I am going to be re-rating some books I already rated. I will be editing the posts they were in and editing my Goodreads as well.
I stayed up late reading it and woke up early to finish it without doing anything in between. The last time I did that with a book was something written by R.L. Stein 20 years ago.
With a lot of memoirs, I have very little in common with the author. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I get to see life through the eyes of someone that is completely different than myself and learn how to empathize with their world view. You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day is different because finally there is a memoir that I relate to on a personal level more so than most. I am a nerd, I read fantasy books, I love science fiction, I play video games, I played WoW, I watch Supernatural, I watched The Guild, I LOVE Joss Whedon, I didn’t have many friends growing up, most my friends are online, I create YouTube content, and I want to write. So basically, this book was written for a person like me, and if you are similar in experience, this book was written for you too.
Felicia talks about her life growing up in a home-schooled home, going to college early as a 16 year old violinist, and deciding that her true passion is acting. Felicia was miserable in her life while she was just a commercial actor and developed a gaming addiction. After much guilt and anxiety she got her life turned around because she started writing her own TV show pilot. Two friends and her ended up funding the entire project and putting it online because she wanted to maintain all the rights to the show as a creator. The rest is history and if you are familiar with Felicia Day you know the success that The Guild became.
I absolutely loved this memoir. I have been a Felicia Day fan for many years and when I heard she was coming out with a book, I made sure to get it on release day. I watched The Guild, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Geek and Sundry, and Supernatural, so I was a fan of hers already. However, it wasn’t until I started following her on Goodreads, and I watched the twitch.tv marathon she did for lupus, that I found a new admiration for her. Let me explain. I knew that she was a writer, creator, and a cute actress. I also knew that she was a nerdy girl and a gamer, but I never knew if that was a persona she created, or if that was really her.
When I started getting into Goodreads more heavily and writing my own reviews, I noticed that Felicia reviewed a book I also reviewed. I was a fan of hers so I started to follow her on Goodreads. Come to find out she has read a ton more fantasy and sci-fi books than me. I started to check out some of her reviews and they were really good. She was using Goodreads much longer than me, since 2008, and she has read a ton of fantasy books that I want to read. This showed me two things about Felicia, she is not fake, and she has been reading constantly for many years, while being super busy in her career. I admired that even during her busy schedule that she found time to read speculative fiction.
This past March, Geek and Sundry created a twitch.tv channel, and to make it special hosted a marathon to raise money and awareness for lupus. Felicia was on the stream so much and really put so much effort into this marathon to raise money. She was her normal goofy self but I found that I really admired her for the amount of energy and time she put into this marathon. She looked so exhausted during the marathon but she tried so hard to always put on a smile for the viewers. Because of this marathon and seeing her Goodreads she became someone I admired.
Anyway, back to the book, got a little side-tracked there, but I wanted to talk about why I even got the book in the first place. The memoir was well written and her infectious personality comes through so easily to the reader. Reading about her battles with game addiction had me shaking my head in agreement. Reading her issues about the lack of friendships made me remember times when I was lonely as a child. Her pursuit for perfection was something I could relate to as well. Then the wisdom bombs hit me, “No matter what you feel is holding you back in life, you can attempt anything.” pg 150. In this section she talked about her struggles with writing and her fears to start something. I myself would love to write more but my fears of failure are stopping me. This chapter made me see that it is difficult but attempting it and actually doing it is where it is at. It might be good, in fact it’ll probably be bad, but actually attempting it is where the courage comes in.
Anyway, I loved this book and I am giving it a 5 star rating. After reading it, I realized that my old attitude of wondering if the way she presented herself was a persona was incredibly wrong, and I will do my best to not make that same mistake with individuals in the future. I will believe and accept everyone for who they showcase to the world they are without having doubts.
This will get reread in the future, especially the chapters on writing and depression. Some good things in there. I realize this was a different review than usual but I wanted to talk more about my respect for Felicia than anything else. If you are a fan of Felicia Day and you consider yourself awkward, nerdy, and you have dreams you are afraid of trying, read this book.
3/5 14/25 Possible Score
Plot – 2(Weak)
Characters – 4(Strong)
Setting/World Building – 2(Weak)
Writing Style – 3(Fine)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 3(Fine)
The Burden of Silence by Eric Praschan is a suspense thriller that focuses on a brother, Jack, trying to find out what happened to his sister, Jane. Jane was murdered in the small Missouri town of Hollow Valley, a town that Jack has left behind for the last 6 years. Hollow Valley has a large meth addiction problem and there are many meth makers that use the nearby mountains to create their product. Jane was an addict, found stabbed in the chest in broad daylight, with many witnesses, but no one wants to come forward to say what they saw.
Jack arrives back in Hollow Valley, and with the help of his ex-girlfriend, Tessa, they start to dig around for answers to what happened to his sister. Tessa and Jack’s relationship did not end well, but she is his best hope to find some answers from the locals. Jack and Tessa must try to get the citizens of Hollow Valley to talk about what happened, while navigating their own resentments towards each other. They soon find that the secrets in Hollow Valley go much deeper than they ever realized.
I had mixed feelings with The Burden of Silence, but what was done well was fantastic. The first thing that I really liked were the characters. From the very beginning Jack seemed like an interesting character to me. He was wrapped in a lot of mystery and really didn’t like talking about himself much. I wanted to know why he left Hollow Valley and what his deal with Tessa was all about. As the book progresses we get some painful conversations between Tessa and Jack that I found to be the most engaging part of the entire book. Jack is dealing with the grief of his sister’s death, who was a meth addict, a father that is an alcoholic, himself being an alcoholic, and an ex-lover that hurt him more than anyone else, so this isn’t a lighthearted book in any way because these are some tormented characters. Another stand out character for me was Turner, the sheriff, Tessa’s father, and Jack’s mentor growing up. Turner doled out wisdom and influence to Jack while growing up and even during the present day.
Praschan has a wisdom in his characters that you usually only see from much older or established writers. The writing of this book was solid and I especially like the one liners of wisdom that a lot of these “salt of the earth” type characters told Jack. Praschan does a great job at giving the reader some advice through his characters. The advice and comments that characters made to each other helped make stronger interpersonal relationships between the characters, which made me care more about the characters. Forgiveness is such a strong focus of this novel and it is something that I’ll personally take away from reading this novel.
The plot was heavily focused on meth and addiction. I appreciated the research the author did with this subject and it is more than likely a subject that impacts many communities in Missouri, but it just wasn’t for me. I would of liked a little bit more focus on the actual mystery of the murder and less focus on the meth problem. Which brings me to another aspect I didn’t really care for, the mystery of what happened to Jane reminded me more of a scavenger hunt than Jack and Tessa figuring out the mystery. Jack was mainly a reactionary main character that luckily was able to follow a lot of clues that Jane left behind. This reader felt that if Jane had time to leave all these clues for her brother, because she felt like something would happen to her, that she had the time, and the smarts, to get out of town and seek help from the authorities.
The other thing that I didn’t really care for all that much was the setting of Hollow Valley itself. It seemed too setup for my belief. All the classic little town stores just seemed like backdrop for the story to go from one town person to the next. Overall I think the setting felt too much like scenes that would be found in a play. The setting definitely got better as the story progressed but near the beginning it just seemed very wooden.
I ended up enjoying the book but not as much as I would have liked. I am definitely going to read more of Praschan’s work because his characterization was fantastic and I realize that the drug focus just wasn’t for me, but something with a different focus might work better. I will be trying his novel Blind Evil next and then his The James Women Trilogy. There is a lot of commentary in this novel about addiction and forgiveness that can change a reader for the better. If you are looking for a solid small town mystery with great characters and some strong writing, The Burden of Silence is something you will enjoy.
5/5 21/25 Possible Score
Plot – 4(Strong)
Characters – 5(Very Strong)
World Building – 5(Very Strong)
Writing – 3(Fine)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 4(Strong)
Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb takes the court intrigue model of the first two books, that focuses mostly on the Castle of Buckkeep and the royal court there, and throws it out the window in favor of a more traditional fantasy questing. This entry into the Farseer Trilogy is all about Fitz learning who he is as a man without anyone telling him what to do. Like a lot of new adults, he makes some pretty dumb decisions at times. He is led by his emotions often and he sometimes flounders about the countryside trying to shirk his responsibilities. One of the main criticisms of this book is that it is too long, with way too much time spent with Fitz walking around the woods, and that he makes stupid decisions. I personally am absolutely fine with this because book 1 is about him dealing with his life as a child and losing his innocence. Book 2 is about Fitz learning responsibility, and dealing with teenage issues and reactions. Book 3 is all about him figuring out who he is as a man and I expect that to be messy at times.
Before this series, I read a lot of traditional fantasy where a party of tropes would be traveling the land on a quest to stop a big evil. Even though I loved the first two books in this series, I just remember how excited I was to finally explore the Six Duchies, and the areas beyond the Mountain Kingdom. Rereading this book now, I realize that the world building that was in this third book is so important to the rest of Robin Hobb’s books, and it was on a whole new level from the previous two Farseer books. The world building in this third book has such interesting mysteries and backstories for the Six Duchies, the dragons, and our characters.
The characters in Assassin’s Quest are my favorite in the three books. We learn so much more about Fitz as he learns about himself. We get more background on The Fool which is always a treat, but Hobb also adds Kettle and Starling as characters in this book. Kettle is one of my favorite character in the whole series and I just love her story and the mystery that surrounds her. All the other characters, Kettricken, Burrich, Molly, Verity, and Rolf have just such great stories that I absolutely love. Not to mention that Nighteyes completely steals the show in this book.
I definitely recommend Assassin’s Quest to people reading the Farseer Trilogy. I absolutely love the traveling and inner struggles of Fitz. Like I’ve said in other reviews, I really relate to Fitz, and I could see myself making the same decisions that he does, because I’m an emotional person too. If a reader can look past the longer scenes of traveling, Fitz making brash decisions, and Fitz somehow escaping capture multiple times, than you’ll enjoy this book. However, if these three things annoy you too much, then it might not be your favorite Farseer book.
5/5 25/25 Possible Score
Plot – 5(Very Strong)
Characters – 5(Very Strong)
World Building – 5(Very Strong)
Writing Style – 5(Very Strong)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 5(Very Strong)
Well it was bound to happen eventually, the first perfectly scored book here on Common Touch of Fantasy, since I implemented the individual categories into the review.
You should read Mad Ship and The Liveship Trader series if you want characters that don’t act like characters, but actual people. These characters are just as real to me as individuals I know in real life. There are very few people in real life that I am closer to, and know more about, than the characters in these books. The story is the characters and the characters make every aspect of the book better.
I absolutely loved Mad Ship. When I sat down to write this review, I tried to think of things I disliked about it, areas in which I thought it could be stronger, and I just couldn’t think of any. Following this trader family, the Vestrits, and their tumultuous life, as things go from bad to worse, gripped me by the heart and the mind.
Where Ship of Magic was just alright, the world building, Mad Ship blew it out of the water. So much of the groundwork of the world and mysteries from Ship of Magic came through to completely capture my interest, and desire to read. I care so much about all these characters and I feel a connection with all of them.
I would recommend Mad Ship and The Liveship Trader series to anyone that just likes good writing and character centered stories.
5/5 21/25 Possible Score
Plot – 5(Very Strong)
Characters – 4(Strong)
World Building – 4(Strong)
Writing – 4(Strong)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 4(Strong)
You should read Royal Assassin when you are in the mood for a court intrigue or royal family intrigue novel. This is very much a story about a young man trying to figure out how to deal with the circumstances in his life and acting without thinking. This is not a fast read, there is a lot of overlap in this series, and your enjoyment of this book will largely depend on your connection with the main character, Fitz.
I personally love this novel and this was a reread for me. My connection to Fitz is one of the strongest to any fantasy character. I find a lot of similarities in the way he thinks with the way that I think. A lot of his actions, though not maybe the smartest, are actions I probably would have taken. I just love this struggle between his family and his uncle, as his uncle tries to steal the throne. This is the strongest plot book of the Farseer Trilogy. Though it isn’t majorly complex, the royal family intrigue sucks you in. There is also a broader political intrigue that encompasses the entire region, and I just enjoy the subtlety that this is added to the narrative.
I would recommend Royal Assassin to anyone that enjoys royal family intrigue and a focus on non-action(more subtlety) oriented assassins.