Books

Bite-Sized Book Reviews #3

Time for another Bite-sized book reviews!  This one is going to be a little different, since one is for a book series, and one for a book I DNFed.  I chose to not post a review on Good Reads for the DNF, because I think it’s unfair to do so when I haven’t finished the book, but since this is my blog I’d like to post my thoughts on said book and why I didn’t read it all the way through.  With that out of the way, let’s get on to the reviews!

 

Gods of Blood and Powder Series by Brian McClellan

 

This series is in the Powder Mage universe, so if you haven’t read the series, you may be a bit lost.  You wouldn’t be entirely lost, but if you ever plan to read the prior series there are major spoilers in the books, so read at your own risk.  The things it addresses in this series that you need knowledge of the Powder Mage trilogy for it explains though, which is nice.

 

This series takes place ten years after the Powder mage trilogy, and stars Vlora and two other characters not from the original trilogy.  Vlora was an interesting side character for me, so I really liked reading from her point of view…in book 1.  In book 2, she got a little too one note and didn’t develop much, but her plot was interesting and drove the overall plot forward.

 

Michele, the Adamat style character in this series, I loved.  My favorite plots and characters were in his storylines and in every book I super enjoyed getting back to his.  Ben Stike was the typical manly man Tamas character, but I overall liked him better along with his story arcs.

 

This world felt super fleshed out.  Like, the ten year gap truly felt like ten years of time had progressed in real time in their world.  Characters were different, but still the same, the stakes were higher, and a lot of characters got stories for them when they didn’t because of being supporting characters in the previous series.  I will say the 2nd book had middle book syndrome, and didn’t really feel like it added much to the overall trilogy, but there were some good moments in it.  My favorite one was the first book, I thought that one and book three were both really well paced and dynamic.

 

The end of the third book felt a little lack luster with the final conflict, but it also fit the series at the same time.  These books have always been about the characters and action more than anything, so it didn’t bother me too much how it ended.  Overall, a good series with a lot of lovable characters, good plot beats, and good pacing other than in book 2.  Give it a read if you’re into McClellans works.

 

Forest of Firelight by Shari L. Tapscott

 

Aaaand here’s the book I didn’t finish.  Such an awful slog of cliché insta love romance, a bland main character who we’re supposed to like, and a tortured love interest we’re supposed to empathize with.  The premise sounded so interesting too, and I read reviews saying the end was good but like…ugh.  It’s a short book, only 300 pages, but it just dragged on so long and the first 183 pages were nothing but naïve Princess getting into trouble, and brooding love interest saving her, internally saying he hated how stupid she was but at the same time falling for her.  No subversion of tropes what-so-ever, and for me the author didn’t seem like they were planning to do anything more than follow the same generic plot beats in a YA romance, so I just stopped reading it midway.  The world wasn’t interesting enough either, just generic epic fantasy with a somewhat interesting magic system, but not interesting enough to carry the story considering how frustrating the main character was.  If you’ve finished it, let me know if it gets better in the comments, but for me this was just a series I wasn’t willing to continue regardless so stopped in the middle of  book 1.

 

Of Sea and Song by Chanda Hahn

 

Another entry in the Daughters of Eville series, and the book I started reading this series for.  A Little Mermaid retelling that stars an epic sorceress who sings as her magic ability, and uses ocean magic?  Sign me up!  This story started pretty fun and interesting, but midway eventually fell into the trap this series usually does with the main love interest being irritating and them just falling in love with out any relationship growth what-so-ever.  I did like that the secondary love interest subverted the generic “He’s evil” trope in this one, and it was a fun ride regardless of leaning on tropes, so I can’t complain.  What this series thrives on is the familial relationships between the sisters and Lady Eville, and each daughter coming into her own through her story and this totally delivered on that regard, which is why the okish romance didn’t bother me so much.  Mary was my favorite lead so far which was also a bonus.

 

This was a really interesting take on The Little Mermaid that I super enjoyed, and this author gets better with every entry in this series:  this one was the best paced, with the least amount of leaning on fairy tale retelling tropes, and was really dynamic and interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

 

Conclusion

 

And that’s the end of my Bite-Sized Book Reviews!  If you want some more in depth reviews for any of these books, head on over to my Good Reads profile.  I hope these reviews help you with finding reads, and happy reading!

Anime

Magia Record: Madoka Magica Side Story Anime Review [Spoiler Free]

I got my brother into Madoka recently, and him talking about it so much made me want to rewatch it.  I remembered really enjoying it when I watched a few years back, and remembered decently the plot beats.  But rewatching it, it honestly became my new favorite anime.  The plotting, the pacing, the characters, all so masterfully done and I can talk about the philosophical implications of both it, and Rebellion for ages.

 

On this trip down Madoka once again, I decided to throw watching Magia Record into the mix.  I was interested in it anyways, and I’m a sucker for any Madoka content after this rewatch reinvigorating my love of the series.  But, does Magia Record:  Madoka Magica Side Story stack up to its predecessor?

 

No, but is that necessarily a bad thing?

This by no means makes Magia Record a bad series, but it most certainly doesn’t have the same tone or vibe as Madoka Magica.  That didn’t bother me really, it’s called a side story after all.  But the first five episodes were a lot of meandering, and what I thought to be poorly crafted characters.  The plot wasn’t interesting enough, and it just felt like it was trying to capture aspects of Madoka without realizing that Madoka is a show that is crafted in a way that the sum of its parts make its whole.  And that really bothered me.  Why wasn’t this show trying to stand on its own two feet, and be interesting in its own right?

 

Well, you have to watch this first season to its end, because boy did it prove me wrong.  This show is different in the sense that it has more time to develop its characters, and lay the ground work for an explosive finale by seasons end.  We got to see each characters backstory, see them develop as a team, and then by episode eight or nine, what seemed like bland characters became really interesting and dynamic ones, because we had seen them all independently and acting as only a part of their character, not all of it.  When all the core cast comes together though, you see them bonding, you see them grow together, and it makes the plot and its mysteries set forth in the first few episodes totally pay off.  At the end of season 1, we didn’t get any of these mysteries solved, but that ending just got me so hyped for season 2 and totally got me hooked on wanting to see more of this show, and its characters arcs and the overall plot unfold.

There are cameos from beloved characters in the first series, but they don’t feel forced or out of place.  They all are also going to be playing a bigger role in the series, you can tell, but we just don’t get to see how or why just yet.  I won’t spoil any of the cameos, because for all of them I let out an audible “Yay!” when they happened because not gonna lie, I still love the main cast more than this one.  This new cast has potential to be great characters in their own right (my favorite so far is Yachio) but they aren’t quite there yet.  By series end though, I hope this changes and we see all of them come into their own and be just as epic as the previous series’ cast.

 

Magia Record isn’t Madoka Magica, and that’s ok.  It’s not trying to be Madoka, it’s just a story that takes place in the same universe, and is part of the franchise.  I like both series’ for different reasons, and am excited to see what happens in season 2 of Magia Record.  You definitely have to watch this first season to the end though to get the full effect of whether you’d like the show or not, and the first half of the season is a struggle – it took me a week to go back to the series, because I just really wasn’t interested.  But if you’re willing to give this series a chance, the end is definitely worth it and the cliffhanger and mysteries laid out throughout season1 make it worth watching this to season 2.

 

Have you watched Magia Record:  Madoka Magica Side Story?  Let me know what you thought of it in the comments!