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Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft | Blabber

Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel, #1)Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
Fantasy
383 pages
The Books of Babel, Book 1
Read July 21 – Sept 8, 2018
Spoiler-free blabber

Reading Senlin Ascends felt like reading an epic poem without the poem.

It had the lone ‘hero’ going on a huge journey to achieve a goal, it had lands of intrigue, it had allegory, it had beliefs held dear by the main character shattered over and over, it had everything, man.

I adored this book.

Back in March of this year, I completed the r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge, and was lucky enough to win an ebook of my choosing as a prize, given to me by one of the sponsors of the bingo game. I chose this one, having heard about it briefly, just enough to pique my interest. And man, I’m glad I chose it – I had never really read an ebook with so much gusto before. And I admit – I was definitely reading it at times I probably shouldn’t: During restroom breaks at work, during car rides when I was the passenger even though reading in the car makes me sick, during down time at restaurants, whenever I could. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The writing was beautiful, the main character had me rooting for him, and the world that Josiah Bancroft created is absolutely fascinating.

The book, if you haven’t heard of it, follows a man named Thomas Senlin, who upon arriving at the foot of The Tower of Babel loses his wife in the crowd, and has to ascend the tower to find her before she’s lost forever. The premise is quite simple, but the world created within the confines of the tower is quite rich. The tower itself is a feat of imagination. So high that only rumor tells if there is a top and what is there – each level, called a ringdom, is quite different from the one below it. Whether it be The Parlor, a level full of actors and performances and you can’t tell who’s playing a role and who’s not, or The Baths, a level rich in soap and hotels and conspiracy, each one feels as real and gritty as sand in your fingernails. I really enjoyed the depth of setting each ringdom had. Each felt like its own fully developed world with lore attached to it, even though they were connected by stairways and tunnels. Everytime Senlin arrived at a new one, it was like reading about a brand new place. The book also had a light steampunk feel to it – airships carried passengers from level to level, using air currents as their only source of movement, which I thought was pretty neat.

Senlin himself was a good character to follow. His development arc was nice and complicated. At the beginning, he was so full of awe for the tower. Coming with his new wife to the base of the tower on honeymoon, his story begins with him full of whimsical tales and beliefs about how wonderful the tower is and how splendid each level must be. Like all great tales though, he finds his beliefs called into question over and over again, each revelation of truth like a slap to the face. Characters he meets on each level only add to the complexity of the story – why they’re there, how they got there, why they stopped in that ringdom specifically. Each character gave Senlin added depth through the way they interacted and how each of their meetings came to an end. All of it felt like I was reading a giant metaphor. The allegory was strong in this book – it felt like a book I would read for a literature class in college. I could fill the margins with notes if I wanted. Heck, I want a physical copy now to do just that. When I continue this series (which I will be doing) I want to switch to physical copies so I can love on them without needing to worry about a battery charge.

Here is an example of the writing – a quote from near the beginning of the book. The context is Senlin is at the base of the tower, and has just witnessed the death of several people around him:

He especially delighted in the old tales, the epics in which heroes set out on some impossible and noble errand, confronting the dangers in their path with fatalistic bravery. Men often died along the way, killed in brutal and unnatural ways; they were gored by war machines, trampled by steeds, and dismembered by their heartless enemies. Their deaths were boastful and lyrical and always, always more romantic than real. Death was not an end. It was an ellipsis. There was no romance in the scene before him. There were no ellipses here. The bodies lay upon the ground like broken exclamation points.

I just. I love it. This is the first of many quotes I marked, and it’s the one that made me fall in love with Senlin Ascends. From this quote on, I was smitten. The whole book is littered with passages like this, and each one had my heart going ba-dump-ba-dump. Josiah Bancroft is a wordsmith and with just this one book, one of my favorite authors. He could publish his grocery list and I’d read it.

Another enjoyable aspect about this book is the tone it took – in addition to the characters and plot, the tone just made this world seem huge. Far bigger than a story set in one tower should feel. Repeated references to endless exploration of the tower, conversation and speculation on what and who is at the top, speculation of who built it and when, the way the people live their lives in each ringdom, almost in isolation of the others. It made each level feel like the size of a country instead of a city, and it gave the book a feeling of vastness that could allow for many, many more books set here to be written. When I said that it felt like I was reading an epic poem, I was not exaggerating. It just all feels so big.

I feel like there’s going to be a fantastic story told here, as Senlin continues his plight, and I’m here for it man. The next book is out and the third is expected next year. I’m hoping each lives up to this one, and improves on it (thought, that’ll be hard to do considering how good this one is already…).

I know I’ve done nothing but gush, but man, this book is so good. I. Loved. It. New all-time favorite, fan for life.

5/5 stars

Ps. I mentioned in a tweet that I was reading this book and Josiah Bancroft liked it. I may or may not have peed.

Happy reading!

 

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Posted by on 09/23/2018 in blabbers, Books, Review

 

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Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas | Blabber

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas
YA Fantasy
Read Aug 23 – 27th
648 pages
Throne of Glass, Book 4
Spoiler-free blabber

I feel like these books are hard to review. Objectively, there are a lot of problems with them, but subjectively, I tend to adore them.

To prove my words, I wrote that top bit there and then I sat here for five minutes staring at my screen, trying to figure out how to start. Hm…

Queen of Shadows was a book on my 10 in 2018 list, the second year in a row it appeared there. I read the first three books rapid fire back in January of 2016 and then got distracted. This read was the second attempt. I picked it up once in 2017 and got a chapter into it before realizing I had forgotten character relations, major plots points, and all sorts of things from the first three. I ended up watching a spoilery in-depth review of Heir of Fire before jumping into it this time, and while my memory was spotty on it for a while, it definitely was a better experience.

Going into this one, I had heard it was a party-splitter, that some fans adored it and others really, really disliked it. I read it, waiting and waiting for this opinion-altering event to occur, and… I never really found one. Overall themes in the book could be off-putting I suppose, but I don’t think I quite understand why this book is so disliked by some when obviously they had liked the first three. I don’t really see how it was so different overall. So, if you are in the ‘didn’t like this’ party, enlighten me, because I am truly curious what I missed.

I think my favorite thing about this book and Maas’s books in general, is how easy they are to read. I tend to pick them up when I’m in a reading slump, because without fail I fly through them. I think I read this 650 page book in… four days? Maybe five? I really buzzed through it, and considering I’d only been reading manga beforehand because ofย  the slump, I’d say that’s pretty good.

I’ve mentioned in past reviews of the series that Celaena or Aelin or whatever her name is, is not my favorite character. She rubs me the wrong way. I feel like her abilities are too much for the amount of training she’s received compared to her enemies, some obviously much older and much more experienced. I guess she just comes across as a bit unbelievable to me. Though, she’s nowhere near as bad as my favorite Mary Sue. And honestly, I think I liked her more this book than I have in any of its predecessors. Originally in book one, she was very immature – threw tantrums, was vindictive. I think seeing her actually have interpersonal relations with people has helped. And I very much like ‘Aelin’ more than ‘Celaena’. Her character development has been going pretty well and maybe one day, I’ll actually like her. Maybe.

So, I mentioned there are problems with the book objectively, the main character being a bit over-inflated being one. Another is the age of many of the main players and leaders of factions. Everyone from the resistance to the assassins to the guards are in their late teens or early twenties, with the exception of the centuries-old fae who is somehow able to get along with everyone with no maturity or generational-gap issues. He just… fits right in, but you would think he’d have more problems adjusting. A third is the eventual almost-guaranteed attraction of every male character to Aelin. At one point or another, all of them decide they’re crushing on her or more, regardless of their age. Heck, even her cousin gets territorial over her (though not for romantic reasons, don’t worry, it’s not gross). A fourth is all the ‘alpha-male’ bull-doody that results from issue three. Aelin herself calls it out, but she does it in a way that says ‘Oh you guys. Quit fighting over little ol’ me’ and never actually addresses the root of the behavior or why it’s weird for them all to be posturing to each other over this 19-year-old woman.

So yes, objectively, issues. None of these issues are particularly new, they’ve been in the series since book one and just growing broader with the addition of more characters. Do they bug me? Yes. Are they enough for me to dislike the series? Weirdly, no. But, I can see why they’d be too much for some people. I feel like if I wasn’t able to fly through the books as easily as I am, these issues would be much more of a factor for me. But I at least want to acknowledge them.

Plot-wise I rather liked this book. I liked the expansion of the world, I liked the subplots of the side characters. I like Chaol and I really like Manon. The witch subplot chapters were some of my favorites, and I really like how she’s been developing and how her thirteen are actually starting to get personalities. When she was introduced last book, I found her interesting but her chapters were kinda flat. Aside from Manon herself, none of the characters in them were really given any opportunity to show that they were more than cardboard cut-outs. This book allowed for that, and I think that Manon’s First is one of my favorite characters in the series now. She’s pretty great.

Another thing I liked seeing was the friendship that developed between Aelin and one of the female characters that was mentioned earlier in the series and then forgotten about. She reappears in this book and actually gets a good dose of character development. It’s always nice to see a movie or book pass the Bechdel test, man. Just because a book has a main female lead doesn’t mean it passes, and it’s a bit sad that fails are so common. I think this relationship in particular is what made me dislike Aelin less in this book than I have in the others. I feel like this friendship was a much needed dynamic, and I hope it lasts.

And finally, as mentioned above, I flew through it. The writing was compelling enough to keep me reading for over a hundred pages a day, and that is the main reason why I liked it so much. The book was fun. It was enjoyable to read, and I found myself unable to put it down. It made me wanna break my book buying ban so I could go get the fifth one (but I didn’t, I’m making myself wait).

So overall, despite the issues this book has, I did rather like it, and I’m looking forward to the fifth one.

4.25/5 stars

 
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Posted by on 09/08/2018 in blabbers, Books, Review

 

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Meet the Blogger Tag

Book Tag

Hello, a tag today! I saw this on Sarah @DragonsandZombies‘ blog, and thought it was swell. So I stole it. It was created by Bibliophile’s Binge!

Name: Emily
Age: 28
Education: I have two bachelors degrees – one in psychology and one in computer science. The first one didn’t do much for me, so I got the second out of necessity. Yay I have a job with health insurance now.
Location: Pittsburgh
Job: Software developer
These are a few of your favorite things (apart from anything related to books & reading): Coffee, board games, beer, cats, nail art, traveling, cooking, metal music, alphabetizing stuff
Is there a story behind your blogโ€™s name? I have a tourist-level grasp of the German language, so… I figured I’d poke fun at my own name and add the German word for ‘reads’ at the end. Emily Reads. Embuhlee liest! ๐Ÿ˜€
What are you looking forward to right now? Going to sleep Friday night and not waking up at 5am Saturday morning.
Favorite Ice Cream: Raspberry chocolate truffle
Coffee or Tea? And how do you take it? Both! Tea is black, always black. Coffee will either be with about a half-tablespoon of creamer or black, depending on the quality of it.
Favorite Thing To Do On a Rainy Day: Reaaaaading, and opening the windows to let in the thunder, as long as the rain doesn’t come in with it.
Favorite Movies: Moulin Rouge, Oldboy, V For Vendetta, Castaway on the Moon, Cloud Atlas, Little Miss Sunshine, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Favorite Books: Heeeeere’s my favorites shelf on Goodreads, easier this way.
One Item on Your Bucket List: Travel to everywhere. Top of the list is: Malaysia (again), Singapore, Venice, Prague, Japan, Germany, Finland, yada yada yada
Scariest Thing Youโ€™ve Ever Done: Received a call that my mom had a heart attack. I never want to experience that ever again. (She’s ok, don’t worry.)
Fun Fact or Two: I live in a three bedroom place with my husband, and seeing as we don’t have any kids yet, I have an entire room dedicated to my books. It’s. So. Neat.


And that’s it! If you wanna do this tag, consider yourself tagged. ๐Ÿ˜€ Happy reading!

 
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Posted by on 08/21/2018 in Book Tag, Books

 

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Second Annual Book Buying Ban Time

Coffee Time

Hello! Today’s post will detail on the book buying ban I have placed myself on.

Last year, around September or so, I made a post called ‘My brain told me I have enough books‘, where I talked about going to a library sale and not having the urge to buy a single book. Shortly after, I placed myself on a ban that lasted from then until after Christmas. And it actually worked – aside from the one book I mentioned in the post that I planned on buying that October, I bought 0 books the rest of 2017.

Well, I just went to Half Price Book’s clearance sale, and I’ve decided to make this ban an annual thing because holy cow did I get some books. This time, I’m starting now, in August. As you read this, I’m in Chicago. I might visit a book store there and buy a book. I don’t know. I might. But after this trip, I’m placing myself again on this ban. Again, I have an October exception: Wotakoi volume 3 and The Monster Baru Cormorant. These two books, I am buying.

And that is all. Between Now and Christmas, I will get nothing else.

Keep in mind, this book buying bonanza I just finished at the clearance sale still needs to be hauled, so I will have one more haul post and the end of September, but they will all be books purchased today or earlier. And the two books I plan on getting in October will be hauled at the end of December. Unless I get books as Christmas gifts, those two books will be the only ones in the haul.

I know I can do this, as I’ve done it before. And man, it does wonders for my TBR. (And lemme tell ya, walking into a bookstore on January 1st after not buying books for four months is heaven)

Wish me luck! If you plan on doing a full or partial ban anytime soon, tell me about it!

Happy reading!

 
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Posted by on 08/05/2018 in Books, Coffee Time

 

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The Hopeful Book Tag

Book Tag

Hello! A tag today. I’m doing the Hopeful Book Tag. I wasn’t tagged by anyone, but I figured it’d be fun. The original tag can be found here.


1. A book world you would like to escape to.

I feel like Harry Potter is too obvious. So, I’m going with the world of My Hero Academia. I realize that it’s full of villains, but it’s also full of heroes. It’d be so cool to go to Hero School, man.

2. A romance that left you all mushy inside.

Woo, yet another opportunity to talk about Wotakoi! ๐Ÿ˜€ This is my current fave. It’s so cute and pure and fluffy.

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, Vol 1 (Otakoi: Otaku Can't Fall in Love?!)

3. A friendship we should all aspire to have.

I feel like the friendship between The Fool and FitzChivalry Farseer in Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings world is wonderful, even if I wish it had a different dynamic. I love reading about these two together. It’s such a joy (except when Fitz is being a ding dong, but y’know)

Fool's Fate (Tawny Man, #3)

4. Intermission! Insert the cutest picture of your pet or the cutest animal picture you can find.

This is Nina. She’s something.

https://i.imgur.com/FFjebAw.png

5. A character in a leadership role that inspires you.

I’m going to have to go with All Might, again from My Hero Academia. I absolutely adore this series and adore this character. He’s just too much and I wanna hug him.

All Might My Hero Academia I Am Here GIF

(gif credit to Funimation)

6. Recommend three (3) books that fill you with hope.

V for Vendetta, Ella Enchanted and Ship of Destiny. All three end leaving the reader with the feeling of ‘things could get better now’ or ‘thing have gotten better’, depending on the book.

V for VendettaElla EnchantedShip of Destiny (Liveship Traders, #3)

7. (Optional) Tag people

I’m gonna tag Ace, Orangutan Librarian, Zezee, MetalPhantasmReads, Dragons and Zombies, and Jenna Bookish! If you’ve done this, link me it so I can read! If you haven’t, DO IT PEER PRESSURE.


Happy reading!

 
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Posted by on 08/04/2018 in Book Tag, Books

 

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Unforgettable Bookish Memories Tag

Book Tag

Another tag today! It’s been a while since I’ve done any before this past Sunday, so I figured doing two in a row was ok. Wasn’t actually tagged, just think it’s neato. I saw it over on Aurora Librialis’s page ๐Ÿ˜€


1. The first book you ever read (or was read to you)

I couldn’t tell you the first book that was read to me. Maybe a Little Golden book? Maybe The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Maybe a book about rocks? (Dad is weird) I have no idea.

The first book I remember reading on my own, like actually reading and not just looking at the pictures were the The Busytown books by Richard Scarry.

 

 

2. The first book you ever bought with your own money?

Inkheart (Inkworld, #1)I think that would be the first Inkheart book by Cornelia Funke. I was lucky enough as a kid to have two booky parents and a booky grandmother who loved getting me books, so I didn’t end up buying one of my own until I was about 12.

 

 

 

 

 

3. A book you stayed up all night reading?

Is it bad that I’ve ever actually done this? As a reader I feel like I’m betraying someone by saying it.

4. What book or series will you never forget?

I Choose You (Pokemon Chapter Book, #1)The pokemon series most likely – there was a series of kids novels that came out as part of the franchise when I was nine or ten, and I got them all and would read and reread them over again. They were all I ever bought in those book order things that used to around at school – you know, the ones where you’d get almost a magazine of books and you’d order from them? Those, I only got pokemon and I Spy books, hahaha.

 

 

 

5. A book you frequently think about?

InuYasha: Turning Back Time (InuYasha, #1)Inuyasha by Rumiko Takahashi. I think it’s because I watched and read it at such an impressionable time in my life. I first picked it up when I was 14 years old, and honestly this past year did I only just ‘finish’ it by watching the finale series. (I read the ending of the manga years ago, but forgot the content). This series is my fandom – this is the one where I’d go look up art and fanfiction and all that jazz. It’s nostaglic for me.

 

 

 

6. A scene that has haunted you for years after reading it

I know it’s a running joke on the internet at this point but when I first read this scene, it seriously messed with me.

7. An unforgettable character

I’m going with Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z (and Super). He’s one of my favorite characters all-time. His development arc is just fantastic.

8. A book that changed your opinion about something

Easy (Contours of the Heart, #1)Easy by Tammara Webber changed my mind about new adult fiction. I had read a few before this one and none really… clicked. I’m not a fan of the borderline unhealthy or actually unhealthy relationship dynamics found in many books, but this one was a breath of fresh air. Also, if you know any other that fit in this category, do tell me.

 

 

 

 

9. Share another random bookish memory

My grandma, when she was alive, would come sleep over when I was little. She would stay on the couch and I remember her laying there for hours on end surrounded by blankets, during the day, just reading. Reading and reading – she’d always bring books with her. When she wasn’t reading her own books, she’d read to my sister and I. I miss her a lot. It’s weird to think that I’ve lived more of my life without her in it than I did with her at this point.

This is her. (I’m the kid on the right)

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, table and indoor


And that’s it! This photo above is one of my favorites – I don’t have too many of my grandma and even fewer where we’re doing something together. What are your bookish memories? Do you have any photos?

Happy reading!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on 07/10/2018 in Book Tag, Books

 

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20 Questions Tag

Book Tag

Hello, a tag today! I saw this tag over on The Orangutan Librarian’s blog and thought it’d be fun (and I was pseudo-tagged. Taking that ‘and anyone who wants to do it’ literally, pbtbt).

1. How many books is too many books in a series?

I feel like this is a difficult question… it really depends on how big the world is. If there’s room for more story line without it becoming repetitive or confusing, go for it. I’m a-ok with long series as long as they stay interesting.

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?

Well, they make me more likely to read the next book, so I guess my answer would be ‘good’?

3. Hardback or paperback?

For actual reading, paperback. For ‘look at my shelves, they’re so pretty’, hard back.

4. Favorite book?

Whoever wrote this question is insane. I’m just gonna screenshot my favorites shelf on goodreads, okay?

5. Least favorite book?

RumbleThis one is a bit easier to pick out. Rumble by Ellen Hopkins – 1/5 stars, not for me. I wrote a rant review on it, too.

 

.

6. Love triangles: Yes or no?

In general, no. But I’ve read a couple that aren’t awful – it takes a lot of skill though.

7. The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?

WeaveworldThat would be Clive Barker’s Weaveworld, lent to me by my mother. Sorry Mom, I know this is one of your favorites, but I just couldn’t handle it.

.

8. A book you’re currently reading?Twelve Kings in Sharakhai (The Song of the Shattered Sands #1)

The one I’m most actively reading right now is Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P Beaulieu. It’s alright so far – it’s a bit difficult to binge though, which is making it tough to finish in time for the end of the Tome Topple Readathon currently going on.

9. The last book you recommended to someone?

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, Vol 1 (Otakoi: Otaku Can't Fall in Love?!)Oh gosh, I don’t know. I’ve been trying to get my husband to pick up Wotakoi, does that count? It has to count.

.

10. Oldest book you’ve read by publication date?The Iliad

Same as Orangutan Librarian’s answer, The Iliad by Homer. Goodreads says it came out around 750 BC.

11. Newest book you’ve read by publication date?

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, Vol 2 (Otakoi: Otaku Can't Fall in Love?!)Wotakoi volume 2 by Fujita, published in English on May 31st of this year. This series is my latest obsession. I love the manga, I love the anime… I just love it. A blabber will be coming for it at some point.

.

12. Favorite author?

Another difficult question. Top few are: Robin Hobb, Naomi Novik, Alan Campbell, Seth Dickinson and C. S. Pacat

13. Buying books or borrowing books?

For me personally, I prefer to buy, but that’s only because I have the financial means to. When I was younger, the library was my bestie, and I’ll still occassionally get stuff from there, though it makes me feel guilty about all the unread books that I already own.

14. A book that you dislike that everyone else seems to love?The Hobbit

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. I didn’t hate this book persay, but apparently I missed the magic that everyone else is enchanted by. I gave it 2.5 stars, where the average is 4.25.

15. Bookmarks or Dog-Ears?

Bookmarks. Dog ear my pages and I’ll rip you a new one.

16. A book you can always reread?Ella Enchanted

I’m going to pass on obvious ‘Harry Potter’ answer and say Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this book – I used to rent it from the library over and over again. I’m about due for a reread too.

17. Can you read while hearing music?

Yes I can! I’d prefer it to be instrumental, but I can read during lyric music as well. I just usually choose not to.

18. One or multiple POVs?

No preference, as long as it’s done well.

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

Multiple days, usually. I rarely get eight hours in a row to dedicate to a 400 page book anymore. It’s been done, just not in a while.

20. A book you’ve read because of the cover?The Fold

The Fold by Peter Clines, and it actually ended up making it to my favorites list, too. I rarely cover-buy, but when I do, I tend to actually end up really liking the book. ๐Ÿ˜€

……

And that’s it! I tag Ace, Zezee, Mai, Rylan Sato, Dragonsandzombies, MetalPhantasmReads, Pages below the Vaulted Sky, Jeroen Admiraal and Auroralibrialis to do this tag!

If you’ve already done it, link me it please. If not, PEER PRESSURE DO IT.

Happy reading!

 
7 Comments

Posted by on 07/08/2018 in Book Tag, Books, Uncategorized

 

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