Tag Archives: faeries

Sims: Supernatural Expansion – The Sims I’ve Always Wanted

The Sims uses the slogan “Play with Life” and it’s true. Sims is and has always been a giant sandbox with an ever-increasing world of options. It has a variety of appeal. If you like to design and build houses and buildings, you can do that. If you like to give Sims opposite personality traits, shove them in a studio apartment and watch what happens, you can do that too. The Sims 3 Expansion packs have increasingly created richer, more realistic environments and potential. They’ve given us pets. They’ve given us  toy chests and dragon costumes. They’ve given us jobs that you don’t just sit back and wait for, but jobs you do: making over other Sims or remodeling their houses.

But Sims Supernatural is, to be honest, the Sims I’ve always wanted. We’ve had vampires since Late Night, but you had to meet a vampire and convince them to turn your Sim if you wanted to be one. Now you can be a vampire or a faerie or a witch or a genie or even a ghost right out of the gate. This pack gives us historical and faerie outfits and something I’m going to call “Lestat hair.”

This is also the pack that fully gives us magic. Witches can do alchemy and make zombies rise. Vampires can turn other Sims. People joke about “why play the Sims? So you can have a fake person clean the kitchen and go to work and pay bills.” This is the pack that changes the game completely, allowing the player to delve into all sorts of fantasy worlds and create their own stories with fantastical elements.

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Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

It deserves a better cover. Like Ally Carter's books, it doesn't do the novel itself justice.

I’m totally in the middle of reading Blackout by Mira Grant, and it’s great, it really is, and I don’t want it to end and I need to know what happens, but lord, I AM INVESTED and it is stressing me the hell out. So for my plane flight yesterday, I browsed through iBooks for a light and easy read, something that wouldn’t make my stomach hurt. (I love you, Mira Grant, but thou art too good at making me care and flying is stressful enough). This book popped up and I was like, “Hey, I remember wanting to read that! Win!”

It wasn’t a bad decision. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins does have some of the predictable elements and tropes you’d expect to find in a Magical Boarding School novel but she adds enough of her own creativity and world-building to make it fun and unique. It’s a lot like if you took Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls, added a dash of Harry Potter (something that is hilariously lampshaded), and mixed with an ounce of Cassie Clare’s Mortal Instruments, served chilled over ice.

Those comparisons are meant as compliments, by the way, and I don’t think it’s just piece-mailed together from tropes and cliches. Hawkins’ world is entirely her own. She has vampires that eat food, werewolves and shapeshifters, faeries, and witches with different powers. Those things are standard, but her twist on them works. The thing with Demonglass (black glass from hell that’s the only way to kill demons) is something I’ve never seen before, and I like her origin story for the Prodigium (magical creatures), involving angels who were cast out of heaven. And it’s funny.

Sophie, our first person narrator and new student that the magical reform school Hecate Hall, is hilarious. She’s sarcastic, honest, and has a good perspective. She hates when she develops a crush on the hot guy, acknowledges how lame it is, and loathes that she manages to make enemies almost immediately. She mocks Archer’s name, because, seriously, that’s so Yacht Club. Sophie was raised by her human mother, apart from her Warlock father, whom she communicates with only via e-mail, so her knowledge of the magical world is vague at best when she comes to the school.

My only complaint is, again, it’s a short book. At less than 250 pages, I finished it in a mere couple of hours. If I hadn’t been airborne, I’d have bought the sequel right away, but since I had no wi-fi, I couldn’t. It works as a stand alone book because it ties up the loose ends of the mystery while leaving enough things hanging to make it a good first part of a series, but I do wish it was twice as long. But hey, wanting more of a book usually isn’t a bad thing.

Recommended for: People who like witty narrators they can relate to. Fans of Gallagher Girls and The Mortal Instruments will probably enjoy this too. I also think fans of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse Southern Mystery Series will enjoy it for its characters, mystery, and general supernatural world.

Review: Destined by Aprilynne Pike

Basically this review should be a video of me doing a fangirl flail, but I don’t feel like putting on make up, so just picture a big pink Kermit flail of joy. That would be me.

I’m going to post most of this review after a Spoiler!Cut, so if you’ve read it and want to chat, please go there and comment, because I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS. It’s really hard to put my reaction to this book into spoiler-free words; basically it was happy happy crack and I am happy. Also 😀 Seriously, I still grin so hard my face wants to fall off when I think about it.

I’ve been waiting for Destined for so long. I read Aprilynne Pike’s Wings series last year, under the impression that it was a trilogy, only to reach the end of Illusions and freak out because talk about your cliff hanger.

Short spoiler-free version: Fans of the series should be satisfied with this conclusion. It ties up loose ends and everyone gets some closure. It’s also super-intense and stressful from the constant danger our heroes find themselves in. Chelsea especially continued to knock my socks off, with her determination to help. It was awesome and I feel happy with it as a ending.

SPOILERS BELOW. BIG ONES. Proceed with caution. (Spoilers probably in the comments, too, but if you’ve read it, let’s discuss. What your feelings and thoughts?)

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Review: Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

You know novels that do an updated-take of a fairy tale? Sarah Cross’ Kill Me Softly is like an updated take on fairy tales, period. All of them. They aren’t old stories, but old curses that are repeatedly bestowed upon the descendents of fairy-human hybrids.

Mira is about to turn 16. Her strict godmothers have rules about everything, but the one she needs to break is their ban on her visiting her hometown, Beau Rivage, where her parents died in a fire when she was just a baby. So one night she runs away. There, she encounters a world of enchantments, curses, and teenagers like herself with mysterious marks. Vivian, the pale girl with the wicked stepmother and a thing for apples, for example. And Blue Valentine, who tries to chase her out of town before she meets his brother, Felix.

It’s a very different take on fairy tales, where the same stories are relived over and over by different generations, sometimes updated as time passes (for example, sleeping beauty won’t be cursed to prick herself on a spindle since those aren’t really around anymore; more likely it’ll be a safety pin or a knife). The mysteries and the reveal of this world which exists in a resort tourist town and goes largely unnoticed by “outsiders” is well done. It keeps you reading and curious.

The cast is great fun and well-thought out. I especially love Layla, who’s destined to be Beauty from Beauty and the Beast, and will have to reform the partying playboy Rafe after his transformation. (She threatens to stab him, but her friends know she’ll come through for him in the end.)

Then there’s Blue, whose hair and even eyelashes are bright blue, and he wears dark clothes and has piercings. Guess which team I’m on. Go on, guess.

Blue’s curse is heartbreaking even though it’s painfully obvious what it is from the get go. Usually when it takes the protagonist so long to catch up and get with it, I get annoyed, but Mira didn’t drive me bonkers. Sure, her doe-eyed apologist love for Felix got irritating, but it was believable. We’ve all had friends in relationships where they weren’t able to see the truth that was clear to everyone else. And Blue is easily the best anti-hero I’ve read recently. I kind of adore him.

Recommended for: Fans of Aprilynne Pike’s Wings series and other such paranormal romance will dig this. Also it’s very funny–Viv (our Snow White) is hilarious.

Review: Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

How gorgeous is this cover?

There are only so many synonyms for unique and magical, so I’m going to keep this review fairly short. Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev is the first her Théâtre Illuminata series. Beatrice “Bertie” Shakespeare Smith was left on the doorstep of a magical theater as a young child and has grown up in the wings. Her bedroom is a set and her best friends are four small faeries from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Nate, who’s a pirate from The Little Mermaid, and Ariel, the air spirit from The Tempest.

Basically, every character from all of the famous plays exist in some vague space until called to the stage to do their show (except the Theater Manager, the Stage Manager, the Prop guy, etc), although Bertie’s friends seem to wander around more freely than other players. Growing up in this theater, Bertie causes trouble, learns the plays, and tries to figure out who her parents are by writing her own play, How Bertie Came to the Theater. But after a particularly bad incident with a cannon during a performance, Bertie is given an ultimatum: either find a place in the theater or be kicked out.

It’s really well-written, clever, funny, and smart. There are loads of Shakespeare jokes, including Hamlet being the broody emo teen. Bertie seems like a cool kid (she dyes her hair blue) and the faeries are hilarious as they flit around, quip, and cause trouble. It’s fun for as a theater nerd because it’s awesome to think of the plays as living things with players and sets that just pop up as needed.

Eyes Like Stars evokes the fantastical feeling one gets from strutting upon the stage by using elements from the most famous of the Bard’s works and other well-known plays to thread together its own patchwork tale of theatrical enchantment, and does it in book form. Mantchev blurs the lines of play and playwright, lets her imagination run rampant through the great stage works of all time, and emerges with something wholly new.

Recommended for: Anyone who’s done a lot of a theater will appreciate the theater workers and their feuds. Anyone who likes Shakepeare jokes will enjoy it. Basically if you want a book that feels like a play and yet doesn’t sacrifice rich description or good visuals, this one’s for you.

Review: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

This book is totally The Anti-Twilight (or at least one of them). But we’ll get to that. Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely is about a girl named Aislinn who can see faeries, only that’s not a good thing. Faeries are mischievous at best, downright dangerous at worst, and if they find out Aislinn can see them, they’ll probably tear her eyes out if they don’t just kill her. So she pretends she can’t see them and ignores them, and tries not to live in constant fear.

It helps that her friend Seth–with the obvious crush and the goth thing and the oh-so-sexy lip ring (what? I have a thing)–lives inside two converted train cars that are made of steel, i.e., iron, meaning faeries shall not pass. But one day, a faerie makes himself visible and asks her out. She says no. He asks again. She says piss off, only more politely. But afterward, faeries watch her and talk about her (thinking she can’t hear). Turns out the guy was Keenan, the Summer King, and son of the Winter Queen Beira, who’s like Ursula the sea witch only less pleasant. She killed his father before he was born, and put him under a curse so that until he finds his Summer Queen, his power is bond. Keenan is trailed by Donia, his previous Summer Queen hopeful, who has to play a part in the curse by warning off girls and insisting they don’t trust him. But Aislinn already knows that.

I liked Aislinn, definitely adored Seth, and found it entertaining. But mostly I was impressed by how many YA trends it managed to buck. There’s no Keenan vs. Seth love triangle; Aislinn is never interested in Keenan and wants him to leave her the hell alone. I called it The Anti-Twilight because it shows how absolutely creepy and awful it actually is to be stalked by a nonhuman boy who is obsessed with you (and Keenan has copper hair). It’s not flattering and it doesn’t win the girl over, it just ticks her off.

Other trends it manages to stake past are things like swearing (it happens) and Seth is older and out of high school. Not by much, but still, I loved the love interest wasn’t the popular guy everyone wants. That guy is Keenan, who enrolls in her school to get close to her, but Aislinn doesn’t want him. Ever. It’s so great.

Donia is awesome too. Because of the curse, when it turned out she wasn’t the Summer Queen, she was forced to become the Winter Girl and carry Winter’s chill. She can’t touch Keenan because he’s made of summer and sunshine and their touch hurts one another. She still loves him, though she doesn’t want to admit it, and he clearly still cares about her (which only makes things worse.) Donia is pretty awesome and has a pet wolf.

I did find some parts kind of redundant. Aislinn thinks like a real person so she repeats herself and keeps her worries at the front of her mind. But there are better ways to show that than having her talk herself in circles while the reader is like “Okay. We get it. Let’s move on now.” And I thought it was kind of annoying that her friends decided to help Keenan “get her” when they also thought she had a thing with Seth. But those were little things in an otherwise enjoyable read.

Recommended if: You’re sick to death of love triangles and stalkers getting the girl. You like guys with lip rings who live in train cars. You like faeries, even when they’re not necessarily green-eyed hunks who hang out in the trees. (*cough* Tamani, thou are my favorite faerie boy. Tybalt is a man, damn it.)

My October Daye-themed trip to Golden Gate Park

This might surprise you guys, given that I write for a geek girl blog, but I’m kind of a huge nerd. Like, gigantic. And I’m not afraid of making a fool of myself. Besides, if I’m honest, I’ve been searching for a secret door to Narnia since 3rd Grade.

This weekend I went to San Francisco, a place I’ve been many times and adore. But it was the first I’d been back since reading Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, which largely takes place there. As you may remember, I am a HUGE Tybalt Fangirl. My travel buddy, Ben, just finished the second book and suggested we take a can of tuna down to the park. We also went to the Japanese Tea Garden.

Surprisingly, no one questioned why I was walking around the park with an unopened can of tuna calling for a cat.

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