Review: Relic by Renee Collins

Relic is a fantastic, fun read from a talented new author, Renee Collins. The plot is fast-paced from the first page, and there wasn’t a moment that dragged. For the most part the characters are vivid and realistically written, and the dialogue was western-flavored without being overwhelming. In fact, it was a serious contender for my best-of-2013 shelf.

One of the strongest aspects of Relic was the setting. The Western spin is an angle that’s not too common in fantasy, and it provided a rich backdrop for the action of the novel. I loved the atmosphere of the book – Collins did a great job.

I was also glad to see a premise/magic system that hasn’t been done before. The idea of Relics (bones of magical creatures) providing people with magical abilities is – as far as I know- unique. Considering how much they featured in the plot, however, I would have liked a little more explanation as to how exactly they worked – it seems to vary based on what’s needed for the plot. Individual relics seem to work on contact, or by ingestion, but there are also guns which are somehow powered by relics, and that’s never really explained at all.

Considering he was the major love interest, I would have liked to have seen more of Landon. I also would have liked him to be a bit more involved in the investigation of the burnings/mystery of the unknown relic/something! There’s a scene were he chastises Maggie for getting caught up with Alvar and life at the hacienda, but it’s not like he’s doing much of anything either…plus, his relationship with Maggie felt a bit rushed.

There were a few hints that Maggie might see Yahn as a potential love interest as well, which I thought was silly and unneeded, but that’s probably just my bias (I strongly dislike multiple love interests).

I liked that I couldn’t figure Alvar out – one moment he was kind, the next entitled and demanding. However there were some moments where I felt his characterization was a bit too inconsistent…and the explanation felt like a bit of a cop-out.

I prefer my villains not to be ‘evil’…to have some sort of motivation, however twisted, for what they are doing. That doesn’t appear to be the case for the ultimate antagonist of this book.

Despite these nitpicks, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Relic, and if there is a sequel – the ending seems well set up for one – I will certainly read it!

Full disclosure: I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Dominance of the Alpha-Male

Okay so Monday I totally derailed my own post. What did I mean to talk about? Alpha males in fiction. Right. Let’s do that. [EDIT: I sort of derailed this one too, with pictures.]

I feel like in a lot of the romance I’ve read lately, the love interest is a big, strong, muscular, ‘hot’, manly man. And he’s got the personality to match — conceited, overprotective, needs to be in charge, I could go on. If it’s a paranormal, often he’s a werewolf or other shifter. And if he is, he’s always the alpha.

God forbid any woman fall in love with the beta of the back. Or just a regular member.

Here’s the thing – I get that alpha males are the fantasy of many in the female population (and probably some in the male population too – I should be inclusive). But I don’t like them.

I don’t find them attractive. Well, sometimes I do, but my tastes usually run to the more…bookish types. Or the charming ones. I certainly don’t enjoy the kind of personality their fictional counterparts usually possess. (And yes, I know some of it is distortion because you’re viewing them through the eyes of another character BUT STILL.)

Here are some manly men:

Here are some men who are more my type (and yes I am aware some of them are gay, this is one of my problems):


(Bonus: these two sing). (Also Matthew Gray Gubler IS HOLDING A PUPPY)

Also like 90% of the guys on this woefully incomplete list

So what about me? What about the girls who don’t want an alpha male, a hyper-manly man? (Manly in the stereotypical sense. Yes, problematic gender norm things, but this post isn’t about that.)

Are there any books where the female protagonist falls in love with a werewolf who loves the opera? Or a man who isn’t super ripped, and instead likes to read? I’ve seen a few, but usually the guys are  still also super possessive and annoying. And yes, books need conflict, and having the super possessive guy annoy the female until she discovers that really she loves him and he’s just trying to keep her safe seems to be a popular one. But there are other kinds of conflict.

I JUST WANT A NERD BOY ROMANCE. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

So, my dear readers, I ask for your help. (If you are willing and able). Are there paranormal romance books, or SFF books with a romantic subplot, that feature ‘nerdy’ love interests? Or — let’s go crazy — even romances with no speculative element whatsoever? They must exist, and I just haven’t found them yet.

Otherwise I’ll have to write one myself.

When your bookshelf is just a little too full

I have far too many books, and for the most part I love them all dearly and couldn’t imagine being parted.

But there are a few I am willing to pass on to others – because I didn’t like them, or because I have two copies, or because I’ve outgrown them and they’re not something I love enough to save for my far-in-the-future children.

What to do with these books? Throwing them out seems wasteful. I could donate them, to Project Cicero or something similar, and often do.

But there’s something else to consider, and that is that I am constantly searching for new reading material.

If I bought all the books I wanted at full price, I would be bankrupt already. I do well enough buying $2 paperbacks from the vendor on Broadway, but that still leaves me with more books than I have room for.

Is there some solution that would elegantly solve both these problems together? Perhaps some way to trade in books that I don’t want for books that I do?

There is, and it’s called BookMooch.

BookMooch is one of several book trading sites out there, but it’s a good one. It operates on a point system. You gain points for listing books you are willing to trade (.1 points), sending books within your country (1 point), and sending books internationally (3 points). Receiving books costs 1 point if the book is mailed in country and 3 points if mailed internationally. Registration is free!

You can search BookMooch for available books to request, or search amazon for books to add to your BookMooch wishlist. If someone lists that book – or a similar edition – you will get an email notification allowing you to request the book.

So far I’ve listed 3 books on BookMooch; I may add more but I have to go home and look at what I have available.

Does anyone else use book trading websites? If so, which? If not, would you consider it?

Read ALL THE BOOKS

I got a little excited that summer was here and checked out approximately 1 million books from the library. Here, in no particular order, are the books sitting on my desk waiting to be read.

 

PLUS Bill’s novel (WHICH IS TOTALLY #1 I AM ALMOST DONE PROMISE). So I’m a busy girl.

[UPDATE: Since scheduling this post I have finished Throne of Glass and Magic Bites. I’m still working on Bill’s novel because Amazon is stupid.]

Gargoyles

^ Clickety click

I have complained before about the lack of variety in new books I’ve encountered lately (Everything is distopian/vampires/werewolves). I actually haven’t read this book so I can’t say anything about the quality of the writing, but the idea is fantastic.

Gargoyles.

I never would have thought of it, but its a fresh, intriguing idea! Click on the cover photo for a giveaway.

Banned Books

 Books should never be banned. Will I read all the books on this list? No, of course not. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other people who would enjoy them, or whose lives would change because of them. We should all be free to choose. Just for fun, I’ve bolded the books below that I’ve read. What about you all?

Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling

2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey [Thanks to my younger brother]
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey [Again, younger brother]
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George

92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank