And the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge is here again! There’s 24 prompts to encourage you to read harder, and I urge you to check it out if you want to get outside your comfort zone. 🙂

(Click the link to see the challenge, and to download a PDF of the challenge list.)

book riot

To quote the article: “We encourage you to push yourself, to take advantage of this challenge as a way to explore topics or formats or genres that you otherwise wouldn’t try. But this isn’t a test. […] We like books because they allow us to see the world from a new perspective, and sometimes we all need help to even know which perspectives to try.

  • Read an all-ages comic.

Princeless; Jeremy Whitley, Mia Goodwin

It’s described as an “all-ages adventure.”

Adrienne was never a patient or traditional sort of princess, so when she finds herself in a tower with a dragon guardian (named Sparky), it’s no surprise she doesn’t stay put. Instead of waiting for rescue by a prince, she’s going to rescue herself–and her sisters, who are also locked up in towers of their own. Soon, she meets a dwarf named Bedelia, who joins her in her quest. Cute story, funny, without much violence shown (and no gore.) Perfect for a younger audience (hence the all-age label), but enough to entertain pretty much anyone. Though it is, as you might expect, a little simple. I read three volumes in one sitting, and it didn’t take long at all–nor did a whole bunch of story actually happen.

Without giving anything away, it’s a decent strong female lead story, though there are a couple of weak points later on. As there is definitely more story to go, these might be resolved, however.

Also includes a few funny extra stories.

  • Read a fantasy novel.

The Palace of Illusions; Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

A fantasy novel, specifically one focused on Indian mythology and history.

The story of Panchaali, the wife of the Pandavas brothers of legend–a retelling of an ancient tale from a new point of view. From her birth in a ritual fire as an unwanted daughter–her father asked for a son to get his vengeance, which he also received–Panchaali feels extraneous. She’s not even given a real name until later, and she’s kept isolated to make her a proper kind of wife. She chafes at these restrictions, and strives to grasp her destiny, hunting for prophecies, promises, blessings, love and later… vengeance.

This book contains elements I dislike, so despite some beautiful writing, a fascinating and well-developed world, and an epic plot, it failed to be a book I loved, but only one I liked.These are my reasons: 1) The protagonist is whiny, refuses to take responsibility for her actions, and thoughtless–she’s given so many warnings that she ignores! She’s so self-centered, I found her unlikable. And, as blindness to advice is a common flaw in characters, other characters similarly felt unlikable. 2) There is so much foreshadowing. The story is told as if it’s already happened, and the reader is constantly reminded about approaching failures, deaths, etc. Added with the prophecies, it’s a lot of reminders. I like a little surprise in my plots.

But, if those things don’t bother you… the story is full of epic battles, magic, myth, curses and blessings, complicated backstories, interweaving character histories… And plenty of appeals for compassion and understanding, even if they mostly fall on deaf ears. The characters are many and varied, and though some get bare bones development, more than a few have histories that are slowly revealed, and complex motivations. It’s a lovely story, rich and detailed.




About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

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