Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Book Review: Piecing Me Together

TITLE: Piecing Me Together
AUTHOR: Renee Watson
PUBLISHED: February 2017
CATEGORY: Middle-Grade
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: A girl enrolls in a mentorship and things at the rich private school she goes too get a little complicated...
MY REVIEW: This is one of those surprise books. I went into it, not really knowing what to expect from it and didn't have many expectations and it wound up being really damn good. If you are looking for something to read after The Hate U Give, I highly recommend this one. It does not deal with police shootings, but does touch a bit more on privilege and other things that THUG talked about but did not completely focus on.
One of my favorite things this book does is that it talks about how you can be racist without realizing it. THUG did touch on this a bit, but this one goes into it more. I also love how this emphasized communication. Not everyone at Jade's school was purposefully trying to hurt her. They genuinely thought they were doing good. When she pointed out they weren't, instead of getting super defensive (like I see WAY too many people do in conversations about privilege) they actually listened and corrected their behavior. Seriously guys, it's that simple. When someone calls you on shit, apologize and correct your behavior. That's all people are asking you to do. Why is that so damn hard???? I love that the characters in here actually LISTENED. I think we do a whole lot of communicating and discussing of issues. I don't think we do enough listening and correcting of our behavior.
Anyway, I really liked this book. It's not mind-blowing or anything. But it is a good story that gives a lot to think about. If you're looking for more food for thought after reading the THUG, definitely pick this one up.
WHO SHOULD READ: tweens who maybe aren't ready for THUG but need its lessons, THUG fans, contemporary fiction fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five people actually listening

Monday, February 19, 2018

Notable Releases: 2/11-2/17

Here are the notable releases from last week that are on my radar:

MG/YA

Honor Among Thieves Book 1 by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Looks like a Fireflyish YA sci-fi series. I'm totally up for that. Both of these authors can be a little hit or miss with me though, so I'm keeping expectations in check.







Witchlands series: Sightwitch by Susan Dennard

I am so thrilled that people are finally discovering Susan Dennard. If you all haven't yet, read her zombie steampunk series. It's awesome.








The Precious Dreadful by Steven Parlato

The summary of this gives me a lot of pause (juggling two guys with potential? Ugh. YA, I thought you all had realized love triangles are not cool anymore), but I can't resist a girl sees ghosts story.







When Light Left Us by Leah Thomas

Summary of this intrigues me. I've never read the author before so we'll see how this goes.








Adult Fiction

White Houses by Amy Bloom

Interesting looking historical fiction novel about Eleanor Roosevelt and her relationship with a female journalist..








Olympus Bound Book 3: Olympus Bound by Jordanna Max Brodsky

Last, I think, book in this series about the greek gods still living among us. The last book left off in quite a place, I can't wait to see how this all comes together.







Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Debut that has been getting a lot of buzz.









Sadness is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher

Debut that is also getting some buzz.









Graphic Novels

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Cute looking fairy-taleish graphic novel that I've been hearing really good things about.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Reading Through the Classics: Gone With the Wind

TITLE: Gone With the Wind
AUTHOR: Margaret Mitchell
PUBLISHED: 1936
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Romanceish
PREMISE: Follow Scarlet O'Hara and her trials and tribulations as the South goes to war with the North.
MY THOUGHTS: I have...complicated feelings on Gone With the Wind. First, I'm going to address the elephant in the room: yes, this book is racist. Anyone tries to tell you it isn't, please side-eye them like hell for me. It absolutely is. I see all of you defenders about to go "but but but historical accuracy! That's why it's in there!" NO. If Mitchell cared about historical accuracy, she wouldn't have had a scene with black men leering at Scarlet in public. Guys, black men back then would never have done that. Because if you were a black man back then, and you so much as looked at a white woman wrong, you got killed. Racism is not in there because of historical accuracy. It is in there because Mitchell herself was more then likely racist. This was written in the thirties. Racism was a big thing back then.
Ultimately, that is what hinders this book for me. Mitchell's personal biases shine through like a beacon in this book. It makes an otherwise decent saga of a deeply flawed woman dealing with the stuff life throws at her the best way she can just tedious to get through. I am in the minority where I actually love the character of Scarlet. Yes, she is horrible. I won't lie to you and say she's actually secretly likable and you're just sexist or something if you hate her. No. She is an aggravating character and I one hundred percent understand if you don't like her. I am personally glad Rhett left her. But damn is she entertaining sometimes. Also, she's oddly inspiring at times, with how she goes on no matter what life throws at her. She endures. She's that character that I like, despite wanting to shake her half the time.
Writing wise, this book is not at all hard to get through. The writing is straight forward. The story is easy to understand. It's actually a very easy classic. It's just LONG and you have to have a lot of patience with it. You also have to mine through a lot of racism, and just willful ignoring of history that doesn't suit the author's worldview in it and believe me, that can get frustrating. There's a reason it took me two months to finish this. My best advice going into this is to have a lot of patience with it, because you will need it.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that don't mind dealing with racism in their classics, people with a lot of patience

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book Review: Royal Crush

TITLE: Royal Crush
Book 3 in the From the Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess series
AUTHOR: Meg Cabot
PUBLISHED: August 2017
CATEGORY: Middle-Grade
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: Olivia's adventures as a princess continue as her school enters a sports competition while she juggles school crushes of her classmates and her own personal crush...
MY REVIEW: This review will be short because my opinion on this series hasn't changed much. It's just freaking adorable.
Is it necessary? Not really. If you were happy with where Cabot left things off in the original Princess Diaries series, you will not miss much if you don't read this (or Royal Wedding). But it might be fun to read this series if you want to know what Mia and co. are like as adults. Also you get to learn some fun new info like the fact that apparently Grandmere shot Nazis. I want that movie, Disney.
If you've read the first two books, this is more of the same. It has all the cuteness of the first two. There are some great fun moments, and we get a sweet ending with Olivia and Khalil. I don't know if there's going to be more in the series (I haven't found any announcements of any sort) but I welcome them if they do come. As for Cabot, she is apparently going to be writing a graphic novel series with DC about Black Canary in middle-school. I am so here for that. Also apparently she has an adult book of some sort in the works. No word yet on what it is. ;crosses fingers for an Insatiable series continuation book;
WHO SHOULD READ: Meg Cabot fans, those that have read the first two books, Princess Diaries fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five cute books

Monday, February 12, 2018

Notable Releases: 2/4-2/10

Here are this past week's notable releases that are on my radar. Brace yourself, there are a LOT this week.

MG/YA

Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi

Looks like a possibly cute contemporary romance. I've heard mixed things, so we'll see how it goes.








American Panda by Gloria Chao

Another cute sounding contemporary romance. It's giving me slight The Sun is Also a Star vibes but with less angst/sadness and I'm all for that.








The Belles Book 1: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

One of the big releases of the week for me anyway. Everything about this book just speaks to me. I can't wait to get my hands on it.








Your One and Only by Adrianne Finlay

Interesting looking sci-fi book.









Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia

Interesting looking contemporary romance.









The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson

Hutchinson is basically an auto-read for me now. His books are just so weird but they work so well for me. So I'm up for basically anything he does.








Winterfolk by Janel Kolby

Interesting looking contemporary. It's promising magical realism shenanigans, which we all know I have issues with. But maybe it'll be that one out of ten magical realism books that I wind up liking.







Numair Chronicles Book 1: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

FINALLY you guys! FINALLY! I admit, I do still wish this was the Tess at magic school book or the Maura of Dunlath books that Pierce has talked about instead...but at this point, I'm taking whatever Tortall/Circle of Magic books I can get.






The Queen's Rising Book 1 by Rebecca Ross

New fantasy series I'll give a shot because I'm a sucker for a fantasy series.









Adult Fiction

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara

LGBT literary fiction book. I'll be honest, it has a teenage MC so I'm a little confused about why this isn't in the YA section. But whatever. I've given up on why publishers put certain books in sections when they are clearly YA or MG.







How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Time travel romance that frankly reminds me a lot of the plot from the Tempest Trilogy but I'll still give it a look. Apparently this has already been optioned for a movie and Cumberbatch has been tapped to play the lead. So chances are we're going to see a lot of this book in the future.






The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Confession: I still have not read The Nightingale. ;ducks into bushes;









Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

Literature release I've been seeing pop up on a lot of must-read of the month lists.








Non-Fiction

Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boy's Club of Silicon Valley by Emily Chang

Looks pretty relevant to what's going on right now. I have no doubt this will cause a lot of male tears.








Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaffer

Looks like an interesting social commentary book. I've been all about these lately.







Slutever: Dispatches From a Sexually Autonomous Woman in a Post-Shame World by Karley Sciortino

Essay collection/biography memoir that sounds like it might be along the lines of Sex Object and I'm all for that.







Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

I have decided that this is the year I'm going to sit and read Zadie Smith. I already have Swing Time checked out from the library. It's happening folks.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Book Review: Wild Beauty

TITLE: Wild Beauty
AUTHOR: Anna-Marie McLemore
PUBLISHED: October 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Magical Realism
PREMISE: A family of five girls tries to solve a family curse...
MY REVIEW: I know what you all are thinking: again with the magical realism? Yes. Again. I can't help it. It seems to be my curse to be drawn to this genre over and over again despite being disappointed in it over and over again. In my defense, this particular book was sent in one of my OwlCrate boxes so I didn't actually seek it out, it just found me, you could say.
This one had all those magical realism things going on in it: family drama, magical things happening that have no explanation whatsoever, really gorgeous prose. Unlike other magical realism though, this one was at least easy to follow. I did see some sort of plot. I also did actually like this one. It helped that, unlike a lot of magical realism I've come across, this does not have toxic relationships (both family-wise and romantic-wise).
Like most magical realism, this one is very weird. Don't go into it expecting full answers for things like why do the sisters have these gifts, etc. But I do think this is one of the more accessible magical realism books I've read. It might be a good one for people to try to see if this weird genre is for them.
WHO SHOULD READ: Anna-Marie McLemore fans, Like Water for Chocolate fans, Waverly Family series fans, Practical Magic fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five magical flowers

Friday, February 9, 2018

Book Review: The Fate of the Tearling

TITLE: The Faste of the Tearling
Book 3 in the Queen of the Tearling Trilogy
AUTHOR: Erika Johansen
PUBLISHED: 2016
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: Learn what happens to Kelsea and the rest of the characters of the Tearling in this conclusion of the Queen of the Tearling trilogy...
MY REVIEW: I meant to read this one ages ago. It just sort of slipped my mind. Tearling has been one of those trilogies that built up so well. I liked the first one enough, but the second one was just phenomenal. This one...was good, I'm just not terribly sure how I feel about the ending.
I don't want to go into spoilers but my feelings are so wrapped up in the ending that avoiding spoilers is kind of hard...let's just say...there are time travel shenanigans involved and the ending was definitely not at all what I expected it to be. I don't think it's a bad ending...but I'm also not fond of it either.
I don't know guys. I seem to have a very up and down sort of relationship with this trilogy. There are things I love about it (Kelsea for instance. Kelsea is awesome). There are things I can do without. The ending was one of those things I could do without. According to the author though, chances are good we're getting more Tearling books in the future. So...I'm not even sure if this is the ending of it.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that have read the first two books, Game of Thrones fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five meh endings (or IS IT an ending????)
RATING FOR TRILOGY: Four out of Five

Quotable lines from the book:

"These people are so damn proud of their hatred! Hatred is easy, and lazy to boot. It's love that demands the effort, love that extracts a price from each of us. Love costs; this its value."

Gif summary of feelings


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Book Review: The Stone Sky

TITLE: The Stone Sky
Book 3 in the Broken Earth Trilogy
AUTHOR: N. K. Jemisin
PUBLISHED: August 2017
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Sci-Fi/Dystopia
PREMISE: Essun and Nassun finally meet to decide the fate of the world...
MY REVIEW: If you are into sci-fi/fantasy at all, chances are you already know what this one is about, so I'll spare you going into that. If you've made it to book 3, chances are you already know if you're going to read this or not. So I probably don't need to convince you to read this.
Broken Earth is one of those very different trilogies. It's dystopian...but it's also a very character based SFF book. It's Jemisin, so it's beautifully written. There are so many great lines in this that are relevant. The ending is very powerful and give all sorts of feelings.
This is not a typical dystopian series. It's not action based. It's mostly character focused and it's a SFF book you have to pay attention too or you will miss important details. There's a good chance it won't be everyone's cup of tea. But it is mine and I have loved every minute of this trilogy. Once again, I'm reminded that I need to go back and read through Jemisin's other stuff.
WHO SHOULD READ: N.K. Jemisin fans, those that have read the first two books
MY RATING: Four out of Five tissue boxes for the ending
RATING FOR TRILOGY: Four and a half out of Five solid trilogies

Quotable writing from the book: "It doesn't matter what we do. The problem is them." pg 110

Gif summary of feelings:


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

My Big Fat Recommendation List: B Authors

Next part of the big recommendation list. Which features all authors whose last name starts with B. Note: Books with lots of contributing authors, such as short story anthologies, essay collections etc. are going to get their own page under various authors.

Childrens/Middle-Grade

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
National Velvet by Enid Bagnold
Wide Awake Princess series by E. D. Baker
Indian in the Cupboard series by Lynne Reid Banks
The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Oz series by L. Frank Baum
Madeline picture book series by Ludwig Bermelmans
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco

Holly Black
-Doll Bones
-Spiderwick Chronicles series

Judy Blume
-Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret
-Freckle Juice
-Best Friends series

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Babar series by Jean de Brunhoff
Saddle Club series by Bonnie Bryant
Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley

Frances Hodgins Burnett
-The Secret Garden
-A Little Princess

Young Adult Fiction

Ship Breaker Series by Paolo Bacigalupi
Stranje House series by Kathleen Baldwin

Leigh Bardugo
-Grisha series
-Six of Crows Duology
-DC Icons 1: Wonder Woman-Warbringer

Jennifer Lynn Barnes
-Raised by Wolves Trilogy
-The Naturals series
-The Fixer series

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Looking Glass Wars Trilogy by Frank Beddor

Hilari Bell
-Knight and Rogue series
-Farsala Trilogy
-Goblin Wood Trilogy

Also Known As duology by Robin Benway
Chime by Franny Billingsley

Holly Black
-The Darkest Part of the Forest
-Modern Faerie Tales Trilogy
-Curse Workers Trilogy
-The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
-The Poison Eaters and Other Stories

Midnight Thief Duology by Livia Blackburne

Kendare Blake
-Anna Dressed in Blood Duology
-Goddess War Trilogy
-Three Dark Crowns series

Prisoner of Night and Fog Duology by Anne Blankman
Forever by Judy Blume
The Compound by S. A. Bodeen
Lois Lane series by Gwenda Bond

Alexandra Bracken
-Darkest Minds series
-Passenger series

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares

Libba Bray
-Gemma Doyle Trilogy
-The Diviners series
-Going Bovine
-Beauty Queens

Sarah Rees Brennan
-Demon's Lexicon Trilogy
-Lynburn Legacy Trilogy
-Team Human (co-written with Justine Larbelestier)
-Tell the Wind and Fire
-In Other Lands

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Born of Illusion duology by Teri Brown

Elizabeth C. Bunce
-A Curse as Dark as Gold
-Thief Errant series

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (yes, this is adult. Go to your local bookstore. It will be shelved in the adult section because it is considered an adult fairy-tale)
Divine Cities Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Others series by Anne Bishop
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
Olympus Bound series by Joanna Max Brodsky
Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher
Kindred by Octavia Butler

Historical Fiction

Alice, I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Romance

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Mystery
Witchcraft Mystery series by Juliet Blackwell

Rhys Bowen
-Her Royal Spyness series
-Molly Murphy series

Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley
Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown (only the first two books though, 3 and on are a waste of time)

Contemporary

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

Non-Fiction

Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird
Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway's Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M. M. Blume

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Book Review: Scythe

TITLE: Scythe
Book 1 in the Arc of Scythe series
AUTHOR: Neal Shusterman
PUBLISHED: November 2016
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Dystopian
PREMISE: In a dystopian future, people have found a way to not die. Two kids become an apprentice to a Scythe: a being who is the only person in the world who can kill people to keep the population down.
MY REVIEW: Neal Shusterman is one of those authors who I have been meaning to read for awhile now. There's no reason I haven't picked up his books yet. It just didn't happen until now. Now that I've read Scythe...I get why he's a thing.
I'll be honest, his writing style isn't much to write home about. I also don't think much of the forced romance in here. But everything else from the plot, to the characters, to the interesting premise that was used effectively to talk about humanity and the way we deal with things....that was great. It was also very twisty and kept you guessing until the end.
Is it a tad over-the-top in places? Maybe. But I say it's better to be over the top. Better to be over the top then just plain boring. This book was definitely not boring. The end was a good place to leave off and I can't wait to read the sequel which came out a few months ago.
WHO SHOULD READ: Dystopian fans, Neal Shusterman fans, those who like action books
MY RATING: Four out of Five reapers

Gif summary of feelings: