Series Overview: The Sea of Ink and Gold, Traci Chee

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        I am still reeling a little bit from the end of this series, and so I thought I would talk about it just one more time in more of a series review.  Before we start, let’s link the individual reviews.

The Reader, Traci Chee

The Speaker, Traci Chee

The Storyteller, Traci Chee

Now, let’s get started.  This was a fantastic YA fantasy/ adventure series.  The amount of culture and world building was amazing and really helped pull me in.  You have these amazing, strong characters but you never forget who they really are- kids that have been hurt, a man trying to make a name for himself, a betrayed best friend.  They are none of them perfect and many of their decisions are misguided….. but can you actually expect sixteen year olds to know how to save a world?

That said, let’s talk about story lines.

reader intro



An exert from the reader:

‘Once there was, and one day there will be.  That is the beginning of every story.  

Once there was a world called Kelanna, a wonderful and terrible world of water and ships and magic.  The people of Kelanna were like you in many ways-they spoke and worked and loved and died-but they were different in one very important respect: they couldn’t read.  They had never developed alphabets or rules for spelling, never set their histories down in stone.  They remembered their histories with their voices and bodies, repeating them over and over and over until the stories became part of them, and the legends were as real as their own tongues and lungs and hearts.’

‘One of these rare tales told of a mysterious object called a book, which held the key to the greatest magic Kelanna had ever known.’

So we open with Sefia and her aunt Nin moving through a market.  Sefia has something in her pack- the last thing from her dead parents.  A book.  But she doesn’t understand it. Doesn’t know what it is, or how to use it. When Nin is caught and taken away, Sefia is alone and scared. She’s running on her own for the first time.  There are groups in the forest- strange and dangerous.  One has a crate with the same symbol as on her book.  Somehow she steals into camp and steals the content of the crate.  A boy her age, branded around the neck.  Taken to fight.  In cage battles, later in war.  The boy is so damaged that he doesn’t even speak.  Scared and angry, he’s more animal than man but Sefia can’t leave him.

So starts the adventure of these two kids that have to fight foes and fate to try to save themselves, those they love, and their entire world.  Sefia learns that she is a sorceress and a reader.  Her mother had taught her the alphabet and how to use the book but she’d never understood.  As the boy heals under Sefia’s care she calls him Archer.  He had another life, but he can’t go back.  Too many believe he’s The Boy From Legend- the one that will build an army and win the Red War.    They work together to save others like Archer- boys that had no choice.  They love, they fight for their freedom.  They make mistakes.  They make history.  These are their stories.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are other side stories.  The Pirate Canneck Reed and his crew on the Current of Faith who become allies.  The Delian King Ed, called The Lonely King due to the curse on his family that everyone they love will die.  The sorceress Tanin who would literally watch the world burn to find out why those she loved most betrayed her.  This is a beautiful and complex world and I loved it so much.

Looking for diverse characters?  We’ve got ya!  Sefia for one, is definitely portrayed as a a more ethnic woman- I see her as asian/ african, so there’s that.  There are more through out the book, but it isn’t talked about much.  These are just normal things- this is them, this is what they look like…. but look what they can do!  Race is definitely not a defining characteristic for these characters, and I love that.  Then there’s the love stories.  Chee created several amazing relationships here.  Like ride-or-die, together-forever relationships.  There’s our Lonely King who is in love with one of his best friends and advisers Arc (this relationship will be super important to the story, but I can’t say too much without huge spoilers).  What I loved here was that the fact that Arc was male seemed like an afterthought.  This was his person.  Gegori, the cook for the Bloodletters (Archer’s group of saved boys) falls for another of the boys.  It’s accepted as completely normal, as it should be (love is love right?).  There are two older women- they used to be outlaws, and I guess they still are to an extent (really, what does one call a retired outlaw?) that are pretty obviously life partners.  Then there’s Sefia and Archer who live for one another and it’s so sweet.  I seriously loved all the romances in this book.

Through it all, there were several recurring themes.  Storytelling, freedom, duty, how one choice can shape a world.  Each of these books were five star books and I loved it.  I own the series now both in eBook and hardback because it was so beautiful- not just the cover but the attention to detail inside the book.  The light fraying of pages, the small pictures, the art.  This was well thought out and for me, it added so much to the story.

This isn’t a world one can easily let go of.  Trust me.  I don’t know how there isn’t a huge, crazed fandom.  There is some fan art on Pinterest and google images that I think is adorable.  Out of respect to the creators I won’t be showing any here but definitely put in the key worlds Sea of Ink and Gold or The Reader and you’ll find some super cute stuff.  But what do I really want?  Merchandise.  There isn’t any currently, but I would totally buy:

  • A leather journal made to look like The Book
  • A side story- The tales of Cannick Reed (one of the characters was actually working on this in The Storyteller).
  • Pins with either the Current of Faith or Reed quotes (“I’m Captain Cannick Reed, I’ve done stupider stuff” or “Look to the horizon, that’s where the adventure is”)
  • Shirts- see above for the Reed ideas, but also simplistic ones that simply say Reader, Storyteller, or Outlaw.  I would also love to see ones with the country crests, or certain characters.  In fact, I would buy shirts that just had the covers on them.  I do love those covers.
  • Funko characters- seriously, like all of them.
  • Temporary tattoos of the Bloodletter’s saying.

What do you guys think?  Have I gone too crazy here?   Also have you read these books?  I want to discuss things so bad!!!



My Favorite Things- 2018 Edition!

favorite thingsw

Hey guys!  I just realized that I don’t have any new releases to post tomorrow, and I was thinking about what I wanted to do instead.  I have had a lot of great finds this year, and I think this is the perfect time to share!!

My favorite New friend:

Anyone who knows me knows the answer to this one already.  At the beginning of the year Warren allowed me to get a second cat.  We wanted a mouser as my older cat, Sassy Britches, is more of a lover than a fighter (unless, apparently, you’re another cat).  Boo is high energy and hilarious.  Curious by nature, she likes to supervise everything from my blog posts and makeup routine to Warren’s cooking and YouTube perusal.  While not one for overlong bouts of affection, I think she’s the purrfect little buddy.   We changed her name- I didn’t like the name Spooky for a black cat… how trite.  I looked at Warren while holding our new cat and said “This is Spooky, she’s my Boo”.  She’s been Boo ever since, unless she’s in serious trouble. 

Favorite book of shorts (stories, poems or thoughts)

        Here, I actually have two that I loved a lot and I can’t pick between them.  Each one was intriguing in their own right.  Take Me With You had a lot of poems that were filled with sweetness or really thought provoking for me.  Gmoring and Gnight left me feeling warm, cared for and uplifted.  I actually feel like this one would be a wonderful Christmas present for anyone.  

Favorite Music:

I have found several songs on Spotify and the radio that I love.  I mostly go for voices, beautiful or really unique ones hit me hard- I think that’s why I used to love the Voice so much.  (I don’t watch it too much anymore because I miss watching with my cat, Captain Jack, that passed years ago.  I know it’s weird but I keep waiting for him to jump onto the couch and settle in when the theme song comes on.  It just isn’t the same anymore).  But I digress.  Halsey has a great voice and I love her music, especially Without Me…. but I can’t have her on my work playlist because she likes to slip at least one curse word in every song.  Another is Panic at the Disco- I love Brandon Urie’s voice!  There are a few from the new album, Pray For The Wicked, that I can have on my work list.  My current favorites are High Hopes, and Dying In LA.  

Andrea Bocelli has also come out with a new CD called Si.  I am completely in love with this man’s voice.    Honestly, it just does something to me.  He has this ability to take singers that are good, even great, and get them to produce something even better.  It’s magic.  He did two songs with Ed Sheeran, one was a symphony version of Sheeran’s Perfect.  The other is on Bocelli’s new CD called Amo Saltanto Te.  He also did an absolutely gorgeous song with Dua Lipa called If Only.  Seriously, the guy is amazing and I am obsessed with these songs.  

Favorite YA/ Children’s book:

    This one definitely goes to Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Gridelwald, J. K. Rowling.  I loved everything about this!  It was so interesting to see Dumbledore as a younger wizard, and I loved the time I got to spend with Newt and crew.  It set us up for a great series.  I know this is book two, but I feel like we were still doing a lot of world building and character introductions- I actually liked that.  This is actually my favorite movie experience this year as well.  
FB the crimes of...

My Favorite Fantasy book of the year:

           I was so excited about Katherine Arden’s sequel to The Bear and The Nightingale.  I loved the world building and the characters- getting to see more of Vasya was amazing.  Seriously, The Girl In The Tower is amazing.  
the girl in the tower

My Montage of favorite fiction:

  Yeah…. in the end I couldn’t choose just one.  There were so many gorgeous books that stayed with me for one reason or another.  Even though I am not going to hit my reading goal (I wanted 150 books read this year, but have only read about 110 so far) I feel like most of them were amazing.  I’m just going to end with a collage of greatest hits I guess.  

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New Release Tuesday!!! 10-04-18

Hey guys!  This week I have two new releases to discuss.  One is a great contemporary fiction with a lot of humor and heart, the other an intriguing historical fiction with aspects of magical realism.  Let’s get started!

my favorite half-night standThis has been a great year for contemporary romance!  I found several I loved.  This one here was interesting because I loved the interaction between characters.  Millie stinks at getting personal- she’s smart and funny but extremely guarded even with her best guy-friends.  Reed is an open book, and actually craves connection.  When sparks start to fly between them can they find a way to be together or will Millie loose her best friend?

I had some issues with the vagueness of Millie’s work when we went into detail about Reed’s work day… it just seemed odd to me.  As per usual, some of the things the characters did made me cringe… but I loved them still and was rooting for them.   This is a four star book for me- would recommend.

once upon a riverA little girl is brought into an ancient tavern dead.  When the local healer is brought in there is no doubt… except that she isn’t.  She comes back to life!  Is it a miracle?  Is it science?  And what to do with the child now?  She doesn’t talk.  Doesn’t seem to feel a strong affinity for anyone…. so who does she belong to?  Two families, one a wealthy couple and one a farming family, are eager to claim her as part of their family.  So is the pastor’s housekeeper.  Who does she belong with and where did she come from?

I hated this book at first- not going to lie.  I would be getting into the flow of the book, eager to learn more about the characters in front of me when out of no where we’d veer off somewhere else.  Different characters, a discussion on the actual starting point of the Thames, an empathetic pig…. you name it.  Eventually it all ties together gorgeously, and you have a fantastic story (I found the use of magical realism here especially well done).  The question is, how much patience do you have?  Because in the first half of the book the author will try it several times.  Still, it’s definitely worth it in the end.   This is a four star book for me-would recommend.

So, that’s me for the week.  What are you excited about?  Have I missed any releases?  Let me know!

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Top Ten Tuesday- Back list books I want to read

Okay, this is terrifying.  I have WAY too many books on my TBR list because even though I have lots of books, more come to my attention that I need.  It’s an addiction.  So when I saw this, I was like… I have to do this.  Then it started getting real.  Narrowing the hundreds down to 10?  What have I gotten myself into?


That said, here we go!  A few weeks ago I had mentioned that I had James J. Cudney’s thrillers.  I had heard about each one on different blogs and had every intention of reading them quickly.  The premises sound so good and heaven knows I adore Jay!  These are going to have to be the first two on my list.

1-2.father figure       watching glass shatter

3.  Strange the dreamer  Another book I heard about from the blogs!  There were so many people just loving this book, the premise was amazing and the cover…. gorgeous.  Why haven’t I read this?  I own it!  I will read it (seriously!).

4.  2 am at the cat's pajamas  I went for this one directly after falling in love with The Elegance of the Hedge Hog.  It sounded smart and interesting…. I really love the idea of it… and I will read it (even though I am pretty sure this was on my last TBR list too).

5.  death and the penguin I found this one at my favorite used book stores for a dollar.  It sounds fantastic- all dead-pan and black comedy.  Let’s be real, though, why did I really buy it?  For this:

‘A Militia major is driving along when he sees a militiaman standing with a penguin.

Take him to the Zoo,” he orders.

Some time later the same major is driving along when he sees the militiaman still with the penguin.

“What have you been doing?”  he asks.  “I said to take him to the zoo.”

“We’ve been to the zoo, Comrade Major,” says the militiaman, “and the circus.  And now we’re going to the pictures.”‘  Yes, that was the front page.  I had to buy it!  


6-7.  welcome to the world  standing in the rainbowAfter reading Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe I came upon this one and book two of the series at my book store.  I was still pining for her uniquely quirky characters and descriptions.  I have to read these.  I will read these!

8.  murder in the paperback parlor  I love a cozy mystery and Ellery Adams is a favorite of mine.  I love the characters, the premise, the intelligent humor.  That said, the first book in the Book Retreat series was over the top, even for me (and I have read all the Stephanie Plum books as well as Evanovich’s other, even crazier series’).  Still, there was a certain something about the town, the boys and the crew that I found myself missing.  I have this one And the third book in the series on stand-by.

And for my last two… some that I JUST placed there.  That’s right, October releases that I couldn’t resist!

9.    a map of days  I read this series at the recommendation of one of my bookish coworkers.  I loved it and wasn’t ready to let go with the last book (which I thought was meant to be the LAST book).  I was so excited to see this one coming out, and even more so that it sounds like it may be a bit open ended- like maybe there could be even more?!?  I pre-ordered the eBook AND bought the signed hardback copy… and I still haven’t read it!  I have to.  I am reading an ARC right now, but that is definitely going to be the next free-pick read.

10.  bridge of clay  I loved The Book Thief.  They way Zusak told the story, the character development, the descriptions…. it was gorgeous.  Bridge of Clay, from the summary, sounds like it could be another one like that.  I am super excited to get into it.

So here it is…. a tiny sample of my TBR shame.  The best part?  I have already pre-odered books for November!  Be on the look out for these reviews as soon as i can get my grubby mitts on them:

Patterson_Target_HC Mech_NOT FINAL.indd    FB the crimes of...    whispered word

In my defense, I have been waiting all year for each of these books- ever since I read the last line in the books before them!

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Did every one see The New York Times Book Review this week?

I am cheap.  I will admit it.  What money I have after adulting I want to spend on my obsessions- books, food and makeup.  That said, once a week I run to my beloved local library to catch up on magazines, news papers ( I subscribe digitally to my local paper, but love the USA Today and New York Times).  I was flipping through the New York Times book review today and I found the craziest write-up on a handful of books.  Five Novelists Imagine Trump’s Next Chapter  was an interesting piece where some amazing spy/ crime novelists put their powers toward imagining what the future of Trump’s presidency would look like.  I think these are all shorts…. but I must say that any of them could be fleshed out into amazing books.


The descriptive beauty of Virgil Wander

virgil wanderI am talking about this new release again, because how could I not.  Enger has such a way with words, especially in descriptions that made me take note (and pre-order the novel).  I am a sucker for beautiful lines in a book, and this one is just full of them.  Having checked my published copy, I want to share a few lines with you.






‘His face wore a weathered gratitude as though I had asked for his company.  To see him was to realize I’d thought of him often.  He was always known but never met.  I didn’t exactly plan to go over the edge-it was more an impulse, born of long yearning.  Maybe that is what called him…. He smiled and I calmed myself.  He had eyebags and crow’s feet and his teeth were slightly crooked.  He wasn’t what I thought Death would look like- he was not so different from myself- but then maybe he is no one’s death but mine.’

If I didn’t vacuum several times a week, there would be dime sized cones on the floor.  Through a magnifying glass they looked like a chain of volcanoes,’

‘I didn’t miss driving.  My houseguest was an Artic kite flyer who called up the wind like a take-out pizza.  On and on I went.  I talked like a man waiting for sunrise.  It was unpardonable.  There was a woman I loved and never told, a contraband hoard in my north closet, a man of bedlam standing on the water.’

‘You know how people daydream about the Bahamas, with the beaches and palm trees?  I don’t know if they really do, no doubt it’s mostly advertising, but you’re the island I think about…… I think of you every day, and have almost forever.  Even when I was seeing Kate I thought about you…. You’ve been in my mind so long it’s like you were always there.  I can’t remember when you weren’t.’

         In some of the quotes, especially the last, I left some things out taking my favorite bits of rambling.  The truth?  This book moved me.  The small town inhabitants trying to figure out their lives, the old man trying to find information on a son that no longer exists, a wordsmith trying to find his words again after memory loss.  It’s gorgeous and sad, and just a bit sassy.  I think this one is going to be like Eva Luna and Reincarnation Blues for me, where I will revisit in, either in parts or as a whole, many times over the years.  I highly recommend this book.

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I have a new toy!

I got myself an elfin book form Amazon and I am loving it!  These are notebooks with special paper that, so long as you use the right pen, can be scanned onto an app, saved and wiped clear with a damp cloth.  I am lazy so I use napkins.  It’s great!  I have always preferred hand written notes- shopping lists, book notes, day planning…. everything.  My handwriting is atrocious, but it helps me think.  On the other hand, it’s super wasteful- right?  I mean all those notebooks, all that paper…

But what if one page could be used dozens or even hundreds of times?  That’s what the claim is anyway.  I have used my front page about 12 times now and the worst I will say is that there are slight indents in the page from past writing- but that doesn’t show up in the pic at all, so it that really a deterrent?  I have found the erasable pens at Office Max and Target, so I don’t even have to wait for them to come in from Amazon!  With Christmas coming up fast, why not consider this for your budding author, student, or artist (half the pages have no lines making them ideal for sketches).   I will say, though, that I didn’t care for the Elfin app- I went straight to Office Lense per my husband’s recommendation and it’s so user friendly!  I will be posting some pics, but please note that the hand writing is, as I said, really bad and has nothing to do with the app.


Just think what someone more artistic could do!  Lol