change herself, and see that her actions have consequences.  Someone willing to give her a chance isn’t enough if she’s not willing to change, and having a cartoon show that to younger audiences I think is a really smart move.  Like I said before, it’s a mature way to frame a seemingly heartless character and give her more depth, while at the same time keeping an antagonist an antagonist until they truly earn said redemption.  And it is something that Chloe needs to earn, because she started off so far away from being a good person that we need to see her gradually change.  Which, once again, we saw glimpses of – it just wasn’t enough for her to overcome all of her inner demons, and I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen as the story progresses.

 

In Tangled, we have the complete opposite situation.  Cassandra is a huge character in the series, and at the end of season 2, she betrays Rapunzel for her own ends and desires.  Now I wish we would have gotten a liiiittle more of her shown in season 3, but still there was enough to see her inner turmoil.  Her feelings towards Rapunzel weren’t invalid, but she wasn’t willing to acknowledge her own shortcomings in what happened either.  She wanted to prove she was more than what others saw in her, but she had no idea what she truly wanted to do in her life, or how to achieve it.  So as soon as she had a “chance” to prove herself, she tried.  When she realized that she was never going to get what she wanted through the means she tried to use, and actually had a heart to heart talk with Rapunzel, they both realized that perhaps they were going about the situation the wrong way and were able to part amicably at series end.

 

In this scenario, we also get to see Cassandra throughout the entire series, and her character growth.  But opposed to Chloe, Cassandra started out with good intentions, but was lost and hurt by the actions of other characters.  She used her anger to fuel her desires, but still wasn’t sure what exactly her desires were and it was interesting seeing her misdirection.  When the house of cards came tumbling down, she felt like a failure and it took her falling from grace to redeem herself, and realize trying to force what you want on yourself and push away your friends isn’t the answer.

 

Both of these are interesting, because they are both redemption arcs in completely different ways.  Cassandra started out good, lost her way, and found it again.  Chloe never knew what her way was, and is currently trying to find it.  She’s messing up and stumbling through her growth, but so did Cassandra and it took a good friend bringing her back from the brink to redeem her.  Chloe is going to need to see that the world doesn’t revolve around her, and that her actions and words matter and need to change before her inward change can occur.

 

It’s a really good way to show redemption arcs.  A plotted out, methodical series that viewers can track, empathize with, and understand.  It helps people see that people like this may exist in real life, and how to possibly deal with it in their lives.  A lot better than the old version where someone just reforms because the writers want them to, and we see no change whatsoever on screen and we’re just supposed to accept that they’re good now.

 

What do you think about modern redemption arcs?  Are some well done, others done poorly?  Some shows do too many of them?  Let me know what you think in the comments!