[Library Haul] Of Witches and Immortals.

Because apparently having more library books than I have fingers on loan at one time is my new norm, I borrowed several new titles over the last two weeks to my permanently thick pile.

Wolf-speaker:

Daine’s magic must save her friends—both wolf and human—in this second book of the Immortals series, featuring an updated cover for longtime fans and fresh converts alike, and including an all-new afterword from Tamora Pierce.

When Daine is summoned to help a pack of wolves—dear friends from her old village—she and Numair travel to Dunlath Valley to answer the call. But when they arrive, Daine is shocked to learn that it’s not only animals whose lives are threatened; people are in danger, too.

Dunlath’s rulers have discovered black opals in their valley. They’re dead set on mining the opals and using the magic contained in the stones to overthrow King Jonathan. Even if it means irreversibly damaging the land—and killing their workers. Daine must master her wild magic in order to save both her animal friends and her human ones.

Emperor Mage:

Daine must confront a powerful leader in this third book of the Immortals series, featuring an updated cover for longtime fans and fresh converts alike, and including an all-new afterword from Tamora Pierce.

When Daine is sent to Carthak as part of a Tortallan peace delegation, she finds herself in the middle of a sticky political situation. She doesn’t like the Carthaki practice of keeping slaves, but it’s not her place to say anything—she’s only there to heal the emperor’s birds. Her worries only expand once she learns that her own power has grown in a dark and mysterious way.

As the peace talks stall, Daine puzzles over Carthak’s two-faced Emperor Ozorne. How can he be so caring with his birds, and so cruel to his people? Daine is sure he’s planning something—a terrible, power-hungry scheme. And she knows that she must fight this powerful Emperor Mage; the life of her beloved teacher is at risk.

The Realms of the Gods:

Daine controls the fate of Tortall in this thrilling conclusion to the Immortals series, featuring an updated cover for longtime fans and fresh converts alike, and including an all-new afterword from Tamora Pierce.

During a dire battle against the fearsome Skinners, Daine and her mage teacher, Numair, are swept into the Divine Realms. Although they are happy to be alive, they are not where they want to be. They are desperately needed back home where their old enemy, Ozorne, and his army of strange creatures are waging war against Tortall.

While trapped in the perilous realms of the gods, Daine discovers her mysterious parentage. But as the secrets of her past are revealed, so is the treacherous way back to Tortall. And so Daine and Numair embark on an extraordinary journey home, where the fate of all Tortall rests with Daine and her wild magic.

Having finally finished the Song of the Lioness series (which I was supposed to have read before this one but which I only found out about after having completed Wild Magic), I managed to get the three remaining titles in The Immortals quartet and am quite excited to start on. That is, after I’ve worked my through the intense stack from the last haul.

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On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Goodreads

I’ve seen this previewed and reviewed across several Booktubers, with everyone clamouring about how awesome it is, but I thought it was yet to be released. Imagine my surprise, then, when I came across this at a library I don’t often visit, all fresh and pristine on the New Arrivals rack.

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[Library Haul] Aching for some reading.

As if six books in my previous haul (which I’m still working my way through, albeit at a much speedier clip than usual) wasn’t enough, I passed by one of my favourite libraries this week, couldn’t miss the chance, and ended up walking out with six more books.

A Hat Full of Sky: Tiffany Aching is ready to begin her apprenticeship in magic. She expects spells and magic—not chores and ill-tempered nanny goats! Surely there must be more to witchcraft than this! Indeed, there is. . . .

Wintersmith: When the Spirit of Winter takes a fancy to Tiffany Aching, he wants her to stay in his gleaming, frozen world. Forever. It will take the young witch’s skill and cunning, as well as help from the legendary Granny Weatherwax and the irrepressible Wee Free Men, to survive until Spring.

I Shall Wear Midnight: As the witch of the Chalk, Tiffany Aching performs the distinctly unglamorous work of caring for the needy. But someone—or something—is inciting fear, generating dark thoughts and angry murmurs against witches. Tiffany must find the source of unrest and defeat the evil at its root, for if she falls, the whole Chalk falls with her. . . .

Goodreads

It seems that life (or librarians) is helping me out with my bookish resolutions because other than giving me a huge stack of Pierce’s books in great condition at one library (although I borrowed them right before I actually made the resolution to complete her works), this time round I found a huge stack of Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series, in mint condition too.

I didn’t manage to find the first, Wee Free Men, in the series though, so I’ll have to hunt down a copy of that first before starting on these.

Update on 16/1/16: I’ve found the Wee Free Men in another library, in equally pristine condition as the rest! Will be starting on that soon!

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The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Goodreads

I also found an almost new copy of Outlander, another check on my bookish resolutions list. I haven’t been able to find a copy of it in libraries (or even in bookshops) so this was a nice surprise.

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What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

Goodreads

Also a surprise was this title, which I’m pretty sure I’ve only seen arrive in the bookstores in the past few weeks. I wasn’t a fan of the few Ness works that I read but he’s acclaimed enough and the premise of this story interesting enough that I don’t mind giving him a try again.

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Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.

To make matters worse, Austin’s hormones are totally oblivious; they don’t care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He’s stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann. Ultimately, it’s up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.

Goodreads

I’ve quite liked the two Ryan Dean novels I’ve read from Smith and so, coming across this one for the first time at a library, all pristine and sparkly, I knew I had to add it to my shoulder-hating stack.

Goodness knows how I’m going to get all this reading done before the due dates.

Dear reader, have you gotten any excellent titles from the library lately?

[Library Haul] Tamomadness.

In a concerted effort to start off 2016 on the right literary note (or, y’know, because I just happened to pass by a huge library), I borrowed a whopping six books on the last day of 2015 for the biggest library haul in quite a while.

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[…] the Song of the Lioness quartet is the adventurous story of one girl’s journey to overcome the obstacles facing her, become a valiant knight, and save Tortall from conquest. Alanna douses her female identity to begin her training in Alanna: The First Adventure, and when she gains squire status in In the Hand of the Goddess, her growing abilities make her a few friends — and many enemies. Books 3 and 4 complete Alanna’s adventure and secure her legend, with the new knight errant taking on desert tribesmen in The Woman Who Rides like a Man and seeking out the powerful Dominion Jewel in Lioness Rampant.

Goodreads

One of the last books I read last year was Tamora Pierce’s Wild Magic and, while it wasn’t perfect, I liked it enough to name it as one of my favourites for 2015. I read on Gillianberry’s Literary PSA, though, that this series wasn’t the best to start the whole saga with and therefore decided to delay looking for Wild Magic‘s sequel until I’ve finished the first quartet…

…which, lo and behold, I found at the library! All four books, all in pristine condition! I’m guessing January will be Tamora Pierce month for me.

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Meet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind.

Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man.

And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined.

Goodreads 

This has been sitting on my TBR for the longest time, so long that I can’t even remember when or why I placed it there. Still, this is the first time I’ve seen it at a library (previous sightings were all at bookstores) and it was in mint condition so of course it had to go in the stack.

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An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.

Goodreads

That is perhaps the longest blurb I’ve ever seen on Goodreads.

Like We Are All… above this, I cannot remember why I placed this on my TBR, although I do know that it was a much more recent addition. Still, when I came across this at the library, I found the name familiar enough that I grabbed it before I realised that it was actually on the list. I guess some books are just meant to be.

This book will definitely be the last on this list to be read, though, since it’s the start of a new series and I’m not going to put off another sequel to finish other books (i.e. the above ones) first.

Paper haul galore!

[This post is done as part of GaBloWriMo, my own version of NaNoWriMo. Find out more here.]

Last Saturday, I embarked on a #solosaturdaystationerysearch, planning an entire route of shops (which were thankfully quite near each other) to visit, with an equally comprehensive shopping list.

It turned out pretty successful!

At the first (and arguably best) stop, Overjoyed, I got like 80% of my haul. Stacks of Rhodia paper for calligraphy (half of which was for a friend as a birthday gift), the Midori planner from two posts back, and two Zig Cocoiros to try on a friend’s recommendation.

I then stopped over at Straits Art and picked up the above nib holder, a much better upgrade from my previous one which didn’t feature the cork grip. I also picked up an identical holder and a pair of Nikko G nibs (apparently the best choice for beginners) for the afore-mentioned birthday girl.

Hopping by to Art Friend just opposite the road, I was quite disappointed because that was where I was hoping to fulfil the brush markers/pens part of my shopping list (having already completed the paper portion earlier at Overjoyed) but they didn’t have any of the brands I was looking for.

As an unplanned side trip (and because I was stuck at Bras Basah Complex due to the heavy rain), I visited the Popular flagship outlet and ended up with a whole bunch of other things on my list, including a stack of Kokuyo Campus papers (again apparently decent for calligraphy, not as great as but cheaper than Rhodia), fistfuls of Pilot G2 Ex for a friend crazed over that model and two books that were recommended reading for one of my modules.

Because I had already bought everything that I was supposed to have looked for at Kinokuniya (probably at lower prices than I would have there, too), I gave it a miss, going straight to Daiso at Ion Orchard and getting the above Sumi Ink.

I then ended the fruitful day on a non-stationery trip to Qisahn games nearby and grabbing two copies of the newly-released Yokai Watch for myself and another friend.

By the time I reached home, my hands were actually aching from lugging all that paper and my heart even more so from the painful expenditure. Still, who knew shopping for pens and papers could be so exciting!

Me-dori!

[This post is done as part of GaBloWriMo, my own version of NaNoWriMo. Find out more here.]

I’ve seen the Midori Traveler’s Notebook featured on so many Instagram posts and always thought it was a standard notebook that came as is (like Moleskine’s offerings) and so I got a shock when I saw it going for S$90 at Kinokuniya. That’s almost three times the price of a Moleskine (which is already plenty pricey)!

After some research though, I found out that the Midori is actually more like a stylish, hipster Filofax. The initial amount pays for the leather cover and a book or two. I can then customise it (and replace used books) by getting refills in the future. You can add several books at once and there are several types, so it really makes for a highly tailored product.

Since the refills are easier on the wallet (~S$4 for one), they make sense in the long run compared to buying notebooks that come as is.

And so, I got one! I got the 2016 Weekly + Memo version. The S$90 price tag at Kino is still frightening though, but thankfully I came across one almost S$20 cheaper at Overjoyed.

I’m actually planning to do an unboxingpacking video (in fact, I’ve already filmed it. It just needs editing. LOTS of editing) but here’s a brief overview of what’s inside. The pack I got came in a fancy pouch wrapped in a fancy envelop-ish box (very Muji), and inside were the leather case and the two (again very Muji) 2016 diaries, each for half the year.

The format I chose is actually similar to my 2015 Moleskine planner’s and seems to be the most common one online. It has a space for each date on one side (which I’m going to fill with appointments and deadlines) and a grid page on the other. I’ve seen some use it for journalling but I’ll keep mine for to-dos.

I also got an unpictured extra grid-paged notebook to add in. Alas, I didn’t get the Midori elastic straps and had to resort to using a rubber band instead. (For more of what I’m talking about, watch the coming video!)

The Midori ecosystem is really very smart and amazing. On top of several types of notebooks (diaries, blank, lined, grids etc.), they also have a whole slew of accessories ranging from clips to page pockets to stickers. Very good marketing strategy.

I’m quite excited about using this next year.

Dear reader, what do you use for your journalling/planning? What are you planning to use next year?

[Book haul] Holey Moley(skine).

[This post is done as part of GaBloWriMo, my own version of NaNoWriMo. Find out more here.]

Ok, so this is not really a traditional book haul but I mean, come on, that’s a huge stack of books. The best part is, thanks to a huge online sale, I got all these books for barely more than the price of one standard Moleskine.

Now, to figure out what to do with ten new notebooks.