Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Book Review: The Winner's Kiss

TITLE: The Winner's Kiss
Book 3 in the Winner's Trilogy
AUTHOR: Marie Rutkoski
PUBLISHED: March 29th, 2016
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: The story that began in The Winner's Curse comes to a close.
MY REVIEW: The Winner's trilogy has been fun to read these past few years. But like all good things, it must come to end. This ending...I have mixed feelings about. There's nothing really wrong with it. In fact, I do think the author brought all the story lines to a satisfying conclusion.
It's just the beginning part that gives me pause. Particularly I don't understand what purpose the amnesia subplot served. That felt like a tacked on story line the author started with and then quickly realized wasn't worth her time and dropped half way through. In which case, I wonder why she included it at all. It was just a stalling plot point that didn't really serve any purpose. If it wasn't for that silly subplot...I'd be giving this a much higher rating.
Because other then that, the rest of the book was great. It was a conclusion that made sense for the world built and the characters involved. Other then the needless amnesia plot and slightly stalled middle part, this was a good ending to a good trilogy.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those that read and loved the first two books, dark fantasy fans, political intrigue fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five maps

Friday, September 23, 2016

Book Review: Everybody Behaves Badly

TITLE: Everybody Behaves Badly
AUTHOR: Lesley M. M. Blume
PUBLISHED: June 7th, 2016
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Biography/History
PREMISE: A in depth look into Hemingway's rise to fame and the story behind the publication of his first book: The Sun Also Rises.
MY REVIEW: I read The Sun Also Rises back in high school at some point or another. I...have a sort of apathetic feeling towards it like I do with most classics if I'm honest. But, I'm a sucker for micro histories about popular things. The Sun Also Rises is definitely a popular thing. So I gave this a look.
As a micro-history book this one is...all right. The tone of the book is a little too gossipy for my taste. A lot of it feels like speculation. Particularly the parts with dialogue. I'm honestly not really sure how factual the info is. So that kind of dragged down how trust worthy the book is as a source.
It is however a good jumping on point for those unfamiliar with Hemingway and the time period he was popular in. If you know nothing about Hemingway, this is a good intro to his history and influence.
WHO SHOULD READ: Micro History fans, Hemingway fans, those who want to know more about Hemingway
MY RATING: Four out of Five could have had better sourcing

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Review: Bloodline

TITLE: Bloodline
Star Wars Canon books
AUTHOR: Claudia Gray
PUBLISHED: May 3rd, 2016
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Sci-Fi, Media Tie-In
PREMISE: Wonder what Princess Leia got up too after Return of the Jedi but before The Force Awakens? This book is for you.
MY REVIEW: Yes, another Star Wars book. As I mentioned in my Lost Stars review, I'm a fan. I was dying to read this book the minute I heard it was out because Princess Leia is my favorite. I love Han, don't get me wrong. He was one of my first major crushes. But Princess Leia is where it's at character wise for me as far as Star Wars is concerned. Personally, I say it's about damn time, we got a proper Leia book and I'm sad it took this long to get one. Yes, there were some Leia books in the old canon, but most were focused on her relationship with Han. This book showed that that relationship, while fabulously complicated, is not the most interesting thing about her.
This also does a great job of filling in some holes The Force Awakens left. It gave plausible ways for why the First Order was allowed to rise up after RotJ, it gave some insight to Ren's back story, it gave great commentary about how Leia has a different view of Darth Vader then Luke does and so much more. This is everything Star Wars books should be tbh. It's my favorite SW book I've read yet. That includes The Young Jedi series, which I loved dearly back in the day.
I know there are still people poo pooing the new SW canon, but if ever there was a book in the line up that makes a case for why a do over was needed and why you should give the new books a chance, this one is it. Also Disney: where the hell is my young Princess Leia movie?!
WHO SHOULD READ: Princess Leia fans, Star Wars fans, Claudia Gray fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five I want more Princess Leia in film VIII feelings

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book Review: Their Fractured Light

TITLE: Their Fractured Light
Starbound Book 3
AUTHOR: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: December 2015
GENRE: Sci-Fi, Romance
PREMISE: Sofia and Gideon meet and set off a end to the story that started in These Broken Stars.
MY REVIEW: I meant to read this a long time ago. It's just that so many books have come out since then, it's hard to keep up on the releases. The Starbound trilogy has been a favorite of mine and I think this was a nice satisfying end to it.
I will say, the romance this time...not as great as the others. But I think that's because they only got to star in half a book while the other couples got a whole book. Half of this book is dedicated to telling their story and the other half to bringing about the conclusion. I think it would have been a better idea to have four books. One for each couple and then the conclusion where they all interact. Because the consequence was I cared very little for these two as I was more worried about the other characters.
Other then that issue, this was a well done ending. Everything is tied up nicely and in a plausible way. This trilogy was a fun ride from beginning to end. Definitely recommend it for those looking for some light sci-fi.
WHO SHOULD READ: Sci-fi fans, romance fans, For Darkness Shows the Stars fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five alien lifeforms
RATING FOR TRILOGY: Four out of Five

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book Review: The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle

TITLE: The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle
AUTHOR: Janet Fox
CATEGORY: Childrens/Middle-Grade
PUBLISHED: March 15th, 2016
GENRE: Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: A girl gets sent to an old castle during the Blitz and realizes that something is not quite right about the place.
MY REVIEW: This was an interesting one that I read on a whim. It had a creepy castle and promised kids getting into adventures and I'm pretty weak to that sort of thing so I had to give it a look. Ultimately, I'm not sorry I did. A lot of it was fun.
The atmosphere is the best thing. The way it's told reminds me of a lot of the old-school kind of kids books like Chronicles of Prydain and whatnot. I love the way the story is told and it was a good story. It just maybe dragged on for too long. I feel like several scenes could have been cut.
But for the most part, this was a fun, spooky, kids getting into shenanigans kind of story. If you're a fan of that kind of thing, I'd absolutely give this one a look.
WHO SHOULD READ: Chronicles of Narnia/Prydain fans, those looking for spooky books
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five creepy castles

Monday, September 19, 2016

Book Review: Library of Souls

TITLE Library of Souls
Book 3 of Miss Peregrine
AUTHOR: Ransom Riggs
PUBLISHED: September 2015
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: Jacob and his friends travel all over London searching for their friends and Miss Peregrine...
MY REVIEW: I have racked my brain trying to figure out why it is that I'm just not as enamored with this series as everyone else seems to be. It wasn't the writing. I actually quite like Riggs' writing style. I love the concept. It's not a terribly original concept (it's basically a redux of the X-Men) but it's still well done. The photographs are great, so why is it that I just can't get into this?
It finally hit me about halfway through: I care about none of these characters. Mostly because they're just all so bland. They are stereotypical characters who never veer out of the strict box they're put in. About the only character I semi care about is Miss Peregrine because she's the most entertaining. But she was barely in this book, which made getting through this book somewhat of a chore. Don't get me started on how few female characters there are here and how poorly developed they are.
Plot wise it's also a bit average and lack luster. Nothing happened here that shocked me. No side character even died! It was honestly a ho hum end to a average at best trilogy. I honestly just don't get the hype surrounding this one, sorry. Should make for a pretty movie though. I might see it because Eva Green as Miss Peregrine will be perfect.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that enjoyed the first two books, X-Men fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five shrugs
RATING FOR TRILOGY: Three and a half out of Five

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Thematic Sunday: Books For DWTS Season 23 Fans

So DWTS is back with a vengeance this year. It's a wide and varied cast, as always. If you want to do some reading into the cast or just a theme for this year, here are some books to look into:

by Amber Rose

If you're curious about Amber Rose at all, she has a memoir that came out last year.






The Blind Side by Michael Lewis

There are always a few football players on DWTS. For more on football, this is a good book to go with. It concerns Michael Lewis, instead of Calvin Johnson, but it goes into football itself as well as Michael Lewis's own life.






Grace, Gold, and Glory by Gabrielle Douglas

Laurie Hernandez does not have a bio out (yet). But her teammate, Gabby Douglas does. Well worth a look if you're a gymnastics fan.






Here's The Story by Maureen McCormick

Yes, Marcia Brady is on DWTS. If you want to know more about the actress herself, here's her memoir.







I'm Hosting As Fast As I Can! by Tom Bergeron

Yes, the host of DWTS (and America's Funniest Home Videos) has a book out.






Better Late Than Never: My Story by Len Goodman

My favorite grumpy judge from DWTS also has a memoir out.







Taking The Lead: Lessons From a Life in Motion by Derek Hough

Fan favorite Derek Hough's memoir







Dancing Lessons by Cheryl Burke

Another popular dancer's memoir









Saturday, September 17, 2016

Book Review: You Know Me Well

TITLE: You Know Me Well
AUTHOR: Nina LaCour and David Levithan
PUBLISHED: June 2016
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Realistic Fiction, slight romance, LGBTQA
PREMISE: A guy and a girl meet at a gay club and spark a friendship that will help them get through difficulties.
MY REVIEW: This sounds like it's going to be an angsty read but honestly, this really wasn't. It was a cute breezy contemporary that was actually just what I needed at the time I found it. It does have some romance angles, but mostly it's about friendship and just being there for each other.
I confess, I've never read Nina LaCour before, so I don't know where her style is in all of this. But I have read Levithan before and like those, this was just a fun read. It's also a very quick read. I read it all in one sitting.
For the most part, this is a typical YA contemporary (but with LGBTQA characters) but there are some twists at the end that make it unique and honestly...it's just a likable book. It's not ground breaking. It won't break your heart or anything. But it will put you in a good mood and there are worse ways to spend an afternoon.
WHO SHOULD READ: David Levithan fans, Nina LaCour fans, contemporary fans, those looking for light hearted LGBTQA books
MY RATING: Four out of Five happy sighs

Friday, September 16, 2016

Book Review: The Fire This Time

TITLE: The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race
AUTHOR: edited by Jesmyn Ward,
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
PUBLISHED: August 2016
GENRE: essays, social commentary
PREMISE: A collection of essays that talk about race issues in the present day.
MY REVIEW: Confession: I've never read James Baldwin. I know, I know. Again, that midwest white people focus education rears its ugly head. I have no clue how this compares to Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, which I've been told is one of the most important essay collections ever. But I'm sure Baldwin certainly won't be insulted by this collection at all.
As with all essay collections, this one covers a wide range of topics, but all talk about race. If you've been paying attention to the news you'll recognize several of the stories talked about here. Like all essay collections, some were better then others. But they were all interesting and gave me lots to think about.
I'm still trying to figure out what makes great essays and what not, but personally, I really loved this collection. This is a powerful book, and I think very timely considering the things going on.
WHO SHOULD READ: Anyone inclined
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five things we need to talk about

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Book Review: P. S. I Still Love You

TITLE: P. S. I Still Love You
Book 2 in the To All The Boys I Loved Before series
AUTHOR: Jenny Han
PUBLISHED: May 2015
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Romance, Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: Lara Jean tries to navigate having a real relationship with Peter.
MY REVIEW: Jenny Han is my favorite late discovery this year. It's probably between her and Sarah MacLean to be honest. I finally read To All the Boys I Loved Before a few months ago and adored it. This book has cemented this author as a personal favorite. Now I definitely need to get to The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy.
This was a good sequel and actually one of the most realistic handleings of a high school romance I've seen in YA for awhile now. The characters act like teenagers. With all the drama and misunderstandings that implies. Also I adore the relationship between Lara Jean and her two sisters. Also a parent who's actually present in their kid's life! It is a thing.
Honestly, I can probably go on forever about why I adore this series. It's cute, it just puts you in a good mood. It's just well done contemporary romance. As someone who is picky about her contemporary romance, the fact that I like this series, is honestly pretty big.
WHO SHOULD READ: Jenny Han fans, Morgan Matson fans, Realistic Fiction fans, contemporary romance fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five hand written letters