Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

TITLE: Black Sun
AUTHOR: Rebecca Roanhorse
LENGTH: 450 pages
GENRE: fantasy (based on pre-Columbian indigenous peoples of the Americas; LGBTQ+ characters)
ISBN: 9781534437678
REASON FOR READING: discovered it on Goodreads

Summary (book jacket):

From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Resistance Reborn comes the first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic.

A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.

My Thoughts: I absolutely loved this story. The back-and-forth in time and different characters/settings the chapters focused on took a few chapters to get used to, but as long as you pay attention to the time & location heading each chapter, it isn’t all that confusing. I think the back-and-forth timeline was utilized in a great way here, because chronological order would’ve left the story with large jumps through time.

I loved the characters and the settings. Most of the fantasy I read is young adult fantasy, and while this isn’t so mature that an older teenager couldn’t/shouldn’t read it, it definitely felt like the audience was meant to be adults and I could pick up on those subtle differences. The main characters are Naranpa, Okoa, Xiala, and Serapio, all of whom come from different backgrounds and different clans. I’m not well-educated on pre-Columbian indigenous tribes in the Americas–a large fault of the American education standards I plan to rectify in the homeschooling of my children. I would say I know more than most people I know personally, but there is a lot to be desired because of the vast difference between those nations. Roanhorse described the characters and settings well, and I can only hope my imagination based on what I know of indigenous nations is near to what she was attempting to (fictionally) portray. This might be jumping the gun, but I could see this and the future two books of her trilogy become an amazingly beautiful & fantastical film–an indigenous production from top to bottom hopefully, if it ever did come to fruition.

I cannot pick my favorite portion of the story because anytime I picked it up to read, I couldn’t put it down. The character of Okoa was less developed than the other three; however, based on how the book ended, I can only imagine he will receive his due diligence in the next book(s). I’m anxiously awaiting the next installment, which I hope comes out sometime in 2021.

Blast from the Past–Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

2Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
7/7/2007-7/14/2007–870 pages–fiction (fantasy, wizards, witchcraft)
Bought June 14, 2007

It is definitely a good thing I decided to reread this before reading the final installment because I definitely needed refreshing in this year. Many things happen in this book.

  • Voldemort is back and Harry’s called crazy
  • Umbridge wants to brainwash the students at Hogwarts
  • Fudge feels Dumbledore is raising an army
  • HR&H form the Dumbledore’s Army for those really wanting to use the Defense Against the Dark Arts
  • Ron makes Keeper, Fred & George leave school, Ginny is Seeker when Harry’s banned from Quidditch, Percy has “disowned” his family
  • Harry sees Snape’s memory of James torturing him and feels ashamed
  • Sirius dies in Department of Mysteries
  • Harry hears his prophecy and learns Neville could’ve been the one attacked by V in first place
  • All the wizarding community is told V or Harry must die at the other’s hands

Blast from the Past–Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

6Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
6/22/2007-6/26/2007–734 pages–fiction (fantasy, wizards, witchcraft)
Bought June 22, 2007

Okay, well this is the climatic book of the series because Voldemort finally returns for goo. I really like this book much more than the movie. And I like how Rowling puts in the row between Ron and Harry. I mean, a friendship of one amazingly famous and rich and one overlooked and poor person will definitely have this row in real life, and so Rowling makes the story more “real.” No one likes to be the side-kick all the time, and Ron’s character behaved as any person.

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” ~Sirius (p525)

“Curiosity is not a sin. But we should exercise caution with our curiosity.” ~Dumbledore (p598)

**Halloween=Goblet of Fire releases each school’s champion and Harry

Blast from the Past–Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

5Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
6/18/2007-6/21/2007–435 pages–fiction (fantasy, wizards, witchcraft)
Purchased sometime in 2002

Definitely still my favorite Harry Potter. It’s the only book in the whole series that Harry doesn’t fave Voldemort in. And I love learning about Harry’s father and all that went down before he was born. And he gets his godfather! How happy this book makes Harry 🙂

*Halloween=Sirius tries to get in Gryffindor common room and slashes Fat Lady portrait
Percy vs. Tom Riddle–> both head boys; both from poorer families (although Percy is pureblood); both want their names to be known

Blast from the Past–Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

15881Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
6/16/2007-6/17/2007–341 pages–fiction (fantasy, wizards, witchcraft)
Purchased sometime in 2002

Well, Harry Potter books can still make me want to read them straight through, even this one, which is my least favorite. Started this last night a 8pm and read pretty continuously till 11:30pm. Woke up this morning around 9am and have been reading it on and off again until now, about 3:30pm. So about 7-8 hours…not bad. Very excited to read PoA next because it’s my favorite, even if I can’t remember much other than what’s in the movie.

A couple questions:

  1. Was Dobby ordered to keep Harry from school as to not mess up Malfoy’s plan of ridding the school of Muggle-borns? Or did Dobby uncover the scheme and sincerely want to keep Harry safe?
  2. Harry can hear Riddle ordering the basilisk and understand what he’s saying? Should all the rest of the people hear the hissing from the snake language?

Halloween=Nearly Headless Nick’s 500th deathday party; Mrs. Norris 1st petrified in school

Blast from the Past–Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling

3Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
6/13/2007-6/16/2007–309 pages–fiction (fantasy, wizards, witchcraft)
Purchased sometime in 2002
link to my review of the same in 2011

Well, the book is just as good as I remember it. As you can see, I took some notes* on the differences from the movie so I can remember it is not the same. I heard from someone Halloween might be an important date, so I took note of that. I was wondering if maybe the green flash of light Harry keeps remember has anything to do with his and Lily’s green eyes.

So what about the names Lily and Petunia. Lily means perfection, so what does Petunia mean? Evil, bitterness, what? {2016 EDIT: Petunia means resentment, anger.}

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” ~Dumbledore (p214)

“Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” ~Dumbledore (p298)


*Halloween=night V killed Lily & James; night troll let in by Quirrell
July 31=Harry’s bday (9 months before is Halloween)

Prudence by Gail Carriger

Title: Prudence
Author: Gail Carriger
Length: 357 pages
Publication Date: 2015
Rating: 3/5
Reason for Reading: I rather enjoyed Gail Carriger’s previous “series”, the Parasol Protectorate (this series is a spin-off of that one, about 20 years later), and another series she’s currently writing, Finishing School “series”.

SUMMARY (from Goodreads):

When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances – names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone’s secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

My Thoughts: I liked this book. It was okay. I don’t know why exactly I just didn’t feel like it was as good as Carriger’s other books. I simply can’t pinpoint it. The fact that this book has probably 10-15 spelling errors doesn’t affect the rating–that’s not Carriger’s fault, it’s a bad editing job is all.

This book is centered around Prudence (aka Rue), the daughter of Alessandra Tarabotti and Lord Maccon, the main characters of the Parasol Protectorate quintet. Rue has “powers” similar to her mother’s, but even cooler–while Alessandra can basically neutralize the supernatural powers of others by touch (so, a werewolf or a vampire would lose it’s supernatural-ity/becomes mortal while in contact with her), Rue actually steals the supernatural powers (so, a werewolf becomes mortal and Rue becomes a werewolf). I think it might’ve been Rue’s rashness that made her less likeable than the other characters Carriger has written. Just like I don’t like every person I encounter, I don’t like every character I read–it’s just unfortunate she’s the main character :/ Regardless, I’ll give the second in this series a try before I lay it to rest for good. Everyone deserves a second chance!

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria by Lauren Willig

Title: The Passion of the Purple Plumeria
Author: Lauren Willig
Length: 434 pages
Published in: 2013
Genre: historical fiction/romance/mystery
ISBN: 9780451414724
Source: borrowed from library
Reason for Reading: This is the 10th book in a series I’ve been reading since its conception.
Rating: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

Colonel William Reid has returned home from India to retire near his children, who are safely stowed in an academy in Bath. Upon his return to the Isles, however, he finds that one of his daughters has vanished, along with one of her classmates.

Having served as second-in-command to the Pink Carnation, one of England’s most intrepid spies, it would be impossible for Gwendolyn Meadows to give up the intrigue of Paris for a quiet life in the English countryside—especially when she’s just overheard news of an alliance forming between Napoleon and an Ottoman Sultan. But, when the Pink Carnation’s little sister goes missing from her English boarding school, Gwen reluctantly returns home to investigate the girl’s disappearance.

Thrown together by circumstance, Gwen and William must cooperate to track down the young ladies before others with nefarious intent get their hands on them. But Gwen’s partnership with quick-tongued, roguish William may prove to be even more of an adventure for her than finding the lost girls…

My Thoughts: I found this installment to be quite similar to pretty much all nine of the previous Pink Carnation books. Given that much doesn’t change in the way of the major points in the stories from one book to the next–there’s always the girl, who eventually falls for a guy and ends up with him–I’m kind of at a loss for words as to why I still even enjoy the series. I think it probably has to be more because I enjoy novels set in a distant land and a distant time. I mean, I like all of Jane Austen’s books, too, and they all pretty much have the same plot, even if the problems that arise are different. I’m sure that at some point I will become bored with the series, at least if nothing changes–I know we all like happy endings, but maybe an ending where the heroine and her gallant gentleman DON’T end up together would be just enough to entice me. (As the books are set in the Regency era, it’s obviously quite scandalous when sexual things come into play, and maybe that’s why they always end up together–shocking enough a “lady” in 1805 could even consider being impure out of wedlock, but even moreso if they didn’t end up married!!)

One thing I quite enjoyed happened within the first few pages of the book, in which the author made a reference to one of my favorite films, The Princess Bride. She referred to a person long ago being similar to a “Napoleonic-era Dread Pirate Roberts”. The movie has been a favorite of mine for over 15 years now, so I find it funny that, as it randomly has gained more popularity in the last couple of years, references to it pop up willy nilly.

The Poisoned Pilgrim by Oliver Potzsch

Title: The Poisoned Pilgrim
Author: Oliver Potzsch
Length: 486 pages
Published in: 2012 (original German text), 2013 (English translation)
Genre: historical fiction (Bavaria, Germany, 15th century, executioners, monasteries)
ISBN: 9780544114609
Source: borrowed from library
Reason for Reading: This is the fourth installment in a series I read.
Rating: 3/5

Summary (from book cover):

1666: The monastery at Andechs has long been a pilgrimage destination, but when the hangman’s daughter, Magdalena, her doctor husband, Simon, and their two small children arrive there, they learn that the monks have far larger concerns than saying Mass and receiving alms. It seems that once again the hangman’s family has fallen into a mysterious and dangerous adventure.

Two monks at the monastery experiment with cutting-edge technology, including a method of deflecting the lightning that has previously set the monastery ablaze. When one of the monks disappears and his lab is destroyed, foul play is suspected. Who better to investigate than the famed hangman Jakob Kuisl? But as the hangman and his family attempt to solve the mystery of the missing monk, they must deal with the eccentric denizens of the monastery and villagers who view the monks’ inventions as witchcraft that must be destroyed at all costs.

My Thoughts: I think this has been my least favorite of the series so far. As bad as it might sound, I think I was less interested in it because the sexual tension that had been present in the first three is gone, now that Magdalena and Simon are married, and even have a couple of children. I think the children also might have something to do with why I wasn’t as big a fan this time around. That is really awful, considering the fact that I do love kids and am expecting myself. I just don’t think the story was a gruesome as previous installments–while that honestly might have nothing to do with the children playing a small part in the story, I find myself blaming them for it just the same. I don’t remember in the past there being so many plot lines as this story had–there was a “sorcerer” who turned out to not be the only wrong-doer in the story, so towards the end, there were different plots to consider and how they affected each other. Apparently, I prefer a more direct story 😕

As ever before, I wasn’t able to surmise who the major evil-doer of the story was before it was revealed, nor even the other, more minor “bad guys”. Although I had guessed correctly who was the sorcerer’s assistant from early on. And I’d also been correct about something concerning Magdalena from the beginning of the story, though it doesn’t play much of a role in the story. Maybe the next installment?

While I didn’t like this book as much as the first three, I will still be reading whatever comes next in the series. One not-as-great-as-the-others-but-still-good book in a series isn’t enough to deter me completely 🙂

The Beggar King by Oliver Potzsch

TitleThe Beggar King
Author: Oliver Potzsch
Length: 457 pages
Published in: 2010
Genre: historical fiction, mystery
ISBN: 9780547992198
Source: public library
Reason for Reading: I’ve read the first two in this ongoing series and loved them: The Hangman’s Daughter and The Dark Monk
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

The year is 1662. Alpine village hangman Jakob Kuisl receives a letter from his sister calling him to the imperial city of Regensburg, where a gruesome sight awaits him: her throat has been slit. Arrested and framed for the murder, Kuisl faces first-hand the torture he’s administered himself for years.

Jakob’s daughter, Magdalena, and a young medicus named Simon hasten to his aid. With the help of an underground network of beggars, a beer-brewing monk, and an Italian playboy, they discover that behind the false accusation is a plan that will endanger the entire German Empire.

Chock-full of fhistorical detail, The Beggar King brings to vibrant life another tale of an unlikely hangman and his tough-as-nails daughter, confirming Pötzsch’s mettle as a writer to watch.

My Thoughts: Another great story from Potzsch 🙂 There is a lot happening in this tale, but I won’t go into much detail because there are many small mysteries in the plot. But I have not been disappointed with any of these books and I’m very excited for The Warlock, which comes out next.